Vol. 6 | Issue 5 | Aug 2012
From the Editor
I NEED 50 thousand crore in the 12th Plan to make India energy sufficient,” Sushil Kumar Shinde, the then Power Minister, demanded during a crowded State Power Ministers’ conference in Vigyan Bhawan on July 13, 2012. Shinde paused and looked at Montek Singh Ahluwalia and said “I don’t demand that the Planning Commission sanction 50 thousand crore in one go, give me 10 thousand crore every year.” Ahluwalia was noncommittal and steered the whole discussion to the financial mismanagement of State-run power companies and electricity boards. Power is in the concurrent list and the Centre can’t do much, except calling conferences, admonishing States, and selling dreams like ‘power to all’ to those who are not aware about the intricacies of this sector.
The blackout days of July 30 and 31 corroborate the lackadaisical attitude of the States and the Central Government. It just shows the Government’s total insensitivity towards the needs of the poor. The energy consumption of a nation or an individual is the barometer of how long they will survive and given today’s situation, the signs are disappointing.
gfiles cover story ‘Blackout’ is an attempt to dig out the harsh facts and ground realities for those who are completely unaware that India is not likely to be a power sufficient country, at least for the next 50 years. Our Associate Editors, Naresh Minocha and Neeraj Mahajan, discuss the mess created by the Centre, vote hungry politicians and corrupt State Electricity Boards and greed-ridden companies. The situation is so pathetic that no bank wants to finance power projects. Most States need spoon-feeding from the Centre and Ahluwalia is justified when he appeals for financial discipline. MG Devasahayam in his article states, “Treating electricity at par with other market goods and services reflects a lack of understanding of basic economics, of the market, of electricity as a commodity and profile of its consumers.”
Ambassador Krishna V Rajan’s book ‘The Ambassadors’ Club’ is a must read for students of international politics. The book becomes special with 16 Ambassadors sharing their experiences. In the first of a series, gfiles publishes an extract from Ambassador Niranjan Desai’s experiences in dealing with Idi Amin. He writes, “Uprooting of the over 50,000 strong Indian diaspora from Uganda was the second such mass expulsion since Independence.” Desai witnessed the expulsion of this diaspora 40 years ago on August 8, 1972.
Former Cabinet Secretary Prabhat Kumar is worried about his fraternity, and explaining KJ Alphons viewpoint notes, “The politicians cannot make a killing unless there is the obedient Government servant around to aid and abet them”. M K Kaw in his column ‘Silly Point’ furthers the argument of Prabhat Kumar where he states “What was once hailed as the ‘steel frame’ has started rusting. Today, it is known more as the ‘still frame’ on account of its lack of movement and dynamism.
Politicians and bureaucrats used to work in tandem. Earlier officers used to understand the mindset of the politicians and used to assist them in drafting policies and implementing the same. But today both tribes are completely disconnected from the masses. The dynamics of world polity and economy are fast changing beyond the imagination of Indian politicians and bureaucrats. If the acclimatisation to the new world is not fast, I am sure India will keep living in its own fallacy and keep befooling the poorest.