Trust deficit in Government & MeECL compounds public dilemma

By Rudi Warjri

“Everyone should wake up to the latest publication by NITI Aayog on ranking of States as per SDGs ( Sustainable Development Goals ). Meghalaya is in the second division category . Also the necessity of expert advice on any major decisions.”

Your editorial of June 5, 2021 regarding MeECL’s painful reforms made for interesting reading. As a former member of the Board of Governors, MeECL I have myself written extensively on the several factors that plague the Corporation and its subsidiaries. Several Op-eds have also appeared in your esteemed daily.
The miasma of controversies surrounding MeECL is analogous to the famous poem, “The Blind Men and The Elephant.” Six blind men feel the different parts of the elephant’s anatomy and each of them defines the image of the elephant as he perceives it to be or as dictated by a distrust of what the other is saying. So the whole debate suffers from a trust deficit. Hence whatever measures the Government or the MeECL Management undertakes even with the best of intentions, compulsions and explanations are seen with grave suspicion.
The next question that arises now is, inevitably , what are the steps required for removing the trust deficit . My humble submission is as follows :-
A combination of actors, players, power centres etc are involved in this whole drama. Each one of them should accept that arrogance and intransigence will get them nowhere. Hence a willingness to meet the other half way is imperative.
Everyone should wake up to the latest publication by NITI Aayog on ranking of States as per SDGs ( Sustainable Development Goals ). Meghalaya is in the second division category . Also the necessity of expert advice on any major decisions. Internationally recognized economist and former Governor of Reserve Bank of India , Raghuram Rajan, says that lack of expert advice on demonetization and vaccines policy has landed India where it is today . Among several charities is our much-disdained neighbour Bangladesh donating oxygen to India.
It is important to distinguish between enlisting expert consultancy for a specific purpose and taking a major policy decision like privatization. In the former , the discretion always lies with the Government / Management.
The power centre number one in this drama is the Power Minister himself. The controversy surrounding his role will not die down. Rancour can only be mollified with candour. Taking the Power portfolio away from him would lessen the tension;
The Government had announced the commissioning of an Independent Inquiry to scrutinise the affairs of MeECL etc and to come up with recommendations. Let it not be a mere eyewash or rhetoric. This Commission would need independent experts that will not comply with what Government desires but will give a straight and transparent report that is in the best interests of the MeECL. From the several Op-eds that have appeared, there are enough home grown personalities with larger experience who can contribute. Appointment of experts should not be dictated by whims and fancies .
The other power centres are the several unions and groups within MeECL itself. At the top are the Engineers. They are the principal repository of intellectual properties and leading functionaries in the organization. Invariably, they would have been students of Mathematics and Physics. They may recall what their icon Einstein had said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” So they need to change their mindsets and be prepared to accept reforms.
The political parties, especially those in the opposition have also been part of the mess in MeECL etc. Who am I to tell them not play their politics? There is, however, a risk when fishing in troubled waters . The waves of the waters might just rise up and swallow them. Do play but play according to the rules. And the ruling party/parties if you play your game then don’t shift the goal post all the time;
The pressure groups which are a parallel government of sorts generally exercise authority without responsibility but without belittling their role on legitimate issues, I make the same appeal to them as to the political parties – play by the rules and don’t play football with the rule of cricket.
Power centres need to recognize one fact. States in India who have done better do so largely because they allow professionalism to be the critical factor if not the overriding factor in running of any organization. Power centres should adopt a moratorium from undue interference and influencing in the day to day running of the organization, especially with regards to appointments, tendering , contracts, procurements, penalization for dereliction of duty etc . The Management itself needs to be scrupulously transparent.
Inability to accept the above conditions means living with more and more loading shedding and other sufferings forever.

“Internationally recognized economist and former Governor of Reserve Bank of India Raghuram Rajan, says that lack of expert advice on demonetization and vaccines policy has landed India where it is today . Among several charities is our much-disdained neighbour Bangladesh donating oxygen to India.’’

(The writer is ex- Independent Director, MeECL etc., Email : [email protected])

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