Democracy or gangsterocracy?

Democracy or gangsterocracy?
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First Published: Tue, Aug 19 2008. 10 57 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Aug 19 2008. 10 57 PM IST
Jaithirth Rao’s well-argued piece on Nepal’s monarchy in Conservative Corner, Mint, 8 August, was welcome reading. I only wish we can find a way to revive the system of monarchy in some countries. Most democracies seem to be “gangsterocracies”. The only goal of political parties is to get to positions of power so as to do as one likes and to keep the other fellow down. This is pitting people against people. A case in point is the political parties of Tamil Nadu. Their entire energies are spent not on building the nation but decimating each other at the expense of the masses. I would like to read a follow-up piece on this article.
— N.H. Atthreya
I read the story “UK mulls windfall tax on energy, utility companies” by Bloomberg’s Gonzalo Vina and Mint’s Utpal Bhaskar, Mint, 1 August.
Implementing such a step in India won’t be easy since there are many political complexities — as mentioned in your paper as well. Although the idea of a windfall tax on oil companies, which are earning record profits on the back of record oil prices, seems logical and to some extent fair, it is obvious that private oil companies in India are likely to oppose such a move, leading to friction between the government and these companies.
Instead of a windfall tax, the government should look towards other options to equalize the disparities that high oil prices have created in the energy market. The government should make it mandatory for private oil companies such as Reliance Industries and others to invest a definite percentage of their profits in the development of renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power.
The government should ask these companies to derive a part of their energy needs from renewable energy systems, which they can install on the vast stretches of real estate they own; the power generated could be used for their factory operations.
This would decrease the load on the national electricity grid, which in turn would directly benefit the common people of India. In addition, if these companies manage to produce more power than they actually require, they can sell it to the national grid.
The government should make it mandatory for these oil companies to invest, say, 10% of their windfall profits in the development of renewable energy systems. This option would not only be in the interest of the common public, but also of the companies, as some of them can apply for earning carbon credits through the United Nation’s Clean Development Mechanism.
– Mridul Chadha
Apropos Bharat Karnad’s “How the N-deal will play out”, Mint, 6 August, the high cost of nuclear power should not matter much since it will contribute around 6% (if even that) of our projected demand of some 400,000MW by 2030.
What this deal will do, though, is supply fuel for the existing nuclear power plants, now operating at 40% of their capacity, help develop our mines so that we can be self-sufficient in nuclear fuel, give a huge boost to our manufacturing industry and further our knowledge of nuclear technology in other areas of its use.
At the same time, it does not compromise our right to proceed with the nuclear weapons development programme. By the time we decide on a third nuclear test, we will likely have enough nuclear fuel reserves from our own sources outside the International Atomic Energy Agency’s fuel audit.
Thus, if we ever want to have our own nuclear power instead of imported reactors, the time to start is now, and the way to start is this.
– M. Bhowmik
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First Published: Tue, Aug 19 2008. 10 57 PM IST