OK, now for the main course.
Everywhere you go these days, you hear the same story: imported=high quality; local means it's cheaper, but it's more likely to break. And I'm not going to try to kid you--too often, that imported product, or that product made with "German technology" or whatever, really is the better buy. Obviously, when all factors are equal, buying local is best according both to Swadeshi principles and to common sense: buying local supports the local economy, and it reduces the environmental cost of transportation. But buying things that are made to break is never a good idea; they will just end up in the dump and you will have to buy more things to replace them.
Still, after my blistering attack on Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday, I've gotten a few emails suggesting I'm not being "positive" enough. "You must be a half-empty kind of fellow," they say. So I want to be clear: India isn't just good at producing computer engineers, cows, and beautiful old monuments! We make a lot of other stuff, also.
So this is the first in an occaisional series on the things India does well. Seriously. Maybe we can get Shashi Tharoor over in the Ministry of External Affairs to market these idea overseas.
Let's call it something like this, Shashi: Indian Green--cheap and best!
Today I'll highlight the ceiling fan. Don't laugh! Those of us who don't use AC know: without the ceiling fan you would have to change your sweaty shirt five times a day in August, not just two! There is a reason why ceiling fans are one of the first things installed in most working and middle class Indian homes, and there is a reason why Indian mothers are always admonishing their young to turn the fan on when they enter a room (and off when they leave it). What is that reason, you ask? Simple: fans work! I'm not going to go into the physics of it here. In fact, I'm not even going to link to a Wikipedia article explaining the physics of it. We all understand it: wind + sweat = cool! And according to my electricity bill, a good ceiling fan only uses 60 watts of power as compared with an AC, which uses well over a thousand watts (and which contains gasses that will eventually escape and destroy our planet's atmosphere.)
A lot of people say that high tech solutions are the only way out of our environmental problems. I have nothing against high tech--but I think sometimes, simple is better. And the ceiling fan uses tried and true, simple and reliable technology.
I know there is a worldwide need for ceiling fans, because my wife has "Facebook friends" all over the world and sometimes they say stupid things. (Please, don't let this stop you from being FB friends with me; I'm really quite nice and I never pick on my friends!) One day, a woman in Wisconsin, USA complained that her house was 78 degrees Fahrenheit (which I googled and found was 25.5 degrees Celsius.) "I can't sleep--need to turn on the AC!" she said. Does it come as a surprise that nearly one unit in five of all the electricity consumed in the US goes to cooling buildings?
Now if that woman in Wisconsin only just had a ceiling fan (or the ability to open her window, I suspect), there would have been no need to turn on the AC! But the sad fact is, only about ten percent of American homes are equipped with ceiling fans. I know, because I went down to Connaught Place and asked ten Americans this question. Only one said she had a ceiling fan, and she said it didn't work very well. Well, let me tell you: the ceiling fans in Delhi won't let you down, and if they do, you can call somebody right away and he will fix it up for you nicely.
Delhi ceiling fans are better than American ones--and they use less expensive electricity than American AC's. They are truly Indian Green: Cheap and Best!