Why it's been a harsh summer

Summary:Sorry about the hiatus. I was away, on a vacation.

Sorry about the hiatus. I was away, on a vacation.

It's been a crazy summer, back here in India. In Delhi, for instance, May was a surprisingly cool month. And now the monsoons have set in all too early (it's the first time in 108 years that the monsoon has arrived a fortnight earlier than expected). Everyone is wondering whether it's just a freak summer or the impact of global warming.

Even otherwise, there is a lot of chaos around. Newspapers and TV channels are full of stories of gruesome murders, suicides and crimes-–a majority of these are a result of high-stress lifestyles.

Fuel prices, like in other countries, are only going upward (even though the Indian government regulates the retail price of crude products). Leaves one to wonder what's going to happen when the government actually leaves the fuel prices to market forces.

Amid all this chaos, the Indian middle class is awaiting Tata Nano and other low-priced clones that should begin hitting the market around the festive season (even Maruti Udyog is learnt to be in talks with banks to finance a Nano rival).

With increase in purchasing power, I foresee the roads getting flooded with sub-US$2,500 cars.

I wonder what this would do to fuel prices?

India is heavily deficient in the production of power. As a result, most BPOs--the new temples of modern India--and other offshoring outfits run on generators that guzzle diesel. Therefore, the demand for fuel will continue to rise at a fast pace.

The bumpy, narrow roads will get clogged even further, leading to more pollution and therefore, more global warming.

India has grown on the back of just one core sector--telecommunications. Growth has been thoroughly unplanned. And today, with inflation at nearly 9 percent (8.75 percent to be precise), one wonders what the real growth rate is--and if at all, we should be feeling so confident about our "growth story".

Every other core sector still leaves a lot to be desired. There should have been more power plants, better roads and more R&D on alternate technologies--like solar and hydel energy, fuel cell and hybrid cars--to keep pace with the increase in demand.

Today, most large MNCs do their R&D here in India. They have used our pool of skilled and talented scientists and engineers to their advantage. But somewhere, the Indian state appears to have failed to use them for national good. Though the roads and highways are coming up, so are the power plants and there is some research happening on alternate fuels, it all seems too little and too late.

Sorry if I am sounding gloomy. For once, it's not the scorching heat but all these other factors that have made this summer so harsh.

Topics: India

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