South Asia Institute
South Asia Institute

Foreign Direct Investments and Corporate Power: Enron, G.E. and Bechtel in India by Dr. Waquar Ahmed

Fri, April 1, 2011 | GRG 102

4:00 PM - 5:15 PM

Foreign direct investments constitute the lifeblood of the new global economic regime that gives primacy to free market and hyper-mobile capital flows. Dr. Ahmed's research examines how power is exercised by governance institutions in producing this new economic regime and facilitating the mobility of capital. New Economic Policy, the Indian version of ‘free-market’ economics, was adopted in 1991.
India’s new economic regime fetishized the power of privatization in general, and foreign direct investments in particular. It was in the backdrop of this new economic ideology and policy that Enron, General Electric and Bechtel came together to head investments in energy infrastructure in India. This joint venture, known as the Dabhol Power Project – the largest corporate project in Indian history, however, got embroiled in corruption, political interference and international standoffs.
In analyzing the contradictions of the Dabhol Power Project, Dr. Ahmed's research examines the shortcomings of the new global economic regime, which more often than not, has been criticized as being exploitative of poorer countries. In examining the local/national adaptation of the global economic change, and in turn, India’s engagement with American corporate investments, he examines the weaknesses in India’s economic policy that limits its ability to gain from foreign investments.This research is based on archival data and interviews of top ministers, bureaucrats, civil society representatives and heads of energy corporations.

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