While the UPA government has faced much flak for ignoring the struggles of the aam aadmi, Rahul Gandhi’s speech at CII preached the importance of listening to the one billion plus voices of India
Rahul Gandhi, Vice President, Indian National Congress, stressed the strong connection between economic growth and harmony among the people of India, while addressing the annual general meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi. “Inclusive growth is a win-win for everybody,” he pointed out.
While criticising the existing system, Mr Gandhi said, “the political system is clogged and it is not responding.” There is a problem in devolution of power. Members of Parliament, Members of the Legislative Assembly and Pradhans at the local level must work for the development of the constituency in each part of the country. Industrialists must also bear this in mind in starting new projects instead of complaining about centre-state tensions.
This is important to all of us after the 73rd and 74th Amendment to the Constitution in empowering the third tier of government with development funds, he said.
Holding industry captains responsible for education and employment, he said, “You know what you are going to do. You will employ the youth. Simultaneously, the system must weed out obsolete things and industry must play a role in improving the education system to a more modern one.”
Mr Gandhi said he had no sops to offer and then pinned the responsibility for development and growth on industrialists themselves. He said, “I have come here because I believe in you. I want to forge a long-term partnership with you to build a brave new empowered India. Industry captains will be ‘expecting a solution for a long time…’ and keep waiting, if they think, ‘Manmohanji or the government will solve all the problems.’ Instead, India is thirsting for a visionary partnership, whereby we open out the value chain.”
On the need for co-operation from industry, Mr Gandhi, said, “Government cannot provide infrastructure alone.” He listed roads, ports and electricity as priority areas.
Pointing out that the Indian system is a complex one, with over one billion people, Mr Gandhi said that there are no simple answers in a connected world. India will have a decentralised system and will need “robust answers.” Industry must work for it. “People’s participation in decision making is crucial for development. Businessmen, the middle class and the poor people must all work for development and must all be included in growth,” he said.
While encouraging industrialists to work toward a tidal wave of economic growth, he made sure that we remembered the need for compassion. The simple ability to listen to the people (one billion plus voices) is important for those in the government and industry alike. He said, “We must embrace the complexity of this country.”
Mr Gandhi believes that India must unlock its great potential. He said that even people living abroad must in the future say, “We want to be like India.” In the 21st century, our ideas and knowledge must move us fast and our educational system and skills should be of global standards.
While comparing India’s growth path with China’s, Rahul Gandhi was clear that India was not any more “an elephant, but a bee-hive.” He said, “We are much more powerful than we think.” Also, he said that India must not be satisfied with incremental growth, but must work for growth in an exponential curve. The government will only be there for smart intervention. He insisted that we are sitting on an unstoppable tide of ideas and that we are a brave young country.
Gujarat-based electricity distribution companies collected excess energy charges from consumers for 16 days last year. It took Paschim Gujarat Vij Company over eight months just to agree to credit the excess amount in the next bill of high-tension power supply consumers
Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education Research Society (CERS) was effective in getting Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Ltd (PGVCL) to refund excess energy charges collected from consumers of its high-tension (HT) power supply.
Electricity distribution companies (discoms) like PGVCL should have begun collecting higher energy charges from consumers from 1 June 2012, as per the tariff order passed by the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC), but many of them began collecting an additional 10 paisa per unit from 16 May 2012. HT consumers normally consume more than one lakh units per month. It has been estimated that PGVCL has collected an excess Rs5 crore to Rs6 crore from its HT customers alone in this manner.
Gandhidham-based HT consumer GP Thacker, who is also the president of New Kandla & Kutch Salt Manufacturers Association, in August 2012, lodged a complaint with CERS about the energy charges collected by PGVCL.
CERS wrote to GERC with a copy to the managing director of PGVCL protesting the illegal collection of the additional charges, in violation of GERC Supply Code Regulations, and demanding a refund to all HT consumers.
PGVCL, in its reply, stated that as meter readings were taken on fixed dates, there is no provision that new readings have to be taken on 1 June 2012 to implement the new tariff. GERC did not compel PGVCL to refund money and kept silent.
CERS again wrote to GERC and demanded use of Section 142 of Electricity Act for imposing penalty of Rs1 lakh on PGVCL, which should be recovered from salaries of the company's managing director, chief executive and regulatory cell of PGVCL.
There was no reply from GERC but PGVCL wrote three letters to Mr Thacker without sending any correspondence to CERS. PGVCL, in its replies, once again stated that their programming could be changed and reiterated that the bills were fair.
CERS then took the matter more seriously and requested GERC chairman Dr PK Mishra to intervene, as it was a clear violation of Supply Code Regulations.
After this, senior officers of PGVCL decided to revise programming of their billing cycle. The Superintending Engineer from Bhuj Circle office of PGVCL, on 8 March 2013, wrote a letter stating that the company would credit wrongly collected excess money of HT consumers in their next electricity bills.
CERS is now requesting the Commission to direct other three discoms from Gujarat to refund such illegal amounts collected from all categories of consumers even if their monthly electricity consumption is small. CERS fears that these companies have collected similar amount from residential, commercial and low-tension consumers across the state.
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