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2021 | Book

Sustainable Development Insights from India

Selected Essays in Honour of Ramprasad Sengupta

Editors: Dr. Purnamita Dasgupta, Prof. Anindita Roy Saha, Dr. Robin Singhal

Publisher: Springer Singapore

Book Series: India Studies in Business and Economics


About this book

This volume is a collection of essays that provide a comprehensive coverage of multiple aspects of the discourse on environment, development and sustainability. It is designed to bring in a host of perspectives highlighting the synergies and the trade-offs in this debate, showcasing research along with policy implications of putting research into use.

The global discussion on sustainability paints the broad canvas for this book. This volume aims to probe some contemporary issues that will help in understanding the sustainability narrative in India. The topics span over a host of questions on energy, environment, natural resources and related constituents of development. The discourse further extends to the role of economic modelling, public policy debates, political intervention, stakeholders’ response, community participation and so on. The discussions are often based on empirical support, review of existing literature as well as policy analysis. With an ultimate aim to understand the overall development narrative of the people of India, the discourse takes in its ambit the nuances of resource utilisation, economic growth, COVID-19 impacts, competitiveness and market structures, urbanization, sectoral reforms, environmental hazards, climate change, pollution, natural resource accounting and management to name a few.

The book is divided into four sections, namely, The Big Picture: Evolving Perspectives; The Energy Scenario: Dilemmas and Opportunities; Sustainability Cross-Cuts: Developmental Aspects and Externality Empirics: Knowledge and Practice. The first section contains commentaries on the overarching themes of economic growth, development and sustainability. It presents some emerging perspectives on the developmental crisis that has emerged through the environmental lens with additional focus on the need for inclusion of creativity, knowhow, technology and financial resources to achieve the ambitious SDG targets. The second section brings out the dilemmas and opportunities in the energy sector, that has been a key player in discussions of sustainability, especially for India where significant technological advances in conventional forms of energy supply coexists with fairly low levels of per capita energy consumption and energy security is a key challenge. The section on sustainability crosscuts attempts to highlight the problems and processes of mainstreaming the sustainability question into conventional thinking through the concepts of a circular economy, green accounting techniques, institutional and governance structures, public policy and inclusive growth, amongst others. The last section presents some empirical studies on environmental externalities, the unaccounted environmental effects of economic production and consumption and finally the behavioural aspects of the stakeholders that are crucial in the larger narrative of sustainable development.

This edited volume contains contributions of reputed scholars from various Indian universities, research institutions and professionals from outside academia, who are proven experts in their fields. The link between policy, practice, and well-being of the large vulnerable population of India is the major focus of enquiry that will help researchers, practitioners and policy planners in conducting further research in energy, environment, resource and linked areas of development economics. General readers with an active interest in energy, environment, and economic development are also likely to find this book an interesting read, especially in the times of several environmental challenges facing humankind.

Table of Contents

Introducing Contemporary Development and Sustainability Concerns for India
This chapter is an introduction to the book. The book itself is an attempt to further the discussion on the continued coexistence of synergies and incompatibilities, between sustainability and conventional economic development, in a world that considers itself to be plunged into a crisis as never before with the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first part of the chapter elaborates upon the context and rationale for the book, setting the tone for the second part which summarizes the main points from the chapters that follow. This introductory chapter introduces the reader to some of the key opportunities and challenges for sustainable development that have been examined in detail by the contributing authors in their subsequent chapters. The chapters cover various dimensions pertaining to the theory and practice of sustainability and have been organised into four themes, namely The Big Picture: Evolving Perspectives; The Energy Scenario: Dilemmas and Opportunities; Sustainability Cross-Cuts: Developmental Aspects; and Externality Empirics: Knowledge and Practice.
Purnamita Dasgupta, Anindita Roy Saha, Robin Singhal

The Big Picture: Evolving Perspectives

Fast-Growing Developing Countries: Dilemma and Way Forward in a Carbon-Constrained World
Many developing countries including Bangladesh and India will need fast growth through the next two decades in gross domestic product (GDP) to meet basic aspirations for decent living standards for their people. This will mean increased need for energy resources. However, global carbon emission limits put additional constraints on these fast-growing countries of this century adversely compared to their predecessors as latter had more unrestricted options to use fossil fuel. However, India’s energy-efficient economic growth path in industry sector, penetration of renewables in energy mix and alternative innovative agricultural practices in addition to dietary choice with low meat consumption are helping the country to maintain low per capita emissions. Bangladesh with unique positive social development is well positioned now to build energy infrastructure for faster economic growth. Power supply capacity that will grow by a factor of 3 now can leapfrog moving beyond gas to new cleaner fuels such as hydrogen and geothermal using its gas drilling and distribution infrastructure besides adding solar energy. The country has almost full untapped potential of energy efficiency improvements in energy demand sectors. International cooperation is necessary for such transitions and which can happen within Paris agreement and SDG framework.
Joyashree Roy, Nandini Das, Shreya Some, Hasan Mahmud
Looking Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic: What Does Our Future Hold?
COVID-19 came as a complex environmental shock taking the world by surprise. The pandemic has affected every country and virtually every aspect of human living—physical health and mental well-being, the economy, employment, travel, the natural environment, social practices and even political positions of governments. The whole world seems to be changing in an uncontrolled manner, fuelled by the disease, which is still not within control. This paper takes a long view of these changes, before, during and after the pandemic. COVID-19 presents an example of complex interactions between different aspects of social and natural reality. The near future presents alternative possibilities depending on whether societies and people go back to business-as-usual taking the pre-COVID norm as the benchmark, or they try out new alternatives of a more caring and stable world. There is no clear clue as to what will emerge, but human agency is potentially capable of bringing about enduring changes that make the world a better place to live in.
Anup Sinha
Identification of Urban Centres for Conducting Population Census; Need for Combining GIS with Socio-economic Data
This chapter studies issues involved in the identification of urban centres and determining their boundaries. It takes a critical look at the prevailing procedures of distinguishing urban centres from rural areas (and related terms) and proposes a new approach for areal classification and an operational methodology to address the current deficiencies in the system as followed in South Asian countries in conducting their population Census. An examination of the methodologies used by global institutions for delimiting urban centres’ boundaries and estimating urban population is undertaken including OECD methods, the framework used in World Development Report and the e-Geopolis project. A fourfold criteria for areal classification are proposed. The method proposed is illustrated with a case study of Sri Lanka, comparing results with their official estimates. Integrating GIS technology with socio-economic data, it highlights how existing estimates of urban population would change as a result of the new approach.
Amitabh Kundu
Competition, Technology, Innovation and Exports: Contemporary Theoretical Insights
New theoretical insights to tackle certain enduring and emerging issues in the context of market structure, technological innovations and exports are presented in the paper. We deal with the underlying mechanisms and outlines of theoretical frameworks in terms of a survey paper. Apart from the general survey of the literature, we specially bring to the fore the role played by technology and competition in innovation and export decisions. We also consider the issue of finance and credit constraints as determining factors behind export behaviour of firms. The results in general substantially challenge the conventional wisdom.
Sugata Marjit, Suryaprakash Mishra, Moushakhi Ray
An Evaluation of Monetary Policy in India: A Sustainable Development Perspective
This chapter attempts to evaluate the performance of monetary policy in terms of its effectiveness in influencing the rate of economic growth and controlling inflation. The importance of these two policy objectives comes to the fore, especially when viewed through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Growth is critical for combating poverty and undertaking redistributive measures to mitigate inequality within nations (SDGs 1 and 10), whereas managing inflation, especially food inflation, lies at the core of strategies designed to end hunger and achieve food and nutrition security (SDG 2). The performance evaluation undertaken in the paper is based on a review of relevant literature in the Indian context, focusing especially on the post-liberalization period. Given the centrality of monetary policy measures in the Indian government’s response to the economic pandemic wrought by COVID-19, perhaps such an appraisal is needed now, more than ever before. To begin with, a brief overview of the conduct of monetary policy in India provides the necessary background for the remaining analysis. The effectiveness of monetary transmission in affecting aggregate demand and output in the Indian context, especially in recent times, is examined thereafter. The phenomenon of inflation, especially food price inflation and the efficacy of monetary measures in controlling it, is discussed next. Findings from the literature are then used to assess recent liquidity measures of the Indian government for economic revival in pandemic times and conclude.
Ananya Ghosh Dastidar, Kajleen Kaur

The Energy Scenario: Dilemmas and Opportunities

The Genesis of Electricity Reform in India and the UK, its Repercussions and the Way forward
This is a short essay tracing the origin of power sector reforms in India, how it evolved and what was the architecture that was followed. A comparison has been made with the power sector restructuring program followed in the UK with specific reference to competition. Does the Indian restructuring program really usher in competition or is it merely unbundling into separate entities which makes no material difference in terms of efficiency and growth? The essay briefly describes how the power sector performed in India, post-restructuring and what has been the contribution of the regulatory bodies, if any. Have the regulatory bodies been proactive as in the case of UK or have they degenerated into passive organisations only doing the government’s bidding? The essay finally suggests a way forward on how to improve the functioning of the distribution sector and the recommendation that is being made is privatisation of the distribution companies. It is strongly felt that public-owned distribution companies can never deliver since there is a clear lack of accountability which gets further complicated on account of government interference. Despite restructuring, the government still feels that the distribution companies are no better than its own backyard.
Somit Dasgupta
Embeddedness of Economic Reforms in Regional Political Climate: A Case of Delayed Reforms in Bihar’s Electricity Sector
Often national-level policies are studied without giving due attention to the regional political context. However, it is widely recognized that significant differences do arise in the way policies get implemented in different regions. This chapter underscores the importance of the regional political context in explaining the much-delayed reforms that took place in the electricity sector of Bihar. The performance of the electricity sector is essentially embedded in three major epochs in the political history of Bihar in which a fifteen-year period of a particular political party figures centrally. The state was delayed in reforming the sector due to their approach of ‘state incapacity by design’ which was deeply rooted in a larger sociopolitical institution called caste that is dominant in Bihar. Eventually, Bihar succeeded in reforming its power sector in the post-2012 period with the change in the political regime where power sector reform was given high priority. Enhancement in networks and customer base, organizational restructuring and mobilization of financial resources were possible because of sufficient political support towards this basic developmental challenge.
Md Zakaria Siddiqui
Towards an Energy-Efficient Economy: Policy Measures by Government of India
India, the second-most populous country in the world and the third-largest consumer of primary energy, faces the challenge of meeting the twin objectives of fulfilling the aspirations of its citizens by providing them a reasonable standard of living while at the same time to protect its environment and meet climate change objectives. A potent strategy for India that can help in achieving both these objectives is that of energy efficiency. However, literature talks about an energy efficiency gap implying that actual energy efficiency is rarely at the optimal level, if ever. Economic theory suggests a variety of economic instruments to close this energy efficiency gap. The Government of India has adopted various policy measures to enhance the energy efficiency of its industrial and household sector. The chapter aims at analysing these energy efficiency interventions by the Government of India and comment on their performance.
Sangeeta Bansal, M. Rahul
Climbing Energy Ladder or Fuel Stacking in Indian Households: A Multinomial Logit Approach
There has been a significant increase in the use of clean fuels for cooking like LPG in India in past years, especially after the government started promoting LPG through different programmes. But it is often found that, in spite of the fact that some households who have LPG connectivity, are still continuing with the use of unclean fuels like biomass (fuelwood, dung-cake etc.) or kerosene in their households. The present study analyses whether the households are actually switching fuels or stacking multiple fuels though they have access to clean energy. The study highlights the role of socio-economic factors that influence a household’s probability of relying on a single fuel or multiple fuels simultaneously for cooking in India. The paper uses multinomial logit model to analyse their role in the choice between only biomass, biomass with other fuels, kerosene and no biomass, LPG and no biomass. The data is derived from Consumer Expenditure Survey of National Sample Survey Organization. The analysis is done for the rural and urban sectors separately. The model shows that in rural areas households prefer biomass or biomass with other fuels over LPG with larger number of household members, increase in the age of the household head, self-employed groups or even increase in education level of household heads in some occasions, while in urban areas LPG is the preferred choice of fuel.
Chetana Chaudhuri
Understanding Energy Use in Indian Agricultural Production System in Post-WTO Period
This paper tries to explore the intensity of energy usage in agriculture sector in various states of India. Further panel data approach has been put to use to understand the energy use in post-WTO period. The picture sketched by this investigation demonstrates that spatial and temporal distribution of agricultural productivities varies markedly among states. Further, the results indicate that the high productive states saw a negative response of animal labour and chemical fertilizer use in the food grain production.
Manoj Bhatt, Surya Bhushan
COVID-19 and the Big Oil Price Crash: Exploring the Anatomy
Crude oil prices have fallen drastically since the beginning of 2020 driven by the lethal double blow of economic contraction caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and suspension of an OPEC-NOPEC (OPEC+) deal due to defection of Russians. Eventually a price war got waged by Saudi Arabia and led to a protracted disequilibrium and volatility in the world oil market. The worst fallouts could be observed when Western Texas Intermediate, the benchmark crude oil futures price plunged below zero for the first time on 20th April 2020 and made it a Black Monday. The huge volatility made energy companies file for their bankruptcy; the shale in the US and the much-hyped American energy dominance got severely battered; caused huge job losses; and bruised the financial institutions that have been backing these industries. The coupling of unprecedented demand and supply shocks tested the oil market and its storage capacity to the limits. To gauge these issues and the imbalances that has been building in the system more carefully, the chapter examines the changing dynamics of oil markets in the COVID-19 affected world in deeper details.
Kaushik Ranjan Bandyopadhyay

Sustainability Cross-Cuts: Developmental Aspects

Recourse to the Circular Economy: The Path Ahead
Advancements in science and technology have raised our understanding regarding the levels and types of unsustainability to a greater degree. The world is facing formidable challenges in laying down a path towards a sustainable economy. Undoubtedly, several supply-side factors are crucial in sustainability discourse. However, the demand-side factors have a critical role to play in determining—how long-term sustainability would unfold? Globally, the concept of the circular economy (CE) is being advocated as an effective means of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns in the times ahead. In this backdrop, this chapter provides a review of the conceptual foundations of the CE as was first proposed by Pearce and Turner, and analyses the scope and methodological framework of CE in terms of its inter-linkages with other fields such as industrial ecology and ecological economics. It further provides an overview of the recent initiatives of the Government of India towards the adoption of CE. Finally, it puts forth an economic perspective towards CE and highlights some potential hindrances in its mainstreaming from the economic methodology point of view in the realm of the neoclassical economic paradigm. It concludes that there is an urgent need to move beyond the techno-centric and business-oriented understanding of CE to a framework that attempts to integrate with the socio-economic realities and development priorities of the developing economies.
Robin Singhal
Ambient Air Pollution and Respiratory Illness: A Study in Opencast Coal Mining Region of Odisha
Coal is the cheapest source of energy, so the economic importance of coal is critical for an emerging economy like India. Although the benefit of coal is enjoyed by the entire nation, the environmental externalities and adverse health impacts are highly confined to the mining neighbourhood only. Moreover, mining regions in India are mostly located in the vast tracts of remote forests and inhabited by marginalized tribal people.
In this study, we examine whether the high concentration of ambient air pollution in the largest coal mining (open cast) region of Odisha triggers the vulnerabilities of respiratory illness (RI) among the people living in the proximity of the mining region. We also examine the socio-economic determinants of mitigating expenditure on RI undertaken by the people in the vicinity of the mining region. The study is based on a longitudinal primary survey in the Mahanadi Coal field (MCL) area of Angul–Talcher open cast coal mining region of Odisha.
Our results suggest that the probability of self-reported RI episodes is negatively affected by the distance to mine and is positively affected by the treatment dummy, when we control for village fixed effects, seasonality and a bunch of socio-economic, health and demographic determinants. The statistical significance of these two predictor variables (which serve as proxy for the concentration of ambient air pollution) confirms our hypothesis. Further, RI-related health expenditure incurred is significantly determined by the incidence (or severity) of RI, proximity to healthcare facilities overall health status. These findings provide some insights to adverse health externalities in the open cast mining region and demands the policy attention to look beyond the obvious positive economic impacts of mining.
Indrani Roy Chowdhury, Anusree Paul, Tapaswini Nayak
Rice Production Systems and Drought Resilience in India
Hydro-climatic events such as drought tend to be responsible for much of agricultural output losses and to some extent income and livelihood loss across vulnerable communities in India. Several crops which are important for ensuring food security and sustaining livelihood are vulnerable to drought. Using rice as a representative crop, this study assesses the impact of drought on rice production systems in India. Based on a comprehensive district-level data set spanning over five decades, the study explores whether rice has become resilient to drought in India. The study also probes the extent of influence irrigation has in ameliorating the adverse impacts of drought on rice yield. The findings based on multiple empirical strategies suggest that rice crop has indeed become resilient to drought in India. The results also suggest significant regional disparities in the resilience of rice yield to different drought conditions. Irrigation did play an important role in making the rice crop less vulnerable to drought. However, irrigation is more effective in easing the adverse effects of low and moderate drought on rice yield than those imposed by severe drought.
K. S. Kavi Kumar
Water Disputes in the Cauvery and the Teesta Basins: Conflictual Federalism, Food Security, and Reductionist Hydrology
This paper postulates that the water conflicts in India are essentially results of three major policy-driven factors: (a) the federal structure of the nation, where water has been made part of the State List; (b) wrong delineation of the food security policy with food security being viewed through the lens of production and procurement of high water-consuming crops like rice and wheat; and (c) lack of an integrated ecosystems approach to understand the land–water–food nexus in the water policy of the nation. The same has been argued in this paper with expositions from two transboundary water conflicts, namely the interstate water conflicts over the Cauvery, and the water conflicts at various levels over the Teesta (Bangladesh–India, centre-state, economy-ecosystem). In the process, the paper argues for a paradigm change from the reductionist approach to a holistic approach to water governance embedded in the emerging thinking of Integrated Water Resource Governance at a basin scale.
Nilanjan Ghosh, Sayanangshu Modak
Renewable Energy in India: What It Means for the Economy and Jobs
The paper is an attempt to relate renewable energy (RE) diffusion to important macroeconomic variables for India. It has utilized macroeconometric time-series methods to estimate the potential for RE diffusion by capturing its temporal movement with respect to variables such as gross domestic product (GDP), population, fiscal deficit, call money rate, energy imports and unemployment rate. An auto regressive distributed lag (ARDL) model has been estimated, which is then used to forecast the RE potential under three alternative cases—business-as-usual, optimistic and pessimistic. The ARDL model estimation pointed towards an equilibrium co-integrating long-run relationship between RE and key macroeconomic variables. The long-run level of GDP, call money rate and the ratio of renewable energy to fossil energy tariffs were found to be positively associated with RE diffusion, while fiscal deficit, net energy imports, population access to electricity, population level and unemployment displayed a negative relationship with RE. It has also been found that, relative to the initial official target of RE capacity of 175 GW by 2022 (recently revised to 225 GW) of the Indian government, these are likely to be achieved later in time. Further, the contribution of the RE sector to cumulative job creation in 2042 has been assessed at around 4390 thousand, 5055 thousand and 2227 thousand in the case of business-as-usual (BAU), optimistic and pessimistic scenarios, respectively. Thus, besides energy and environmental security, RE could offer significant employment co-benefits to the macroeconomy of India. This is especially promising given the need for quick recovery of the Indian economy in a post-COVID-19 period.
Meeta Keswani Mehra, Saptarshi Mukherjee, Gaurav Bhattacharya, Sk. Md. Azharuddin

Externality Empirics: Knowledge and Practice

Embracing Natural Resource Accounting in India: Some Reflections
National accounts based on the System of National Accounts (SNA) are limited in scope and coverage and hence inadequate for obtaining information on determinants of growth process and sustainability of development. This paper highlights some of the missing elements of SNA accounts with respect to contribution of natural resources and its implications. Sustainability analyses call for the mainstreaming of a system of natural resource accounting that integrates information on environment-economy interactions. The System of Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA) by the UN provides the conceptual framework for understanding such interactions. It was adopted by the UNSD as the first international statistical standard for environmental-economic accounting in 2012, and the framework along with its standardised methodology serves as a ready reckoner for countries looking to mainstream natural resource accounting. This paper presents the conceptual framework and scope of the SEEA. Widespread adoption of SEEA will support critical global initiatives such the monitoring of SDG indicators, the post-2020 biodiversity agenda and international climate policy. In this context, the paper also presents the Indian narrative on the initiatives by the government towards mainstreaming of natural resource accounting, which have been sporadic, albeit noteworthy and encouraging.
Shalini Saksena
Environment and People: Reflections on Perception, Education and Behaviour
To ensure economic development in an environmentally sustainable manner, science, society and state have to come to a cooperative platform. An effective environmental policy can gear people towards pro-environmental behaviour and build a community that shows environmental commitment. However, the stakeholders’ response must also be guided by consciousness, education and training. Family, educational institutions and other social agencies play crucial roles in shaping the behaviour of people. The current study examines the status of environmental education and disaster preparedness training available in the formal educational systems of urban India. It further investigates the role of other stakeholders in civil society, such as media, in spreading environmental information and awareness. The study suggests that the existing pedagogy of environmental education needs to sensitize the community towards a sustainable living instead of imparting mere knowledge about sustainable development. Mandatory education for disaster management must be incorporated in the regular academic curricula as a basic knowledge for life. In its role as a communicator, media should be more responsible while presenting environmental information to society. These findings may act as inputs for framing policies for a sustainable India, where the youth is trained, equipped and dedicated to building their common sustainable future.
Anindita Roy Saha, Nawin Kumar Tiwary
Uncertainty and Causality in Public Policy: The Cases of Heart Disease and Climate Change
Uncertainty is a key feature of the world; when we consider actions to take, we confront uncertainty, but also issues of causality. We begin with an analytical framework that builds on probability both to express uncertainty as well as causality. We then consider uncertainty and normative decision frameworks. We then see how causal inference informs us about heart disease and climate change. We end with a brief consideration of beliefs, communication and literacy.
Vikram Dayal
Unbundling Air Pollution Concerns: A Closer Look at Socio-economic Factors
Several cities in India have poor air quality with pollutants exceeding the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Cities with high pollution levels vary substantially in terms of the type of pollutant and meteorological conditions. Given the adverse impacts of air pollution on health and well-being of citizens and its negative impacts on the economy, managing air pollution is a top priority. However, the cities and the states that these belong to differ substantially with regard to natural capital endowments, demographic and socio-economic characteristics and hence are not similarly positioned to tackle air pollution. This study examines the empirical evidence on air quality with income, demographic and socio-economic factors at the state level, using PM10 concentration levels as an indicator of pollution. The insights from the analysis maybe relevant for the current measures being considered to tackle pollution including the recently launched National Clean Air Programme. Designing economic mechanisms and resource allocation which takes on board the heterogeneity across states and decentralizes decision-making for similarly affected regions maybe important for tackling pollution.
Purnamita Dasgupta, Kavitha Srikanth
Modelling Production of Bad Outputs: Theory and Empirics
Generally, unintended outputs are generated while producing desired outputs. Standard production theory ignores the production of unintended outputs, especially when the market for these outputs is missing or absent and produces unreliable estimates of the production processes and fails to credit the producer for their efforts invested in reducing bad outputs. This chapter provides an overview of different approaches to modelling bad outputs. Bad outputs can be modelled either following a joint production approach or by-production approach. The joint production framework is based on the axioms of null jointness in the production of good and bad outputs and weak disposability of bad outputs. The by-production approach assumes costly disposability of bad outputs rather than weak disposability. This approach treats good and dirty inputs asymmetrically. It postulates that the dirty inputs cannot be disposed off in free. However, in the empirical applications, the joint production approach is more popular, and the later approach is yet in its infancy.
Surender Kumar
Sustainable Development Insights from India
Dr. Purnamita Dasgupta
Prof. Anindita Roy Saha
Dr. Robin Singhal
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Springer Singapore
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