Policy Democracy: Social and Material Participation in Biodiesel Policy-Making Processes in India
42 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2017 Last revised: 22 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 20, 2017
Following its 2003 biodiesel mission, the Indian national government released its controversial policy on biodiesel in December 2009. Viewing the policy as a set of propositions that have been progressively assembled and constituted by many voices, we study its making on the basis of 72 qualitative interviews and ethnographic fieldwork. We consider the policy-making process to constitute policy democracy if its propositions were well-articulated. A well-articulated proposition is one that has registered the voices of many different human and nonhuman entities, including those that were hitherto mute. In addition, a well-articulated proposition must have allowed the entities to challenge and recompose it. And it must not have turned the entities’ actions and voices into a repetitive singularity. Finally, a well-articulated proposition is not easily transferrable between different socio-ecological situations. We argue that the Indian government attempted to perform policy democracy, by being partially responsive to some entities’ recalcitrance. However, it failed to register crucial voices associated with biodiesel production such as those of water and CO2. It also turned many voices into repetitive singularities, discounting the different relations that allow an entity to speak in multiple voices. The policy’s propositions remained easily transferrable between diverse socio-ecological situations, ignoring the immense diversity of India’s lands, their inhabitants and their practices associated with biodiesel production. Finally, due to a severe disconnect between the various voices registered in its different propositions, we argue that the policy lacked overall consistency.
Keywords: Actor-network theory, policy analysis, India, biodiesel, practice, articulation
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