I wonder how many readers of this blog have ever used Indian Railways but when I first saw the water mug (used by Indians to clean their derrière) tied to chain using a miniature lock – the contraption far heavier than the mug itself, I wondered, A country where a petty mug needs protection – what’s the future of our future and who will protect it with which harness or security.
The answer is a big ‘NO-ONE’.
This little example is to set the scene for this piece and hopelessness that persists because of a generally degenerate attitude of us Indians.
The Government’s 2025 vision is a thing that dreams are made of. Our economy is likely to be 5 Trillion USD, we would have sent missions to various planets by then. And some say, some influential politicians would already have amassed large tracts of real estate on moon and mars by that time, before anyone-else got a whiff.
Nothing shocks me anymore. Bad budget, Irresponsible statements by politicians, the abject neglect of our beautiful nation by its custodians – Nothing. I have set my expectations so so low that I am generally happy and satisfied with my environment but yes I do get surprised more than often.
The recent reduction of taxation on Electric Vehicles (EV) was one such moment recently.
Not only was it a dichotomy to the present state of industry and the automobile sector, it was a reflection of the cluelessness of the ‘powers that be’, making policies that are likely to have a significant impact on this nation and eventually on our lives.
The automobile sales (combination of 2 and 4 wheelers) are down 30-40% in the last few qtrs., most of the auto plants are now going through planned prolonged shutdowns and analysts and economists predict hundreds of thousands of people losing jobs in the automobile industry alone.
The EV situation is akin to – Doctors planning to prep, a deeply wounded athlete, (who’s just reached the ER with a severe sports injury) for the next athletic event rather than providing him with the immediate treatment and putting him on a ventilator to save his life at that instance.
EVs are the future – no doubt. And while we are staring at fast depleting fossil fuels across the globe, the world will have to find alternate sources of assimilation of energy through solar, nuclear and hydro, but not unless there is a systemic evolution of infrastructure, culture, attitudes and character of nations.
For EVs to be fully implemented and assimilated into peoples lives – far before the crude is fully depleted and people still preferring the traditional internal combustion engines, the governments of various countries esp ‘The’ densely populated India, a network of charging stations, infrastructure to support, sell, repair and recycle has to be created, maintained and sustained. It’s a paradigm shift in the lifecycle of a nation that has to be effected with multiple catalysts not just a random reduction in sales tax.
I am reminded of the vandalism on the first ever superfast luxury train Tejaswhere the people in the train destroyed the TV screens and stole anything that could be ripped apart and stolen and people outside simply practiced their cricket and bowling skills by throwing stones and breaking the panes.
Approx 2 yrs ago one of the projects that I was overseeing was vandalized by local goons on an alleged assumption of land encroachment (to the extent of .0055 cents approx. equal to the size of a shirt button). The protectors of their self defined virtuousness damaged property worth approx. 7 Cr that took 2 more years to rebuild and operationalise while the bank interest on the entire project kept piling up. All of these guys are walking scot free and still doing the narebazi. Till the time the corruption and ‘I can get away’ attitude from mind and souls of the citizens isn’t taken out through swiftly enforceable laws – the future is bleak.
Now imagine the effort to establish a Pan India network of charging fields, hard shoulders alongside the freeways and highways and the actual charging contraption that involves a pole, wire, socket and a network of charging grid or whatever.
Perhaps all the unemployed people from the present day automobile industry could be employed as security guards to protect these charging stations.
Sadly, where we need a chain and a lock to protect a petty mug inside a train toilet, we would need a far more robust strategy, execution abilities, set of security protocols and infrastructure even before we embark on this EV journey.
In the meanwhile can someone stop dreaming and look at the bleak present state of liquidity, employment, infrastructure and the massive slowdown that seems to have gripped the nation and its industry.
Follow manu on twitter @manurishiguptha
Manu also writes for Huffington Post