Watered Down? Civil Society Organizations and Hydropower Development in the Darjeeling and Sikkim regions, Eastern Himalaya: A comparative study

Deepa Joshi, Joas Platteeuw, Jasber Singh, Juliana Teoh

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    Mitigating climate change is often framed as the ultimate collective action problem of this era and great emphasis is made on the need for approaches that foster “cooperation” and “consensus”. This paper argues that the irony of this rhetoric could not be more stark; climate policy framing is an exclusionary process, and climate mitigating interventions that are engineered essentially to address neoliberal economic concerns rather than environmental challenges are often the source of multiple new conflicts. In this regard, this paper shows how the response of local non governmental organisations (NGOs) to hydropower development in the Darjeeling region of West Bengal in the Eastern Himalayas bears evidence to Gramscian analyses of “the manufacture of consent” between elite bourgeois actors - the state, formal civil society, political parties and the private sector. Such “associational” unions are only occasionally interrupted, as in the case of the people’s movement, Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) in North Sikkim. Finding a balance between resistance and enabling political space to think and act differently, the movement led to the cancellation of several hydropower projects put forward in the name of climate mitigation, and in the process, drew attention to political processes involved in the manufacture of consent. Using case studies from the Darjeeling and Sikkim regions, this paper distinguishes between Gramsci’s vision of the political space of disruption vis-à-vis the covert agenda of climate consensus.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)S63-S77
    Number of pages15
    JournalClimate Policy
    Issue numbersup1
    Early online date15 Dec 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Bibliographical note

    © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    • Civil society
    • Hydropower
    • Political processes
    • Climate change
    • NGOs
    • Environmental governance


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