Among the few wise things that The Man from Madras Musings has done, is the saving up of petromax and hurricane lanterns that were once used by his ancestors. For some reason, MMM was always of the view that they would come in useful and, sure enough, their hour has now come.

MMM alludes to the recent announcement by the TNEB (Totally No Electricity Board) aka TANGEDCO (Total Absence or No Generation of Electricity, Deploy Candles Only) that it will be resorting to power cuts once again. Not that anyone is surprised, but MMM understands that the High Tension users are having hypertension and several are swearing under their breath to take their custom elsewhere. Not that it has really made the powers that be concerned. The powers could not care less, or so it would appear. All that matters is that they need to be in power.

And, so, MMM has pulled out his collection of lanterns, candle stands and even a railway signal lamp which appears to have somehow attached itself to MMM’s grandfather’s retinue. (Like everyone else, MMM had two grandfathers and both were in the railways, so MMM is unable to guess as to which one of the two walked off with the signal lamp). These MMM plans to clean and press into service. He will be known as ‘The Lad with the Lamp’.

Leaving aside the levity, it is time that this power crisis is taken in hand. It is not enough to make empty announcements that the State would become power surplus in the next two months or words to that effect. For the sake of record, such predictions were made and received with wide acclaim in 2012, 2013 and 2014, the last one being made in May of this year when it was asserted that there would be no power cuts effective June 1st. There were none to give credit where it is due, but nobody said that this was only a temporary reprieve, and had been entirely dependent on wind power. In effect, like the Rock-a-Bye-Baby rhyme, when the wind blows, our State rocks. But what happens when the wind stops? Down comes the power generation and everything goes with it.

MMM is, of course, not entirely fazed by the power cuts. Unlike the High Tension users, he is a Low Tension customer and so suffers in silence. It is also with a sense of déjà vu that he does that, for it all reminds him of the time when he was the Cherubic Child of Calcutta where 22 hour power cuts were the norm, rather ironically when the State of West Bengal was ruled by a Chief Minister who rejoiced in the name of ‘Jyoti’, or ‘light’.

But those were days when ours was a country of shortages and we were taught to accept it as our fate. These days that is not the way. With everyone being exposed to international standards, claiming that our city or State is at that level sounds rather hollow when we do not appear to have any strategy to combat this problem. MMM wonders if any developed State/City/country can claim to depend on the wind as a permanent solution and then wring its hands when that fails. Sounds rather ancient, does it not?