From green revolution to green gold: the evolution of the Indian National Mission on biodiesel
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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) as a rural development policy option to produce biodiesel from Jatropha curcas and promoted it as a pro-poor and pro-growth initiative. This thesis examines the emergence, trajectory, and the consequences of the NMB to assess how the NMB worked as a test development policy programme in India. The thesis focuses on the policy-making process in India, particularly the role of narratives in development policy-making and how it leads to blueprint development. It argues that the narratives supporting the NMB were based on shaky scientific facts and did not represent the needs of the rural people. The thesis takes into account that policy processes involve various actors, networks, their interactions and their knowledge, communication of knowledge and politics. It traces the role of various actors such as policy-makers, bureaucrats, researchers, professionals from private companies and NGOs, farmers, and landless labourers involved in the biodiesel mission. This thesis is anchored in the discipline of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and it draws from Actor Network Theory (ANT) and Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) to analyse how the NMB progressed as a test policy model and whether it really was a ‘pro-poor’, ‘pro-growth’ development initiative. Hence this thesis studies how development narratives were used to promote the biodiesel initiative, how networks were created to establish the biodiesel mission as a policy option and advocate its adoption, and in turn how the NMB progressed as a development initiative. As the thesis draws from SCOT the discussion will emphasise on the practices of a society adopting a technology/development initiative, the importance of users (scientists, policy-makers, farmers, labourers, representatives from the industry and NGOs), how users are represented, and in turn how the NMB had an impact on the people adopting it. This thesis contributes to the understanding of the policy-making process of development renewable policies in India and it also examines the apparent inevitability of technological solutions to development challenges. It also contributes to the literature of narratives serving as ‘blueprints’ for development policy-making. Additionally it adds to the literature on biofuels and reveals the complex nature of regional and national networks that comprise a part of the rising Global Biofuel Network.