Friday, May 18, 2007

Philosophy of Power-Cut

Power manifests in so many forms – electrical, mechanical, hydro, divine and even political. Yet whenever we say power we mean only electricity. The importance and inevitability of power in our lives needs no elucidation. Barring aborigines and hard-core villagers in remote isolated areas, there is hardly anyone who can even imagine living without power for a few hours. Power generates the light in our life and there is hardly anyone who can survive without it. Fans, air-conditioners, electric trains, mobile phones and computers have undergone paradigm shifts from being luxury items to become part and parcel of our daily lives. Along with air and water, power and freedom (mental and physical) make up the stable-four foundations of modern life. If the first two provide tangible supports for our existence, the next two represent the intangible pillars of modern life. It has come to such a stage that the development status of any nation can be directly measured in terms of per-capita power utilisation rather than income.

It is quite common in a philosophical sense to understand a concept by realising the absence of it. As an example, the best way to understand the value of life is by imagining its absence. In spite of all the difficulties in our lives, it is still a boon from God to be alive. Death is always painful and it puts an end to all possibilities that may exist for an individual. But life is exactly the opposite. Every minute is full of possibilities, good or bad, and carries with it the power of creation. Same is the case with freedom. We can realise the value of freedom only when we go through times of slavery and bondage. Freedom of thought and expression is an invaluable luxury that we in India enjoyed since time immemorial. We realised the value of it only when we lost it temporarily for a few hundred years. The same holds good for power as well. Most of us realise the value of power only when there is a power-cut. The philosophical angle of power-cut sound trivial but it is a symbolic signal that forces us to realise the stark reality of modern times.

Taken for Granted

One of the most dangerous mistakes we make in life is taking things for granted. We learned from our forefathers that refreshing sunlight, drinking water and clean air were here in abundance during their times. And we have also been seeing and enjoying these ever since our birth. But do we realise the current and predicted status of these vital elements in the not so distant future. Many people have read and heard about it. But very few people bother to ponder over the impending catastrophe. Instead, they look for ways & means to save the day at least for them and their own children. It might sound outright selfishness, but it is still good for the world if everyone does it. If every one of us keeps our body, our home, our street and our town clean and tidy, the whole world would become clean. A physically clean and tidy world is the only guarantee for continued abundance of vital elements for life. Equally important, if not more, is the necessity for a mentally stable and accommodative set of human beings.

If air, water and sunlight were taken for granted much earlier, the current generation is doing the same mistake with regard to generation of current. Our dependence on power has already reached alarming proportions. The so-called urban people are the most dependent on power. A simple listing of the number of electric current consumers and their consumption in a few representative areas of any few cities in the world is enough to bring out the ever growing dependency on power. The growth would be unbelievable in your own city. And what is the corresponding growth in the generation of power and its cost of production. Except for the oil rich countries, all other nations are struggling with the Herculean task of arranging power to those who want it. Power generation capacity from the renewable sources of energy represents the ‘eligible power limit (epl)’ for any nation in the world. Greater the departure from this golden ‘epl’ figure, steeper will be the fall of those nations in the days to come. The only way to avoid this would be a remarkable breakthrough in the power generation technology from the renewable sources of energy viz. wind, sunlight, waves etc.

Develop Philosophically

Side by side with the laboratory research for technological breakthroughs, it is much more important to carry out re-search in our conscience for an appropriate philosophy to live with power-cuts. The rich and affluent have a lot to learn from the poor in this regard. Many learned people have observed that at the end of the day they see more happiness in a slum than in a rich colony. When they said this, they were definitely not overlooking the unhappiness and misery in the lives of those who go to sleep without food and water. The physical aspects of life are definitely not comparable in the two cases. Yet many among the slum dwellers develop a certain philosophy of not taking anything for granted. They are not sure of the next meal as much as they are of the next day. Nothing is taken for granted and nothing is ruled out either. Everyday life is an open ended game for slum-dwellers.

It is this unattached attitude towards life that is worthy of replication in our own lives. Development of any new attitude in life is achieved easier by wilful practice or by subjecting ourselves to trying times more often. The frequent power-cut in the urban areas is teaching a lesson to those who are trying to run away from realities. Youth today are getting increasingly used to comforts which are far above their legitimate right as human beings in this overcrowded world. One look at the lifestyle of youth in the oil rich countries is enough to conclude this. Many of them are totally cut off from the stark realities of life in other parts of the world. Many aspects of everyday life are taken for granted and abundance of money seems to remove all obstacles in life. Everyday life is a pleasure game in these parts of the world until an occasional power-cut wakes them up.

Thus power-cuts are providing the much needed wake-up message to a new generation which is walking away from the basics of nature. Loss of a whole day’s effort on a computer (if you have forgotten to save the file) is the best example in this study in philosophy. Just like a human body, a computer can also crash at anytime and a power failure is just one of its reasons. More frequent the power-cuts, more reminded we are about the uncertainties in life. Every second is pregnant with possibilities of losing anything in our possession. We cannot take anything for granted in life and that is what a power-cut highlights to the arrogant youth of today.

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