An indication of the kleptocracy we live in is that an honest government official who performs well is regarded as a messiah. Doctors who do not gouge patients are raised on to pedestals. The public treats a traffic policeman who enforces lane discipline as a saviour. Perhaps only in Nepal can you be a national hero just for doing your job.
Kulman Ghising was appointed Managing Director of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) in August 2016 — a time when the country was suffering up to 18 hours of power cuts daily. Janardan Sharma, the Energy Minister from the Maoist party at the time, picked the right man for the right job at the right time.
It was rare enough that an electrical engineer should head an electricity company, because Ghising’s predecessors at the NEA had been road contractors. Remember, Energy Minister Radha Gyawali had pulled Ghising out of the Chilime Hydropower Project in 2012 – because he was doing a good job. He had replaced him with a crony.
Within months of being in office, Ghising had brought load-shedding to an end. He just did what any intelligent engineer would do: he systematically went about cutting system loss and increasing supply.
Ghising reduced leakage from 26% to 15% by cracking down on pilferage and upgrading transmission lines, substations and transformers. He cut off 24-hour dedicated feeds through which his predecessors had been providing businesses low tariff electricity in return for kickbacks.
And he met the remaining shortfall with increased production from private power producers, as well as imports from India. His contacts in the Indian power bureaucracy from college days in Jamshedpur came in handy.