Friday, July 8, 2011

The Scams are only the Symptoms

We were discussing the issue of corruption. Now P Sainath has come up with the theory that all these scams that are coming to light in this country are only the symptoms.The disease is the State itself, driven as it is by the Corporates. And he comes up with solid data, not merely ideological posturings.
According to him , corruption has three sources. One,huge concentration of power and wealth in a handful of people.Two,the whole edifice of economic policy over the past 20 years has only driven, deepened and legitimized these inequalities. Third,the culture of impunity and arbitrariness with very little accountibility that enables the rich and powerful to get away with anything.
My own view is that the roots of the disease runs much deeper.All of us are party to the election of our representatives and all of us are beneficiaries of this systemic loot of the past twenty years.So how can we be smug and think we are not culpable for the present mess and the systemic pauperization of the populace at large.
The fact is that our Consciousness is stuck with Separateness and in the Material. That is why we are unable to understand Oneness and utter Interdependence of all Creation which causes us to act so selfishly and so cavalierly.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: ""
Sent: Fri, July 8, 2011 11:42:49 AM
Subject: The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : The gang that couldn't shoot straight

P Sainath has touched a raw nerve of the chattering classes,the upwardly mobile,who are supposedly partners in the systemic looting of the national resources resulting in the pauperization of the populace at large.Therefore, the disease runs deeper.

The Scams are only the Symptoms

As we close in on 20 years of Manmohanomics, it's worth remembering one chant the chattering classes uttered, first with pride, later to console themselves. “Whatever you say, we have the most honest man in Dr. Manmohan Singh. And no one can speak a word against him.” It's less heard now — those affections having been transferred to other punters in the honesty sweepstakes. But growing numbers do say this daily: the honest Prime Minister presides over indisputably the most corrupt government in our history. And therein lie many lessons.

Dr. Singh's decision to meet weekly with editors tells us which lesson he has drawn from the mess. That his government's problem with corruption is a public relations one. This even though the media, while barking at politicians in the 2G scam, have steered clear of the corporate core of all such rackets. Dr. Singh sees the media acting too often as “accuser, prosecutor and judge.” (He may have got that one right). Yet, he wants a weekly meeting with them. So is this a PR exercise? Or does he believe India's editors possess a wisdom unknown to others that will end corruption in all sectors (bar their own)? I hope the former.

Totting up his government's scams is like a Census operation. A large and complex count. There are scams done and buried, there are those alive and breathing. More are exhumed by the day. There are others in the pipeline, about to be pulled off. Still others where the media remain helpfully silent. And yet more in planning and process. We have a Union Cabinet that is possibly richer (at over Rs.500 crore) than most earlier Cabinets put together. And in spirit, reminiscent of the bungling mob in Jimmy Breslin's 1969 book The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Only this mob rakes it in where Breslin's collapsed swiftly. And this crowd runs a large country, not a few blocks in New York.

There are of course many causes of corruption and everyone has his or her favourite story. But there are three sources which, if ignored, render analysis worthless. One: the structural inequalities of Indian society, including huge concentrations of wealth and power, class and caste, gender and other embedded discrimination. Two: the whole edifice of economic policy that has (more rapidly in the past 20 years) deepened, driven and legitimised those inequalities. That has, for instance, made corporations far more important than citizens, mocking the Constitution. And three: the culture of impunity and arbitrariness — with very little accountability. That allows the powerful to get away with almost anything. Where a judge in one State bans all protest rallies on weekdays because his car got stuck in a rally on the way to work. Where sundry godmen can break every tax law — so long as they don't challenge the ruling regime.

Tackling corruption without addressing its sources is like trying to mop the floor dry — with all taps open and running. The sources are old. Their (man-made) scope, size and damage are pretty new.

The past 20 years have seen unprecedented concentrations of wealth, often by awful means, mostly enabled by economic policy. The state stands reduced to a tool of corporate enrichment. It is there to facilitate private investment. Each budget is written for (and partly by) the corporate world. The last six budgets have gifted the corporates Rs.21 lakh crore in concessions on just direct corporate income tax, customs and excise duties. In the same period, food subsidies and agriculture have suffered cuts.

The neo-liberal economic framework assigns the state the role of wet nursing the corporate sector at public cost. This is why we live in the age of privatisation of just about everything. It is the state's mission to hand over scarce national resources of all kinds, land, water, spectrum, anything, to further bloat corporate profits. It is this process of peddling a nation's resources to private agents on preferential terms that is the main source of corruption in our time. The scams are the symptoms; a state that serves corporations, not citizens, is the disease.

Those who rightly worry about election spending also need to make other connections. There is a class of people which has much more to spend — and illicit funds to spend from. At levels unheard of since 1947. In many States, you cannot hope to contest an election without being a crorepati.

Take the case of 825 MLAs elected this May to the legislatures of four States, one Union Territory (and the bypoll in Kadapa.) Look at their declared assets. Thanks to the alert National Election Watch (NEW), a coalition of over 1200 NGOs spearheaded by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), we have data that are fun to analyse.

The ADR data tell us that the total self-declared value of these 825 MLAs is around Rs.2,128 crore. As many as 231 of these MLAs are into their second term. They increased their assets by 169 per cent on average, between 2006 and 2011. That is, they may well have collared more wealth in their first five-year terms than they had acquired in the rest of their lives.

Now think of 825 landless labour households. We cannot compare their ‘assets' with those of the MLAs since the landless households have none and are drowning in debt. How long would it take, working on the MGNREGS for instance, for them to earn money equalling the wealth of the 825 MLAs?

The most they can make in the 100 days of work the MGNREGS grants them is — on national average — around Rs. 12,600 a year. The 825 landless households would require over 2,000 years to touch that Rs. 2,128-crore mark. And they'd need to abandon frivolous habits like eating. But let's make that 10,000 labour households. They would need close to 170 years to hit the jackpot. Even a million households would take well over a year to get close. (Recall that over a fourth of those MLAs acquired most of their assets in 60 months.)

Of course, given the profound inequalities, the labourer households will never have any assets, leave alone Rs.2,128-crore worth. They will remain indebted. And the interest they will pay off on those debts will likely add to the assets of the MLAs — some of whom are moneylenders. Yet the wealth of those MLAs is paltry compared to the huge state-led enrichment of the corporate world. It would take a million labourer households around 275 years on the MGNREGS to earn the Rs.3.5 lakh crore the government has doled out on annual average in the past six years to the corporate sector.

And then there's the impunity. Dr. Singh can juggle his Cabinet, but will it change much? An Agriculture Minister who spent more time on cricket — and helped transform that national passion into a tawdry, commercial swamp of sleaze. (At the time of writing, another wicket, that of the Textiles Minister, has fallen in this regime's precarious second innings.) Another, the Minister of Heavy Industries, shamed by the Supreme Court for helping moneylenders — then promptly promoted to Rural Development Minister. Even if dumped, their replacements, however youthful, won't alter that. For it isn't about lax governance or poor rules only. It's about corrupt policies.

Want to fight corruption in our time? Move to dismantle structural inequality, the disease of neo-liberal economic policy and the culture of arbitrariness without accountability. Do we need a Lokpal? Yes. Should it be a supra-government? Above constitutional structures and answerable to no one? You're begging for trouble. Can it tame the Trimurti of inequality, economic policy and arbitrariness? No. It's not geared towards that. That's a larger battle for people as a whole and their institutions. As the old saw goes, your rights are only as secure as the process by which you defend them.

At this moment battles rage across the country over displacement, forced land acquisition, the rape of resources, over forest and other rights. These may be ‘local' battles but they challenge corruption on a large, even global, canvas. They are fighting inequality and discrimination. They resist impunity, greed and profit. They try to hold their rulers accountable. Some fight unjust laws (as in the case of Irom Sharmila). Others for the just application of laws (as with some forest rights struggles). Almost none, however, place themselves above the nation. Or declare that they will lay down laws which others must obey. Nor assert that they are answerable to no one. Yet, they fight for their rights and ours too and help make oppressive structures more accountable.

There's a little amnesia on this. A corrupt and effete government and the Congress party know that well. Barely 36 years ago, a man placed himself above all structures of the Constitution. A one-man supra-government. It's sad to recall how many PLUs, middle class people and even some intellectuals wound up cheering this man and his era. His name was Sanjay Gandhi and the period was called the Emergency. The rest is history.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We are a Part of the Solution

Dear Sameer,
You are very correct.Along with the persons you mentioned,there are numerous others such as Mr Pandey of Husk Power Systems which has about a lac consumers,and projecting about 30 lacs in 4 years time, in Bihar generating elecricity for their needs.This gentleman quit his cosy job in the U.S and,with two other friends,one of them an Italian, is doing this pathbreaking work in one of the most backward regions.
The point about my forward is to motivate many of us,who have so much of experience and ideas, to think of similar projects so that we can enrich not only ourselves but also our communities in a big way.The poor now,who earn about a dollar or two today, can easily be scaled up to earn much more by providing such basic infrastrucure such as electricity, education and health facilities.
The govts are too lethargic and incompetent to undertake such massive initiatives in the 6.5 lac villages of our country.It is here that we, the educated whose children are well on course towards attractive careers, can chip in with our efforts.For this we just need some courage and a new mind set which sets us on larger goals.We may be endlessly aware of corruption in high places and how the entire system has become dysfunctional.But once We,the educated and relatively prosperous section of the society, take charge we'll also begin the process of being part of the solution instead of mere cribbings and fault findings.

Best regards,

Monday, July 4, 2011

Is a Classless Society a Law of Nature?



An article in an American woman’s magazine says that as many as fifty million Americans suffer from so-called insomnia. After the common cold and headache, this disease ranks as number three for visits to the doctor. Would you comment?

Insomnia is not a disease. Insomnia is a certain way of life.
Man is made by nature to work hard for at least eight hours. Unless he works hard for eight hours he does not earn the right to have a deep sleep. And as a society grows richer, people are not working hard. There is no need; others can work for them. The whole day they are doing small things which they enjoy doing, but it is not hard work like that of a stonecutter or a woodcutter. The body is made so that after eight hours of hard work it naturally needs to fall into sleep to rejuvenate its energy. But it seems have earned enough money and still you are chopping wood for eight hours? Then for what have you earned all that money? It seems stupid. You could have chopped wood even without becoming a millionaire.

So if fifty million people in America are suffering from insomnia, that simply means these are the people who are not earning the right to sleep. They are not working to create the situation in which sleep happens. You cannot find fifty million people in a poor cannot find five people.

It has been known for centuries that beggars sleep better than emperors. Laborers, manual laborers sleep better than intellectuals. The poor sleep better than the rich, because they have to work hard to earn their bread and butter, but side by side they are also earning the right to have a beautiful sleep.

Insomnia is not a disease, it is the richest way of life. In fact what is happening is: the whole day you are resting; then in the night you are tossing and turning in the bed. That is the only exercise left for you, and you don’t want to do even that exercise. Toss and turn as much as you can. If the whole day is of resting then the night cannot be of sleep. You have already rested.

If the people who are suffering from insomnia really want to get rid of it they should not think of it as a disease. Visiting a doctor is meaningless. They should start working in their garden, doing some hard work, and forget all about sleep; it will come. It always comes, you don’t have to bring it.

These are the difficulties. Nature never intended that a few people should have all the riches in the world and most of the people should be poor. Looking at the intentions of nature, it seems it wanted everybody to work. It never wanted these classes of the poor and the rich; it wanted a classless society where everybody is working.

It is possible the work may be different. If you have been painting the whole day, that will also bring sleep. Or you have to create artificial exercises — go to the gym, run for miles, jog. Many idiots are doing it. A futile exercise — why jog when you can chop wood? Why jog when your garden is being looked after by somebody else who sleeps perfectly? You pay him for the work, and he sleeps perfectly well.

You jog, and nobody pays you and you find it difficult to sleep. How much can you jog? How much can you run? And a man who has not slept the whole night does not feel like running in the morning, because the whole night he has been struggling to find a little bit of sleep. Tired of tossing and turning, in the morning he finds a little bit of sleep — and that is the time suggested that he should run and he should jog!

Insomnia should not be counted among diseases. People should be made aware that you are not following the natural course that the body needs. Then you can do small things...swimming, tennis — but it will not be a real substitute for hard labor for eight hours. Man basically was a hunter — and not with machine guns, just with arrows — running after deer. It was not every day that he would get his food. The whole day he would run and follow the animals and would not be able to catch one, and he would come home empty-handed but utterly tired.

Your body is still asking you to do that. You can choose in what way you want to do it; then insomnia will disappear of its own accord.

Those fifty million insomnia sufferers do not need any compassion from anybody. They have to be told directly and straightforwardly, “Your way of life is wrong. Change it; otherwise suffer.” And it will bring a great revolution if fifty million people start working eight hours a day. They don’t need it for their food, for their clothing, for their shelter, but they can work for those who need food, who need medicine, who need other necessities of life.

If fifty million people turn out to work hard eight hours per day in the service of the poor, it will change the whole climate of the society. The very idea of fighting, of struggle between classes, will disappear — because there will be no classes.

And this is going to become a bigger problem every day because machines are replacing man in every field. Machines are more efficient, more obedient, can work twenty-four hours without any rest, seven days a holiday, no religious holiday, because they are neither Jews nor Christians nor Hindus.

Machines don’t ask for anything, not even for a coffee break. And one machine can work in place of a hundred people or a thousand people, so soon the whole world is going to be in a trouble: insomnia is going to be one of the biggest troubles in the coming days because when the machine takes over, the man is free. He will be paid for his unemployment, and paid enough so that he does not ask for employment. He will have enough money.

So what can he do? He can play cards, chess, drink alcohol, have a fight — and suffer insomnia. Insomnia is going to be a worldwide phenomena. What is happening to fifty million people in America will be happening to almost every person whose work is taken from him. When people retire they start suffering from insomnia, and they had never suffered before.

So I don’t believe that it is a disease. Don’t categorize it as the third most prevalent disease. It is not of the category of diseases; it is our wrong way of life.

There may be a few people, a very few people, for whom it may be a disease — for example, the intellectuals whose minds are continuously working and get into the habit of working. Then in the night when they want to sleep the mind goes on working, and that’s enough for insomnia. And they have no control over the mind to stop it. They may shout; the mind doesn’t care about it.

The mind, while you are resting in bed, goes on unwinding itself, because in the day there were many sidelines of thoughts which have been left incomplete; they have to be completed. Mind is a perfectionist. It wants to do everything perfectly, so whatever has remained incomplete it is trying to complete. And it has no need of sleep. It is the body that needs sleep. If the body has not worked and has not earned any sleep, and the mind has been functioning too much and going so fast that it has become habituated to it, this type of man may even work with the body and still suffer insomnia. Then it will be a disease. Then he needs the medicine I call meditation, so that his mind can relax and allow the body to go into sleep.

But these people who cannot sleep are really suffering badly because in their life there is nothing — no meaning, all hypocrisy. “Socializing” they call it. And then in the night they cannot even sleep. The day is useless, the night is useless. They have lost all touch with life. They should be helped.

There should be more meditation centers specially for people who are suffering from insomnia. Meditation will help them to relax. And when they come to meditate then they should be told, “Alone meditation will not do; it is half of the work. Half you have to do — that is hard physical exercise.” And I think people are in such a suffering without sleep that they will be able to do anything that is suggested.

And hard work has a beauty of its own. Chopping wood and perspiring and a cool breeze comes...and there is such a beautiful feeling in the body, which a person who is not working hard cannot even understand. The poor man also has his luxuries. Only he knows about them.

The Path of the Mystic

The Fortune to be made at the Bottom of the Pyramid

I'm convinced(to plagiarise from C.K.Prahlad) that there is a fortune to be made at the bottom of the pyramid if only we could free ourselves from the paranoia of herding in big cities,power kegs waiting to explode any time.
The economics works like this.So far the elites have pocketed the money that should rightly go to the people at large.Three factors make it impossible for this state of affairs to continue.
One,the explosion in communications in an increasingly wired world.Two,the explosion of scientific and technological innovation which knows no boundaries and its proponents are smart enough to sense endless opportunities. Third, 70% of the population in India is below 35 and this group is indignant about the present mess and will no longer brook much nonsense of the elites.
If only people between 40-60 could de-fossilize themselves and flow with the unlimited,pulsating,exuberant rhythm of life, they could be the co torch bearers in a new world just waiting to be born.

Best regards,

Simon Desjardins
Electrifying Bihar - the role of philanthropy and social investment
Why does Bihar matter?
Simon Desjardins
1 June 2011
Alliance magazine
Long before Gandhi would use it as a launch pad for his campaign for independence, Bihar was an economic powerhouse, serving as the capital of India during Ashoka’s empire in the third century BC, when India’s boundaries stretched to include present-day Afghanistan and parts of Iran to the west and Bangladesh to the east. It is a state rich in history, home to one of the world’s oldest universities (Nalanda) and the oldest democracy, and they even say Buddha found enlightenment here.

Credit Nations Online Project
That prominence didn’t last.
The state has come to be known in recent times more for poverty, widespread corruption and economic irrelevance. It is still hugely stigmatized today within India. I was asked three years ago by a high-profile Indian ‘impact’ investor why we were planning to support a Bihari rural electrification start-up. ‘You can’t do business over there,’ he told me. ‘It’s a backward state. If you want to have an impact on electrification, do something in the cities, where people will pay for their power.’ In those cities, ask a taxi driver about Bihar and they’re liable to refer (loudly) to the Bihari brain-drain, lamenting that local jobs are being taken by Bihari migrants. The state is surely helping to drive India’s trend of rapid urbanization as people leave rural communities looking for work in cities. By most accounts it would seem like a place to avoid, rather than a place to commit capital. As with most things Indian, though, the reality is more complex than would appear to the casual observer.

The truth is that Bihar is quietly becoming important again.

A unique test bed

Specifically, there are three main reasons we’ve chosen to focus this issue of Alliance on energy provision in Bihar. First, for those readers interested in energy poverty and the services that could be delivered as a result of rural electricity provision, this state is a hotbed of innovation. Indeed, some of the world’s most ground-breaking rural electrification businesses are scaling up in this state. We need to learn from them.

Second, energy in Bihar may seem like a narrow focus, irrelevant to a development organization or investor working on education in Africa, for example. The opposite is true. In many ways, Bihar is a proxy for the rest of India (excluding the urban growth centres), and a unique test bed for technology and service innovation that could be applied throughout the world. It is a conflict-free region and starvation is not a major problem. The state’s democracy is working: voters resoundingly rejected the caste-based politics of Laloo Yadav in 2004 by electing Nitish Kumar, who ran an issues-driven campaign, as chief minister. People here are subsisting, but they are not flourishing – and they are grossly underserved. In other words, there is nothing peculiar to the region that would limit the applicability of solutions developed here to regions elsewhere.

Third, because access to products and services is so limited in Bihar, the opportunity to make a significant difference is heightened. Bihar’s 90 million or so inhabitants almost universally lack access to reliable energy, education and healthcare services. Paradoxically, the challenges of doing business here are advantages for enterprises with national or global ambitions, because they force innovation. ‘We have to create everything we need,’ says Gyanesh Pandey, co-founder and CEO of Husk Power Systems. If you can make it work in Bihar, you can make it work anywhere.

Clearly, investment should be driven by specific commercial opportunity rather than geography, though from this perspective Bihar is an exciting story, rich with unique opportunities for commercial investors and scale-driven donors alike.

Energy in context

The issue of access to energy in India is a pressing one, and the numbers tell a story that borders on scandal. India has over 500 million people without access to reliable electricity – nearly a third of the world’s 1.6 billion ‘energy poor’. Of the 650,000 villages in India, 100,000 have no access to grid electricity and most of the rest have only a very poor-quality power supply. The enterprises working here to date have proved that there is not just a need for electricity, but a genuine demand, as the willingness to pay for high-quality solutions when offered shows. The supply of technology and feedstock required to meet the demand already exists, but largely because of solvable route-to-market challenges, supply isn’t meeting demand.

Bihar is at the centre of this problem. The story here will sound all too familiar toAlliance readers working on this issue in other areas: most of the population uses polluting and prohibitively expensive and dangerous kerosene for lighting, and diesel generators are used (by those few who can afford them) to power irrigation systems and often to charge phones at great expense and inconvenience. People don’t pay for electricity, of course. They pay for what they can do with that electricity. It sounds obvious, but the implications are tremendous.

There are broad implications to this problem. The economic impact extends to shopkeepers who have difficulty staying open after nightfall, to farmers who need to pay for diesel to irrigate their land, to consumers who need to pay a hefty price to charge their phones. The social impact is felt by children who struggle to study at night, by anyone who wants to meet friends during the evening, by retired men who want to play a board game before bed. The list goes on. It also has a direct effect on quality of life – intangible benefits that matter in ways that are difficult to measure. For example, consumers describe new-found access to electricity in surprising ways: they talk about feelings of pride and independence that at least equal the economic benefits. The lack of television probably increases the rates of spousal abuse, though we’re waiting for a bright group of academics to confirm this.

Our approach at Shell Foundation has been to support small and growing enterprises that provide modern energy services to the poor in ways that are financially viable and scalable. We support these enterprises by providing smart subsidy (in the form of grants), typically at the post-R&D stage but before revenues start to come in when commercial funding is not yet available. Our grants are never used to subsidize the price of the end product or service. Rather, they are used to create the core components required for scale, namely: seed funding for proof-of-concept, business plan and strategy development; initial partial subsidy support to enable the enterprise to employ senior managers (who are much needed but often too expensive to afford at the pilot stage); assistance in developing route-to-market partnerships; and technical assistance from Shell engineers and safety experts.

The most successful enterprises in Bihar

In Bihar, we are providing direct support both to energy providers and to a rural distribution company. Our rural electrification partner, Husk Power Systems, generates reliable and affordable power to rural villages by gasifying waste rice husk (or any other locally available biomass), feeding the resulting ‘producer gas’ into a generator, and selling that electricity to the community on a pay-as-you-go basis, as a kerosene replacement.

The company, which has developed the lowest cost power generation model at this scale (35-50kW) in the world, is gearing itself for rapid growth. Their infrastructure now includes electronic systems to monitor power plant performance remotely as well as the world’s cheapest energy meter (less than $10). They’re also developing a centralized training institution dubbed ‘Husk Power University’ which will deliver capacity-building content through video, e-learning and lectures by experts to the thousands of operators and managers who will be required over the coming years. They are finding ways to monetize the waste streams generated by the plants, for example the new incense sticks business (see Husk Power article), which will significantly improve the economics for future operators. Husk Power has now installed over 65 power plants that collectively deliver electricity to over 100,000 individuals and has a plan to grow to over 30 times its present size over the next four years, mainly through a ‘build and maintain’ model (see Husk Power funders).

We also have a partnership with d.light – a manufacturer of solar lighting products – to help the company reach lower-income groups in the population by reducing the risks for potential distribution partners. This has meant deploying grant funding as a revolving capital pool to incentivize high potential distributors who can’t or won’t pay cash up front for d.light’s solar lanterns. Mandeep Singh, who runs d.light in India, sees Bihar as a core growth market, and has focused on selling through FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) distribution points, bicycle selling shops and telecom outlets, as well as seeding lights with local opinion leaders like local doctors and school students through corporate partnerships.

Credit Tushar Dayal
Our rural distribution partner, Project Dharma, is actively involved in selling social impact products and services to low-income customers at the ‘last mile’. Products include water purifiers, improved stoves and a range of solar lighting products offered at a range of prices. Health and sanitation products are on the way. Distribution is based on a network of village-level entrepreneurs who are given professional training and logistical support, backed up by SAP-powered information systems. Project Dharma’s founder Gaurav Mehta is increasing the company’s presence in Bihar, with an entrepreneur network that now numbers in the hundreds. Their model is different because of the quality of training and support services offered to their dealers, as well as their growing range of complementary products which translate into sustainable incomes for dealers.
Greenlight Planet, a portable solar lantern company led by Anish Thakkar and Mayank Sekhsaria, is the fourth organization in Bihar on the way to achieving scale. They are implementing a unique sales agent model based on successful sales techniques developed in the US (see Greenlight article). Rural sales agents sell lights part time on a cash basis and can make a significant top-up income over their regular jobs. Bihar is a key market for Greenlight, which is now selling thousands of lights per month.

Lessons to be learned
What lessons can we learn from these enterprises? First, the solution must be entrepreneur-led, not model-led. We’ve seen many high-profile electrification schemes fail or stagnate due to a reliance on ‘community-led’ solutions involving high levels of capital expenditure that look great on paper but don’t have committed promoters behind them. The entrepreneur must come first, and the promoters must have shared financial risk with their investors.

Second, it’s clear that in Bihar there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to energy provision. In some areas, a biomass-powered mini-grid option like the one Husk Power is promoting will be most appropriate. In other areas, solar lanterns or solar home systems will make more economic sense.

Third, for those organizations providing energy to the underserved, that provision must be the first priority. We’ve seen proposed models where energy for rural communities would be derived from leveraging the over-capacity of existing energy sources, like diesel generators powering mobile phone towers. This looks great on paper too but in practice is potentially reckless, as it will surely lead to unreliable energy supply at times when resources are stretched (and they will be), as power to the mobile tower will necessarily be the first priority for the provider, not the communities.

Finally, quality of technology matters, but it is secondary to the quality of the channel that delivers that technology to the customer. The key question related to potential for scalability is: does that channel deliver significant improvements in reliability and cost savings to the communities in which it is implemented? We often get proposals or questions related to a new product that claims some marginal cost-per-kilowatt-hour improvement over some other energy product along with a declaration of superiority. This type of comparison may be of academic interest to someone sitting in a comfortable armchair in London or New York, but it is meaningless to a rural Bihari coughing in front of a kerosene lantern.

Simon Desjardins is guest editor for this Alliance special feature. He is responsible for Shell Foundation’s Excelerate programme, which has the goal of helping to provide access to modern energy services for the poor.
The vision - energy as a catalyst

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Indignez Vous!!!

Sent: Sat, July 2, 2011 5:25:20 PM
Subject: Time for Outrage by Stephane Hessel

The season for outrage is upon us and Stephane Hessel,a 94 year old has polemically captured the angst of the age.Man is born free,but everywhere he is in chains.I think the time is just ripe to unshackle ourselves of these chains.
Once we realize the unlimited potentials, that lie buried within reams and reams of social consciousness,and find our true power we'll have the wherewithal,collectively, to fashion a just society premised on equal opportunities for all.
Do check out this 40 page book which is creating waves the world over.

Best regards,

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: ""
Sent: Sat, July 2, 2011 5:06:00 PM
Subject: A Resistance Hero Casts A Spell

A Resistance Hero Casts A Spell
The only way to avoid a violent revolution is to stage a peaceful one. That, in substance, is the message that Stephane Hessel, a grand old man of 94, issued in a slim pamphlet published in October last year.

Log on to :
Message from avinash sahay
in india the people are deeply concerned about corruption in high places.actually the whole system has become dysfunctional.this book is a timely warning for intervention,indeed outrage,by young people because they stand to lose the most.i am certain that outrage and intervention will change the entire paradigm.the meek shall yet inherit.