India: The Powerless Superpower

India has gone for a record of a sort. As the media was reporting, the last two days of power outage affecting half of the country was the worst in India till date. But now I find someone claiming it to be the worst in the world, ‘the world’s largest blackout’.

As an example of responsiveness, the country has gone for a reshuffle of cabinet with the power minister taking over the home portfolio. Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi couldn’t wait for few hours or days to affect their changes, as if heaven would have fallen without that. India is becoming a mockery of governance.

Besides the horrendous revelations of corruptions by anyone in any job, be he a judge of high court taking a Rs 100 crore-bribe for bail or a builder or CEO in NCR amassing some few thousand crores through unscrupulous means, the next news of natural or man-created record making losses can be reported from any area such as railway fire near Chennai or riot in Assam. And the government and its spokesperson on the TV channels will come out with excuses of all sorts, blaming it to the old government or some other agency.

Why couldn’t India focus and solve a single problem of providing power and establish systems to make it the best? Why do we go on under planning everything, the generation, the transmission or the distribution? Why can’t we get at least the availability of sufficient and quality out of the list of the requirements of s superpower?

Can Manmohan Singh, the economist who even staked his job for the nuclear deal with US provide a formula of growth with the present power situation in the country? Are the problems and its solutions not known? Why can’t India go for just this single objective of leaving power shortage behind? Perhaps many other problems will get automatically sorted out with just one thing?

And were Manmohan and Sonia not knowing the impending vacancy? Why couldn’t they find a suitable professional for this totally technology related ministry? Why should they prove their right of appointing anyone as cabinet minister? Is there no one in the whole of India who can run this important ministry? May be one of the best secretaries of the government could have been assigned the task. India will never be able to solve any outstanding problem unless there are innovations and out-of-the-box approach in the government’s functioning.

I wish the government doesn’t and the people don’t allow this sort of passing the buck. Let the politicians not play with the dreams of the people of the country. The consequences may be unimaginably horrendous for them.

PS:
I am still brooding why the regulating power machinery of the country couldn’t avoid the worst blackout of the world. I remember in 70s West Bengal was facing an acute shortage of power. Hindustan Motors was at that time the major manufacturing plant of the state and so a major consumer of power too. However, the state electricity board fixed a quota of power availability. Drawing of any power above that meant the shutdown of the supply from the source. The main plant had a number of departments, for example Engine, Axle and Transmission, Press shop, Forging, Foundry, and then car constructing division starting from body shop, paint shop to car assembly. We had at that time primitive distribution system and very poor telecommunication in the factory. It was a nightmare to keep the plant running, But still it was made possible. We used to keep on running some and closing other divisions. Some equipment such as furnaces of paint shop required a lot of staring time got preference but individual machines could be grouped to run as and when it was possible with the amount of power supply. It meant a strict vigilance and a lot of tension for the people running it, but it was possible.

I only wonder why can’t the state drawing more power could be shut instead of allowing the whole of North grid or other national grids to fail in India. The responsibility of compulsory shut down can be deployed down in such a manner that only some get affected and that too for a short time. The failure is that of the management and the poor working culture of the regulatory departments and perhaps that of corrupt practices.

Can or will the ruling politicians of India stop making excuses and passing the buck on all the developmental issues? Let the country work for making all developmental issues apolitical. Let no one call India a ‘powerless super power’ again.

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