The Political Economy of Agricultural Policy: Rural Electrification in Rajasthan, India

Hadden, Susan Ginsburg

     This is a study of the rural electrification program in Rajasthan, a state of northern India. It begins with chapters providing background to the study of rural electrification in Rajasthan, including one that briefly outlines the 'political culture' within which the policies are enacted; . . . this context helps to determine perceptions about the degree of conflict between economic and political goals. The study next outlines pure economic theories of agricultural development as well as India's choice of policies. The main contention of this section is that the economic theories are not concrete enough to justify the faith put in them by the rationalist planners, so that choices are forced even more emphatically into the political sphere; virtually any policy chosen can be justified by . . . one of the existing economic theories.
     The next chapter gives a brief political history of Rajasthan and presents reasons that state and central economic policies are not always congruent. In a sense it provides the justification for using certain independent variables later in the analysis. The study then contrasts central and state preferences in rural electrification as revealed through various documents, . . . outlines ways in which the two levels influence each other to adopt their preferred policies, . . . concentrates on the problems of village selection and the tradeoffs between political and economic goals as revealed through adherence to economic criteria that are intended to operationalize abstract economic theories, . . . [and] describes the proximate goals of the different relevant sectors in an attempt to find out why there has been deviation from perfect 'economic rationality.' After a chapter on rural credit, the concluding chapter deals with the ways in which governments can promote economic development, summarizing the information of previous chapters in light of this question, and offering suggestions for further study.

Lloyd Rudolph (chair), Theodore Lowi, Bernard Cohn