May 13, 2017

Speaking at Launch of UJALA in UK by EESL, London

High Commissioner, Satish, Mr Patel, Dr Jyotisna Suri ji, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us on this launch of UJALA, and truly it’s, whoever thought of this name meeting our Unnat Jyoti affordable LEDs and making it UK Joins Affordable LEDs For All, deserves to be complemented. Truly, it’s beautiful that we have been able to retain our brand of UJALA and bring it to India. I wish all my colleagues from EESL great success in this venture; it’s your 5th foray out of the country. And I am sure this one will be a grand success. In fact, in Austria, we have also discussed a possible business opportunity for EESL, and I think looking around at what’s happening in Europe and America, I think you have great potential even in the developed world and should focus your energies to see how we can expand our business quickly.

A particular word of thanks for Ambassador Satish Mehta who has really given us that encouragement and kick-started the entry of EESL into other markets, I don’t believe we could have done it without you Satishji, thank you very much, it’s really kind of you.

Just a couple of issues from the presentation that I wish you all to correct whoever made that presentation. First of all, stop saying you have grown 20 times. Think like a politician. If you bring down the price to 15% of what you were buying earlier, and then grow 20%, you have actually grown 140 times, not 20 times, 140 times. Debashish, am I right? So, we are in the business of selling stories, I mean not we as in politicians alone, all of us. The world today works on that. So, when the volume grows 140 times, you talk of the volume, if it’s an inflationary trend then you talk about the money.

I think we must recognize that this growth is a 140 time growth in less than two years. I don’t think we will find too many parallels to that anywhere in the world. It’s truly an amazing story that EESL has in the last 2 years demonstrated their ability to chalk out. Of course, one more thing, I shouldn’t be saying this in UK, I should be actually saying it the office. But we quickly need to change this name to something more catchy. This EESL name is very difficult for people to recognize and relate to, so somebody take up that task whoever is here from EESL. We need to come up with a catchy name. And let’s do a competition in India to come out with some good catchy name, so that we can brand this internationally. And, then maybe Ashish to help us create a brand value and raise some huge amounts of capital out of that across the world.

But truly it’s so satisfying to see a small LED bulb, most cases would have been considered inconsequential, but impact so many lives, particularly, in India. Can we imagine a poor person whose monthly bill would probably be Rs 200 or Rs 300, whose entire energy need is focused around the lighting that he gets in his home, at best a fan, charging a mobile phone, and slightly, if he is slightly better off, he may have a mixer grinder or he may have a refrigerator. That’s around the typical ecosystem of energy need of a poor person, of a lower middle class family in India. For that family and for his electricity bill, the component of lighting is pretty huge. I am told, in the United Kingdom the total electricity consumption on lighting alone is quite small relative to your eating needs, air conditioning needs, other costs. But in India, lighting alone accounts for nearly 15% of our energy consumption across the nation, and 15% in a large nation like India is about a 180 billion units of energy, a 180 billion kilowatt hours. I don’t know if all of UK consumes that much, maybe worth finding out. But that’s what we consume only in lighting alone.

And the potential saving as we move towards a 100% LED nation for India is going to be nearly 112 billion kilowatt hours. For those of you from the energy sector, you will be able to understand what kind of a dimension this is. A 112 billion kilowatt hour of electricity means you are reducing the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by nearly 79 million tonnes every year, loot at the impact on pollution. Our peak load, particularly, since we are going to use lighting in the evening hours will reduce or can reduce by about 20 GW — 20,000 MW of energy installed capacity can be avoided. And to top it all, our consumers can save nearly $6.5 billion worth of electricity bills annually.

That’s the dimension that this programme has in India, and to my mind, it is this understanding, it is this philosophy of saving waste, which Prime Minister Modi articulates many times and talks about sustainable lifestyles. After all, when all of us are concerned about the future of the planet, when we are looking at what can be done to leave behind a better environment, a better world to live in for the next generation. We are clearly looking at making our lifestyles also more sustainable. We can’t have the kind of waste that is reflected in different areas of energy consumption, food consumption.

And as the famous Englishman Robert Swan, I think he is the person who was the first man to walk both to the North pole and to South pole, had said many years ago, ‘the greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will come and save it and the day we realize that if at all we have to save the planet, if at all we have to address this challenge of climate change, it will be you and I and all of us, collectively, who will have to make a difference to the future, who will have to act today and we are running out of time.

I was just been told that the same model that we used in India to promote LED lighting where in the early days because of transparent procurement and volume procurement, we were able to significantly reduce the purchase price of LED bulbs in India. We actually gave these bulbs out to the people of India through distribution companies at something like 15 cents, as an upfront payment, 15 cents being paid every month for 10 or 11 months. And for about $2, we were able to give out the bulb. Over the period, of course, we have been able to even fine-tune that process and bring down our costs, and without subsidy to give out nearly 230 million LED bulbs, sell them to the people of India, along with that, the private sector in the same period of 2 years, or thereabouts, sold about 330 million LED bulbs.

So, effectively, India has been able to replace already 560 million old incandescent bulbs or CFL bulbs by LED bulbs. And 560 million is a pretty big figure in 2 years. All of it without government support, largely on the strength of the savings that the people will enjoy on implementation of this programme. It may be a good idea High Commissioner if you can put the officials of EESL in touch with the distribution companies here to see if we could look at a similar model for England. I see no reason why we cannot actually use the distribution network or the billing network of the distribution companies to help the consumers earn the savings and pay a part of it to …. the cost of the bulb over two years or one and a half years. And let this also have the kind of scale up in England, in London may be to begin with, that we have witnessed in India.

We could even tie-up with some of the e-commerce companies here. We could have different models of engagement, it could be a one short term payment, it could be a installment payment. It may be a good idea for some of our colleagues and we can may be expand the strength of people here. And thank you very much High Commissioner, I believe you have even given them space to operate out of the Commission. Thank you. I believe that’s truly an eye opener for all of us that if diplomatic mission is willing to engage, to do some good for a foreign country also. I think that’s really-really remarkable. And that’s the kind of vision and thinking that Prime Minister Modi often encourages all of us to think out of the box. So thank you very much, I really appreciate that.

But maybe, if we can expand the set up here and talk to all the large users, may be industry, businesses, we can talk to all the hotels, we can talk to all the supermarket chains. And, with a zero-cost, zero-investment model, I am sure many people would be interested to look at this. So, whoever is in business over here, whoever has contacts with business over here, could possibly help us open the doors. And once we have done that model, I am told you already have 7 contracts where on the same installment payment or the savings helping to pay for the installations, you are going to get recovery of money over 10 or 15-18 years. But, it may be a good idea if we can tie-up with a few companies, so we have some Indian businesses in India. After all, yesterday, Mr Boris Johnson was mentioning that India is the second or third largest investor in UK. So you clearly have a number of Indian businesses which are here, talk to the TATAs, let’s have all of Jaguar and all of those companies and factories completely using LED bulbs to begin with or LED tube lights. And given climate change and the warming of the weather here, you may even actually find a market for fans, the way things are going in London these days.

So it’s a great business opportunity that I can see in England. This can also become the base to foray into other countries in Europe. And I think it’s time that, collectively, we all realize the importance of sustainable lifestyles. It’s time we understood what waste is all about. I mean with due respect, and maybe it was a function of the good old days where there was a lot of cold weather in England or in Europe. At that point of time, they did not have these kind of huge day windows or big window, and I find a lot of the homes have quite small windows in their homes. So, certainly, they must be keeping their lighting on for many more hours than what we do, let’s say, back home in India. So, maybe a good idea to see even if domestic consumers can benefit from good quality, low-cost LED bulbs to begin with. And, personally, I would not rest with the kind of turnovers that were shown on the presentation. Somewhere there is a mistake, there’s a disconnect between my thinking and EESL. I have read in one of the slides $1.5 billion by 2020. The English persons here may not be able to figure it out, for my friends from India, you have heard of that saying, Jangal mein mor naacha kisne dekha? Right? So it’s something like if the peacock is dancing in the forest. Who will see it if you are not in the forest at that time. My tenure in this term as a Minister gets over in 2019, so I can’t be planning 2020. I need to see that turnover happen before I go to the next election. And that’s not for the press to report please.

But I had always set the target of $1.5 billion by 2019, nothing to do with the election. It’s concomitant with my target for UDAY and with my target for 100% household electrification across the country. This was the 3rd leap of that because I believe as does my honorable Prime Minister that every unit of electricity that we save, particularly, in the context of transmission losses, distribution losses is really probably one and a quarter unit of electricity produced. And the impact of that on global warming can be huge if the whole world recognizes this. And I am sure if we look at the entire world as one, just this massive deployment of this programme can have a significant impact on the future of the globe.

So, I would believe that it’s time that all of us engage in making energy efficiency a way of life for us. Mr Anil Aggarwal is here, the first signing, and you can actually draw up an MoU in the business centre here and have him signed out today itself that every bulb in the Vedanta Group across the world should be replaced with an LED bulb supplied by EESL at competitive prices though.

Is that a deal? Wonderful!

So, we will start with that today. And, let’s look at this, going forward, in a mission mode. I am not looking for a 7-transaction company in the UK. I love London. It’s my favourite city outside of Bombay, and I must not forget to mention Delhi because that could be very dangerous for me. I could actually be sent back to Bombay. But truly, I love this city. For me, every opportunity that I get to be in London is a delight, not only because it’s a beautiful city, not only because the people of London are wonderful. But it’s also because it’s a confluence of cultures, and it’s one of those cities, which is probably more global than anywhere else in the world. I think you feel so comfortable in London. You feel so nice to walk the streets, to have a walk at Hyde Park, to meet the warm people of London, as we did last night at the programme of the UK-India investment summit.

And, truly, it would be a matter of great personal satisfaction for me if we can make UJALA become a way of life in London, just like UJALA in UK is currently trending on Twitter, both in India and in UK. As we speak, UJALA in UK is trending on Twitter, both in India and in UK. And I think that’s the kind of spirit that we have to bring to London. That’s the kind of engagement that will truly be satisfying. I would urge each of you to consider spreading the word, spreading the message, talking about it, using your influence to sensitize people to the importance of energy efficiency. It’s really something like that $20 bill lying on the ground. Most people wouldn’t pick it up because they would assume that it must be fake, considering that somebody would have picked it up if it was a genuine $20 bill or a 20 Pound bill.

LED bulbs are something like that. We take it for granted. It is a very small bill. It will probably save you a few kilowatt hours of energy for that bulb, it’s not taken seriously. But it’s such a low-hanging fruit. It’s such a small way you can contribute to the challenge of global warming to address the problems that all of humanity is grappling with. And we don’t even have to worry whether a world leader in another country supports climate change or opposes any effort to save the world. It’s nothing to do with what other countries are doing. It’s what we believe in. It’s what is intrinsic to our working, our thinking, our own contribution. Very often, people come and ask me, what will be a role if I want to do something for my nation. And I tell them, you know, it could be as simple a thing as making sure the lane outside your home is clean, in the Indian context.

Similarly, for my friends from UK, if Indians, back home in India, could adopt LED bulbs so rapidly that in a short span of 2 years 560 million bulbs could have been replaced, I am sure the very wise people of England and the Londoners who pride themselves in being extremely business-savvy and understand the value of money will be faster to adopt this than anybody else. So, I would look for a day when I can come back to London, do my walk at Hyde Park in the morning, and then come back to the Lalit, into this beautiful hotel. I really didn’t even realize it’s so beautiful. And, fortunately, it’s so beautiful that you forget the misery of the traffic coming in over here.

But, truly, it will be a great day for me if I can come into London and say that we have got everybody in London engaged with UJALA. And, we have been able to make a positive impact in the energy scenario here. I am sure, the people of London will extend all support. I have absolutely no doubt the government of UK, post elections, will extend all support to this programme. My own interaction with the leaders of UK has been very positive on this. They are very excited that EESL has set up shop in London. The Austrian government is also very keen, by the way that you come there, and as would I am sure other countries in Europe. But please, I would urge each one of you to become the ambassadors of this revolution on energy efficiency, become the evangelists who will take this message far and wide over a drink at the pub today evening or in your offices, in your homes. And we can actually make London also shine as bright as they see India shining when they see the world map from the NASA satellite pictures.

I don’t know if any of you has had an opportunity to see the latest NASA pictures showing the lighting across the world. It’s a matter of great pride and delight for all of us that the latest NASA pictures, when they juxtapose the lighting that prevailed across the world 5 years ago, and more recently now, seem to suggest that India is probably the only country in the world which has expanded its lighting very-very significantly. In most of the parts of the world, the growth in lighting, the impact of a better future has been quite subdued, there have been some areas in the Middle East, some areas in far East, the islands near Australia. But, otherwise, Pacific islands… Otherwise, India is that one bright spot which shines out, which shines out on the NASA map as becoming the provider of new services, of new light to millions of people in India. I am sure London will also benefit with those beautiful white LED lights of all different colours, I think you have many colours that you are giving out.

I would also urge you to look at bringing up partnerships with other stakeholders in London and thereabouts, look at other companies who can become outlets for your products, other companies who can help support expansion of the UJALA programme in London. And I would set a timeline of, let me see, it’s now 2017 May, on this one shall we say March 2019, we should atleast be, what? A 100 million bulbs in UK? Will that be a modest target? Anybody else wants to venture a better target for UK? Or is that too much? Too much? 500 kilowatt hours per year! Which can come down to about a 100. Then it will come down to atleast half of that.

That’s pretty good. 250 kilowatt hours in an average British home would mean a significant saving looking at the cost of energy at homes in London. So, that sounds like a good proposition, let’s stay in for a 100 million, let’s not go for a short one. 100 million – March 2019, I am going to take the advantage of low-cost airfare by booking myself to come into London, 28th March, 2019.

Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen for all your support. I forgot to apologize for being late. But, truly, I wish to apologize, I got held up, first with some family duties and then with the traffic in London. But, my sincerest apologies for not being able to be here on time.

Thank you very much.

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