Thursday, June 22, 2006

The power of rural India

It was the summer of June 2012.

The population of rural India alone had crossed 1 billion.

But, there had been some good tidings too, in the last few days.

The Govt. had finally delivered on its promise of ‘power for all rural villages’. Another 100000 MW of power supply was available now, thanks to the mega-coal plants that had come up.

The Prime Minister’s Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme had been a grand success and thankfully there was nobody below the poverty line.

Inspired by C.K.Prahalad’s theory of ‘bottom-of-pyramid” opportunity, marketing companies had brought out affordable, low-cost goods. An air-conditioner was up for grabs for less than Rs 1000/- now.

So it came about, that in the village of Rayapatti reeling under a sweltering heat, Govinda switched on his brand new A/C and for the first time in his life experienced the comfort of a cool ambience and the joy of sweatless sleep.

In distant Raichur, the generator in the thermal plant responded to Govinda’s A/C demand, by stepping up its output by 750 watts with minimal effort, and, in the process, burning a little bit more coal and discharging a tiny bit more carbon-di-oxide.

Soon, Govinda’s neighbours in Rayapatti, in tens of houses, switched on their A/Cs, one at a time. Distant thermal plants responded to the load readily and spewed up some more minute amounts of CO2, warming the globe by a minuscule fraction of a degree. Sensitive, nanodegree-scale thermometers in observatories in Paris and Sydney picked up the infinitesimal change in temperature.

In the next few hours, in one village after another, in all parts of India, the A/Cs came on in rapid succession in every rural household.

The thermal plants now groaned, but revved up gamely to meet the huge demand. Coal was being lapped up hungrily, thousands of tons of CO2 pumped out into the atmosphere, and the globe being warmed steadily.

Finally, when Prasad, in the village of Bharatpur switched on his A/C – the 250 millionth A/C to come on that night in rural India – the global temperature reached the tipping point.

The polar caps started melting rapidly. So too did the Gangotri Glacier.


Lalita said...

minuscule fraction Please dude, Amit Varma and now you. What is happening to my favourite bloggers? Their spelling seems to have gone wonky in a major way. Am I Jonah? Yeah, I am advertising, so sue me.

The glacier is already on it's way to history and we can forget about perennial rivers in the northern part of the subcontinent; but don't ya worry, plate tectonics will obliterate the subcontinent anyway.

dazedandconfused said...

The key is to save our forests...or Save the Tiger. The rest follows...

Lalita said...

I am sorry, I posted that comment about minuscule relying on my desktop dictionary for a quick verification. Minuscule is the only spelling my Webster has, so it must be the correct version. I apologise again. :D

Anu said...

Reading the post I called this: A friend who works for IAF, while visiting me in Singapore commented that I wouldn't readily switch on the A/C (aircon as they say in Sng:)). Perhaps he thought I was trying to save on electricity bills I told him that I was doing my bit to keep his helipad stable on Siachen.

Anu said...

Oops. Not 'called'. Recalled.

Raj said...

Lalita, I like your cheerful tone when you say, " Before the snow caps melt and drown you, the tectonic plates would have got you!"

dazedandconfused : The key words , I guess, are reduce, recycle, reuse, conserve, etc.

anu : Seeing the lights on at all the buildings in Manhattan at 11 pm, I commented to an American friend that they were certainly an industrious lot.He corrected me, " Nobody is working there now. It is just that nobody switches off the lights here when he goes out". I am sure that the Alaskan snow is already melting.

Anonymous said...


Nice blog..

There is a great (somewhat controversial) documentary movie- narrated by our ex-VP Al Gore:

"An Inconvenient Truth"

here is the website:

I tend to think that it is mostly true.


Raj said...

Maria ( of sulekha fame?), thanks for visiting. the documentary sounds interesting, have you seen it?

Santhosh said...


I have always believed that India, due to its inadequate infrastructure is best equipped to deal with global warming and the energy crisis.

Lets see the loopholes in your argument:
1. Employment Guarantee Scheme will never work.

2. Another 100000 MW of power supply was available now. Thats as good as saying, Raj started a political party and became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu!

While the rest of the world is lamenting about the energy crisis and global warming, Govinda in Rayapatti is still chilling off under a tree and drinking cool water from a mud pot!