Energy Use in Rural India

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  04 Jun 1976:
Vol. 192, Issue 4243, pp. 969-975
DOI: 10.1126/science.192.4243.969


An old saying has it, "slavery will persist until the loom weaves itself." All ancient civilizations, no matter how enlightened or creative, rested on slavery and on grinding human labor, because human and animal muscle power were the principal forms of energy available for mechanical work. The discovery of ways to use less expensive sources of energy than human muscles made it possible for men to be free. The men and women of rural India are tied to poverty and misery because they use too little energy and use it inefficiently, and nearly all they use is secured by their own physical efforts. A transformation of rural Indian society could be brought about by increasing the quantity and improving the technology of energy use.