Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Roghun Dam and Iron Fist Marketing.

It is billed as the biggest Hydro-Power Scheme in Central Asia, supplying reliable electricity for its people and generating invaluable income for the country. It is symbolic of what the Copenhagen Climate Summit is trying to achieve, a reliable sustainable energy supply with minimal Carbon emissions, you would think that the whole world would want a share.

Our Man DD turns up late in the office; his brother has an exam at the Agrarian (Agricultural) university before the winter break. However, to sit the exam, DD’s brother had to produce a 100somoni ($23) share certificate in the Roghun dam. The country is in a vice of soviet style patriot privatisation appeal, based loosely on the slogan ‘Buy for your County’, the sub text reads ‘or else!!’.

President Rahmon appears on frequent television appeals, broadcast on the capitals three imposing street screens, he is auspiciously perched in front of the Tajik flag. The President appeals to the sense of national identity, common pride, and guilt. The tirade of propaganda is intermittently interrupted by pictures of old ladies buying shares 10 times the amount of their monthly pension, queues of people proudly waving their shares outside the Opera Ballet, and guidance on how many shares you are expected to buy, teacher, doctor, nurse, drug runner, no one is excluded. The marketing is exclusive and exhaustive. One organisation folded over a mandatory 5000somini contribution for fear of closure and one morning I woke to an incoming text, nowhere is safe, it read ‘Have YOU bought your shares in Rogun yet?’. Kitchener must be squirming.

The Roghun dam itself will take another five years to complete, wipe out 12 villages, and deplete the country’s debt ridden economy of any free finance. The British and American governments have contributed, but unsurprisingly there is limit private finance, indicative of the lack of trust in the governance. As a consequence, the Tajik people are subjected to an unregulated fear tax in addition to their flat rate 39% salary tax. What’s the next marketing weapon, emptying wallets on the street or automatic withdrawals from personal bank accounts?

However, the bitter pill is the redundant folly standing empty on crushed homes; the People’s Palace. (This is sensitively pictured on the back of the share certificate) The $300million Tajik White House stands flagrantly extravagant on the outside, and void of point or purpose on the inside. It serves only provides a constant reminder of those who have and those who don’t. If only it could be transported 100km upstream and placed in the ‘Roghun’ river valley.

Check out Boy from Boston for further info on the dam.

The 'People's' Palace


tentonipete said...

so where's the part where an oligarch forces the workers to sell their shares for next to nothing in order to get food, then buys a west london football team?

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