Thursday, June 12, 2008

As the oil price surges

Increasing fuel prices, spiraling inflation - what are we heading towards?

I believe we are moving towards a fundamentally different world than the one we are accustomed to - or rather, were getting accustomed to. In many ways, we may be moving back to many principles our parents and grandparents lived by. For many of us this is nothing new - except for the current generation - perhaps the largest of the "entitled" generations in India.

First. Increasing fuel prices means that endless upgrades of automobiles may be passe, unless the upgrade is for more fuel efficient versions of some vehicle. The emphasis will shift from big to fuel efficient. Petrol at 60 rupees a liter doesn't faze you? Think 100. But the good thing is that - dual fuel vehicles, electric vehicles will get a much needed boost. How about a subsidy on the Reva?

Second: Commutes and communities. There is a big opportunity here in most of India to get out of the stupid daily long commute mode and try to switch to bicycle or walk to work communities. Much neglected public transport will obviously get more focus and become a viable option, but otherwise a shift closer to your place of work or a job closer to where you live may be a reality. (Bangalore really has an advantage - most places where offices are located also have residences nearby - and really it is a small city as compared to Mumbai). Where are those industrial townships of the 70s and 80s?

On a slightly serious note, expect more work from home options, more decentralized offices, more closely networked virtual offices that let you work from pretty much anywhere. (And with some licence to dream, expect food to be grown pretty much everywhere - including apartment complexes, if not houses.) Expect people to slowly shun plastics. Also people could move to a more sustainable lifestyle. Architects, get your green designs out.

Third: The age of endless consumption - a very recent phenomenon in India - may shift. That means, a shift to our age old penchant, frugality and innovation. That means, well, reuse, recycle, repair will get a boost.

I believe that the sharp increase in fuel prices couldnt have come at a better time. Over time the sharp rise in fuel prices will help hasten the move towards environmentally sound policies. Of which I mean solar and other renewable forms of energy, which can only mean good for the world.

But thats the light at the end of the tunnel. For the moment, prepare to enter it.


Rangachari Anand said...

I am very happy to see this posting. I have been generally surprised at the lack of urgency among Indian bloggers on this topic. I agree with you that Indians have the potential to adjust to a future of high-cost petroleum based energy. There are many opportunities waiting to be tapped by some entrepreneur.

PK said...

liked the part abt frugality ... we need to go back to that :-)