Ded­i­cated to the na­tion

Electrical Monitor - - EDITORIAL -

Pub­lic ser­vice must be more than do­ing a job ef­fi­ciently and hon­estly. It must be a com­plete ded­i­ca­tion to the peo­ple and to the na­tion.

— Mar­garet Chase Smith (Amer­i­can politi­cian, 1897-1995)

The past few weeks saw the Prime Min­is­ter ded­i­cat­ing to the na­tion a slew of projects – power plants, trans­mis­sion lines, na­tional high­ways and such­like. It is very in­ter­est­ing to ob­serve that such “ded­i­ca­tions” took place mainly in poll-bound states like Jammu & Kashmir, Jhark­hand and Ma­ha­rash­tra. In almost all the cases, the projects were al­ready com­mis­sioned and in full com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions. The ded­i­ca­tions were there­fore merely sym­bolic and were noth­ing more than ve­hi­cles to achieve po­lit­i­cal mileage.

A tra­di­tional coun­try that In­dia is, there is a nat­u­ral ten­dency to make “glo­ri­fy­ing cer­e­monies” even out of tri­fling achieve­ments. When­ever elec­tions are round the cor­ner, achieve­ments are given more credit than they de­serve; ex­trav­a­ganza is mag­i­cally cre­ated out of non-events. It is ridicu­lous to imag­ine a power trans­mis­sion line com­mis­sioned and op­er­a­tional over six months ago be­ing so abruptly “ded­i­cated to the na­tion”. One fails to see the ob­jec­tive mean­ing of this ex­er­cise.

It is time that “ded­i­ca­tions to the na­tion” are given se­ri­ous re­think­ing. In­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment in In­dia, at least over the re­cent years, has been a painfully slow ex­er­cise. Projects tum­ble at ev­ery con­ceiv­able hur­dle—be it se­cur­ing clear­ance or land ac­qui­si­tion or project fi­nanc­ing. This de­lay is of course over and above the tar­di­ness caused whilst fac­ing project ex­e­cu­tion chal­lenges. In­dia is re­plete with ex­am­ples of projects not mov­ing an inch from the foun­da­tion stone lay­ing cer­e­mony, which is in­ci­den­tally another su­per­flu­ous item on the gov­ern­ment agenda! Even if a project is com­mis­sioned years be­hind sched­ule, it is du­ti­fully “ded­i­cated to the na­tion”. The folly of such a du­bi­ous act is never ques­tioned.

Let the gov­ern­ment spend its valu­able time in ac­cel­er­at­ing the pace of in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment. There should be no big­ger pre­rog­a­tive. In­fra­struc­ture is the only chan­nel to so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and na­tional progress; there is no mid­dle path. Be­cause in­fra­struc­ture is a holis­tic sub­ject and be­cause In­dia has no sep­a­rate min­istry ded­i­cated to in­fra­struc­ture per se, it is nec­es­sary that rel­e­vant min­istries col­lab­o­rate and syn­er­gize their en­er­gies in achiev­ing the uni­fied ob­jec­tive of in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment.

When any in­fra­struc­ture project – be it a vil­lage road or an ul­tra mega power plant-- is suc­cess­fully com­pleted, na­tional progress en­sues un­con­di­tion­ally. In ev­ery sense, in­fra­struc­ture is al­ways ded­i­cated to the na­tion, and so will al­ways be a gov­ern­ment that vows to ex­pe­dite in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment. The rit­u­als can be put to rest.

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