23 November 2009

Power-ful mantras for climate change - Surya evam Gai

By: Kaavya Nag

Surya the god of light is coming nearer to getting the credit he deserves as the source of life and primary source of energy. The National Solar Mission got a nod from the Parliament on 20th November, and what’s more, the Cabinet sanctioned over 4300 crore for initial kick-off. In other power-ful news, four state-run firms will sign a joint venture to form a company that will work towards energy conservation and climate change – the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Power Finance Corporation Ltd, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd and Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd.

Also in the pipeline is NTPCs intention to set up solar power generation units at all its existing thermal power plants. The NTPC is the country’s largest electricity generator. What is heartening is the willingness of a thermal power corporation to move to solar power generation, even if it is in a small way. While power and coal lobbies in the United States are rather unhappy about carbon mitigation laws and shifting to lower carbon electricity and energy, here in India we have power corporations joining forces to implement massive solar ‘road maps’ and plans. What is also heartening is the fact that many of these initiatives are in tandem with the National Solar Mission – indication that change is not haphazard and ad-hoc, but somewhat planned.

Surya also happens to be the master chef – chief controller of all life. Meat eating is energy intensive -no wonder wild carnivores are at the top of the food chain but few in number. In support of rationalizing global meat-eating, India’s Minister for Environment and Forests (independent charge) has a new offer on the cards. The minister is now chanting the ‘gai-mantra’ of no-beef. He practices what he preaches, as do many Indians, needless to say. But such advocacy coming from a vegetarian Indian actually means a lot more to people around the world, and his leadership on this issue is actually getting accolades. From Pachauri to other politicians around the world, his statements have the logic of reason and the backing of a non-beef eating community.

So a key take-home is for India to start working on the Surya Mission – using the planning phase as a means to an end. But the Gai Mission is not a bad idea either. We can start working on the uber-rich and the die-if-I-don’t-eat-beef characters – there are plenty here too. But it isn’t a bad idea to preach it to the world either.

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