Nuclear Power, Economic Development Discourse and the Environment

The Case of India

By Manu V. Mathai

© 2013 – Routledge

230 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138188945
pub: 2015-11-13
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About the Book

Nuclear power is often characterized as a "green technology." Technologies are rarely, if ever, socially isolated artefacts. Instead, they materially represent an embodiment of values and priorities. Nuclear power is no different. It is a product of a particular political economy and the question is whether that political economy can helpfully engage with the challenge of addressing the environmental crisis on a finite, inequitable and shared planet. For developing countries like India, who are presently making infrastructure investments which will have long legacies, it is imperative that these investments wrestle with such questions and prove themselves capable of sufficiency, greater equality and inclusiveness.

This book offers a critique of civilian nuclear power as a green energy strategy for India and develops and proposes an alternative "synergy for sustainability." It situates nuclear power as a socio-technical infrastructure embodying a particular development discourse and practice of energy and economic development. The book reveals the political economy of this arrangement and examines the latter’s ability to respond to the environmental crisis.

Manu V. Mathai argues that the existing overwhelmingly growth-focused, highly technology-centric approach for organizing economic activity is unsustainable and needs to be reformed. Within this imperative for change, nuclear power in India is found to be and is characterized as an "authoritarian technology." Based on this political economy critique the book proposes an alternative, a synergy of ideas from the fields of development economics, energy planning and science, technology and society studies.


"The book focuses on India's electricity services as it calls into question whether nuclear energy and its logical offshoots are fundamentally compatible with ‘addressing the environmental crisis on a finite, inequitable and shared planet’."Joel Krupa, Energy Policy

"This is a thoughtful book that deserves to be read carefully and its insights and warnings taken to heart."Growth and Sustainability, Itty Abraham, National University of Singapore, Singapore

"If Dr. Mathai is correct in his assessment of the Indian people and their deeply shared commitment to diversity, democracy and social innovation, an optimistic outcome of his research will be that the general population of India will soon awaken to the energy alternatives available to them and catalyze the needed changes from the bottom-up for themselves."Journal of Cleaner Production, Carole Beckham, CSU Dominguez Hills, USA

Table of Contents

Preface 1. Passions of Power and the "Tryst with Destiny" 2. Modernity, Cornucopianism and the Megamachine 3. The Evolution of India's Economic Development Discourse: Independence to 1985 4. The Embrace of Nuclear Power and The Development-Energy Treadmill In India 5. The Advance of Economic Liberalization in India: 1985 to Present 6. Political Economy of Nuclear Power in India 7. Beyond Cornucopianism and the Megamachine Organization 8. Epilogue

About the Author

Manu V. Mathai is a Research Fellow with the Science and Technology for Sustainable Societies Program at the United Nations University Institute for Advanced Studies, Japan.

About the Series

Routledge Explorations in Environmental Studies

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Environmental Economics
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy