Introduction to coal in India: Energising the nation

Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscriptpeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    This statement is possibly more apt for India than for any other country. With its separate Ministry,1 coal occupies pride of place in contemporary India, the energy future of which it shapes and the economic and political milieu of which it influences. Coal mining was one of the pivotal modern industries shaping India’s colonial trajectory but, unlike tea plantations or jute mills, the coal mining industry assumed iconic status as a national symbol after Independence. At the same time, the coal mining industry created a unique working class comprising people who came from villages to work in the collieries, and who formed unions to protest against worker exploitation. In recent years, the supremacy given tocoal mining in forest-covered frontier areas traditionally used by tribal and rural communities has dispossessed and pauperised many such people. Combustion of coal to produce electricity constitutes the compelling need that has prevented the Indian state in engaging with the impending realities of a climate-changed future. Given its current role in meeting India’s energy demands, one can predict that the prime position of coal in the country will remain, at least for the foreseeable future.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Coal Nation
    Subtitle of host publicationHistories, Ecologies and Politics of Coal in India
    PublisherAshgate Publishing Ltd.
    Number of pages35
    ISBN (Print)9781472424709
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


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