Mirroring the cross-national variation in how electricity became enmeshed in polities and societies around the world in the twentieth century, within British India, too, the emerging electric systems differed by fuel source, ownership, and usage. This heterogeneity was a product of decentralized authority over electricity to provincial governments and the ambiguous freedoms of indirect colonial rule. Rather than being governed according to any discrete logic of colonial governance, electric systems became terrains in which a variety of views about the proper role of the state in industrial transformation as well as the suitable means to promote economic development were elaborated. In turn the emergent electrical systems shaped both politics and governance in the late colonial period and left a strong imprint on politics after independence. If railroads and canals—the quintessential infrastructural technologies of the colonial state—revealed a uniform sense of the state as a particular kind of engine of “development,” the far more messy political economy of electrification displayed a mixed understanding of both governance and the state’s role in the economy.
Skip Nav Destination
Research Article| December 01 2014
Structures of Power: Electrification in Colonial India
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (2014) 34 (3): 454–475.
Sunila S. Kale; Structures of Power: Electrification in Colonial India. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2014; 34 (3): 454–475. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-2826037
Download citation file:
Don't already have an account? Register
You could not be signed in. Please check your email address / username and password and try again.
Could not validate captcha. Please try again.
Sign in via your InstitutionSign In