Changing Heart(h)s and Minds: Social transformation through ‘clean’ cooking energy access

Authors: Deepti Chatti*, Yale University
Topics: Energy, Cultural and Political Ecology, Gender
Keywords: energy access, household energy, cookstoves, gender, India
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Evergreen, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In May 2016, India launched an ambitious energy program to dramatically expand access to ‘modern’ cooking energy services to its citizens by directing fossil fuel companies to provide Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to hitherto unconnected families. This program, called the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, provided 20 million new Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) connections in its first year, and is widely hailed as a success by many within and outside the government. A big driver of this program was a desire to give ‘respect’ to rural Indian women, to empower them, and to improve their lives. Gendered social transformation is also integral to the motivations of actors like the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC). But how do these imaginations unfold on the ground? In this paper, I examine what access to ‘modern’ cooking energy services looks like to rural families in India as they go about their everyday lives. I follow rural energy distributors as they provide ‘clean’ energy access to rural families. Drawing on over four years of ethnographic fieldwork in rural Himachal Pradesh, in the Western Indian Himalayas, I pay close attention to what individual and family aspirations for a good life look like, and how these aspirations relate to energy services. I examine if and how new energy technologies and fuels change people’s lives, and I analyze what constellation of other life changes are imbricated in energy decisions.

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