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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

power cuts and blame games

A recent news item mentions that, in order to tackle the power shortages, the Shanghai Electric Power Co. has imposed restrictions on the use of air conditioners. The proposals include shut down of air conditioners in office buildings and departmental stores; entertainment venues to use the air conditioners only in the evenings, all buildings will set the air conditioners to a temperature not lower than 26 degrees Celsius and factories to halt work at the hottest part of the day and change their timings to nights.

The motto is – face the problem head-on, solutions will appear.

To tackle the problem effectively, those in power can formulate guidelines similar to those outlined above and spread the message that saving electricity is everybody’s business. Additionally, restrictions can be imposed on movie halls, games parlors and shopping malls to down shutters during daytime peak periods. Also, government organizations should restrict over stays of their staff up to the late hours in the night where the consumption of power is totally disproportionate to the outputs such overstays achieves. Once we are able to eliminate waste, the gains will increase multifold. ‘Waste not, want not’ goes one of the time tested proverbs.

In the context of the power crisis being faced by Maharastra, the financial capital of India, fingers are being pointed. Politicians are shouting themselves hoarse adding newer dimensions to the blame game. Load shedding has shed all inhibitions, sale of diesel and other generators have sky rocketed. In order to please the farmer’s lobby, the pre poll promise (of making available ‘free electricity’ to encourage them to produce more and better quality products), has boomeranged. The decision has turned out to be a frighteningly wrong one, because even though it was aimed at the poorest of the lot, the benefit was lapped up by those who could afford to pay.

When in trouble, follow the line of least resistance, so the learned say.

At election time, it is but natural that Political parties promise the Moon to the electorate so that the scales tilt in their favor. The objective is to retain the balance of power at whatever cost. Politicians are, basically, a whimsical lot and strongly believe in taking compulsive decisions. They are motivated by considerations of popularity. That is probably one of the reasons why they make statements and withdraw them in the same breath, just to remain in the limelight. With so many channels to choose from, they are always ready to face the camera. In the background, their PR men advise on the dress code, designers create something unique to the occasion and, viewers are treated to theatrical presentations that, at best, act as fillers.

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