India, no super“power”



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Half the population of India went without power for the second time in two days. If that’s not enough to give any country the blushes, I think nothing ever will. Especially when nearly the half the population counts at about 600 million! That’s nearly twice the entire populace of the United States.

Three major grids failed on Tuesday, bringing the entire Northern and Eastern regions to a grinding stall. Over twenty states were affected. People were left stranded in the middle of nowhere as they were travelling on Metros or the 500 odd trains across the top half of the country!

A Japanese expat who is temporarily based in India said he didn’t know what an electricity cut meant till he came to Delhi. Even if foreigners were familiar with the concept of a power cut, we now have the unique privilege of giving most of the world a lesson in reliving the dark days experienced during World War II - if not directly, then through the wide coverage the incident has been given in international press and muffled laughter it has evoked.

The stalling of the country for as much as 9 hours at a stretch is akin to no less than an extremely successful terror. Except that this time, we have brought the bleakness upon ourselves.

Anywhere else in the world, and especially in countries that aspire for a place on the high table, a few heads would have rolled and a system would have been put in place to ensure that there were no repeats of such fiascos.

But here in India, we were plunged into darkness for a second time within 24 hours and all we got to hear were drab explanations from an even more dreary looking power minister (now reportedly being shifted to the more prestigious home ministry) Sushil Kumar Shinde, who seemed to have spent a sleepless night without air-conditioning in his habitual cool abode.

Imagine… as the power crisis hit us, there was no back up in place. When it took hours to restore electricity at 7 RCR, what can be said of humble dwellings of the common man.

Half of India was immobilized as banks, offices, trains, hospitals and emergency services ground to a stop.

Yet, we have gone about business, as if this was nothing out of ordinary.

Such has become our despondency - our frightful sense of resignation to our destiny of ordinariness. That nothing shocks us anymore. We refuse to draw a line and say, we won’t take this anymore.

We have accepted the explanation that one state overdrew, so the whole grid tripped. What sort of system is this in the first place that has no checks and balances. Why was there no mechanism that cut power to the state after its quota was crossed and which allowed for flow only to the extent that had been sanctioned?

Why must the whole nation be thrown into a state of paralysis!

Power has two meanings. One is electricity and the other is clout. Even as we go about in the world wanting to be taken seriously, our power woes serve as a wake-up call. They remind us that without putting in place the foundation in terms of our infrastructure and discipline, we can’t build towers of achievement just by fancy.

And unless our actions meet our aspirations in full measure, our flight as a super“power” will never take off!