Sciences and Cultures: Pluralist Narratives of Biofuels in India

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Biofuels have caught the attention of the world as a source of renewable energy which can provide energy security, advance rural development, mitigate climate change, and foster international trade. India developed the National Mission on Biodiesel (NMB) in 2003 as a rural development policy option to produce biodiesel from jatropha and promoted it as a pro-poor and pro-growth initiative, and subsequently in 2009, the Government of India introduced the National Policy on Biofuels (NPB) to widen the scope of the NMB. The study attempts to examine the emergence, trajectory, and consequences of the NMB to assess how the NMB worked as a test development policy programme in India. The study locates the trajectory of an object, which has been constructed into an industrial crop from a bush of semi-arid regions. What are the epistemic practices adopted by various actors in this construction? How is such knowledge diffused from laboratory to farmland? Where does new cultivation get (the) space? And, then, it moves on to discussing the policy making process in India, making reference to pluralist narratives in development policy making and how it leads to blueprint development of biofuels. It traces the role of an actant (jatropha) and various actors such as policymakers, bureaucrats, researchers, professionals from private companies and NGOs, farmers, and landless labourers involved in the biodiesel mission. The study is anchored in the discipline of Science, Technology and Society, particularly from Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) to analyse the literature concerning the studies and discourses in scientific claim making and policy framing. Hence this studies how development narratives are used to promote the biodiesel initiatives, how networks are created to establish the biofuels mission as a policy option and advocate its adoption, and in turn how the NMB progressed as a development initiative.
Supervisor: Sambit Mallick