One Nation, One Charger

Technology is amazing but different chargers for different devices irritate the hell out of me. Despite multiple efforts of drilling tables and fixing wires at a particular spot, My gadgets are usually out of battery whenever they are needed the most.

There is chaos in my mind almost all the time. The train of thought traverses from a wide range of how to reform board exams to why do I keep throwing full tosses when I bowl leg-spin. This attention deficit disorder is further fueled by the presence of electronics on and around my table. The ease with which I swiped right while writing this and scrolled Spotify, only to come back to scan Twitter is fascinating. Most of the gadgets have a designated spot and time to be used, like kindle before bed, Laptop for work, earplugs, and Garmin for running/biking, and iPad for reading articles or watching New Girl while eating meals. The other gadgets have to also compete for attention against a formidable opponent, The smartphone ( It’s winning these days).
While I went overboard with the context, This piece is not about attention disorder or how gadgets shape our lives. This is about an extremely inconsequential problem on the mess of different chargers in my life.

Technology is amazing but different chargers for different devices irritate the hell out of me. Despite multiple efforts of drilling tables and fixing wires at a particular spot, My gadgets are usually out of battery whenever they are needed the most. An almost certain visual is of a half-trimmed beard face of mine when unfailingly the power runs out of trimmer. As I struggle to find the right charger for my bike’s front headlight, I scan my entire house only to discover that we have 23 USB Cables. Add to that a charger for Garmin watch, Bike Light, Kindle and speaker use the same USB, Macbook and earphones use Type C USB cable, iPad and iPhones use the lightning cable and a regular headphone attached to the desk. Double them from previous generation products or lost but later found. This totals to a staggering fifteen cables, out of which 7–8 are a regular feature on the desk. Juicing each product separately is operationally difficult and invariably leads to a great deal of electronic waste.

So what must be done? An exasperated person like me which Kelkar and Shah mention in their authoritative book, In service of the Republic might demand, “Can’t we have a government that standardizes this?.” At first blush, This may seem like a very tempting idea. A single charger for all gadgets will fix all the trouble and most importantly the second argument of looking up to a muscular and under-resourced government for frivolous tasks like these is a regular moment of societal euphoria.

For any populist government that likes to ban and centralize, the proposition of coming up with a law that requires all electronics to be sold in India to conform to one single charging port is not entirely unthinkable.

But Government intervention, while being the most reflexive option, when given considerable thought comes with its own set of challenges.

Assuming the Government decides to select a certain type of charger as a national charger, Let us look at the probable questions that arise.
Who will be the deciding authority? What are the odds that the decision will not be influenced by intense lobbying from Multinational Corporations? In the case of one nation one charger, Will the Government ban devices and chargers of the nonstandard kind? If they ban, then who will enforce the ban? Will the cops come to our house search in order to catch the culprit ( Leaving essential Policing tasks, not uncommon plus at least this will not require additional training as they have similar experience in imposing alcohol and vaping pen and other such bans)
Or will there be a challan that can be surpassed by using the same device to call the MLA henchmen and be let go?

What will the state do about foreigners and NRI bringing different pin chargers and devices with them, there would also be a need for a specialized team at customs to prohibit entry of any restricted items.

An invariable fallout of such a law would be a thriving black market for devices and chargers other than the National kind. This will also lead to an elaborate network of rent-seeking, Black marketing, and scams that will make the curse worse than the disease itself. All this and we still haven’t discussed the environmental and economic cost of devices and chargers that completely lose their relevance.

Not to forget all this mess will be achieved at the cost of an incredible amount from the public exchequer.

This is an illustration of how a small Government intervention can quickly turn into a mess. There is an almost inevitable certainty of unintended consequences that will follow up with any government involvement.

So what should we do?
We as a society should restrain ourselves and maybe think through, that do we really need the iron fist of the government in problems that can be self-adjusted by the markets.

The state with its limited resources should restrict itself to playing the role of an effective regulator, channelizing its energies weighing the cost and benefits to the most essential things. We need a state that does very few things in a very good way instead of a state that does a lot of things in a very poor way.
We need a state that focuses on capacity building, making good roads, strengthening public education and healthcare and other essential public services like defence and policing.

For most other things, like this highly annoying and inconsequential problem of so many cables, the market will come up with solutions. The apple charging pad,magsafe, wireless charging, wire bin, and cable management boxes or whatever you find on amazon shall do the job.

And for the Government, maybe strengthening the e-waste recycling ecosystem sounds like a good option.

Reader and runner.