“Neither thin, nor wide, nor small” - I came across this headline while doing research for this article on universal charging device (UCDs). Now if you’re from a boys’ school like me, you might be forgiven for sniggering at this line without context. But apparently this is what the government is proposing.
The government of India (GOI) has proposed that there be a UCD for all small and medium portable devices like mobiles, laptops, tablets... Of course, some might even insist that ever since 2014 there has been only one man charging up the entire universe. And he is a type-Ji charger.
But in the 1990s, India had a similar Universal Charging Device. It’s name was Sachin Tendulkar. All you had to do was chant “Sachin, Sachin” and I swear the whole nation would get charged up. And it didn’t matter whether you were a young USB type-C charger or a patli pin wala charger from a bygone era. He was a UCD who could charge everyone, even if you were unplugged from cricket.
The idea of a universal charger is inspired by a similar move by the European Union to make a universal charger. It makes sense to be inspired by the European Union, given how well their attempts at a universal currency are doing within Europe itself.
The stated reason for enforcing a universal charger is to avoid the crazed combination of USB Type-C, USB on the Go, “that charger for that Nokia 3,300 so I can still play Snake for free”, to reduce e-waste and save costs for the consumers.
Needless to say, many mobile phone manufacturers are not too thrilled about this universal charger. Tim Crook, the CEO of Adam’s Apple, said “This is ridiculous. Now how will we sell consumers just the cable with the phone and charge them separately for each apple pin?”
According to a LocalCircles poll, nine out of ten customers want the government to standardize charging cables for smartphones and tablets. But according to Facebook, 9 out of 10 people also want the government to randomly ban books and burn authors. So perhaps we should be careful of conducting polls in this country, much less enforce their results. Perhaps a universal poll template might be a more fruitful exercise.
Besides, India is not a good market for standardized products. Three-quarters of the products we buy in India are to show off to our neighbours and family. What will happen to the importance of “Sharmaji ka beta” if all chargers are standardized? What would happen to our society and our foolish youth if a father cannot tell his child “Sharmaji ke charger ko dekho. Full charge in 30 minutes. And manages to do extra-curricular activities on the side of as well. You are still struggling to figure out which end is your charging end.”
Besides, think of the poignant romance that will be lost as a boy struggles to untangle his multiple charging chords and she comes along pulls one string and untangles both his cables and his heart. In the search for a universal charger, will we give up the sparks generated by mixed chargers?
The reasons given are to reduce e-waste being generated from the multitude of chargers. And today who can argue against anything being imposed in the name of climate change? Especially when you are being paid by ESG funds to change the investment climate in their favour.
My only worry is we will not stop at One Nation: One Charger. The government is already imposing One Nation: One Fertilizer wherein fertilizer brands have to put Bharat in bold letters while their own brand name is somewhere in the corner. Imagine an Adam Apple phone with the I in one tiny corner and the Apple on the other while the rest is covered with the face of our Universal Charging Device since 2014, recently declared the most popular Universal Charging Device in the Universe ahead of Putin Biden.But the day they impose One Nation: One Comedian I will protest against this imposition of Oneness. Unless I am that universal comedian.