MIDWAY: The M-Propaganda

February 14, 2007 was a dark day for me. I did not traumatically melt down nor was I struck by a lightening. No Sir! Dark — for there was no light, electricity to be specific. That day, having spent a freezing morning in a cramped fuel depot, I somehow managed to lose seven more hours without electricity. Call me a pessimist but I anticipate worse days, dark and dry. Ironically, I am a proud denizen of water-rich Nepal. When they say 43,000 MW is economically feasible, I can but assume they are saving the remaining 42,400 MW for the rainy days. But first let’s bring in some Indian power. After all, a comprehensive approach would be to synch pleasure of Indian movies with Indian power.

When I am desperately in need of some determination, I summon up our spin masters — the policy-makers, all their robust stands and their infallible commitment to the grandstand. Their equation is simple ‘mega projects’ for ‘mega power’ with ‘mega capital’ creates ‘multiple opportunities’ for ‘magnified and magnificent growth’. While I gulp this M-propaganda, I foresee induction of one additional M. Cumulative sum of all Ms’, maybe something similar in nature to MDGs.

M-propaganda manipulates with mendacity. Experimentally it holds no ground. Failures are its foremost attributes. When they fail they leave space for alternates, sometimes like democracy after an unparalleled authoritarian regime. Small projects rise, mini power schemes foster. Small schemes spread; energy distribution decentralises. Small schemes conquer where the need is dire; in isolated, forgotten, and deprived rural corners.

Ignored, often unappreciated, and without the push from the pundits of M-propaganda, small schemes work. But then like phoenix of ancient Greek myths, M-propaganda emerges from sheer ash and invariably captures the imagination of all; from kings to cons. Small schemes retract into braces of foreign aid and breathe through ventilators — subsidies and grants. We dismiss small and carve for massive. Has the M-propaganda irrecoverably messed the mindsets of the M-mas-

ters or are they trying to make a statement to the Americans? “Save your oil. Fools! Observe us and learn. We save solar and hydropower!”