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Communication Feature | December 2016

Electricity is the backbone of economic growth and development in India

Raman Dubey, Author - Energy Crisis in India

What was the purpose of picking the Indian power sector as a subject for your book? What attracted you towards focusing on a subject that despite its importance is more often than not, ignored by the mainstream?
My long years of service and research in oil & gas and power and energy had made me to understand the probable reasons attributing to the swinging equilibrium of the sector ever since the nationalisation of electricity services began in India. I wanted to share the several hypothesis which were evolving as the sector was hatching very rapidly new ideas, policies, acts, regulations and amendments one after the other from time-to-time broadly to mask the repeated shortcomings and failures in truly implementing the programs.

I firmly believe that finding of one research can always be an instrumental input for the upcoming research towards betterment of the subject being seriously researched. Electricity is the backbone of economic growth and development in India. You have rightly put up; this ignorance is the primary cause for me to pen down a commentary on India´s electricity sector to bring awareness to the citizens and all concerned with this environment of power. Moreover, the never ending complexity arising in the emerging power mix and market in the Indian energy sector is another predominant attribute in picking up Indian power sector as a subject for my book.

How did you undertake research for this book? What are the aspects that you focused on and how did you go about gathering information on it?
India´s total installed capacity achieved in 50 years was to be repeated in 2nd to 3rd -Five Year Plans. The dynamics of the India´s electricity sector had become more aggressive after the enactment of the Electricity Act 2003. Which is being implemented to bring in revolutionary and promising changes in the sector to meet the government´s mandate year by year. The question of, ´Who is the real beneficiary from this policy and regulatory reforms in the sector?´still remains unanswered today. With the above hypothesis I started researching the noble causes of restructuring the sector.

Is it the case of a failure by public enterprises management in India? What are the vital gaps between global perspectives and national ideologies? How can all the stakeholders benefit equally from the dual and uncertain policies? Who will take up the opportunities and challenges in making ´Green India´ with´Smart Cities´? Why the roles and responsibilities of politics and governance cannot be aligned towards the national energy mission? I had to map the satisfaction of electricity consumers to the performance of power utilities in generation, transmission and distribution operating under the enacted laws, policies and acts of the state and Centre from time-to-time. Hence to bring out the true findings I had to approach my above respondents to register their voice on the electricity services in India.

Kindly share with us some experiences you´ve had while undertaking field research for your book. What are some of the memories you take back with you?
How do you interpret ´Does De-regulation means De-Nationalisation´? To incite, just glance at this finding, ´Electricity generated by private power producers (private sector) is again sold to discoms /government (public sector) for further distribution´. Is it a liberalised power market? What type of energy model suits India? Rather than the direct gain from abstract summarised opinions of respondents during the field research the active discussions/debates/discourses during these sessions added to the enrichment of knowledge and wisdom on the subject being researched must be acknowledged by all. All the people either directly or indirectly who participated in the diagnosis of ´Energy Crisis in India´, will no doubt ever forget the indelible moments of association and learning. Studying the past to map the gaps and subsequently crafting a way forward for country like India against changing environment is an appreciable effort by all who dared to endeavour it.

Your book focuses on the evolution of the power sector between 2005-15. What are some of the key highlights you have discovered during your research for this book?
After the 1991, historic economic reforms for liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation (LPG), the Electricity Act -2003 for electricity reforms can be unanimously ranked which brought in open access diminishing the license raj in power generation. The period from 2005-2015 has witnessed enormous evolution in India´s power policy and can rightly be declared as, ´the golden era of power reforms in India´s electricity sector´. I was very fortunate to be associated with this sector for research during this period and hence the book ´Energy Crisis in India´ is a commentary on India´s electricity sector can rightly be vetted. My impartial approach towards the stakeholders of the energy sector was welcomed by the respondents despite their resistance to disclose the bitter realities which the Indian power system has been facing over decades and decades. This book primarily is based on the research undertaken by me for studying the energy crisis in India with the background focus on India´s electricity sector related to energy policy, unbundling of SEB´s, sector restructuring, impact of electricity reforms, emerging power markets and trading. I have discovered that there is no one single factor which is responsible for the affect and effect of any issue small or big. The problems and issues are so deeply embedded that to unearth them completely both macro and micro research is periodically essential in the sector. As there is emerging mix now and then regularly the issue never seems to melt with final solution.

Lot is to be done to ultimately realise hundred percent rural electrification in India. What impact do you hope to bring about through this work?
´Lantern Lamps to LED´, has been the journey of light demonstrating the technological developments and capabilities across the world. But our shift towards renewable to become pollutant free imposes challenges of this century. Power producers should strive towards generating economical power. Quality of power is to be continually ensured with maximum reliability by the distribution utilities. Power trading should effectively try to minimise the price of electricity without regional disparities.´Smart Villages´ should overtake Smart Cities in numbers. Consumers need to improve upon loyalty and punctuality in remitting their power bills. Industries should not sacrifice and compromise with the ethics of captive power generation. Social service and business hardly go together is an universal truth. There are many schools of thoughts, philosophies, perceptions, concepts and ideas being applied to energise the world and India is no exception to it. What finally will precisely suit no one knows concretely.

And as there is no limit to perfection things are being bettered day by day in the sector. The churning in India´s energy sector no doubt is resulting in creating a smarter creamed India.

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