Saturday, April 14, 2007

Electricity shortage affecting our economy, starting at a small level

I had gone for a hair-cut yesterday, and I saw a fine example of how the Government inefficiencies and incapabilities over a number of years are systematically affecting small and medium scale industries in a negative way. And this from a Government that keeps on tom-tomming its care for the 'aam admi' (common man). I guess the owners of these small scale enterprises and their workers are part of the aam admi.
So what did I see ? Well, the environment is hot, as anybody in Delhi would know at this time of this year, and with the municipal elections in Delhi having got over, the power-cutting is back with a vengeance, in my area itself, 5-6 hours of power cuts are now normal. The most thriving business is now that of generators and inverters and their maintenance. And the peak summer months of May and June are still to come to hand. Maybe this summer is really going to be the summer of discontent.
Back to this saloon. Their generator had gone for repairs, and lo and behold, a power cut. At least when they had a generator, even though it was expensive, the generator kept the environment cool enough that customers could come and understand. But they lost a fair amount of customers on that one day, in the sense that the customers went to another saloon. One can only wonder as to how the wages and tips of the workers in the saloon got affected. Another example is the person who came to fix an instrument. When I asked him for an estimate in terms of time, he gave me an estimate that seemed pretty late, and when asked for a reason, came this simple explanation, "Sir, I have a big backlog of customers due to the fact that loss of power in the day makes the day only 50% productive." This is simply playing with the fortunes and lives of citizens.
Similarly, I know people who run small enterprises, and the loss of power literally screws their happiness. But they accept this as something that does not have an alternative. And this is Delhi, I can only shudder with horror at what the scene must be like in smaller towns and rural areas.
Providing basic amenities such as power and water are the basic obligations of a Government. And people really are not asking it for free, it is being charged, so it is very difficult to understand how Governments can screw up so badly and be so power deficient. Do they not fear that their populations will become more and more aware of their failings and eject them from power, but only to get another equally incompetent party. How does the situation reverse itself ?
The only way that these politicians will do more is when they feel that this is a people's movement. So the next time some candidate comes to you for votes, ask him as to what he will do get more power to you, or get more water to you. When you get asked by a survey about what matters most to you, it should be something that can make your life better or worse, and basic amenities such as power and water are prime. If you are in the habit of writing letters to newspapers, you should write letters complaining about the problems with lack of power. Or are we so uncaring / cynical that we think that nothing can really make a difference.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 1:21 PM