power off

About an year back, a large portion of the US lost electric supply and it was reported all over the globe as a major news story. That was a very amusing story for Indians as not having power supply is an everyday event in India. It becomes a newsworthy item when ther’s power all day.

Things are going from bad to worse as it is peak summer time right now and consumption is at its highest. The power crisis is a good example of how things can go very wrong in a democracy.

I am located in the state of Maharashtra, one of the more prosperous and educated states in India. The power crisis in Maharashtra stems from the fact that for over a decade there has been hardly any growth in the power generation and yet the politicians of the state opted to play power politics.

In a remarkably short sighted move, during the last elections both the primary political parties running for govt the (Congress + NCP) and the (BJP + Shiv Sena), announced that they will give free power to the farmers.

The (Congress + NCP) combine won the elections and free power played a major part in their victory. However once free power was announced consumption shot up drastically in all the rural areas and a already stretched state power corporation crumbled. The MSEB has never been known to be efficient and its incompetence is aptly demonstrated by the millions lost due to transmission losses and thefts. Not only that but the MSEB is very bad at collection. Currenly it has dues of millions of rupees and not much is being done about it.

The power crisis has now taken a political twist and the government risks being thrown out by the people. In a way that would be good, as it would show that democracy works and that you can’t take the people for granted. However nobody wants the elections and the instability that will follow. The opposition parties have been disappointing. Their ignorance of peaceful ways to protest is a serious cause for concern.

Anyway, I hope this has been a good learning experience for politicians who during the elections make crazy promises that they cannot possibly keep.