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Earthbound

Energy always Demands

India is tipped to be the most populous country in the world by 2030.  India’s energy demand is on the rise, mostly because of its pockets of black holes called mega-cities. “An uneven expansion of a civilization”, if you want to call it that.  Although India is considered to be a growing economy, its impact on global energy demands is nowhere near that of USA or China.  India does not have an immediately measurable impact on the energy economy partly because India is a fair and pluralistic democracy and an innately slow and inefficient system (because part of it is corrupt).

Policy makers in India have been pursuing the idea that increase in quantity of essential resources will reduce disparity within the society.  Energy is one of them.  I do not think that increasing power generation (through whatever means) will lead darker India ‘kindly’ to light.

Although the energy demands of a city is justified when one considers its population and job profiles, the way in which it is supplied (24/7, throughout the year) is not justified.  People might laugh at my argument if I say that cities in India get uninterrupted power supply.  Those who laugh will surely realize that there are areas that receive interrupted powerlessness.

Some time back I was livid with a city power corporation, because they had imposed unscheduled load shedding in the area I lived.  I was angry not because of load shedding rather because it was unscheduled.  India can improve its power distribution given its current energy resource if and only if it can sensibly impose scheduled power-cuts in its cities throughout the year. Ofcourse, “sensibly” requires some working out .

I have not talked about clean water and food security here, because both of them have always been accessed remotely by a modern city.  Rivers flow over large areas, mostly away from cities and they are diverted to cities.  Food is grown in rural areas and most of it is diverted to cities. The difference between rural and urban blurs when we consider access to electricity.  Generation of electricity is geographically a much smaller entity than the other two and rural areas are as distant to them as big-cities. It is less essential to sustenance of life.  Ironically, it can enhance quality of life. People who migrate from villages to cities do it for various known reasons.  Jobs, Schools, Health-care and unlimited access to energy top the list. Creating jobs in rural areas is partly dependent on energy (climate helping). There is a need to make cities ‘less attractive‘ or to put it the other way round (as many like saying) make rural living more acceptable.   On a relative scale, thousands of kilo meters of electric cables running in rural areas, run empty. The argument that supply of electricity to cities is easy because they have better network needs to be questioned. After all, it is 1 g of cotton vs 1 g of iron.  There is a strong case for an urgent diversion of energy to rural areas because, given what we have, if we take the long road to success, we may run out of gas. I think it is more realistic than pessimistic.

The fact that India’s energy demand is still on the rise and a large part of it is in its cities can be turned into an advantage for rural development. It is a “two shots and no bird” situation.  There is no explicit reward for losing energy.  It will surely be unpopular in cities. City dwellers are known to be habituated to their in-house life-styles and may continue to find alternate sources of energy such as diesel generators and very bad of them, if they do. They are certainly going to be expensive in the near future. We might continue to burn coal to get energy. However, any new attempt to improve energy efficacy or new forms of energy should be tried in the cities and not in remote villages. By the time India’s energy demands match those of China and Western developed countries, it would have become much cleaner. If Indians can achieve this not because it is imposed on them rather by their choice, I think it will put many others to shame.

About CanTHeeRava

I am CanTHeeRava (ಶ್ರೀಕಣ್ಠ ದಾನಪ್ಪಯ್ಯ) from Bangalore (ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು), INDIA. Areas of my training and interests include Sciences, Indian Classical (Carnatic) Music, Languages, Poetry (Kannada and English), Test Cricket, and Educational & Political Reform

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Energy always Demands

  1. I agree with you completely that “There is a need to make cities ‘less attractive‘ or to put it the other way round (as many like saying) make rural living more acceptable” and giving more power to villages is one way of doing it. I’d like to make a digression here. Though not very relevant, its important. Let me give the point of view of a woman here, it might sound narrow minded but individualism is all we have for ourselves, right? And we all have only one life. If you consider a liberated woman, (simply put, a woman who likes to work however she wants, wear whatever she wants and marry whoever she wants and live her own life) she would not want to live in a village mainly because the very lifestyle and mindset of people and social backwardness imposes a lot of strain on her well being (physical, psychological and intellectual) It is easier to live in a village for a man because there are no apparent change in his social life. But once a woman gets used to city life, I’d say its rather impossible to make them go back to the villages, even if the village had all the basic luxuries a city has. I think making a village life more acceptable is possible only if the mindset of people change and the villagers become modern in their outlook. Proper education and adequate exposure to the world is a very important thing here. It is equally important to give proper education and healthcare as it is to give them electrical power. That will be giving them “real power”!🙂

    Posted by padmalekha | November 4, 2009, 13:06
    • You are talking about reverse migration, aren’t you? Yes, I can understand that it is more difficult for a woman to go back to a village than it is for a man.
      I do not agree with a modern outlook of a village that is built on existing ideas of a city. We will end up with more cities if we have villagers thinking like urban dwellers.
      What we want is a better model for development of villages. Once you give them power, many other things can be implemented in villages.

      By slowing down the rate of change in the cities, we can divert available resources to development of rural areas and possibly with a different model.
      At the same time, there will be tremendous pressure on a slowing city. That is the choice, I referred to. City dwellers have to tolerate that pressure, to help implement a better plan in rural areas. If they are smart, they will try alternate forms that are more sustainable.

      Posted by danappiah007 | November 5, 2009, 14:30
  2. Surely you know, you have put forth ideas and dreams that contradict each other! You have not understood the system and the reasons behind why it is, what it is today. I do not say that it is fair. But, you haven’t got the point. Solutions lie in those reasons. The problem cannot be looked at as being Indian or of some other country. Hope you know that.

    Posted by geethakydala | November 4, 2009, 18:07
    • CanTHee Rava is a place for contradictions! Thasi, you have read my ‘self intro’.
      Problem has to be seen as Indian because, a majority of human beings always learn by examples (good and bad).
      I can see your concern. It would help me if you can quote the reasons behind the existing situation.
      Infrastructure is not the only reason why electricity is diverted to cities. Rural India cannot pay for electricity in the way a mega city can. It is difficult to meet the cost of generating electricity, if one supplies more to villages. We still have a proper government in place !

      Posted by danappiah007 | November 5, 2009, 14:42

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