Protecting Power: The Politics of Partial Reforms in Punjab

in Mapping Power: The Political Economy of Electricity in India’s States
Edited by Navroz K Dubash, Sunila S Kale, and Ranjit Bharvirkar
Oxford University Press

Punjab’s power sector, known for its agricultural embeddedness and chronic subsidy challenges, was one of the least attractive and pragmatic choices for reform advocates. Considering a feeble external push and forceful internal resistance, the state has undertaken partial electricity reforms to comply with legislative mandates from the central government. Despite limited reforms, Punjab has made substantive progress on electricity access, quality of supply, and some operational efficiencies. This chapter analyses how the power sector has evolved in Punjab, especially through institutional restructuring and policy reforms, with the objective to examine the policy choices, outcomes, winners, and losers at the state level. It analyses the political–economic drivers for these policy choices and how they deviate from or comply with signals from the central government. Building on these findings, it also discusses the implications of past experiences and prevailing power dynamics for ongoing and future reforms.