ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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PILC or PVC? K V Subrahmanyam LONG before Indian entrepreneurs started seeking collaboration agreements with foreign firms for the manufacture of power cables, advancing technology and scarcity of raw materials, especially of lead and copper, had resulted in serious encroachments being made by poly-vinyl-chloride (PVC) cables with aluminium conductors into the preserves of paper-insulated-lead-covered (PILC) cables with copper conductors. How, then, did Government decide to en- courage reckless creation of capacity in the power cable manufacturing industry for the production of goods that were not only far advanced on the highway to obsolescence, but had also to depend on high-cost imported raw materials? The clue to an understanding of this episode, just one among many in post- Independence history, was provided sixty years ago in 1907 by Sir Thomas Holland, FRS, then the Director of the Geological Survey of India, with prophetic foresight when he said: "In this country there is a tendency 10 follow the English model using methods which persist in the old country only because vested interests there involved outweigh the disadvantages due to their continued use. We, however, do not even transplant the methods and machinery up-to-date, but lend ourselves to the acceptance of material about to be discarded in Europe." Since Independence, the tendency to which Holland referred has been sublimitated into an esoteric virtue by the bureaucracy in New Delhi.

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