In 68 years of independence, India has come a long way. Being a democratic setup, the governments did the best they could, given the complexity of the constitutional system.
Here I would like to quote a very interesting statement made by a Chinese agency to defend the ruling Communist Party when asked to compare the monopoly in China with its giant democratic neighbor. The response was, Had China followed a democratic path, “At best, China would have been another India, the world’s biggest democracy by Western Standards, where around 20 per cent of the World’s poorest live and whose democracy focuses on how power is divided.”
Though I am a supporter of democracy & do not completely agree with the above statement, but yes, my views are not very divergent from the ones mentioned in the statement above. After all, Indian governments have performed quite well, considering the ambit of complex & porous public policies. I know, these words are in stark contradiction to the usual bickering doing the rounds. Ironically, I choose to think differently for the topic at hand. I reiterate, the successive Indian governments have done well. But, here is the catch, sadly, that is not enough. India is a difficult country to govern and much more difficult is the law making process. By the time a law on food security is proposed, tabled, debated, negotiated, passed, executed, implemented, half the needy population for which it was meant either succumbs to hunger or gets into unlawful activities to feed their starving kids. It’s grim, but true picture of India. But hey, there is still hope. Since I am writing about it & you are still reading, it’s a worthy initiative to set things right.
Electricity has not been the priority since the very beginning. Why? Because we had much graver problems to deal with. Food, water, shelter, epidemics, children dying in early years. We seemed to have gotten hold of things to a large extent. And, now it’s time for the government to think beyond. Perhaps it is time to electrify the development process in rural India.
Having set the backdrop, I take up the issue at hand about government policies affecting rural electrification. No doubt, REC (Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd.) has been in existence since 25th July, 1969, under the aegis of Ministry of Power. And yes, it has been a long long road for it. It’s primary operation is to provide financial assistance to the power generation, conservation, transmission & distribution. Also, the Government of India has brought about special schemes from time to time. Like NEF (National Electricity Fund) & DDUGJY (Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojna). They are present, but like a sweet mirage. Funding granted to these organizations is huge. Then why are our fellow citizens living in dark? Divining deep into the technicalities, I could zero in on 2 reasons – under-investment & lack of energy accounting. On the contrary, the special focus of the present government is on renewable energy. Paradox ? Not really !! Here is why…
India had an installed renewable energy base of about 20 GW, in 2011 which was around 11 per cent of the country’s total power capacity and accounts for 4 per cent of the electricity mix, further the country’s installed capacity in renewable energy had risen from about 3 percent of the total installed capacity in 2002 to over 11 per cent in 2011. India aims to take it to over 20 per cent in the next decade with a capacity of over 70 GW. This was before the present government came into power. Now, with the announcement of smart cities, the bar has been raised further upwards.
I guess, every dark spot may not be a dead end. It might be the corner just before a bright future.
Maybe I am too optimistic. Let me know. Your praise, criticism, comments are most welcome. Please comment below so that I can further improve upon my categorical articulation. And, if you liked what I wrote, don’t forget to like the post & share it. It is always encouraging to get your views & response.
An article by Vikas Mendiratta