Privatising Power Cuts? Ownership and Reform of State Electricity Boards

Beyond ideologies, beyond hiccups and cycles of reforms, privatization of State Electricity Boards of India (SEBs), just alike their public reform, are structurally stalled. The book argues, the emphasis on ownership is misleading, and needs being articulated more subtly to a look at organizational structure of SEBs.

An in-depth enquiry in SEBs shows how privatization is a one-sided game that has no real takers as long as SEBs remain organizations in which all technical, accounting, financial parameters are at the least hazy, often unknown. No investor will come without guarantees, thus the public has the impression that SEBs are ‘privatised for a song’, while the economist feels they are virtually value less… while in practice awaited investors do not even turn up.

The book pinpoints, as the core of the stalemate, to the misconception in the very concepts generally used to analyse the internal organization, the functioning, and the nature of SEBs. SEBs have now to undergo a specific and structural series of organizational changes, that the author calls ‘enterprisation’. Privatisation is far from being the only tool for achieving this, among a wide set of public-private partnerships.

The matter is of importance, for not all States can afford, the way Delhi did, paying for endlessly re-negotiable financial guarantees.