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Abstract, 2017, World Development

In India, efforts to design and diffuse improved cook-stoves began with nationalist organizations in the 1930s; after independence, these efforts were folded into sporadic state-level efforts and then became part of the NGO patchwork of development projects. Very low public Forthcoming in World Development (2017) 2 demand discouraged the private manufacture and marketing of ICs, but since 2010 official interest has intensified. New designs, new distribution channels and a new sense of urgency have reached a crescendo with the formation of ministerial-level departments and programs that aim to make biomass combustion in ICs as safe and satisfactory as compressed natural gas (CNG). 1 UN agencies, NGOs and other international organizations have offered technical and material support, and India is under significant pressure to find solutions that will work (Barnes et al. 2012; Putti et al. 2015).2 And yet, success has remained elusive. This extended trajectory demonstrates what Sivaramakrishnan and Agrawal call ‘stories of development’ that recognize modernization as a set of stubborn, incomplete projects that draw in a wide cast of authors, activists and critics (2003:47-49). This notion of ‘stories’ draws attention not only to the multiple voices joining the fray and the search for heroes (i.e., people or things that solve the problem), but also to the practice of development as an ‘intimate and unpredictable process’ (Sivaramakrishnan and Agrawal 2003:47-49).