Taking politics out of power
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A more cost-effective and efficient approach would be to assure farmers equivalent (or higher) units of free supply instead of restricting supply timings. Farm connections would be metered and agriculture tariffs fixed. Each farmer would pay his monthly electricity bill, whereupon he would be reimbursed the previous month's bill to the extent of the free units consumable. Further, the farmer can be incentivised to reduce consumption by reimbursing an amount proportional to his unconsumed units (from the free power unit allotted each month). Here too, non-partisan political support is required.
Political gridlocks are now a feature of India's political landscape. We need to draw the distinction between ideological opposition, as with say retail liberalisation, and such "collective action problem" driven opposition. While the former cannot be easily reconciled, if at all, an effective institutionalised mechanism for addressing the latter is possible. The onus will be on the government to build a non-partisan consensus on such issues, failing which such reforms will remain stillborn.
The writer is an IAS officer and graduate student at the Harvard Kennedy School, US
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