….. or students getting together, engaging on different issues, lot of fun and frolic, lot of engagement on issues of national or international interest. And, I am delighted that Xaviers continues to hold Malhar, I don’t know it’s a 2 or 3-day festival? 3-day festival! And I must compliment all the organisers and all the students who are making this festival grow from strength to strength and actually get students engaged with contemporary issues, have a lot of fun, but also a lot of deliberations.
And when I was invited for this programme, I was wondering what I should talk about. Then the young lady who had accompanied me here mentioned that it may be a good idea I spoke about climate change, I spoke about India’s response to climate change, I spoke about how we believe India can address this, I think, very-very dangerous future that the world is headed towards. And that’s something which for us, all of us in the government of India, right from Prime Minister down, is probably one of the biggest challenges before the nation.
The twin challenges of terrorism and climate change are issues which engage the attention of policymakers, be it in India, be it internationally. And I can assure each one of you that India will lead the world in the fight against pollution, in the effort to make sure that we leave behind for your generation a better world to live in than the one that we inherited.
There is, of course, an effort and an attempt by some senior leaders of very large countries to belittle the issue of climate change or to try and say that this is not really a problem before the world. We in India don’t believe so. In fact, for all of us Indians, we have always respected nature. We have always believed that the environment is an integral part of human existence.
India, for that matter, even 5000 years ago would pray to maybe the rivers, the mountains, the forests, for us everything was almost revered, and it’s not in a religious sort of sense. It was revered because Indian culture, Indian tradition, Indian heritage respected environment. We understood the importance of clean rivers. We understood the importance of having greenery or forests in ensuring good air, clean environment.
Basically, every Indian believes that environment is important to be protected, it’s important that we make sure that we don’t pollute, we don’t add to the greenhouse gases up there. And, therefore, if you see, India’s contribution to the carbon up there is barely 2-2.25%, even though we support more than 17% of the world’s population. And despite not being responsible for this problem in the first place, India has decided that we will take this challenge very seriously, we will promote renewable energy, we will create a new carbon sink, we will add to the forests in the country, so that carbon dioxide can be captured in the forests and we don’t leave out too much greenhouse gases which pollute the environment, which pollute the atmosphere.
We are working towards electric vehicles becoming the pre-eminent form of transportation to reduce the carbon that petrol and diesel and vehicular traffic create both in the cities and in the countryside. We are working towards a cleaner India, Swachha Bharat, because, after all, garbage and moulds of garbage lying all over the place truly add phenomenally to the pollution levels of our cities. And, therefore, on a comprehensive way, India today has actually become one of the world’s leaders in promoting renewable energy, in promoting a carbonless world, reducing carbon that is going into the atmosphere or looking towards becoming net positive when it comes to addressing this challenge of carbon.
Of course, one of the critical elements when we look at addressing this problem of pollution is the pollution that comes out of huge amount of electricity being wasted in different areas. One of the most successful programmes that we have initiated in this government centres around energy efficiency. As the Prime Minister often says, every unit of electricity, every kilowatt of electricity that each one of us saves is equivalent to 1.33 units of electricity being generated.
After all, looking at the aggregate technical and commercial losses being about 20-22% in the country, every unit of electricity that we generate finally by the time it goes to the consumer becomes, probably, .8 of that or .78-.79 of that. And, therefore, energy efficiency, every unit of energy that we save actually helps us to address this challenge of climate change disproportionately more than the way we will improve our energy generation.
I think many of you may be aware of our LED programme. The LED programme that we have initiated is the world’s largest roll-out of Light Emitting Diodes, the LED bulbs anywhere in any country in the world. We had started this programme in 2015, you will be delighted to know that our target was about 770 million LED bulbs to replace the old incandescent bulbs by 2019. So far, one government company alone has distributed, has sold nearly 250 million bulbs and the private sector has sold about 410 million bulbs. So, 660 million bulbs sold in the first two years itself as against the target of 770 million bulbs in 4 years.
And just to get you the perspective, this one LED replacement programme, replacing these 60 or 90 W incandescent bulbs, वह जो बाबा आदम के ज़माने के पुराने बल्ब हम सब यूज़ करते हैं with LED bulbs, and LED bulbs are, earlier there used to be 7 W bulbs, which our government has increased to 9 W bulb, so that it gives more lumination. And any science student will logically or any common person can understand that against 60 or 90 watts being consumed for every hour that your bulb is on, if you are consuming 7 or 9 watts, look at the transformational impact it will have on the energy consumed.
This 770 million bulb replacement is expected to reduce energy consumption by 112 billion units, or in our Indian metrics 11,200 crores units of electricity will be saved only by this one single programme. Simultaneously, the demand of energy, the peak load demand of energy in the country will fall by about 20,000 MW translating to a reduction of nearly 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, every year! And, of course, saving the consumers nearly 40,000 crores in electricity bills every year.
I hope Xaviers has changed all your lighting to LED bulbs. 40%? Well, I will send some people over on Monday and let’s do the balance 60% in the next 30 days. Because, you know the payback is what? 2-3-4 months! And looking at Mumbai’s cost of electricity, you may have a payback of less than 1-1.5 months. That’s the kind of payback. These bulbs used to be purchased till 2014 by this government company at Rs 310 plus taxes. Rs 310 plus taxes for a 7 W bulb! Anybody who wants to make a guess what we are purchasing them at now today?
Rs 40, for a 9W bulb, which gives 30% more light. The bulbs are procured with world-class standards, so the suppliers are companies like Phillips, Phillips has just recently supplied 50 million bulbs to the government company; Crompton Greaves, Osram, Bajaj, all world-class companies supplying the same product with 30% more lumination with tighter technical specs between 2014 to 2016, in 2 years, the price fell from Rs 310 to Rs 40. 85% reduction in the price!
How did that happen? Economies of scale; because the volumes became much larger, technological advancements and, of course, a corruption-free regime. Every bulb is purchased through a transparent e-bidding mechanism with complete equal opportunity for everybody in the world to participate in it. And, all subsidies have been removed, there are no more subsidies in this. And somebody wants to make a guess on what the volume growth has been? This same company, Energy Efficiency Services Limited, it’s a government company, many times we deride everything that the government does, at least at your age. And I have been a part of you at that age when we all love to curse the government, love to curse everything the government does.
This same government company used to buy these bulbs in 2014, the last purchase they did before my government came in was in February, 2014 – Rs 310, and in a year they used to sell 600,000 bulbs, 6 lakh bulbs every year and that used to be on back of a Rs 100 subsidy that the government gave. Today, the same company sells 6 lakh bulbs every single day. 6 lakh bulbs a year is today 6 lakh bulbs a day. That’s the transformational growth that we have had in this programme. Because we believe something which is good should not take too long to be implemented.
When the Prime Minister said every village should have electricity, reach that village in a 1000 days on 15th August, 2015, his concern was that should students in the villages not have the same kind of facilities, are they not entitled to electricity so that they can get the same facilities that you are I have got as students? Should they not be blessed with electricity, with internet, with Mr Google to guide them, with better quality schools, better education? Is it not the right of every child in this country to have electricity?
And, by the way, every unit of electricity that you save when you use an LED bulb instead of that old bulb goes to save electricity which will go to serve some poor child in the village, which will help them get electricity round the clock. And you are doing it while you are simultaneously saving your own electricity bill. It’s not as if you are doing any charity. You are saving money, you are saving electricity, you are reducing the carbon dioxide emissions through the generation of electricity and you are saving a resource, which will go to serve the poor in the country. Isn’t it a win-win for everybody?
And today, the whole world is watching with interest India’s Ujala programme. We have recently launched in London and now Indian LED bulbs and an Indian government company is selling LED bulbs in London with a target to sell 100 million LED bulbs, save electricity in London and then we plan to take it up to other countries, which is why I said, we believe the time has come for India, and all of us Indians, to lead the world rather than follow what other countries do and after they do it.
In fact, Secretary Ernest Moniz who as the Energy Minister of the United States under President Obama, used to go all over the world with the Indian Ujala programme, and he would often take out his mobile phone where he had loaded the – I am not looking for a message, I am trying to show you the Ujala app – he would often open his mobile phone and show all the people in the audience the Ujala app that we have, which you can download on your phone, which actually gives a real time figure of how many LED bulbs have been sold by the government company and how many LED bulbs have been sold by the private sector.
And the government company’s efforts, what it’s translating in in terms of the benefit to the people of India. And, all the work that we do, we try to do it transparently. I am not getting a 3G connection, strong connection in Xaviers college or I will need Wi-Fi password here. But if you download, many of you may have your local Wi-Fi, you download UJALA, and that stands for Unnat Jyoti Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA). Of course, in United Kingdom we call it UK Joins – UJ (UK Joins) Affordable LEDs for All. So, the same programme benefit is now going to Europe.
And, why I gave this example is to sensitize you to a lot of good that each one of us can do in this fight against climate change, to the impact that our role will have when we are addressing the problems of pollution, when we are wanting to make sure that the world becomes a better place to live in. It will happen when we all conspire and we all work together to make it happen.
Just like Shah Rukh Khan said, कि जब कोई चीज़, बहुत इच्छा हो कुछ चीज़ achieve करने की, कुछ चीज़ पाने की, जब कोई चीज़ के पीछे हम जी-जान से लग जाते हैं तब पूरी कायनात भी तुम्हारा समर्थन करती है, तुम्हारे साथ जुड़ जाती है और तुम्हें सफल बनाती है|
I am very confident that when all of us citizens, well-meaning, concerned citizens get together to make an impact, get together to make a different to society, get together to make a difference to our future, there is no power on earth which can stop us from achieving transformational results – results with speed, with skill, at a large scale, results which can change the way India lives and works, results which can impact every Indian’s lives, results which can help us scale the solar energy, for example, from 2500 MW that we had in 2014 to 100,000 MW, which we wish to have by 2022 – 40 times what it was in barely 8 years. 40 times growth! We have already grown to 13,000 in 2 years of the programme, I am very confident we will reach 100 GW by 2022.
India’s scaling up of renewable energy – and you will be happy to know and you should be proud about it, because it’s your programme, it’s our collective effort, all of us in this room that is going to make India the world’s leader in renewable energy, the world’s leader in energy efficiency. And all of this is possible, because each one of you believes in it, each one of you is a concerned citizen.
Electric vehicles is going to have the same trajectory. India is not waiting for the world to use electric vehicles before we embark on it. We have a whole team working on making India the nerve centre of electric vehicles. We want to see if we can by 2030 make sure every vehicle that is sold in India is an electric vehicle, bring down our imports and dependence on foreign countries for oil and gas, reduce our import of petroleum products, reduce the pollution that commercial engines cause to us.
And, by the way, electric vehicles at scale are going to become cheaper than the current petrol and diesel engines. And we are trying to run the whole programme without subsidies. After all, subsidy is a constraint, when you have a subsidy you are all the time looking up for a budget, you are all the time looking up for money from the government. We want to make it self-sustaining, like we did on the LEDs. Government gives no subsidy, yet the payback is 2 or 3 months for you.
I am sure, just like Prime Minister Modi believes that protecting the environment is not something that we in India are doing because somebody else is telling us to do. We are not addressing this challenge of climate change because the Paris Agreement told us to do it, or COP21 decided that everybody will come up with some contribution to reduce the impact of pollution. We are doing it, because it is an article of faith for every Indian, for all of us. We want to be a part of this global effort as a responsible global citizen to bring down pollution, to address this challenge of climate change.
And I am sure I will get the support and the blessings of each one of you in this room, and your friends and your companions, and your families and your neighbours, to ensure that our collective effort to make this country a better place to live in, to make this world a better place to live in, will positively successful. Friends, it cannot be successful but for your support, but for your active engagement. It could be an engagement through the Swachha Bharat mission, it could be an engagement through promoting rooftop solar, it could be an engagement in your families, your businesses, your vocations, your jobs to bring sensitivity to energy efficiency and energy conservation.
It could be simple thing as switching off the light or the air conditioner as you leave the room. I remember, Father Menezes may remember that when we were young children, if we left the room without switching off the light and fan, our parents will reprimand us – hey, you haven’t put off the light, go back and switch off the light. All of us probably have gone through that childhood. And what do we do today? We call up our office, ‘I am coming in half an hour, switch on the air conditioner, it should be cool before I reach there.’
Ladies and gentlemen, things can change. We will have to be the masters of our destiny. We will have to be the harbingers of that change. I appeal to you, I invite you to be a part of the new India that we are all working towards. Prime Minister Modi recently suggested there should be more and more engagement, there should be a conference of sorts amongst students, amongst professors, amongst teachers, amongst politicians, businessmen; all of us need to engage with each other. Just like you have Malhar, I think we need to do Manthan.
We need to engage on new ideas, as he said, ‘Samriddhi se Siddhi.’ If we want to make India a superpower, if we want Samriddhi, which is well-being of India and all Indians, poor and rich alike, we will all have to work for it. सिद्धि करनी पड़ेगी, कुछ मेहनत करनी पड़ेगी, कुछ काम करना पड़ेगा, और समृद्धि से सिद्धि तभी सफल हो सकती है जब हम इसके बारे में सब सामूहिक रूप से इसमें सम्मिलित हों, इसमें जुडें|
When we all get together, collectively, to work towards a better future for India. I invite all of you to be a part of this journey. I have no doubt in my mind that every student who has participated in Malhar, who has enjoyed the fun and frolics, who has enjoyed all the debates and discussions and competitions, sports, will also leave Malhar with a sense of responsibility towards climate change, towards addressing this problem of pollution, will work to make the world a better place to live in.
Just as Mahatma Gandhi has said, all of us are trustees of this planet. We have inherited this earth only so that we can leave behind a better place to live in for the next generation. We have no right to mess around with the environment, with the country. Our duty as custodians of this wealth, as custodians of this nation is to work for a better future whether it is an environment, whether it is a better future for the poor of this country, whether it is a future for the farmers of this country. Let’s all collectively resolve to make India that superpower, make it that nation, pre-eminent nation in the comity of nations that I believe we truly deserve to be.
Thank you very much.
Panelist: Thank you very much sir. It was a very impactful address. Now, we have a few questions from the audience. One very wholesome question is, ‘what do you think is the future of non-conventional energy resources with specific reference to nuclear energy?
A: By the way, I was reading the paper before I came in that was sent by the college and I read a line in that, something to the effect that the questions would be sanitized. So, please don’t do that. I have not come here to just listen to some set of sanitized questions, let the children ask what they want and I will be delighted to engage with them. I want to learn from you. I want to hear from you what you are thinking or what’s bothering you. So, let’s not necessarily stick to a script, let’s not necessarily just focus on renewable energy. I am open to any suggestions, 360 degrees, anything at all.
But to your question, frankly, in nuclear energy, we have about 6,800 MW right now. We have recently embarked on a plan to expand it by about 7000 MW more and this time we are doing it with indigenously manufactured equipment. So, 10 units of 700 MW each, we have proposed that we shall be investing in and we will start on that.
But let me tell you, the nuclear power will never ever become the main source of energy for India, because it’s very expensive. It has its own benefits. It’s quite free of carbon. It does not pollute the environment. Therefore, our government is encouraging it. We do need clean sources, renewable sources of energy, which are base load energy, 24 hours. Solar is only during the day, wind is during the windy hours. So, we need a base load also, which is clean energy. Hydro is one such energy, which we are going to promote, nuclear also we will promote. But both these sources are still quite expensive. We are dependent on foreign sources for uranium.
As you are aware, China is blocking our entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, NSG group. So, we have some challenges. But we are confident we will make progress, albeit it will be slower progress compared to solar or wind, or other sources.
Q: Also sir, do you think in an energy-deficient nation like India, we can cap the use of high energy consuming digital ads and hoardings, or even the name boards of hotels. I mean these are essentially the name of glamour, do you think we can do that?
A: You know, this is a very good question for me. Because it allows me to first of all dispel history from your minds. Energy-deficient nation – whoever asked this question, young boy or girl, please… and I want to make this loud and clear and I want you to tell all the friends, India is no more an energy-deficient country. On the contrary, we have surplus energy in this country.
The mindset of shortages is over, history. Anybody who wants to set up any industry, any business or anything at all, I invite you to do that, because today I have electricity coming out of my ears. I don’t have any outlet to sell energy. We are growing our energy demand at about 6.5% every year and this is at the back of lot of energy savings through our energy efficiency initiative. If I had not done the LED programme, we would have grown at 9% per year, which is history itself.
From 2004 to 2014, India’s energy demand grew by about 6% CAGR. We are at 6.5 after about 2.5-3% saving every year added through the LED programme and other energy efficiency modes. So, despite that we have been able to bring on line so many stalled projects, so many projects which were stuck, somebody stuck for land, for environment, for finance, all of them we have been able to bring into operation.
In the last 5 years, India has added about 130,000 MW of electricity generating capacity – 99,000 of conventional energy, 33,000 of renewable energy. So, effectively, we have added to the original base about, from 190 we became 320, which means an addition of almost 70% to our energy generating capacity, most of it in the last 3 years. And, therefore, we have sufficient energy. At the same time, I believe voluntarily, not by force, what you said should we not cap. It should be a voluntary affair. We all have to be sensitive to waste. We have to be sensitive to wasteful use of an important resource like energy, and I think that will come from within all of us, it will not come by government mandate.
In fact, wherever I go anywhere in the world and I work very late in the night, so usually before I sleep at 2-3 in the night, I always take pictures. On my phone, I can show you pictures of every major capital of the world where they have hundred storey buildings lit up all through the night with not a single person working in them. And wherever I go in the world and people make tall claims about climate change and energy, renewable energy, I always show them those pictures. So, if I am in London, I will show them some pictures of London. If I am in New York, I will show them pictures of Manhattan that look if you are really serious about climate change, first stop wasting electricity. I can show them to you, maybe, after the programme.
Q: Sir, if the government is promoting cleaner technologies, why are technologies such as hybrid cars so heavily taxed?
A: I am responsible for that heavy tax on hybrid cars, so whoever asked that question – put egg on me. And I will tell you why I did it. I bought two hybrids myself. Probably, I saved a little bit of energy. I paid a arm and a leg to buy it, right? It’s quite an expensive car which we bought. The government didn’t buy it, by the way, I bought it personally. The government doesn’t afford these kind of cars. So, when I bought that car, I got a Rs 80,000 rebate for buying that car. Now, if I am a person of means who can afford a Rs 30 lakh rupee car, should the government be giving a subsidy for me to buy a car? That is my first question. If I could buy a 30 lakh car, I could buy a 31 lakh car also – point 1.
Point 2, it has only reduced the fuel consumption a little bit, because it keeps reigniting or recharging the battery as the car drives, so I have reduced my petrol consumption slightly. It’s not a game changing or transformational reduction, it’s reduced slightly. Should India go for intermediate technologies or should we aim for the best. That is the question we all have to ask ourselves. And my suggestion and my thinking is, gone are the days that India is going to meekly follow whatever the world does.
There are two companies, I can name those companies also, but to be respectful to them I will not name them, whose representatives have come and fought with me in Delhi that why are hybrid cars not being promoted. And why are they doing it ma’m? Because they don’t produce electric cars, they don’t have an electric car so they are trying to hawk a second rate technology to all of us.
And, therefore, we believe India should aim for the best. We should go straightaway for electric cars. As I said, we have abundant electricity in the country. I plan to scale up renewable energy massively, so we will have solar power being produced in the country 40 times more than what it was in 2014 that will go to power electric cars. So, green energy used for electric cars. The batteries in the electric cars will become a natural storage, so they will help to even out the fluctuations. People can charge their batteries in the night at home. We will bring in time of day regulation, so you will get power at Rs 4-5 or whatever, even cheaper in the night by which you can power car battery in the night, in an ordinary socket. Just pull up a wire and put it in an ordinary socket. You can have a small parking station below your building in cities like Mumbai. You can have parking stations in Xaviers College, so professors and nowadays even students would drive-in in cars can come to work or college, put their battery in for charging.
Why should India settle for second-best, let’s shoot for the best. Would you not like to be in Xaviers College rather than any other college. You aimed for the best or aimed for the good colleges, right? Each one of us tried to go in for the best. That’s our philosophy.
Q: Sir, a lot of dams are being built for hydro power, but what is your take on a future where development is pitted against tradition and indigenous people?
A: Well, I think we should be sensitive to all concerns, and balance ecology, environment, development, and for that matter, religion also. After all, you can’t take away religion from anybody. I believe you must be Father Menezes, I am sorry, I am assuming, right? You are not a priest? Okay!
Normally, in our time at least it used to be, my apologies to you. I am from Don Bosco, by the way, at Matunga and a very proud alumnus of Don Bosco. He is a Christian, I am a Hindu. He may have certain sensitivities about his religion, I have certain sensitivities. We can learn to be friends. We can learn to co-exist, learn to respect that. So, if there is a church, let’s say somewhere. Would it be in good taste, if I was to throw a … maybe have a cone of ice-cream and throw the left-over outside a church? Would that be in good taste? It would not, obviously. It’s a place of religion, a place somebody reveres.
Similarly, if there was a church, which was coming in the way of a dam, I would probably go to the head priest over there, to the local community, talk to them, engage with them, maybe with the consent of them be able to shift it, right? But, being insensitive to religion is equally bad as being insensitive to any other human being. Everybody has their own way of looking at things, but I think nobody ultimately becomes an impediment to development. Usually, if at all there is an impediment to development then it’s because politics comes in the way, not religion. So, I am very confident that both can co-exist, and after all, so much development has happened over so many years and will continue to happen in the future.
I know almost 200 temples were relocated in Gujarat, in Ahmadabad alone, to create better infrastructure, roads and all of that. In Jaipur, many temples were relocated, both under the BJP governments. Gujarat while Mr Modi was the Chief Minister. So, development and making way for development, you get community engagement and you get community support also.
Q: Sir, what about displaced people, the people who have to leave their homes because dam is coming in their way?
A: There is a huge rehabilitation programme for such displaced people, the RNR schemes are finalized before a project is set up, they are implemented. There were times when these schemes were not taken very seriously, lot of people were not getting what they deserved or what was promised, a lot of which we are trying to set right. But, even in that, very often, the impediment is more self-proclaimed protectors of the environment or self-proclaimed NGOs, some of them often funded from foreign countries who are not very happy that India is developing fast.
So, we should be cautious about such protestors, wherever there is a genuine issue, today you can engage directly with the government. While I was driving here, the young lady was there with me in the car. I had a missed call, I was calling back the gentleman who had called. And you know what he called me up for? He said, Piyush I have just called you up to tell you that I had a problem where my tax officer was troubling me where I was confident I am right. I wrote a letter on the Mygov app of the Prime Minister. It’s an app where you can engage directly with the honourable Prime Minister. He said I wrote my issue on that to Mygov, reached the PM, flagged off to the tax department. And the tax officials have now invited him and said we are sorry, we have studied the file. It was our mistake and we will give you a letter to that effect, apologizing for what the tax officials had done.
So, there is a opportunity for everybody to engage. But, protest cannot be an impediment. One can have a dialogue, one can engage, but demands have to be reasonable also. I mean I have a project in Tehri, it’s a hydro project in Uttarakhand, Tehri Hydro Development Project. It was set up many years ago. Even now, some people are standing up and saying no, we are affected because of this dam, which came up 15-20 years ago. So, you give us, we will leave our land near the dam, you give us 2 acres in Dehradun. Now getting land in Dehradun costs a arm and a leg. If we start giving everybody land in Dehradun that power will become twice as expensive as what it is already. And ultimately, the larger set of people will have to pay for the inconsistent or unreasonable demands of a few.
So, you have to balance national good and the good of the people. But look at this government’s sensitivity, we do mining all over the country. We have now introduced the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana through the form of a District Mineral Fund. So, every tonne of mineral that is mined, the person who mines it, be it the government company or private company, will have to give a specific amount into a District Mineral Fund, which will go straight from that company to that district, no in between people, and will be spent only in that district where mining takes place for the betterment of the lives of the people of that district.
Thank you very sir for being here with us today.
August 8, 2017 Speaking at GST - The Indian Economy & the Way Ahead, New Delhi