Where is India investing more, fossil fuels or renewables?
Is India embracing renewables or fossil fuels? On the one hand, there are the commitments India has made to decarbonise its economy in the face of climate change that is already impacting the country grievously. Then there are the planners who are convinced that fossil fuels are imperative to provide the electricity needed for India’s… Continue reading
India’s solar sector #1. Dissonance, chaos and tumult
At first glance, all seems well in India’s solar sector. Its tariffs continue to crash. At the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI)’s auction last November, Saudi Arabia’s Aljoemaih Energy and Water Co and Green India Wind Energy, one of Sembcorp’s India investments, won after bidding ₹2 per unit. State-run NTPC wasn’t too far behind.… Continue reading
Coal India chooses energy-intensive manufacturing; Adani and NTPC chase vertical integration.
For a long while now, from the time #DespiteTheState went to the presses, I have been chasing a story on coal. You know the score. India’s coal sector is behaving in discontinuous ways — Coalblock auctions find few bidders; Coal India mulls diversification into Aluminium smelting and solar ingot/panel manufacturing; power producers like NTPC and… Continue readingAdani, Coal, Coal India, India, NTPC, Solar, Thermal power
Peering into Coal India’s ambitious pivot
“We do not want to be a coal mining company any longer. We do not even want to be a mining company. We want to be a producer of cheap pithead power.” From his office in New Delhi’s Shastri Bhavan, coal secretary Anil Jain is working on a radically recasting of Coal India, the biggest… Continue reading
Strange times ahead for the coal sector
As CarbonCopy reported in the middle of last year, India’s energy policy is distinctly muddled. By 2030, the ruling NDA government says oil demand will double; and gas demand will treble. It has also told Coal India to boost coal production to one billion tonnes by 2024 – up from 600 million tonnes in 2018-19 – and replace imported… Continue reading
Why India’s GHG emissions are about to rise faster
This morning, Carbon Copy published the second – and concluding – part of my report on global fossil fuel companies making a beeline for India. It is a development which comes with large fallouts. In the past, every time India liberalised a nationalised sector, private players have gained at the cost of public sector entities… Continue reading
India’s great fossil fuels push
In global circles fighting climate change, India scores a passing grade. Take Climate Action Tracker, a website tracking countries’ actions on climate change. Citing India’s ambitious renewable energy targets — 450 GW by 2030 – it says the country is on “track to overachieve its ‘2˚C compatible’ rated Paris Agreement climate action targets”. If the… Continue reading
Who will bid for India’s newly auctioned coal blocks?
A quick opinion piece today — for Carbon Copy. Continue reading
More on the asymmetry that rules India’s business insolvency process
Since October last year, Scroll has been (intermittently) reporting on how India’s insolvency proceedings are coming along. Cumulatively, these reports flag a couple of peculiar patterns. A lot of companies are up for sale — In a country with 7500 companies with a topline over Rs 250 crore, 2511 companies are slated for insolvency proceedings.… Continue reading
Will India’s recent coal block auctions actually burden banks and skew the fuel market?
The first part of Scroll’s analysis of the coal block auctions took a close look at the auctions for the steel, cement and aluminium sectors. It found an extremely wide divergence in the winning bids. Some blocks went for twice the notified price of coal, or the price at which the bulk of India’s coal is… Continue reading
Are the coal block auctions as successful as the Modi government claims?
At a gathering in Paris last month, drawing attention to the coal block auctions that have taken place under his government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi boasted, “Twenty coal blocks out of 204 have been auctioned so far and we got more than Rs. 2 lakh crore from them.” The factual error in the statement –… Continue reading
And then, the NDA decided to allot coalblocks to state PSUs for commercial coal mining…
out today, this quick and dirty story about the issues that need to be considered before allotting coal blocks to state companies for commercial mining. the last time this was tried, things were a complete snafu. Continue reading
Ambiguous drafting continues to dog the NDA’s coalblock auction plans
After the Coal Bill, it is the turn of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Rules, 2014. Rules say the central government can allot a coalblock where mining has already started to any company recommended by the ministry of power which “henceforth may be awarded a power project based on competitive bids for tariff”. The phrasing,… Continue reading
an iffy clause in India’s new coal bill
The new coal bill may allow the discretionary allotment of mines, as experts say a new clause in the proposed law can be interpreted as facilitating such action. However, coal ministry officials say the clause has been inserted only to allow tariff-based bidding. Section 5(1) of The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2014, says the… Continue reading
india’s coal boom and attendant air quality fears…
A new report has warned that premature deaths due to emissions from thermal power projects (TPPs) will rise two-three times as India’s reliance on thermal power increases. The report by Urban Emissions. Info, an independent research group working on India’s air quality, and Mumbai-based NGO Conservation Action Trust, expects India’s thermal power generation to rise… Continue reading
another update on the looming captive coalblock auctions
out today. this update on the emerging blueprint for coalblock auctions. With the draft rules of the proposed coal block auctions in the public domain, a set of industry experts says things are getting muddled as the government tries to balance contrasting objectives… “The government is again committing the historic blunder of tying itself in… Continue reading
Coalgate. Part Two.
Last week, the NDA’s Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 2014, was greeted rapturously. Comforting a country facing coal shortages, it laid out a road map for ensuring coal supplies in the wake of the Supreme Court’s order last month cancelling captive coal-block allocations. But will the ordinance fix the mess left behind by the previous… Continue reading
The Chandasi Coal Mandi
Today’s ET carries a story on Chandasi – also spelt as Chandausi. It is a mandi — like the agri markets of India — but one dealing in coal. It is a fascinating place. Its architecture is similar to that of a farm mandi even though the commodities the two trade in are so different.… Continue reading
on coal and ppps
The Economic Survey, last month, said there was an urgent need to fast-track the entry of private sector in coal mining to increase production of this mineral and, by extension, reduce imports. Subsequently, coal and power minister Piyush Goyal stated the government was considering the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to achieve this objective. PPPs… Continue reading
I am an Indian journalist with interests in energy, environment, climate and India’s ongoing slide into right-wing authoritarianism. My book, Despite the State, an examination of pervasive state failure and democratic decay in India, was published by Westland Publications, India, in January 2021. My work has won the Bala Kailasam Memorial Award; the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award; and five Shriram Awards for Excellence in Financial Journalism. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“…une plongée dans les failles béantes de la démocratie indienne, un compte rendu implacable du dysfonctionnement des Etats fédérés, minés par la corruption, le clientélisme, le culte de la personnalité des élus et le capitalisme de connivence. (…a dive into the gaping holes in Indian democracy, a relentless account of the dysfunction of the federated states, undermined by corruption, clientelism, the cult of the personality of elected officials and crony capitalism).” Le Monde
“…a critical enquiry into why representative government in India is flagging.” Biblio
“…strives for an understanding of the factors that enable governments and political parties to function in a way that is seemingly hostile to the interests of the very public they have been elected to serve, a gross anomaly in an electoral democracy.” Scroll.in
“M. Rajshekhar’s deeply researched book… holds a mirror to Indian democracy, and finds several cracks.” The Hindu
“…excels at connecting the local to the national.” Open
“…refreshingly new writing on the play between India’s dysfunctional democracy and its development challenges…” Seminar
“A patient mapping and thorough analysis of the Indian system’s horrific flaws…” Business Standard (Image here)
“33 മാസം, 6 സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങൾ, 120 റിപ്പോർട്ടുകൾ: ജനാധിപത്യം തേടി മഹത്തായ ഇന്ത്യൻ യാത്ര… (33 months, 6 states, 120 reports: Great Indian journey in search of democracy…)” Malayala Manorama
“Hindustan ki maujooda siyasi wa maaashi soorat e hal.” QindeelOnline
“What emerges is the image of a state that is extractive, dominant, casteist and clientelist.” Tribune
“…reporting at its best. The picture that emerges is of a democracy that has been hijacked by vested interests, interested only in power and pelf.” Moneycontrol.com
“Ten best non-fiction books of the year“, The Hindu.
“Twenty-One Notable Books From 2021“, The Wire.
“What has South Asia been reading: 2021 edition“, Himal Southasian
“Journalism is a social enterprise…,” Booksfirst.in.
“Democratic decay at state level: Journalist M Rajshekhar on book ‘Despite the State’,” The News Minute.
“Covid-19 en Inde : “des décès de masse” dont un “État obscurantiste est responsable,” Asialyst.
“JP to BJP: The Unanswered Questions“.
Mahtab Alam’s review of “JP to BJP: Bihar After Lalu and Nitish”.
“Urban History of Atmospheric Modernity in Colonial India“. Mohammad Sajjad’s review of “Dust and Smoke: Air Pollution and Colonial Urbanism, India, c1860-c1940”.
“Westland closure: Titles that are selling fast and a few personal recommendations,” by Chetana Divya Vasudev, Moneycontrol. (Because this happened too. In February, a year after DtS was released, Amazon decided to shutter Westland, which published the book. The announcement saw folks rushing to buy copies of Westland books before stocks run out.)
“Time to change tack on counterinsurgency” by TK Arun, The Federal.
“All Things Policy: The Challenges of Governing States” by Suman Joshi and Sarthak Pradhan, Takshashila Institute (podcast).
“The Future of Entertainment“, Kaveree Bamzai in Open.
“On What India’s Watching“, Prathyush Parasuraman on Substack.
“The puppeteers around us“, Karthik Venkatesh in Deccan Herald.
“Will TN election manifestos continue ‘populist’ welfare schemes?“, Anna Isaac for The News Minute.
“Why wages-for-housework won’t help women“, V Geetha in Indian Express.
“The poor state of the Indian state“, Arun Maira in The Hindu.
26 December, 2021: Rangashankara, Bangalore, a discussion with Dhanya Rajendran.
16 November: Rachna Books, Gangtok, a discussion with Pema Wangchuk.
29 August: Books In The Time of Chaos, with Ujwal Kumar.
21 May: Hyderabad Lit Fest with Kaveree Bamzai and Aniruddha Bahal.
28 March: Paalam Books, Salem, Tamil Nadu.
19 March: The News Minute, “Citizens, the State, and the idea of India“
6 March: Pen@Prithvi, with Suhit Kelkar
20 February: A discussion between scholars Usha Ramanathan, Tridip Suhrud, MS Sriram and me to formally launch Despite the State.
6 February: DogEars Bookshop, Margoa.
5 February: The Polis Project, Dispatches with Suchitra Vijayan.
30 January: Founding Fuel, “Systems Thinking, State Capacity and Grassroots Development“.
25 January: Miranda House Literary Society