By K.N. Pandita
Democracy is something more than just empowering people. In deeper meaning, it is sharing the pleasure and pain with the people. To feel and demonstrate that the elected leader is part of the vast humanity despite the unique position he occupies, is what endears a leader to the people. The taste of pudding is in eating. Our experience is that once a person is catapulted into a position of power, he begins to feel he is a superman much above the reach of ordinary human beings and that the entire system should sustain his self-created aura. It is a state of mind for an outstanding leader to feel and act that he is one among the people. George Washington, the celebrated President of the US, once passing through a village on his horseback found that some people trying to haul a log needed one more hand to make it go. He alighted from his horse and put his shoulder to the log and it was hauled.
In a spontaneous example, Omar Abdullah has broken the “superman” myth associated with the status of a Chief Minister. By a simple act of ordering disconnection of electric power supplied to his residential place through a special VIP line when the entire valley is shrouded in darkness, he has shaken entire PDD structure out of its lethargy and inertia. Power supply is a major problem in the State, though of course, it is so with the entire country. In the Kashmir Valley in particular, erratic power supply or suspension of power supply for days at end owing to one or the other reason has become a chronic problem. There is theft of power and there is loss of power in the areas of installation and transmission. On the level of PDD, there are no permanent but only make-shift remedies.
Disruption of power supply owing to heavy snowfall to which the valley is exposed is more an excuse than something really problematic. Entire Europe is snow bound like Kashmir Valley and many countries experience much heavier snowfall than the valley.
Why don’t we try to know how they handle the situation and whether we also can adopt their techniques? Perhaps the time has come when the government takes up regular and uninterrupted power supply as its number one priority business. There is no escape from modernizing entire power generation, installation and transmission system in the State because we have the obsolete system in place and we are faced with recurrent trouble. The more we put modernization programme to delays and procrastination, the more public anger will accumulate and more demonstrations and mass movements will surface. We have a huge PDD establishment; we have an army of engineers and technicians and we have enormous infrastructure to handle in this behalf. Yet the output is dismal, disappointing and troublesome. There can be no sadder a commentary on PDD than to find the Chief Minster forced to sit in his cold nu-electrified residence and rightly so on principle because the people he leads and guides are all obliged to be in the darkness of harsh winter of Kashmir. The blue eyed bureaucrats, whom the chief minister did not spare their parasitical luxury, will have tasted the fruit of their recklessness.
The government claims it will be taking back some mega power projects from NHPC. Action in that direction has already begun. We do not know the details about how this step will improve power supply situation in the State though we fervently hope it should. At the same time other steps also need to be taken. Why should not the government draw a special plan of modernizing installation and transmission system of entire electric power system in the state and work out its financial aspects. It should be possible to approach the central government for adequate funding and to raise loans as well if needed. The problem asks for a comprehensive and long term solution instead of taking recourse to interim remedial measures.