Friday, June 5, 2009

The New York Times Looks at India's New Solar Plans

The new solar plans that India articulated while the election campaign was on (and which I was cautiously optimistic about) are now being looked at by the New York Times: The fact is that India does have the potential to become a solar leader. The country is bathed in sunshine most of the year. There is no question about the fact that sunlight is a resource that could be tapped into, and which has not been seriously considered by India so far. There is also no question that other than talk, India has done little (with the exception of small initiatives by states like Karnataka and Haryana and municipalities around Mumbai for example to encourage solar powered water heaters) about harnessing what the country has in abundance, so far.

The NYT report, though, does make sense in talking about the support that India needs from foreign nations that have done vastly more work in this area than India has done. I do think that this is a good idea - India has excellent engineers and if Indians could do well in writing computer software, for example, they could also do well in working on solar power. A good beginning would be a major plus. And, international help, especially from the USA, is available. The US Exim Bank has funding worth $ 5.5 billion available for Renewable Energy co-operation between the USA and India for 2009 alone. As far as I know, hardly any of this money has been touched. From the focus of the current US government, the amount available in 2010 would, most probably, be higher. And there are superb US designed and made products that could be replicated in India under license from the US patent holders to help achieve the Indian goals.

I shall admit that I am not a supporter of any Indian political party or government - I like being skeptical of politicians like many Indians are. That said, there are two governments - one in the USA and the other in India - that have been talking about renewable energy with increasing fervor. The USA has put money (through the Exim Bank) where its mouth is. Now that India has come up with a plan ahead especially with a focus on solar power, there is the potential for a very positive way forward on this in the future. What will decide whether the two governments are serious about this thrust will be how the Indian plans are implemented. Those who read this blog know, certainly, where my hopes on this lie.

1 comment:

Mohanakrishnan B said...

If wishes were winged horses .... Plans,plans and more plans.....
I am enclosing excerpts from J.Mulraj`s "Straight from the hip" to prove my point.

`Mouthing of good intentions has enthused investors, both domestic and international, and propelled the rally. But actions, as they say, speak louder than words. Let us take just a few examples of events during the week past.
A medical college in south India was found to have taken capitation fees for admission to its courses. Instead of investigating it and punishing the culprit/s who took the bribes, as good governance demands, the Government is seeking to derecognise the college. Which means it punishes the students who got in on merit whilst doing nothing to those who accepted the bribes; reportedly because of involvement of a minister.
In Maharashtra, a lottery scheme announced by MHADA to randomly allot low income housing was found to have been misused. Applicants with sequential numbers were given allotments, ostensibly on a random basis. Instead of investigating and punishing those who misused the system, (no prizes for guessing why), the action taken was to scrap the software used for random selection! This is not good governance.
Again, in Maharashtra, a politically connected co operative, Mula Pravara Co operative Society, has not paid dues of Rs 1600 crores for electricity supplied to it. Instead of acting to recover the dues, the Government seeks to hike power rates for honest users.
So when President Patil quotes Tagore and says we must not be stuck in the dreary desert sand of dead habit, would she, or Dr Manmohan Singh, take steps as required by good governance, or would they be stuck in the dead habit of political back scratch? If the latter, as the 3 incidents above indicate, then would not a continuation of the rally be a triumph of hope over experience?`