EPIC Seminar Series: Evolving Federalism in the Indian Coal Industry

5:30–7:00 pm
UChicago Center in Delhi


From Independence onwards, the Central government gradually expanded its power over the Indian coal industry, culminating in nationlisation in the early 1970s. Above and beyond simple royalty sharing agreements, state-level claim-making on the industry has been forced to take more varied forms: union leadership, organised coal theft, extracting rents from subcontracting, and building public goods through state-owned enterprises. As a consequence, Coal India as an organisation has had to work as an intermediary between Central and State governments, becoming an essential political actor in coal-bearing areas. In parallel, since nationalisation, Coal India also had to manage its relative position, jockeying primarily with Railways and Power for pricing, resource allocation, and investment. Far from being a rule-taking, apolitical organisation, Coal India's effectiveness has come largely from its ability to work with and around widely varying political environments around India.

Bio: Rohit Chandra is currently a doctoral student in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. His dissertation is focused on the Indian coal industry, looking in particular at the ability of the Indian state and state-owned enterprises to adapt to varying economic and political conditions from 1950-2009. More broadly, he works on energy and infrastructure issues in India with a historical view.

The EPIC-India Seminar Series is run every month, and looks to provide a platform for researchers, policy makers and the public at large to discuss and debate important questions facing the energy and environment sectors in India.   Registrations are free and open to all. The Seminar Series is supported by the Tata Trusts, as a project under the Tata Center for Development.