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'I I



• f '�





'One Valley and a Thousand' Dams, Nationalism, and Development



Dedicated to my parents, Betty and Walter Klingensmith


Foreword by Mahesh Rangarajan Preface

Vlll Xl

Introduction Dams and Development after Sixty Years

1. 'The Grand Job of this Century' The Early TVA in Politics and Ideology, 1933-45

1 41

2. 'Patience and a Desire to Teach' The 'TVA Idea' in American Liberal Nationalism, 1945-65


3. 'River Training' The Damodar as the Tennessee, 1943-48


4. TVA on the Damodar _,,,,,..�,

The DVC, 1946-64


15. Nationalist Engineering '


-- Building India's Dams, 1945-70


6. 'Temples of the New Age' Development and the Limits of Legitimation, 1947-64


Conclusion The Nation and its Rivers

Bibliography Index

276 285



Few issues have been as contentious as the fate of the rivers of India. Where and how the flow, how much water they contain, and who uses or abuses them is not influenced by nature alone. Human histories intertwine at every level and every stage of the journey from the source of the rivers in mountains and hill ranges right to the completion of their journey to the sea. The issues of rivers have been subject to competing visions of the future. Rival claimants divide up into nation states or constituent units of the same federal polity. More often than not, the creation of large dam systems brings a promise of plenty to some and results in the displacement and possible destitution of others. The dawn of a new century sees what may at first ight seem waters of hope to be waters of contention. Strife has often come as a tar­ cro sed twin of hope.

The mid-point of the twentieth century was a critical moment of passage in the journey to the place we are now at. It was then that the vision of using technology to master nature gained immensely in appeal across political systems and economic id ologie . India and the United States, for all their mutual distrust, ended up deeply influencing each other acros a range of theatres where humans interface with their environment. In the late nineteenth century, American foresters and hydraulic engineers learnt from British India as they tried to replicate these successes in their own vast continental landscape. By the time India be ame independent, the wheel had turned full circle. Earlier, scholars had traced how the Dust Bowl and its accompanying fears of water sources drying up due to unwise land use practices was picked up by British Indian administrators. This, however, was only one part of a larger story. It is to the credit of Daniel Klingensmith that he takes up where many have left off. He begins with the story of the creation of the Te�essee Valley Authority in the United States in the New Deal peno� under Franklin �lano Roosevelt, arguably the most influential Amencan head of state m the twentieth century. The idea of building



a series of dams in the Deep South had to do with much more than mere tec�cal progress. It was integral to a larger vision, though not a monoht�c orn�. Even the two men who first headed the Authority were to differ widely on what it had achieved and which way it was to be reshaped. What is fascinating is how the notion of large-scale river projects had gained currency in a very different setting in India well before Independence. While the story of Dewan Visweswaraya in Mysore is well known, the author sheds light on the intellectual and political lineages of the Damodar Valley Authority in eastern India. The physicist Meghnad Saha' s appropriation of leaders as disparate as Franklin Roosevelt and Vladimir Illyich Lenin must rank as most ingenious. The notion of taming a river and ushering in a new dawn in eastern India had extensive support from an array of figures in the Congress' ranks. Opponents of the party like B.R. Ambedkar and modernist leaders like Nehru and Morarji Desai saw dams as essential structures to break the bonds of village society and ensure a firm economic base for the new nation state. Interestingly, there were voices of caution but these were for the most part ignored. In his magisterial Machines as Measures of Men, the American historian Michael Adas argued that technical progress often became a benchmark of how far a society was modem. This, in tum, led to new and often unprecedented pressures on rural producers, the very people such projects were meant to emancipate from drudgery and poverty. At a time when the�·e is often deep disillusionment with such ventures, it is critical to ask why they had such extensive support from decision-makers. Klingensmith avoids the trap of labelling 'Big is Beautiful' as an alien import. He also demonstrates how the idea dove-tailed with several other facets of national economic transformation and societal change. After all, the saga of big dams was not specific to either India or the United States. Jamal Abd al-Nassar staked much of his plans in Egypt on the Aswan dam on the Nile; to the north, the Ataturk dam on the Euphrates symbolized the Turkish nation state; the Soviet Union eulogized for young Red Pioneers the story of the damming of the Dnieper; southern Africa was a great arena of dam-making, most so

from its apartheid regime, while Nationalist and Communist Chinese

looked forward to the taming of the Yangtze river. There was less thought to unintended consequences. Even less so for those in the



e. The blind spots vi he arth and hom . arian areas who might lose ss divides of rs acro ake n-m sio · . . g wereshare d bY deci np • or secuIar. logies, religious ideo avis dam-makin of tter ma t a orfor th all colour and country' of which ns, reaso three ble for not one but This book is remarka but malleable and . cal criti as s idea ees t s • terconnecte d. FJr5t, 1· • are m when l abelling . ed at a tune . . USbut often overlook e o1 • g This ISOb.VIO nowhere more so than and on, . comm • oo t • all . 15 v avm s by thetr ongJr!S ide · adherents. Further, movement and its r a ps • the environmental a mode much like a into fall easily too all ology ec hn m t � pe f o . . . the issues 1S inherently �ali� �at all on focusin� e narrativ morality play, with a some, for while big or benign in a particular model. Small is beautiful is so for others. Neither stops to ask why these models became attractive in the first place. Or to ponder over whether the divide is over technological mear!S or the mode of society that adopts it. This is a temptation Klingensmith never succumbs to. Most fascinating, he shows ho w even early adherent s of a line of action turn more in�pective as time progresses. Ferreting out these nuggets from pnvate papers and letters, or from obscure journals often reveals more th'.111. one might anticipate of the flow and ebb of great ideas. Finally, this 15 a rare work that bridges cultures and countries. It is no mean tas to kn�w the Deep South of the United States as closely the nooks an ; cr anrues of eastern Indian polit ics. But it is a synthesis at which the au thor exc els. What remains is a 5 t ory replete with food for thou ght. The Damodar and Tenne ssee Valley Authon' ti es are not quite so far off in the distant past as th .g their narratives t �y � ht seem. Even as we re-learn and re-think ' he msi ts fro gh m these stones These are no easy • have much to offer. prescn ti 0 be re�d off the she patterns and pr lf as dee per ocesses thar : 0 reflection. Klingensmith's . boo k 15 an invitati�n to one 'th re . sonances fo a dialogue with the past, r our shared priv:;1 ege and a p not common future. It is a leasure to c � ommend it to the reader. November 2006


MAHFsH RANGARAJAN Visiting Professor Department of History Jadavpur University Kollcata


In the twentieth century, large dams displaced tens of millions of people, and dramatically altered both ecosystems and social systems centred on rivers across the world. This book attempts to explain how dams came to play such a significant role in the development efforts of the American and Indian governments, and indirectly others as well, in the decades following the close of the Second World War. It is a history, not of dams in themselves or of their effects (important though they are), as of the political significance attached to them in two specific but intersecting contexts: India and the United States after around 1940. Its point of departure is the extensive rhetoric, Indian and American, invoking the Tennessee Valley Authority (IV A) as a 'model' for development transformations. The TVA was perhaps the first icon of development, a widely discussed and admired 'model' for development around the time the latter emerged as a specific concern of transnational public policy discussions. What did frequent allusions to creating 'new TVAs' mean (especially in India, where i t was frequently cited), given that i n any significant sense the agency was never duplicated inside or outside the United States? What does this rhetoric reveal about the normative context of dam-building and other kinds of development for governments, especially in light of the di placement and ecological transformation (and degradation) these efforts often entailed?

I have written this book in the hope that it might be of interest to a variety of different readers. I am by profe sion an academic historian, with research and teaching interests in the histories of environmentalism, of colonialism and its aftermath, of South Asia, and of the United States. I hope that fellow students of these arious fields will find something of value here. But I also hope that it will be useful to readers with interests in the ongoing construction of dams throughout the world, and in development and environmental policy more generally. Therefore I have tried to make the book accessible to readers from different intellectual and disciplinary backgrounds,



ur. In pla es, this has aIYtical rigo • J·cal or an p JJ m e that will be farm·1·iar g tion cin fi rma cri as an d info e wi. thout sa id of ns io d:�,.,•ss meant short ers. ew to oth . urred many debts: Ralph Austen to some but n i e I ha ve n ok bo s thi d fed my inter st in In writing loru·aJ history an co f O d fiel the e tO m ; h also h as he Id ent ed . pm duc intro sm and develo between c ol oru� 1 Rudolph has ar Lloyd y. it connections cl d . . rds o f ev1den ce an perspective and me to high 5_tanda tion rma info for tite ap m e ulg n d unstintingly i � y p�c the ideological history of ncan po l1 ti al hist ory on Ind"ian and Ame . number of other topics. any n tal issues and develo pm ent, envrronme ' k more �-•tic • all and flexi"bly thin to me � � Susanne Rudolph challenged of evel opm ent. 1tic� po ral cultu the of xt conte . about dams in the larger ing and to repushed me to harpe . n my think. ··to Prasen1 . 1 uara, too, advised graciously Nandy Ashis level. ery evaluate assumptions at ev my research while I was in India and steered_ m e t�ward m�ch unexpected information. Richard Tucker talked with me mto the rught once many years ago about the p ostwar history of dam-building, and has since then continu ed to expand my awareness of perspectives in environmental history. These six scholar made it possible for me to complete the first version of this study, a dissertation I wrote several years ago. Most of all, I tharik them for encouraging m e to link seemingly remote fields of knowledge-at first having faith that the connections _I posited really made sense, and later showin m g e how I could establish them more effectively. At Maryville College, I have been lucky to have had the support of a n umber of colleagues who in different ways made it possible to ex t end my resear h and im c prove this book. I would like especially to thank Chad Be r g e , Peggy Cowan : Johnni Freer, Carl Gombert, Mark1a1�:! un � Bill Mey er M M �Ois, Nancy Locklin-Sofer, Dori May , os' Rog�r y ers, Robert ary Naylor, Connie Overholt, Sam Ov�treet Bria: P Schneibel, Stev; So ��gton, Will Phillips, Angela Quick, Susan ud reva than, and '.115 like to thank Frank Van Aalst. I would the Co ll:e'5 Fa� ulty Develo its won derful l pment Committee and ibrary staff� ror th eir suppo rt. Man Other scholars have the Way. rmu also h elped or stthanJcin encouraged me along part icuJ tt A a Mark Baker, Adity a ;;� y� aham , Michael Adas, Arun Kat herine: � Gul'!3, Jo hn D'M�ia, �i), David Biggs, Betsy r Ro Souza, Ja mes Egge, Kesevan, B ellette'� Gupta, Danie l Headrick · , Toby Jones, Amiya Leslie, Sa ngeetha_ Luthra , Colin Masica,



s!:; t




Abigail McGowan, Michelle Molina, Erica Peters, Shankar Ramaswamy, Asha Rani, Nikhil Rao, Ramnarayan Rawat, Daisy Rockwel , Prabhat Sarangi, K. Si ara makrishnan, Ajantha Subramanian, Shields Sundberg, Himanshu Thakkar, Gregory Wilson, Andrew Wyatt, and Eleanor Zelliot. I e p cially wish to thank Ramachandra Guha and Mahesh Rangarajan for their ad ice in revising my manuscript, and Mahesh Rangarajan for on tributing a Foreword to the final version.

In addition, I have benefited from the oppottunity to discuss some of the ideas in this book at variou onf ren es. The li ely discussion on the part of fellow paneli ts and m mbers of the audienc on these occasions pushed me to refine my analy is and search for new information. Portions of this work were presented t the University of Wisconsin's annual conferences on South Asia in 1996 and 1997, conferences of the American Society for Environmental History in 2002 and 2003 and the Societ y for the History of Technology in1997 and 2005, the conference dedicated to 'Rethinking Development and the Environment' at the Center for International and Area Studies at Yale Univer ity (1998), and the University of Chicago's,•Area Studies Redux', a conference in honour of Su anne and Lloyd Rudolph (2003).

I am especially fortunate to have had the cooperation of information officers at both the TVA and the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC). I owe a special debt to P.C. Bose and the late Sarojit Datta, both of who m facilitated my tour of D C facilities and my talks with DVC e mployees. I am also grateful to the staffs of seve ral libraries in addition to the Mar ville College library mentioned above: y the Olive Kettering Library at Antioch College, the Seeley Mudd Library at Princeton University, the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago, the Hodges Library at the University of Tennessee, the Harry Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri, Library of Congress in Wa hington, the National Archives centre in East Point, Georgia, the ehru Library and the entral Secretariat Library in Delhi, the Ratan Tata Library at th Delhi Sch I of Economic , and the National Library .in Kolkata.

Several institutions have supported this research in different ways. I want to thank the University of Chicago, the Mellon Fellowships in the Humanities programme, the Institute for International Education, the United States Educational Foundation in India, the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, and Maryville College. I would also like to thank Oxford University Pres for its support for helping this book see the light of day. Portions of this book appeared in an earlier



. 1 Modernities: The Cultural Politics t,ook Reg1ona � y it y K Sivarama kr.1shr1an an d Ar un .' ers oxford univ . India, ed1ted b "' nt e m p . 01r D evelo in 2003. d publtshed ir bt to those who shared the Agrawal an · ge a spec t'al de led ow kn ac to ated here. Enaks hi Chatte11ee, rel ry 1 wan t t s hi riences of the . : nd Asok Mitra re alled . f or me first-hand expe. y Chat terjee, a m n tt a S � the lat osphere aroun d p 1 anrung and . atm al the tellectu som ethin g of_ n the 1940s and SOs. I owe more Komata and Delhi i development m ; Hart. I thank Mrs Sen for enry H d an Sen al than I can re_pa y to and for her other acts of n, Se Sudhir �u:band her recollections Of her 1 e w1'th TVA , Iater began his work'mg J'f . ess. Pro fessor Hart . . kindn 'ed th e DVC' and then went on to view both these earIier mterests studi • apparent m • lars hip and ai'd 1s with a critical eye . My debt to h is scho these pages. 1 must also thank other friends who helped me in various ways. Thanks, many thanks, to Vesper Mei, Bala Mohan, Jyoti Pandey, Sheel Kumar Raghav, AK. Sinha, Aaron York, and William Wolf, and to many other friends for their support and kindness as I have finished this project . My immediate and extended families have been an inexhaustible source of support of all kinds. My brothers and sisters and their childre� helped me in more practical ways than I can count. My mother-in-law, Anne S. Klenk, hel d me pe find useful but obscure books. My �ts, Betty and Walter Klingensmith, have never ceased to offer their love encourage . ment and practica l help of every possible kind. They have �tin '. d nounshe my interests in history, nature, people, and the decad JY es book covers.My son,AaronKlingens hasinspired e o mith to future, and ::C, t: gtry' Write a book that will be of some use for th� et t d t o • ne F contribu �r, Rebecca Klenk, has ted her love, suppo . inally: mY partn . rt, and skills as a critica to the making o l reader and thinker f this book, and I owe her the largest Without the ai debt of all. d f the many would not ha people mentioned ve been .:ntt here, this book en. But n ot all of Would agree those whom I have thanked With eve o . ry ne of its general ar ul� conclusions or even its 'Ihe mis�t. My gratitude d�c n ot imply their endo Ill this boo rsement k, largeors maU,are my ow n.

Introduction Dams and Development after Sixty Years

Strange Neglect By the end of the twentieth century, the world's governments had built more than forty-five thousand large dams-possibly as many as forty-eight thousand. The o erwhelming majori ty of these, around forty thousand, were constructed after 1945. These dams, and the reservoirs behind them, had cumulatively pushed somewhere between forty and eighty million people from their homes and lands. There are dams on approximately sixty per cent of the wor]d's rivers, and on nearly every larger river.1 These figures come from the report of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), released in November 2000. While some parts of that report are controversial, the numbers it suggests for displacement and for construction have not generated much dispute. It is s trange, though, that there is not more precision about those numbers. The WCD solicited input from governments and development agencies (including one of its institutional parents, the World Bank), bureaucracies which as a matter of course keep extensive records. Possibly the discrepancy of up to three thousand in the total number of dams built can be ascribed to lack of clarity as to what constitutes a 'large dam',2 or to bureaucratic confusion on the part of participating institutions. The discrepancy in the number of people displaced is harder to understand. The higher estimate is twice the lower, and the 1 World Commission on Darns 2000. A much smaller but growing number of dams have been built by private corporations. 2 The WCD defines a large dam as one fifteen or more metres high, measured from its foundation, or a smaller dam with a reservoir volume of more than three million cubic metres. There are a great many more darns which do not meet these size requirements, some of which a re still of very significant size or function and which have cumulatively displaced many people.


'One Valley and a Th


How can it be so . • the tens of millions. • m is 1:r-tude here order of marl' I also d ra wn gent>ral discussion of th.is topi. c, see Anderson 1983. w 1 � and 1998; on mort> Specific analy ses Pr (Chatterjee 1986 and 1993· y akash 1999) tht·y de·al wi that are of par 'N e th tjcu 1a .mtere1.t to m and Alll4>rican the _role ?f science and e because lechn0I ogy � llilhonahsm Ill the making of Indian s.

lntroductum existing bodies of people bound by '°m • kind of invisibl are instead 'imagined communities', in Eenedict Ande known phrase,30 in which politics i, often about \'. ho imagining, who is or isn't 'truly' a Mt of th!:! n tion. and a the 'mission' of a nation to the rest of the\ ·orld is. • tioria far from being essential or fixed, are p rpetu.;lly und-1· in re ponse to internal and external political a."!d cultural their c nstructi n involves a struggl for pow r.

This theme in particular informs Chapter Two, o and overseas development as a part of postwar Arn and pter Three, Five, and Six, which L--1 dille dam-building in the context of Indian n.ationaf ·n ..md t lin 1990 and


'One Valley and


a Thousand'

lization is the r ecognition of h a denatura d On e m o v � : :�� historical rootedness. In the late 1940 , as r ti developme�t s P _,.;m American ambassador to India John e '""e on d n a the economist recalled, Kenneth Galbraith poor countries was . y' the special ec nornics of the . as a diffe rent t·ie Id of stud • d S tates these attitu des h e Urute mt • years fifteen ext n the n I t • . ex1s held not to • kly captured the ' t mor e quic . • I•y rever ed ... No economic sub1ec . . were d• ec1s1ve countri es from their p overty 32 poor the of e rescu the as any m f attention o so beralism and_ e�onomic �estruc­ More recently, with th rise of neoli poor countries has again been the of turing, 'the special economic from the general economics of rent e diff m e probl a s a held not to exist um may now b e swing­ pendul the er, Howev some. by least t a s, t marke During much of the entalism. ing back once mor e toward developm the organiz­ provided has velopment e d se, a c any in years, sixty past ing matrix for new disciplin es, new forms of politics, new kinds of state interventions in society, and even new forms of personal iden­ tity and sell-fashioning. e t wa

It woul� be a mistake to imply that development was something whollyn ew m 1945, however, a mistake which would in fact reproduce the erroneous claim to revolutionary originality of many development wri ters. I! is tru e �t 'development' became, under that name, a public concen:i m the Uruted States (an intellectual, political, and financial the enterprise), in 1944-5, with the publication of David ��!:u:, 5 book on TVA and severa l other works on how the world co uld be reconstruct ed to pr even t furth er econorru.c depression and w orld wars Lili en thal and others understood development to e a b new applic�tion o f the state to publi c ate1�s. • Nevertheless, 1t has roots in a much larger, ost-Enl' h!enment mtellectual commitment to r eforming and ratio �ing �� c�ety, often through autho ritarian means. Developme . nt's mo re � ediate forebearers include the libera l colonialism of th e · Interwar p enod a . n d a_lso the Americ an Progr ssive tra_d.. 1�on. Another o e n e which will re qwte Important eIVe le s attentio n here bu t i is the examp1 e set by Soviet 1917 revolutio modernizati on after the n. • • 1996; Nandy 1 987' 1 990, 1994 Sivaramakris , and 2003 p· 1997; Whis hnan and Agrawal 200 · igg 1992; Sachs 1992; Scott 1998; 3.' ' Subramaruam nant 1994 32 2003; Visvanathan Quoted in • 5: Esc0bar 199 57.



If developmen t is hi torically situated, like colonialism or Progressivism, it is also, like th e, politically sih1ated. The recent analyses on which I draw, all explore this situ tedness in one way or another. In other words, e a ch is in its way what one author has called an 'external critique'.33 Internal critiqu s accept the basic problem of development and focus their ana lysi on how best to achieve it, but external critiques question how that probl em is itself constructed, how it figures in polit ical economi and ultures. In particular, several valuable studies have explor d the politics of development knowledge. They seek to unders tand this not as n e utral body of knowledge which describes an exte rnal reality, but as on which itself has a direct part in constituting that reality-not in the sense of plans that become projects, but of a way of talking about ociety that itself helps to create and maintain social relation hip . A key concep t here is the by now widely familiar idea of dis­ course, in this case development discourse-that is, the ways in which development i imagined, talked _about and debated, such tha t par­ ticular approaches to development, and the larger project of develop­ ment itself, seem to be natural nd unobj ctionabl e . Much of the development discourse of the last sixty years, with it technocratic language, would at first seem to remove issues like the extension of st ate power and of economic distribution from political discussion. Fundamental political and economic choices by the state, with im­ portant impacts on equality between nations and between citizens, human rights and political participation, are thereby legitimized and insulated from dissent, criticism, and even discussion. Economics is given over to experts, while politic is limited to the more restricted issues of technical competence or corruption (or to nationalist iden­ tity politics), ra ther than t he larger question of whom and what

development is supposed to serve. This means that the social relationships created by development involve tl,)e exercise of power by parti uJ ar social actors over others. The interests of' developed' states, aid agencies and their functionaries, owners of financial capi tal, Western academics and development experts, and postcoloniaJ elites and the bureaucracies they serve, are all privileged, at the expense of the poor of the 'underdeveloped' world who are disenfranchised from politics. Wha tever its pretensions to 13 Banuri 1990.

ey 'One Va{/

us and a Tho


pment in pra ctice i een �own d e velo undly anh-'d emocrat p to d, e e-J rofo ic stat . cienb. ts as a p s dem ocracy, cal soc1a . n that I h e assumptio t on eeds i c by many crit vernance because 1·t pro hat people nug • ht want, but go approach to t r le not on the basis of w good for them be to u and te chnocrats musw hat th, e technocrats underst • of . .tly, the se anal ses ugg st that developm nt on th e basis lici Implicitly or exp es, an d I·nd ed is an e tension of, col nial . ecapitulat � � a ocr s are to be govemed by elites techn 'Third World' societie m. aru tan tern nor We hori in ms led ut a , o· 1 choo • Western technolocries who, trai· ned � Western standards of living ce . odu repr to s . tion i • g their pos and usin . cues from Western interlocutors. Meanwhile, for themselves, take therr by earlier decades h ave been succeeded . the colom. a1 b ureaucra0·es of 1 1e Intematrnnal t and Bank d Worl the like na·es • naI age . natio mter hegemony of We te� styles Monetary Fund (IMF), which reinforce the West), market-oriented the for ly (main and levels of consumption rn contr ol over Weste cases many in and ns, relatio ic econom not the explicitly les resemb developing economies. Here, development nineteenth century, but late the of onialism l co Darwinist racist, social the equally authoritarian and ethnocentric liberal colonialism of the mid-nineteenth century which enjoyed a resurgence after the First World War. This liberal colonialism promised independence for the colonies, but only when the co l onized had'caught up' to Europe. It is impossible (in some accounts, structurally impossibl e) for the und rdeveloped wor!d ever to catch up with the developed world, but develop ent_can m fact deliver status, profit, and powe t o r be to � who drrect 1_1, no matter how h igh-minded their moti ves. What ed: accordm t many of the critics who have advanced this � � ana� y IS, IS a renuncia tion of the liberal co 1orual • proje ct, the attempt . to reproduce an ma . the tropic . s, of . develop • ppropnate Western moderru· ty m which ment is a histone . n. Withou . al extensio t a'decolonization of the mind'34 the ,o , nnal decoloruza • tion • s of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s are meaningless. From thi pers human and enviro pective, the cont. inwties between the enormous dams d the eff nmental d'is1 o cation wrou ht m • e name of large dent (:�eed, maects of earlier coloni. al p ubl�ic p �� ohoes become eviny of the dam p roiects pursu ed by postcoloniaJ35 � Marglin 1990.• I l5 I use the Word followed the e postcoolonial' 8 • l t nd of f rrnal im� y o refer to the stat colorualism es and societies that • These were heav1·1Y influe nced by · 24




sta tes were first proposed in the late colonial era). The 'improving' colonialism of earlier eras worked on a smaller cumulative seal , but also wrought havoc on comrnwuties and environments in the name of progress. It, too, found it possible sometimes to ignore actual people in the ervice of an abstract Mankind; it too worked on the basi of imperfect or unduly reductioni t models of n ture. But if th r are ontinuiti s betw n the developmental.ism of American and Indian dam-builder of th 1940s and 1950s and the l iberal colonialism of European imp rialists and th ir African and Asian collaborators, there ar significant d ifferences, a w 11. Subsequent chapter (e pecially Chapters Two, Three, and Five) will show h w some development ideologues and administrators and worker responded to th colo­ nial past, and how they managed the tension b tween genuine

colonialism-for example, a number of postcolonial stat s inherited bureaucracies and legal yst ms from their colonial pred c sors, and continued to pursue similar political and economic strategi . We tern influence and interference, moreov r, did not end ith f rmaJ decolonization, a fact which ha led many to use the terms 'neoc lonialism' and 'neocoJonial'. Neverth Jess, I prefer ' po t olonial' to 'neocoloniaJ' for most contexts in this book, because it points to continuities with the earlier era of formal colonialism (including in some cases th continue exercise of Western power), without ignoring political change-a revision (but not necessarily abandonment) of the implicit and explicit alli n between indigenous elites and We tern outsid rs, one which helped make po sible further social revisions in later decad s. But it should be noted that hiJe some other scholars have used the term in a similar w , the terms 'postcoloniality', 'postcolonialism', and 'the postcolonial' have also been used in a different sense: 'post olonialism can be s n as a theoretical resistance to the m stifying amne ia of the colonial aftermath. It i a disciplinary project devoted to the academic ta k of revisiting, remembering and, crucially, interrogating the colonial past' (Gandhi 1998: 4). As will be seen, I have found postcolonial theory in this sense very useful in this study, but I use the word 'postcolonial' as a hronol gical t rm. I believe that in this sense the term i u eful in de cribing not onl societie once formally colonized by the major colonial powers in the legal sense (for example, India) but also ocieties which were dominated by them in a le s formalized sense and which later managed to reduce the extent of that domination. On the idea of postcoloniality, see for example Gandhi 1998 and Gupta 1998; the latter is especially useful in considering the relationship between development politics and postcolonial tate and society in India.


d a Thousand' 'One Valley an

Ionialism and to ideas, institutions, a nd bOth to antt-• co colonial prece dents. commitments d .. h often resem ble power outlined practtce . s w hic . e on deve lopment and political l!v nPC To th e Pers · · alJy severaI of thos� w ho uuti g ludin (inc rs la scho above, a numt,e';.·;f added an important ca eat. It 1s nece sary to . h ave con�1'bu ted to it) t d"1scourses create the ways in which developmen nl t_o n� r e s1d con y also to how they circulate in larg r societ ies in Powerfore J I tes, but p ' What do th se w. ho are to b e 'develo . ed ·which theyare 'deploy ed' • t? change the1r nal, mate and da gical ily ideolo , efforts make of the seemg the �orld , and practices, educate them in_ ne� �ays of incorporate them into new msti�tlons? !fow d? they 1:11.corporate development into their own matenal and 1deolog1cal positions? Some excellent recent studies have addre sed this issue in ways that complicate anysimplistic opposition between the developed and the un- or underdeveloped, between its subjects (that is, those who speak about and do the work of development) and its objects (those who are spoken about and done to).36 The term , slogans, symbols, and recurrent images of development di courses, as well as develop­ �ent plans and development resources, may originate in a commu­ ruty of development experts and commentators, but they circulate among those whose lives they are meant to describe or addre . As ss theydo so they may be accepted, re1·ected or contested but they may . also . be �artiallY accommodated, re-interpre ' ted, or selectively appro' pnate . •• d mto n ew political and economic strate gies . divorced from theu . ongm al contexts • Developm en t can become part of the identities and self-fashiorun • gs n ot only of the d . ommant c1asses who propound it, but also of those h 0 m these domin ant classes believ veloped. Underd:ve e to be underde1 op one else or itself tak ment' m. eantime, can be disp Iaced onto someas _a point of departur p olitical identities e for the formation of a:; clauns on m • ean me nt p roiects may · g m an d resources. Deve1op. projects n ot thou also t 1 east_ in some cases, be put use to serve to gh t of:Y the1r plan strategicaIIY p . ners,• they may be co-opted by lace d individ . development ua1 s, in_stit u tions, and classes. Thus, while rse control ov. er discou and practi ce may m · deed r eso urces an work to centraliz e postco1 orua l elite s, the d to bo I ster the power of Western and s e ar e n o t t h e·ir on1Y or ine , vitable effe cts. 36 See . •n particuJ Klenk 20()3 ar Appaduraj 1996. B and b; and d 2004; Pigg 1 �rry 2003; Ferguson 1999·, Gupta 1998; 9 s:rarnan iarn 2003.92,: Sivaramak. nshnan and Agrawal 2003a



Despite the misconceptions of early planners, societies or populations which are proposed for development are not passive and are not 'blan k slates'. Therefore, wherever it eems to be true on the basis of formally articulated plans that development discourse seems to succeed in removing issues of tate power and material distribution from the political agenda, it should be asked, first, wh ther this is entirely the case: might not development efforts be incorporated into politics in unexpected ways? This is most certainly not to suggest that development is in fact actually a democrati as sometimes claimed: it may enable reinforcement of state, class, race, or g nder-based domination in some cases, while enabling resistance to such domina­ tion in others. Second, if dev lopm nt seems to be successful in legitimizing certain forms of power and thereby in consolidating the power of certain social actors (especially states and large corpora­ tions), does this not imply that actors elsewher in ociety find its claims to be compelling? What are the different limits of these actors' consent to the extension of state or corporate power represented by development? Development discourse and practice, in short, are protean things, capable in certain circumstanc s of creating a variety of surprising effects. Perhaps this is part of the continuing strength of the idea of development, despite the frequent disappointment of hopes invested in it. The ease with which the language and sometimes the resources of development are appropriated also contri utes to the undermining of the orderly technocracy fir t imagined at planning tables, so that proje ts go forward but are frustrated in their efficient operation and end up failing to provide benefits to society at large, though individuals and groups may profit. This certainl has been the case for a number of large dam projects. Hence the discussion of the flawed map earlier in this introduction, representing what 'India's TVA' was supposed to become but didn't. The map suggests the power of ideas about 'big development' to alter the social and natural world, but also, in that it reports erroneously that there are limits to that power. In some contexts. unfortunately, these limits may mean the defeat of projects long after th damage they must do has been done, but well before the full benefits justifying the damage have been attained. Tius theme is taken up e pecially in Chapter Four.

a 'One Valley


and' nd a Thous

, I hope, comple. . here replies to and 1e analys1s tl rusm, and the , nt der mo te nt ex me in rta elop ce To a n. s of dev . s has broug ht a bo ut rkson the hub , . . ments otherwo onmen tal tr. age d'1e s that hubn Sc s ott s Seein Jame vir is en ris d g an hub s human . exp IO ration of thi 'al nt! cormngs an short ue the nfl d of i s e y stl mpl a A ju ttexplores se v�ra1 ex ch he sees as the intellectual Like a State.37Sco whi , sm erm g h m od arrogance of the 'hi ment. B 'high modernism , Scott means an elop d e v o f foundation ent of society an«· d eor d er1 Y g and improvem aggressive fai'th·10 the r •s of0 the abstractions of modem science-. . . nature bY the state on the bas1 s'. He relates the histories of various tion lifica p . sim 'thin s . · call what he e product·1ve agnto impose. mor pts attem ian r ·ta on th I au ess . or e mor • 'te and social • · zmg priva . cultural regimes, and'efficient' ways of orgaru . . . have led to ecological and soc10-econorruc. d1sasters, v10space, that . Itural Jenee, and state aggrandizement-for example, Sov1�t agncu Tanzania, and in gization' urban a 'vill collectivization, compulsory in practised as n, o Brasila diti a tr r and planning in the Le Corbusie Chandigarh. As Scott sees it, the reductionist sciences that are the point of departure for these attempts have an insufficient understanding of the enormous complexity of the systems which are to be managed. One cannot actually �aw up plans which duplicate the complexity of the natural and soCial world s; and it is precisely their comp lexity that enables the natural and social worlds to func tion as they do. Scott calls for a new appr eciati on for 'pr • d, conactical' , undertheonze textual kn I d a means of restraining the excesse s of an overconfident �7e;t!:� Two of Scott's f our co iti n f o a full fledg development are an auth nd ed �i�aster' of � s r ori . . state and a prostrate civil so the other two are the ad . ciety·' trative or d erm • accordingto'thinsim mmis g of soc iety by the state . • .IS an impo plifi'cations, an d a high modernist hu analys15 bris. 39 This rtant contributi :��y own study suggests ;��o �e �tudy of twentieth-century t a� es o�gh to create g _ er two conditions are enuine cal: the ov:i ce: d t SOciety aicort en a�empt by a hi nutieS, �owever. Certainly h m derrust �g to thin s state to reorder Which the st im plificati! f at e IS not a a s o occurs uthorita-ri..... in contexts in "' "., o r . °:' 1s 1mperfect 1 y s o, and in which 3'Scott 1998 38


Similar cri�rns of be found in

Sc0tt 1998: 4 -



reductio nist Scien ce and .its 100-. '"'i. Nandy applicat 1ann. nv, Sh . tons m .

India may iva 1991. , and elsewhe re.



civil society is not prostate but in fact can generate pressur e on the state from a variety of sectors.40 Here, too, the results may be injurious to hum an and natural comm unities, even disastrous. But the source of the disas ter is not only the hubris of the high modernist state and its commitment to dangerous oversimplifications, which keep it from listening to those who might know bett er, but also the appropriation and someti mes 'corruption' of the development process by strategically placed indi­ viduals, organizations, corporations, bureaucracies, or political parties, variously able to undermine the coherence and viability of the scheme through political pressure, opportunistic and legal activities that undermine state programmes, or actions that are illegal but cannot be policed. Had the DVC actually been able to implement its plan for . eight dams plus other infrastructure, the result might still have quali­ fied as a development disaster. But in the event, implementation of only half the plan, together with constant tampering by political parties and the Bihar and West Bengal state governments and the rivalry of other national agencies, created disaster enough. While it is essential to critique the wishful thinking of planners, it is also neces­ sary to see such planners in the political contexts which both enable and limit their operation. Rationalized, authoritarian states have indeed presided over horrendous tragedies, but they are not the only states that have done so. This study is primarily a history of development planners, dam engineers, and political publicists, and the fate of some of their projects, and not of how development ideologies and resources enter into the political and economic lives of those construct ed as development's 'targets'.41 Nevertheless, the question of how development knowledge and inputs are received and circulated will remain an important concern in what follows. This circulation begins not at the point at which officials notify those to be displaced of what is to come, In an essay which appeared as this book goes to press, Scott addresses this possibility, and in fact examines TVA as an example of a high modernism frustrated by representative institutions and a flourishing, elite-dominated civil society. This is a useful elaboration on the political sociology of high mod ernism and its implications for high modernism's success, but (having a different agenda) it does not explore the possibility that the co-optation or attenuation of the state might contribute to other disasters (Scott 2006). 41 On those displaced by dams in lndia. see Baviskar 1995; Thukral 1992;


and Khagram 2004.


a '()ne Valley and


ent planners and sta te officials h deve1 op m c hi w at nt nev er tell the w hole story,· the but at the Poi ltho ugh they A • s ea 'd I ss · d and sometime s , u nrea11ze begin to discu . ns, cont roversies ctio I d' tra on c borrowings, e'lite representations of deveIopment tas1·es that inform unconscious fan derstan ding why large dams have so are particular)� usefu_I f?r un many who have believe d in mtmg even to the. . often pro ven d1sappo to pay their pnce. g lin wil een b ve ha d . them an r development proJects have • ms of dams and othe , Polem1•ca1 en·ti· as . , · g countrie · s h ave . • lied that policymakers m developin sometimes imp nt l deve opme models, been either the passive recipients of Western rruled producers of develop­ ove but active the been have instead or ment alternatives . Both positions are too sim ple. This study empha­ sizes planners, administrators, and engineers who have approached their 'models' very selectively-appropriating, reinte rpreting, rein­ venting their logics and their representation. Rather than assuming simply that those models are adopted which suit the priorities of post lonial _elites, I want to explore how models have been adapte � d to swt these interests. As we shall see, Meghnad Saha, in calling for a A for India, had a different idea of what 'JV A' was about and how it worked, �om that of David Lilientha l, though he drew on Lilienthal s representations and invoked ' his authority. Lilienthal's, meanwhile was n?t the only Amenc . an interpreta' tion of what TVA mea nt to the Uruted Sta tes, although his became the douu·nant accou nt, especiallY aft�r e th ed pse of his rival Arthur Morgan. Nor was � his the only A mer ican verston of wha t promise other co TVA could untnes.. Morgan • c arned his own developmentand understanding of TVA 'th h im overseas develo �hen he, like Lilie pment :� t nthal, became an ul �t � ently in the uto the l950s. TV pian, techn A fi gured differoer the_multi�Ie sc se in w�ch Mo i::: rgan particidi o �: . d1 d_ India, . �ch Lilienthal managed to and s o did the se v�n·ou 'Ind1a s TV s diiference . A' • Wha t attention s helps u s devel op me to n ta 1•ism to ac h'1eve of wh at is a d · sa mod ernism g rega c of g 1 tion . ' a t o S t c lls is a va1' b h ig h mo COurses in the &ec �a le way of seei derni sm'. High ng state le on attention to o d development f fthetwen i � the dist e th ce nt m u lh !iervice 0f e . u..r , b xplainin . ple d. 1• scursive g its Poh p ss1b1.h y ut I seek to draw ticaJ po ties it affor wer � ds in the ulndeed , It. WoUl d be of doing th rnore accu is is t o approach th rate to spe k . em acc0r a of high mo d d'mg to van·ants ermsms. One way which are c onceived


:e1e;: :t"�



Development models, like any other representations, are acts of the imagination. They are imagined, furthermore, not only by their ,authors'-that is, those who first dream them up, but also by their readers' who re-imagin e as th ey read (and some of whom, like Meghnad Saha or Sudhir Sen, become authors in turn). In these acts of (re)vision and of (re)description, one can find things that are beyond (even contradic tory to) the intent of their original authors. There can be no question of development knowledge being inscribed on a blank slate, of 1VA or any other model being seen by observers having no agendas to fit it into. This is particularly evident in the case of the creation of TVA as a putativ e model for development, which happened well after the agency had been established. Lilienthal, in particular, gave it a coherence in retr ospect which it did not necessarily have during its initial implementation. He, Meghad Saha, and others are responsible for its rhet orical transformation into a 'model', the idea of which served a variety of political positions. The modelling of reality is supposed to be a neutral reporting and abstraction, but it is inseparable from imaginative re-creation. The adoption of models, in turn, is inseparable from further acts of imaginative re-creation. Development, where conceived of as the straigh tf or w ard deployment of models (appropriate or not), in 43 realit y depends on an act of mimesis, of' creative imitation' . As Paul Ricoeur describes it,' mimesis does not mean the duplication of reality; 44 mimesis is not a copy: mimesis is poiesis, that is, construction, creation' . Amitav Ghosh's novel 171e Shadow l.ines comments that 'a place does 45 not merely exist; ... it has to be invented with one's imagination'. Ghosh' s narrator is pondering on his sensuous delight in the London underground, which he recognizes is far more than a purely utilitarian conveyance for him. Similarly, TVA's dams were much more than purely fm1ctional structures to a generation of American visitor s and readers; they were integrated into an imagination of nation and world. They, and the United States of the New Deal more generally, were also integrated into particular Indian imaginations of nation and

of as regional. See Appadu.ra.i 1995, and ap..>cially the introduction and contributions to Sivaramakrishnan and Agrawal 2003. 43 John Th ompson, in his introduction to Ricoeur 1981 (italics in original). 44 Ricoeur 1981: 181. 5 t Ghosh 1988: 21.


sand' and a Th ou •one Valley

n of TVA an d . . • ative re-creatio . agm . IY· Th e im nt e ncans m the re Am run fe ert if -- 1 l1 wM 11,111,111,il '1li. 11 111. 'I ,,lt111,I llh ,111v,1•111,kd A1111•II 'nf IJl'lt111l1y ,1111I lfw vrtlh• Iv 1 ,,,dy 111d , •• 1,,,1,1, ii I 1 ,,, l Il lllll I itl l,11 ,. 1,11 , 4f1 11 II 1111 111il11 It y, I i 1'11 d1•di!t1111 llw'-' •1111,l1141•�11ltJ1•d1h t • /\ l.tlh•1 llt t tl111.t••-I 11th••"�1111 I hl1•, 1• .,,,,," -1111•111 P'- '"'" I I'll l-lll1l11 ' '"' ',1 li•11! �d 1111 ill',.,, 1111lt1 (,11 tlh11 111 ,1;.111 , fli"I l•nll 11" 'tl,il;; f111 lli.•ll1"1 /\111 •11t1ll1Hl11111l /" Alt •• l'ljll•llltr 111', IJll 11 1!1111111 1 1111) : IC\ l'\'l'I It\' 'I I I\\ •11tl 1 ,.,. 1111• Ill)\ p•l I liu r1111dtll'lfllil 1 d l'l'Mll'II hit,,, ,,11 I1111, d,,r,,111 ,,, 1i .111, 11 \', " '11 ,itilo•· ,1111!. n11PI 1.,,1,.,,1 1111 , H , 1,11 I h'I I I I 111 "'" 1 ld1111 I f II ,11 II - it,111111, 1,,111' l'tlllllj\ II tl ll' ,,, •• ,,,h• , ' wilh11 11 ' t Id�· ,u 111111111II ti "Ill, II lt1 i 11111,1,1111 1 1 i11d11 111.d 111 11111111,1 1 u11111111111111 1 ,1 11t,, " II1111111 ·• ••ti• •••• Ill I I 111 1•11 I I 1,1 I' 1 1,ri1,•10Plh1t I /' · · 1 INI 1111 1 11•\'lr ' 111 \ I' I 111111 1,j 11111111 ,1111' j l >llll1ppl,.. //111 ,\l,1m1 1,111I "'�'1 /iillatit. I 11 111,rit,h1111111h•ill M111d111111,·i1 1 n.i111111\''' • 1il1111111t,11I 1 h, , 111 ,I 111.1111 11 w, 1 ,1111 11t ,,1 ,1 ·" 111,, 11 1I 11 .• 1 ,1, h• 11 1 11111 11 i 1,1 ,, �,, , ""· p l•li


l•lu, ,v1t1111 1.1111,


'The Grand Job of this Century'

'One Valley and a Thousand'

insists tha t TVA's democrat ic, dece ord•mary people. Lilie nthal ntra1_ . • ed operations belie Burnham' s pred'1ctions . He emphasizes both it iz s .. . distance from Washington and its ad nuru stra tive de entralization:

A national capital almost anywhere is bound to suffer from lack f knowledge The national strength and culture of local conditions, of parochial customs.... that flows from that very diver ity cannot be nourished by too gre atly centralized administration.... To see each citizen thu as a 'human being' is far easier at th grass roots. That is where more of the functions of our federal governmen t should be exercised.41

Physical proximity to the local population brings an a wareness of what the people truly want and need. This nimbly side step s Burnham and tweaks the centralized Department of the Interior, trying at that point to wrest control over TV A. Decentralization from Washington to the valley promotes flexibility and div ersity and avoids bur eaucratic parochialism. In the modern world, there i s a genuine need for centralization: but it is for centralized authority, h e sa ys, not centralized administration. By insisting on the relevance to democracy of decentralized administration (as opposed to authority), Lilienthal obscures fact that TVA is in fact not directly accountable to the local population, but only to Congress and the President.42 A lso obscured is the question of what perspective the decentralized administra tor brings to his interactions with the people he is to serve. If not formally accountable to local citizens, TVA nevertheless did involve some �f them in its programmes , directly through agricul­ tu.ral demonstr�tions and the formation of cooperatives, indirectly �ough ext�ns1ve cooperation with state and county agencies. To Lilienthal, this was proof that TVA' administration constitutes grass­ ro?ts de�ocr�cy, 'government in the open air'. In reality, however, this participation never went beyond a certain point: the all-importan t process of choosing dam sites was not open to public participation. Furthermore, even programmes whic h involved a re 1 ative ly high . . degree of 1ocal partic1pa�on were . , as we have seen, linked to local structures of power: A frican-Ameri cans were exclu d ed , as were poor whites. •1 LilienthaJ 1953:142-3. Selznick 1966 (1949} was one of the few co ntemporary accou


this out.

nts to potnt


s, Lilienthal does claim that TVA has firmly kept itself thel . es Never. The decision to develop the river was a political S. C .. f Pohb out_� . e deci sion to genera te power from the dams was political. th , n decisions, however, there was an end to dec1s1o se ma de th ongr;ss . politics'. Political considerations cannot once C no has r e · • for a riv · 'Facts dam sites or tee hnoIogies. PolitlCS, e 1 e c u·on of particular · · · e th e s nc e u inf! not political views, are the foun d ati. on . ent, m e dg •u d enenc e action."13 In TVA: Democracy on and exp cal de cisions and dabl� en p de d a a meritocracy at all levels, in as f A TV o s gr t pri e in n the March, htronage cons i·dera tions out. Although Arthur Morga . 44 pa li po a�, TV A of ation ipul k eeping man of political y ac u sed him h h repeated� � b ook us ually connotes a dirty patronage game w ic is th in 'politics' sa vo�s. Lilienthal d� Harcourt Morgan �ed at Lilienthal and g, gi v�n th in t e ll It is . _ stered its legal standing bol t tha g missions vi val by findin is silent on such TVA's sur . c1es for 1·t, that Lilienthal . c�nstituen . ally neutra1 politic and . or estabhshed ratic oc . dem is A k claun that TV that TV! did . true is issues. The boo s it h oug even th ali d r e a t e plic ;, ey by 1944. ��t hides a more com ularity in the vall nc ; and p prope�ed vil ey's enjoy some acce pta vall the t on to n A s con� backing o two . the the confla tio n of TV with wide af:Peal' to . ely ocr acy' had a lik m not , d e ip with oc1ety . ona1 readersh lishers: to a nati. aling was his e app important pop ula r pub• • o Als on. what ting informati ac y in whic h be familiar with co nflic cy and democr a ocr chn e t of e c a simultaneous embr


marble 43 Lilientha l 1953:175-6. the Be warz 1994 on rryor, had S Senat 44 a McCraw 1970, Neuse 1996' an d Sch U i fly e br . rtician and e site of the value on th scandal . Berry, a Ten ness e de public. ;e [e�sit of li.rnited_ ma marb ad h purchased rights to a iJlSisted he reservoir n t � or ga r f s o lan p ur rth Norris Dam reser voir, after nsation. A werewillinS o fo or t Arthur _r_ c zand H arcourt M � He cl aimed a high amo� ency . nothing hould be paid, wh ile Lfen e sake of palitical e�is io n s that th to go along with Berry's cl� or ade hiri ng h a I ha d 01 Morgan also be l ieved Ll l len t u par t was iJJlPortallt• . tion, TVA 5 electrifi ca accommodated pol iticians wh ose h in rural. ey, if o. ne g all o v u e thr p th ak f 45 ln part because it did force a b re public o e legat!: d l e voting a th did have significant suppDrt �o�� v Jey's cong re ionsiS hefe bu ::..i � aJ y y c an take the degree to_ w�tc M Hart regard� e apuJarityof p r o Jca� H enrY supported it as a rough me I r �'>. United St""-"' '" Oc t ""Lili-U r"C' � ate interests, b i ss y riv ureaucracy, the capture of the pla nni ng proce b P Training 93 Sa s an d River ha served on the N PC's Power and fuel On the NPC uees · ch subco�985subcommittees, two o ut of twenty-four � an see Chatterjee 1993; Prakash 1999; and Visvanath


'One Valley and a Thousand' 94 and the timidity of Nehru's go vernme.nt. These, of course were , mu h against ght the Raj. N ot surpri ou br had the same char ges he ing1 , he • er vaI I ey pr jects, al was quite articulate on the su b•1ect of nv thou he spo ke on a wide variety of othe r pr ble ms as well. The H irak! project, the Bh akr a -Nang� sche me and oth�rs, �e charged, had all been undertaken too ha stily; tho u gh they nught m principle benefi t und ue haste, cau e d by a failu re t o plan adequa te! the nati on, this before undertaking the projects, was already pro ving costly. He wfs particularly vocal on th problems of the DVC, which by 1952 had drawn serious criticism for its co t overruns: incompetence, corruption, and bureaucratic folly had hijacked his great project.95 Furthermore, the government in his iew perversely failed to take advant age of its few achievements in the valle . The Damodar should be the 'Ruhr of India'; the DVC dams were close to the riche st coal and iron deposits in the subcontinent, the n w Sindhri f ertilizer f act ory, and the Chittar anjan I c om otiv e pl a nt, and they could help power a remarkable concentration of heavy indu stries. Again, however, the government's l ack of visi n and its c api tul ation to priva te interests led it to embrac a'principle of dispersi on' of faciliti es which would impair India's industrialization. Eventually, he predicted, Nehru' government would go the way of the corrupt N a tionalist regime in China, which had ollapsed only a few years before.96 In Saha's eye , rem ove this dirty 'political' interference, and development g oals would be met and re al progress would be made. Partha Ch atterj e has critiqued the inherent na'.vete of the project of planning, the resolution of essentially political disputes over resources by means of an apolitical body of'experts' who, it was believed, would act rationally upon society without being acted upon. This inability to anticipate that the'objects of planning' (the large and small, private and public actors who were to carry out the state's directi ves) would manipulate the knowledge and information on which planning was based, would indeed by means of political action on the state seek to make that state apparatus, in tum, their object-this inability was, as Chatterjee observes, the 'necessary self-deception' around which 94 See the collection of his parliamentary peeches and correspondence with Nehru reprinted in Saha 1993b. 95 Saha 1993b: 46-7. 96 Tbid.: 252.

'River Training'

1 53

ted.97 Saha , indeed, was very much inve t din o nstitu g w �s ect and object of planning and 1a11Jlirl d1 st� cti on betw een subj asingly sharp ttacks on the e incr and ii, e shatP . 111 d r ep e a t e ch: his as a n attempt to insist on the viability of the d rea e esear b e nt rnay _ nly' the officer of the state, at the DVC and rg0vernin . g ente rp n e, 'if o to their job properly. He does not seem ever d JaJl!ll11 en tt a ld ere, w� u h by which the nation was to be w e �Is d that the means ons 1d ere c • s like e sc ale of vast pro1ect v a to }la t appropriate, th t the ed w er� n al resources of c politi and cial finan the nd � develop o bey was s p Y respect he was hardly alone. B un the pVC presen t • ut in this at te a t s ·ocacy in India, and the new . neer both of development ad . a pio. . n for a ,TVA for the Sah a wa ough his campaig Thr p rne;t �1:%1: , and later through his attafactbeen !tempted. undertaken in tlle later 1950s. The)' hav ne,·•rrn "'


64 Sen 1976: 66. 65 Abraham 1 m• t9S2-J. Th fir;t l 06 On tlle loans, see DVC A1111�al R,.,...,r,, 1�Q.-.i;.J '"'J anJ the Bo·luro thermal was ,;pecifically ear�rkcd 0 tunJ l(c,nar D.imtor the I n. see Sen 1 9:. . of .•rr'. •·•n ''l...s power p lant. Onthemternal n.�litics •�t n\iljor a,.:t t.,etore deod mg 48-SS• Applying for the SCc'COllJ kwn, as to resign. . y,•r. Bokaro, and Bern , Jam h.mJ 1 Th four proposeJJh.-.rk . it.-s are I 8.llpahari. i all in wh.lt I now

'One Valley and a Th0 usand'

These early dif ficultie ro to garner �ub lic upp ort. i mpted DV t o mak h� C rp r pamphlets m a h.n�.i.te ? ati n Pu Engli h showc d effo bli sm Its pro rt years �e phot ograp h lar � K ess (thou _d il/u trared no pro1ect ha g� tn the g y s ow d . e d y et b e art i e u a no r/ e d re nta�v ;:r: : 1 i;;��van::! ���::=:�:r u ey eme' and ' and On Top Prior ity Am ong . Why the D