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Powerful and powerless

What is dreaded more than the muggy summer weather in the subcontinent? Power outages, of course! This dread is applicable more to the urban, not urbane, people in our country, since those living in the hinterland are still to experience the luxury known as 'electricity', writes Tajinder Bains.

chandigarh Updated: Jun 16, 2012 12:50 IST
Tajinder Bains

What is dreaded more than the muggy summer weather in the subcontinent? Power outages, of course! This dread is applicable more to the urban, not urbane, people in our country, since those living in the hinterland are still to experience the luxury known as 'electricity'.


Newspaper headlines touting claims of the powers that be about abundant power supply do not help soothe the common man's nerves. Past experiences have by now surely made him wiser.

When the summer arrives, can power cuts be far behind? Day in and day out, both scheduled and unscheduled power cuts make the lives of people miserable. The commoner has no option but to envy the 'power-full' and go through his daily grind without power.

Those in power continue to enjoy the finer things of life, courtesy a little help from babus who ensure 24-hour electricity supply to VVIP areas - not out of love for the worthies but to save their own jobs. After all, haven't these VVIPs told people about sufficient availability of power?

The average Indian must now be fed up with hearing Alice in Wonderland stories about our country's potential in generating power through every conceivable source - solar, wind, water, coal and gas. The figures bandied about in this regard are mind-boggling indeed, ranging from 2,000 MW to 20,000 MW! Many generations of Indians, no doubt, have grown old hearing stories on power generation and the country's potential in this field. It is an altogether different matter that the elusive flicker in the electricity bulb - that could set many a hearts aflutter - has failed to light up the lives of millions of Indians till date.

A colleague from a well-off family in Bihar once rued that he had every conceivable electric gadget at his native place, but these modern trappings were of no use since there was no power supply in his village.

I have this nagging doubt that our politicians do not want to do something worthwhile in the power sector since they have heard of the quote, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Thus, to save innocent Indians from deleterious effects of corruption, they have been denied "power".

I have a suggestion for anyone who has faith in democracy. They should now come up with a new slogan of 'power to the people, both literally and figuratively'. It will surely help enthuse people "shocked" out of their wits due to power outages. As I am penning this middle, electricity supply to our locality has been disrupted. I keep aside my pen and paper and try to comfort myself with a hand-held fan. I start humming a parody of an old Hindi movie song, "Yeh bina bijli ki raatein, hamein sonay nahin deti; tumhari bijli laaney ki baatein, hamein sonay nahin deti…"