End Nation’s Mental Blackout!
When the northern power grid failed and plunged Delhi into darkness some people reacted in expectedl ways. For example, some sympathizers of Mr Anna Hazare seriously claimed that it was due to a government plot to prevent more people from attending his protest fast. Others disputed this claim to say that the government would not stoop to such measures. That indicates the world we think in. How very distant it is from the world we live in. Never in history has the world witnessed such a huge power breakdown. Twenty states and 620 million people went without electricity. The day after the northern grid failed the eastern grid failed likewise to make more states in the east and northeast powerless. To restore electricity in the capital of India power was borrowed from Bhutan. Have the full implications of this failure sunk into public consciousness? Indians are living in a dream world. We bask in the visions of a global role when the survival of our system and as a nation state is in peril. Appreciate the full implications of this recent power failure.
Consider the security implications exposed by this recent failure. If such a disaster were replicated by an enemy through sabotage during hostilities what would be the nation’s fate? If in the normal course such a disaster can occur, what prevents enemies from achieving sabotage through subversion and infiltration? The economic implications are even worse. Already the news about the world’s biggest blackout has flashed across the globe. As the worldwide news agency, Associated Press (AP), reported: “India’s energy crisis cascaded over half the country Tuesday when three of its regional grids collapsed, leaving 620 million people without government-supplied electricity for several hours in, by far, the world’s biggest-ever blackout.” Vivid reports of stalled trains, communication breakdowns, hospitals in distress and stranded passengers were reported from across the nation. Business experts worldwide are saying that India cannot be a safe investment destination for at least another decade. They say this not because of the government’s attitude to foreign investment but because of India’s power situation which renders future industrial enterprise hazardous. Why and how did all this happen?
It happened because four states overdrew their allotted electricity quota and caused the grids to collapse. Never mind which state is to blame more or less. Why did any state overdraw its electricity quota? Piracy of electric power by industries big and small is merrily allowed by complicit and corrupt officials. Why could the central government not prevent overdrawing of electric quota by any state through creation of an automatic mechanism to cut a state’s electricity when its limit is reached? A computerised arrangement for the central government to monitor the use of electricity by all the states was set up years ago. Therefore, were the central government officials inefficient or corrupt?
Officials do not perform their duties. Officials and citizens alike break or ignore rules because they are not punished. They are not punished because the system has become corrupt. No wonder Mr Sushil Shinde has become Home Minister! The system became corrupt because our early leaders were too permissive. They flouted laws to help favourites. They destroyed the Constitution to satisfy whims. That is why India is in a deep fundamental systemic crisis. That is why India needs a democratic revolution. Revolution signifies change. In India revolution will come not through violence but through ending violence. It will come not through changing the Constitution but through observing the Constitution. It will come not through new laws but through new leaders. Revolution will come when the people of India are sufficiently exercised over the nation’s rapid decline to accept the truth. It will come when they dare to recognise the iconic leaders of our so-called freedom struggle as they really were and not as they are popularly perceived. No ailment can be cured without proper diagnosis. No system can be reformed without honest appraisal.
Today Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi are bitterly criticised for failure and for betraying the Congress legacy. They are rightly criticised for failure. They are wrongly criticised for betraying the Congress legacy. They failed not because they departed from the Congress tradition but because they continued to follow it. All that has happened is that continuous decline of morality and honour has made conditions much worse today than that in the past. But every single flaw of the present political culture owes its origin to the seeds sown in the past.
Mahatma Gandhi created the foundation for dynastic politics when he succumbed to the pleas of Motilal Nehru to make his son Jawaharlal the Congress president over the head of at that time the more deserving Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who had successfully organised the Bardoli peasant agitation. Jawaharlal Nehru laid the seed for corruption by overlooking the corruption of his favourite, Krishna Menon, responsible for the Jeep scandal case. Nehru himself was corrupt by failing to disclose to Income Tax authorities his secret bank account funded by royalties earned from the Soviet Union through his books. Such corruption was small. But its seeds had been planted. From the early permissive attitude of the past has mushroomed the gigantic horrendous corruption of today. All this needs to be recalled not for denigrating the leaders of the past but to acknowledge that they were not gods. They were human, and it is human to err. They made huge mistakes. It goes to their credit that they recognised their mistakes. They attempted to undo them before they died. Death cheated both. It goes to our discredit that we refuse to acknowledge their mistakes. Unless we do that India will not revive. That is the harsh unpalatable truth.
India has lost its identity. India has lost its system. To recover our identity the spirit of the Partition must be undone. To reclaim our system the Constitution must be reappraised and followed faithfully in letter and spirit. The current crop of politicians has amply demonstrated its unwillingness to attempt either. Only new leaders with a new political culture will attempt change. They will emerge only after a nationwide movement to create the cadre for a new political party is successfully launched. That is a formidable task. But India is facing a formidable crisis. The recent power blackout is a wake-up call. Will it arouse the youth, the intellectuals and corporate India ? They must choose. They can perform or perish.
By Rajinder Puri