Category Archives: Featured

Split Waters: The Idea of Water Conflicts

ISBN 9780367466428
Published July 6, 2021 by Routledge India
276 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
Edited By Luisa Cortesi, K. J. Joy
Copyright Year 2021

Book Description

Limited, finite, contaminated, unavailable or expensive, water divides people all around the globe. We all cannot do without water for long, but can for long enough to fight for it. 

This commonsensical narration of water conflicts, however, follows a pattern of scarcity and necessity that is remarkably unvaried despite different social and geographical contexts.

Through in-depth case studies from around the globe, this volume investigates this similarity of narration—confronting the power of a single story by taking it seriously instead of dismissing it. In so doing, it invites the reader to rethink water conflicts and how they are commonly understood and managed. 
This book:

  • Posits the existence of the idea of water conflict, and asks what it is and what it produces, thus how it is used to pursue particular interests and to legitimise specific historical, technological and environmental relations;
  • Examines the meaning and power of ideas as compared to other categories of knowledge, advancing theoretical frameworks related to environmental knowledge, discursive power, social constructivism;
  • Presents an alternative agenda to deepen the conversation around water conflicts among scholars and activists.

Of interest to scholars and activists alike, this volume is addressed to those involved with environmental conflicts, environmental knowledge and justice, disasters and climate change from the disciplinary angles of environmental anthropology and sociology, political ecology and economy, science and technology studies, human geography and environmental sciences, development and cooperation, public policy and peace studies.

Essays by Gina Bloodworth, Ben Bowles, Patrick BresnihanLuisa CortesiMattia Grandi, K. J. Joy, Midori KawabeAdrianne Kroepsch, Vera LazzarettiLeslie MabonRenata Moreno Quintero, Madhu Ramnath, Jayaprakash Rao Polsani, Dik Roth, Theresa Selfa,Veronica Strang, Mieke van Hemert, Jeroen WarnerMadelinde Winnubst

A breath of fresh air: Raising awareness for clean fuel adoption

Afridi, F., Debnath, S. and Somanathan, E., 2021. A breath of fresh air: Raising awareness for clean fuel adoptionJournal of Development Economics, p.102674.


Air pollution is amongst the gravest public health concerns worldwide, and indoor sources are the largest contributors in many developing countries. In our study in central India, we randomly assigned villages to a campaign by rural public health workers to either raise awareness about the adverse health effects of smoke from cooking with solid fuels and measures to mitigate them, or combined health awareness with information on the universal cash-back LPG (liquid petroleum gas) subsidy program or a control group in which neither information is provided. Using LPG sales records, we find an insignificant effect of the campaign on the purchase of LPG refills when measured at annual frequency. However, there was an almost 13% rise in refill consumption per month in the combined treatment, accounting for seasonality, monthly price variation and unobserved sub-district heterogeneity. Self-reported electric stove use rose by almost 50%, over the baseline mean of 6%, and the probability that the household had an outlet for smoke or separate kitchen increased by about 5 percentage points due to the treatment. There was no decline in use of solid fuels at the extensive margin, but the intensity of usage fell on some measures. The findings highlight the salience of financial constraints and the importance of the design of public subsidy schemes in inducing regular usage of clean fuels.

Impact of COVID-19 on the Indian seaport transportation and maritime supply chain

Prathvi Thumbe Narasimha, Pradyot Ranjan Jena, Ritanjali Majhi, Impact of COVID-19 on the Indian seaport transportation and maritime supply chain, Transport Policy, Volume 110, 2021, Pages 191-203, ISSN 0967-070X

Abstract: Impacts of COVID-19 in maritime transportation and its related policy measures have been investigated by more and more organizations and researchers across the world. This paper aims to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on seaport transportation and the maritime supply chain field and its related issues in India. Secondary data are used to analyze the performance indicators of major seaports in India before and during the COVID-19 crisis. We further explore and discuss the expert’s views about the impact, preparedness, response, and recovery aspects for the maritime-related sector in India. The results on the quantitative performance of Indian major seaports during the COVID-19 indicate a negative growth in the cargo traffic and a decrease in the number of vessel traffic compared to pre-COVID-19. The expert survey results suggest a lack of preparedness for COVID-19 and the need for developing future strategies by maritime organizations. The overall findings of the study shall assist in formulating maritime strategies by enhancing supply chain resilience and sustainable business recovery process while preparing for a post-COVID-19 crisis. The study also notes that the Covid-19 crisis is still an ongoing concern, as the government, maritime organizations, and stakeholders face towards providing vaccine and remedial treatment to infected people. Further, this study can be expanded to the global maritime supply chain business context and to conduct interdisciplinary research in marine technical fields and maritime environment to measure the impact of COVID-19.
Keywords: COVID-19; India; Seaports; Maritime; Supply chain; Stakeholders; Sustainability

Download here.

The impact of temperature on productivity and labor supply: Evidence from Indian manufacturing

Somanathan, E., Somanathan, R., Sudarshan, A. and Tewari, M., 2021. The impact of temperature on productivity and labor supply: Evidence from Indian manufacturing.  Journal of Political Economy, 129(6), pp.1797-1827.

Hotter years are associated with lower economic output in developing countries. We show that the effect of temperature on labor is an important part of the explanation. Using microdata from selected firms in India, we estimate reduced worker productivity and increased absenteeism on hot days. Climate control significantly mitigates productivity losses. In a national panel of Indian factories, annual plant output falls by about 2% per degree Celsius. This response appears to be driven by a reduction in the output elasticity of labor. Our estimates are large enough to explain previously observed output losses in cross-country panels.

Pre-print available here.

The distributional impact of climate change: Why food prices matter

Gupta, Eshita, Bharat Ramaswami, and E. Somanathan. “The distributional impact of climate change: Why food prices matter.” Economics of Disasters and Climate Change (2021): 1-27.

We analyze the impact of agricultural productivity losses stemming from climate change in an economy without frictions. The first-order GDP impacts are expected to be small. But the poor have higher food budget shares and food prices will rise. How do distributional impacts diverge from the GDP impact? This is the question that is addressed. The paper considers two major sets of comparative statics: the effect of trade and the effect of economic growth. The model is calibrated to Indian data of 2009 and projections for 2030. The percentage loss of income for the landless is six times the GDP impact in a closed economy. Trade halves this effect and economic growth moderates it substantially. Despite the food price rise, nearly all farmers lose from climate change. The model is simple enough for impact channels to be transparent.

Pre-print available here