India has undergone rapid economic development over the past decade and with a population of more than 1.2 billion, it is now the world’s largest democracy. The country has undergone reforms to spur economic growth and is increasingly focused on boosting industrialisation with its ‘Make in India’ campaign. India rise has also seen its global significance increase, with recent leadership on solar power and renewables and increasing financing of infrastructure, including dams, in other regional and international developing countries. The Covid-19 pandemic will have a severe impact on the country but also places the country at the heart of vaccine production for developing countries.

To build back better it will be important for infrastructure to be carefully planned and assessed. FutureDAMS is engaging with partners to support better understanding of dams, sustainable development and the country’s growing international profile as an infrastructure builder.

Understanding Large Dam Impacts: Improving the science and data foundations    

FutureDAMS researchers used extensive data on dams in India to examine the economic ex post assessment of the impacts of large dams on long-term agricultural development, poverty reduction, and regional inequality. The team worked to construct a novel data-set of large dams in India and aim to substantially improve the science and social science foundations of analysis of the economic and developmental impacts of large dams, improving on an iconic analysis by Duflo and Pande (2007). 

India’s dam building in Africa

Other work in this case study region includes a critical analysis of India’s dam building in Africa. Barnaby Dye’s published working paper analyses how India’s development cooperation with Africa has significantly changed, finding uneven convergence, with some changes towards more interventionist policies to improve project outcomes but a continuation of sovereignty-first principles. The working paper argues that India’s selective convergence reflects its attempts to deal with its growing portfolio of development cooperation, and particular domestic political priorities.

Barnaby Dye is also investigated the potential differences in India’s financing, planning and construction of dams using a case study of the Nyabarongo Dam, Rwanda. This dam was financed by subsidised lines of credit offered by the Indian ExIm Bank. Barnaby reflects on India’s development cooperation more broadly, but also argues that to understand such projects, and the developmental impact of India in Africa, it is vital to consider the agency of African governments.

India’s Himalayan dams

Further research was conducted on India’s dam building in the Himalaya. One project involves Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Shruti Jain and Professor Amita Baviskar. They are investigated the national relations and international politics of India’s Himalayan dam building, aiming to understand the latest trends and potential lesson learned in recent projects.

Meanwhile Udisha Sakani has undertaken primary research in India, Nepal and Bhutan to understand India’s dam building in the Himalaya in comparative perspective. Her FutureDAMS working paper examines the Arun-III dam in Nepal, the events that led to its suspension and subsequent resurrection and the importance of India-Nepali relations to Himalayan dam building.

India research

10/2021Working paper Anti-dam struggles and the technopolitics of hydropower: the case of Arun-III in NepalWorking paper by Udisha Saklani analysing India’s dam building in the Himalaya in a comparative perspective.
01/2021Working paperUneven convergence in development? The case of India’s lines of credit to AfricaWorking paper by Barnaby Dye analysing how India’s development cooperation with Africa has significantly changed.
07/2020WebinarMeeting Africa’s Latest Dam Builders: The Indian ExIm Bank, ‘Entrepreneurial’ Companies and the Outcomes of South-South CooperationThrough a case study of the Nyabarongo dam, Dye reflects on India’s development cooperation broadly, and argues that to understand the developmental impact of India in Africa, it is vital to consider the agency of African governments.

Seeking environmental and social justice in Uttarakhand

Read Shruti Jain's commentary published in India's Economic & Political Weekly, 'Repudiating Chipko Village’s Identity and Existence'. Jain is a postdoctoral fellow with the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, working on FutureDAMS. In her article she comments on a...

Keynote seminar: Integrating water-energy-food-environment planning for climate adaptation and resilience

Julien Harou Chair in Water Engineering, University of Manchester Claudia Ringler Deputy Director of Environment and Production Technology Division, IFPRI John Matthews Executive Director, AGWA Chair: James Dalton Director, IUCN Global Water Programme FutureDAMS is...

Dams, Development and Water – FutureDAMS & Institute of Economic Growth Workshop

FutureDAMS and the Institute of Economic Growth, India, are inviting participants to a workshop on Dams, Development and Water. 27-28 April 2021, 02:00PM-06:15 PM IST (9:30 AM - 13:45 PM UK). There will be eight presentations by leading scholars, examining a wide...

Construction of Calamities in the Uttarakhand Himalaya

Read the article by FutureDAMS Postdoctoral researcher, Shruti Jain, on the recent dam disasters in the Himalaya, published in Economics and Political Weekly - Construction of Calamities in the Uttarakhand Himalaya.Hydropower projects on the Uttarakhand rivers have...

Prepare to fail? Dam development in the face of rising disasters

By Udisha Saklani On the morning of 7th February 2021, India’s Dhauliganga Valley in the northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand witnessed a tragic flash flood, which was set off by a breach in the Nanda Devi glacier. As a large chunk of snow, fresh water and rocks...

New working paper: India’s development cooperation with Africa

A new working paper by Barnaby Dye analyses how India’s development cooperation with Africa has significantly changed. Founded after India’s independence, the country’s development cooperation programme was rhetorically framed as demand-led, non-interventionist and...