The photo shows a century old electric alternator from the Budapest hydroelectric station. India is entering the second Industrial revolution a century later, due to inertia, ineptitude and inadequate resources of its ruling elite. A World Bank report recently pointed out that India was doing electrification of over 30 million homes per year, between 2010 and 2016. “India is doing extremely well on electrification. We are reporting India about 85 per cent of the population has access to electricity,” Vivien Foster, Lead Energy Economist at the World Bank, said. This means that the Modi Government will have enabled almost all the accessible villages, and majority of households in India with access to electricity.
The World Bank report went on to explain that India was in the last leg of its electrification project, with over 80 percent of the population having access to electrical energy. This, the report said, meant that the efforts to provide electricity to the remotest households would have to be more pronounced, as reaching those places would prove challenging. The report also looked into global cues and pointed out that Bangladesh and Kenya were faster in electrification than India. This is a remarkable turnaround for India with over 1.2 billion people in a very short time. Political questions of whether it could have been faster, cheaper, earlier are being asked? The work completed to date, is most welcome, and should be celebrated by the millions of citizens, who have been enlightened.
I left India due to a shortage of electric power, to run my factory, many decades ago. It is amazing to see the bold steps being taken to increase energy production, via all means available. Indian Government owns the coal mines, the rail used to transport coal, the thermal plants that produce power. The State transmission systems, then deliver it to eventual consumers. It is all starting to come together, in a cohesive whole, under a hard working party and civil service, which is encouraging greater transparency and productivity. New auctions have been largely digital and productivity based, whether for mining, green energy, infrastructure or telecommunication. Privatization is the eventual answer for smart cities under development, and may help bridge the last mile problem.
There are many promises yet to keep in India, as a lot of people live in dire poverty, on the edge of an improvised existence. Universal health care and social security is a far dream, for the poorest citizens. Housing, Health, Education and employment for the young population about to enter the workforce, is the greatest challenge. To create a million jobs a month, is not easy, and to train many more millions is harder. Skilling its resources to become more productive, will strain India’s finances. IOT and a digital world is coming and India’s challenge is to leap right from the colonial times, into the Digital Age of Cloud and goods and services delivered on demand. The world needs the services that this new workforce will supply, and it is the adoption of globalization which will help India and our world.
Entrepreneurs have to spring up in a free and democratic India, to take up these harsh new challenges. The 500,000 villages which are being electrified now, will unleash the resources of almost a billion people, who have not been truly globally engaged before. The economic contribution of such a large part of human population, will drive Indian economic growth for decades ahead. It is a country readying itself for a productivity takeoff, after centuries of oppression. Its people have been a victim of bad policy and poor execution by its leaders and was preceded by autocratic rule. Finally there appears to be a democratic government, ready to govern. It is striving to ensure that basic needs of its citizens, irrespective of class, creed, caste, religion or gender, will be met. If not wholly today, but an attempt will be made to meet the basic needs in the coming years.
There is still a promise of hope for the largest democracy in the world, as the winds of change have arrived. The ship of State is being steered by firm hands and the nation is progressing, in small but meaningful ways. Power has literally come to the people and now a new day will dawn. The Vedic wisdom will be studied again in remote hamlets, and a new compassionate citizen of this universe, will reappear. For too long has the beauty of the human mind stayed hidden, in remote darkness, neglected by us all. A light has been shown where there was none before, and with it will come enlightenment for the masses. This rising of hope and passion in people who were deprived of it for too long, to quote Joe Biden, at the passing of the Affordable Care Act is, “A big Deal!”