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Indian regulation: What does colonialism have to do with it?

This is a response to the commentary in the January 2013 issue of Governance, “How Colonial Legacies Still Shape Indian Governance: Power and Telecommunications in Comparison,” by Sunila Kale and Rahul Mukherji.  You can also read a reply by the authors.

rfrenchBy Richard D. French.  In Sunila Kale and Rahul Mukherji’s recent commentary in the January 2013 issue of Governance, “How Colonial Legacies Still Shape Indian Governance: Power and Telecommunications in Comparison,” we are offered two sectoral case studies in liberalization.  The authors want to show that, despite impressions left by India’s massive power failure last summer, Indian policy-making can get things right.  Telecom is the favorable case, where we are invited to believe that policy-making has been “sharp and effective”; power is the unfavorable case, rightly called “a disaster” where policy-making has certainly been “dilatory and ineffectual.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Governance

January 11, 2013 at 9:12 am

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Colonial legacies: A reply to Richard French

Sunila Kale and Rahul Mukherji published their commentary How Colonial Legacies Still Shape Indian Governance: Power and Telecommunications in Comparison in the January 2013 issue of Governance.  Richard D. French of the University of Ottawa has written a response to the commentary.  Here, Mukherji and Kale reply to French.

By Rahul Mukherji and Sunila Kale.  Richard French’s rejoinder to How Colonial Legacies Still Shape Indian Governance faults our commentary in Governance for not being sensitive to what we consider two significant issues in the governance of Indian telecommunications and power. First, French argues that state-level federal politics and populism rather than the legacy of the power sector’s being a part of the concurrent list of the Indian constitution should be blamed for the dismal state of electricity generation and revenue realization in the sector. In his words: “Blaming the Indian power disaster on imperial influence is like blaming illiteracy on Gutenberg.”  Second, French suggests that we have downplayed the muddled and chaotic path of telecommunications regulation in India, a process that has been especially debilitating for foreign investors. French’s provocative rejoinder is an excellent opportunity to clarify and elaborate issues that were constrained by the space allocated to an commentary. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Governance

January 11, 2013 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

India’s blackouts: How history shapes current policy

Generator in Delhi
Diesel generator in Delhi.  Photo by Hiroo Yamagata.

Last summer’s massive blackouts provoked widespread discussion about failures in Indian governance.  In the lead commentary of the new issue of Governance (26.1, January 2013), Sunila Kale and Rahul Mukherji suggest that current problems in the power sector are partly the result of the “powerful effects of historical institutional arrangements.”  They contrast troubles in the power sector with telecommunications, “one of the country’s most vibrant and efficiently regulated economic spaces.”  The contrast, they argue, can be traced back to colonial-era decisions that had the effect of centralizing responsibility for telecommunications policy, while leaving the power sector largely to state governments.  Free access to this commentary.

Written by Governance

January 1, 2012 at 10:21 am