We did. For a whole hour. It was great fun because n loves power outs - since, thank god, they happen relatively rarely, and because the candles come out. So we put out the lights, burnt the candles, and turned off the tv, laptop, etc. We chatted like in the old days, mom and me, before comps and tvs happened.
I realized that I could bear the lights being out, and the fans being off, the phone being off, but what I couldn't take, finally, was the laptop being off. We've got used to such 24/7 connectivity, with a constant state of activity, that I really, truly felt like a drug addict on cold turkey. My fingers literally itched and I kept wanting to switch on, to just surf a bit, a teensy bit, I'm mean who'd know... But I'm proud to report, I didn't!
Anyway, the Batti bandh campaign - though well-meaning - seems a bit overoptimisitx, if you ask me. One hour of power-saving will save the planet, reduce global warming, save the beaches, etc. etc. I don't think so. It might have conscientized people - which it sadly didn't in any large, mass sort of way. It held the promise of becoming one of those post-Rang-de-Basanti campaigns (like the anti-reservation stir) where everyone hopped on largely because it seemed like such a cool thing to do. Everyone - and here I count myself in too - fwd'd madly and hopefully - but finally nothing much happened. I wonder why.
I was a bit sceptical - I mean what does one hour of switching off do? Actions towards saving the environment have to be more comprehensive, holistic and regular. So I loved what Sampath, the books editor at DNA wrote when I fwd'd him the mail (he's put it so well, that I simply have to quote him):
I am sorry but this one-hour thing- even if it is totally voluntary - seems to me only a smoke-screen that hides the real issues - our unfettered industrialisation, obsession with 9 per cent growth, investment in stock market (how can your stocks grow without the economy growing? and how can your economy grow without more of global warming caused by more industrialisation?), our refusal to respect or even tolerate subsistence economies wherever they are - our exporting of alternative ways of living and thinking (the tribals, for example) into the past as outdated.
then there is our patronising attitude towards all that is not 'cool' - and 'cool' is really a marketing invention that is tied up with global warming - ironic as it seems - right from tata safari dicor to rock concert in a flood-lit stadium, this sounds just like a silly rant here - but if i get some time off from not heating up the globe - i can elaborate on it. this is just a response - on the spur of the moment. nothing personal.
So there you are. Angrily, but succinctly put, I thought. I fully agreed with him, especially the bit about people only attaching themselves to 'cool' issues.
Only this: forget about global warming (towards which NOTHING can be done bec of all the problems mentioned), but if people can just conserve a little power, and hopefully it will be mapped by the BSES, then I think that it might be at least a few steps towards - well, power conservation - and nothing more!