So, given the huge market for knick-knacks you want to protect with stabilizers, making stabilizers is a profitable enterprise. Sure enough, there are several brands out there. In fact, it's safe to say that the stabilizer business makes a steady contribution to the economy.
But think some more: why do we need stabilizers in the first place? Because the voltage of the electricity that's supplied to us fluctuates wildly. That happens because of inefficiencies in the generation and transmission of electricity. In India, we are so used to these fluctuations that we don't even think they are abnormal: we simply buy stabilizers and use them like any other consumer product. Hell, they are just another consumer product.
We likely also don't think, as we buy stabilizers, that we are pumping up the GDP of the country, which we are. But if we did think of that, we might find a small perversity here. Since we tolerate inefficiency in one part of our economy -- the generation of electricity -- we need devices whose production and purchase shore up another part of our economy.
Too simple-minded a view for you economists out there? But this is essentially what is happening. A whole industry, for a wholly unnecessary product, has grown out of inefficiency. What's more, if our electricity supply ever did become stable -- a goal worth striving for, certainly -- that whole industry will become redundant.
Put another way, inefficiencies boost the economy. Correct those inefficiencies, which we should, and we damage the economy.
Look at your voltage stabilizer in that odd light. (But before the voltage dies down and snuffs it out).
Now all of us are infatuated with the GDP. Asking for votes, political parties will promise "rapid" or "double-digit" yearly increases in the GDP, as if that is an unquestionably desirable thing. Yet GDP is really only a measure of market activity: money changing hands. Every single money transaction adds to the GDP. This has become the barometer of the health of a nation. The greater the GDP, and especially the faster it grows -- the more transactions happen that pump it up -- the better a country is said to be doing.
No wonder political parties promise to raise it.
But all the infatuation leaves the stabilizer questions unanswered: how is it that we must consider inefficiency as a positive influence on the economy? Should we not account for the kind of transactions made? Should there not be some totting up of the costs to the country of certain sorts of market activities?
Look at it like this. You buy a computer. Doing so, you add to the GDP. Days later, the unstable electricity supply in Sheikh Sarai fries your sleek machine (which once happened to me here in Bombay). You either repair it or buy a new one. Whichever you do, you add to the GDP. This time, you are wiser: you buy yourself a stabilizer as well. With that purchase, you add to the GDP again.
Instead of just one purchase, you have made three, all of which feed the maw of the Indian GDP. You have contributed, three times over, to making India's economy a booming, vibrant one; to making India itself prosperous.
Why, you may wonder, are you also three times as annoyed?
Postscript: Meant to say, I will follow this up with some more exploration of the GDP and possible alternatives.