Monday, February 23, 2009

Oil Independence

Throughout the world, people have made themselves heavily dependent on oil to keep the wheels of their economy in motion which is a situation that resulted from the developments in the yesteryears. But the world changes fast and today, we have a wide range of alternative sources of energy or fuel, I mean non-conventional sources of energy such as solar power, bio-gas, geothermal power and the kind. These non-conventional sources are being utilized well in some places while in others, they still aren't popular or popular enough.
But I don't see this situation continuing in the next few years. The world would soon become oil independent in the wake of non-conventional power which is by it's very nature cheaper, easily available to all (cannot be controlled by a few hands as is in the case now with oil), more efficient, environment friendly and sustainable. I would further say, the adoption of these non-conventional sources is democratic.

I'm not making predictions or trying to preach by saying so just for the sake of it. It's a logical conclusion. If we look at how the world has moved in the last few decades, this seems the direction it should take.
Of all the ideologies we know, through evolution, democracy remained and prevailed. Today, if we observe carefully, every process that's democratic is widely adopted and stays for good.

->Internet - It's democratic in the way it has opened the doors to information for all, resulting in equal ground for competition, without the interference of power or control from governments of states, which was previously the case.
->Free market: It is democratic in the way that entrepreneurs are free to expand, innovate and improve and thereby, compete with all the players around. This has resulted in better quality of life and most importantly, growth.
->Further, democracy as an ideology entered into many other fields such as banking, formation of co-operatives among the ones I know and some areas where we cannot just imagine it possible.

What I'm trying to indicate through these examples is non-conventional sources of energy will soon become dominant players in the energy market by virtue of their democratic nature.

I'm not an anti-oil activist nor am I saying, lets give up oil because it's noble to give up oil. It's not easy to give up oil given lots of things have been designed to use oil and for other such reasons. However, the use of oil and dependence on oil could be comfortably reduced for obvious advantages with alternative sources.

For further details, you may refer to

->"The Lexus and The Olive Tree" by Thomas Friedman (regarding democratization and democratic culture)
-> (It's not just about solar energy. It covers all non-conventional energy info.)
-> (Grameen Shakti, a Grameen sister organisation which supplies non-conventional power to the poor at affordable prices. You would be amazed to see how the poor of Bangladesh are more modern in their lifestyles than most of us.)
-> (here, you can find the list of manufacturers and suppliers of renewable energy resources)

Democratizing Public Institutions

Democracy can be achieved only when all sorts of power lies immediately in the hands of people. By this, I mean, people run all the public institutions directly. This can happen through the establishment of Local-self Governments. Today, we have government officials at all levels working under the ministers("people's representatives") whom we have elected. Though these officials are meant to work for the people, they can't do so as they're under the government i.e. the ministers and they work under them and consequently, for them. The flaw is in the structure we have adopted for democracy. When we want officials in public institutions to work for the people, these officials should be under the control of people and not the ministers. To enable this, we need Local Self Governments which are formed by people locally and which govern all the local public institutions directly such that all public institutions of a place are under direct control of the local people and they do not need to depend on a far off government for getting things done. This would be more efficient for obvious reasons. And corruption would be eradicated as a by-product as, when people control their own institutions, why would they harm themselves through corruption?

Empowering People

A democratic nation cannot grow by simply calling itself a democracy while it doesn't have a structure that is suitable for implementing democracy.

Empowerment of people is the key to growth in any field in a democratic country. This growth, as a result, is healthy, inclusive, sustainable and justified in every way by virtue of its mere nature.

We have the example of the White Revolution. India is the largest producer of milk today. How did this happen?

This was possible through the number of milk cooperatives formed by milk procuring farmers across the length and breadth of the nation, who owned them, managed them and shared the profits among themselves. There was no government or private or corporate interference. These farmers didn't depend on the government nor did they sell their milk to any private firms. They formed cooperatives and sold their milk on their own to people.
The milk revolution happened by replicating the Anand pattern of milk cooperatives(more specifically, the Kaira district milk cooperatives who formed AMUL) of Gujarat throughout India, carried out by Mr. Verghese Kurien(through Operation Flood) who later formed the National Dairy Development Board and other national dairy related bodies and received many awards.

If this phenomenon is replicated in all fields i.e. when people own their stuff instead of working under a government or a private organization, be it agriculture, be it any sort of business, be it media, you name it, only then we'd be talking growth as a democracy.