1)India needs to integrate energy technology innovation in its broader energy policy. Highlighting its significance, mention the steps taken by government in this regard.
India’s sustained economic growth is placing an enormous demand on its energy resources, energy systems and infrastructure. Energy technology innovation includes the set of processes, which lead to development of improved technologies that can augment energy resources. India’s draft National Energy Policy, 2017 has a dedicated focus on energy technology innovation and underlines that it can play a central role in “enhancing supply of energy at affordable prices, and delivering it efficiently and sustainably”.
The significance of integrating energy technology innovation in India’s broader energy policy can be seen as:
It will help in improving India’s energy efficiency to fulfil the rising energy demand of the country which is expected to double by 2030. Further, energy access is the key to social as well as economic growth in the country.
Adoption of clean energy technologies like geothermal energy, sustainable buildings will not only help in reducing the adverse environmental impact but will also enhance the prospects of India achieving its Sustainable Development Goals and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
It will improve India’s capacity in utilizing the unexplored technologies and resources like electric mobility, advanced biofuels, shale gas etc. This would in turn help India create a buffer against import dependence on conventional resources and progress towards energy security.
In this context, India has taken several steps which are as follows:
India is a founding member of Mission Innovation and part of its steering committee which aims at accelerating global clean energy innovation with the objective to make clean energy widely affordable.
The National Policy on Biofuels, 2018 envisages an indicative target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of biodiesel in diesel by 2030.
In 2018, India launched the Global Cooling Prize which is an impact-oriented technology innovation programme to encourage more creative solutions to pressing national challenges like climate change etc.
India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP), 2019 with the aim to map the technologies available to provide sustainable cooling while keeping in mind the need to protect the ozone layer. It provides a 20-year perspective, with projections for cooling needs in 2037-38.
To address specific technology areas, the government has initiated energy-related national missions, building on the National Action Plan on Climate Change. These missions mention
RD&D components alongside their deployment targets and incentive mechanisms. These include:
o National Electric Mobility Mission (2012),
o National Smart Grid Mission (2015),
o National Mission on Advanced Ultra Super Critical Technology (2017),
o National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage (2019) etc.
Going forward, India should lay out a long-term energy RD&D strategy and technology roadmaps. It should establish stronger inter-ministerial co-ordination to clarify innovation priorities and consolidate energy RD&D activities. Currently, India’s energy RD&D landscape is dominated by the public sector. So, the role of private sector actors in technology innovation needs to be increased with focus on public–private collaboration to optimally tap the RD&D capabilities and scale up domestic technology development and deployment.
2) Discuss how the idea of Aatmanirbhar Bharat goes beyond the traditional view of self-reliance.
Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan is a mission advocating a self-reliant strategy to protect and rebuild the path of Indian economy from the adverse effects of the recent coronavirus pandemic and new emerging global scenario post COVID. It includes an economic package of Rs. 20 trillion for the same.
India’s traditional view of self-reliance, was signified by the policy of isolationism and protectionism which included:The strategy of import substitution, which relied extensively on imposing high import tariffs and discouraging foreign trade.
Centralised, top-down model of development directed from the Planning Commission. Dominant role was played by the public sector in developing domestic industrial capacity. Excessive bureaucratic regulation in the form of license-permit raj and inspector raj in the pre 1991 reform era.
The idea of Atmanirbhar Bharat goes beyond this traditional view, as it envisages India’s active participation in post-COVID-19 global supply chains. Self-sufficiency in the present context refers to improving efficiency, competing with the world and simultaneously helping the world by actively participating in the post-COVID global supply chain.
Following elements are essential to this idea:
Developing domestic resilience: It seeks to improve competitiveness of Indian industry and quality of products so as to encourage rather than coerce consumption of indigenous products. It seeks to reduce trade imbalance by broadening the basket of exports, which has otherwise been facing stiff competition from other countries. For instance, government announced incentives to promote production of bulk drugs and medical devices.
Creation of safety nets: It also seeks to develop resilience at individual level, especially for the vulnerable groups. Important steps taken towards this include the health insurance system (Ayushman Bharat), and the direct benefit transfer mechanism based on Jan Dhan-Aadhaar- Mobile.
Decentralized Localism: It is about creating a system that takes pride in local brands, encourages local capacity-building and indigenisation. The citizens are urged to be vocal about their local products and help these local products become global.
Promoting Indian entrepreneurship: This mission focuses on reforms and improving ease of doing business, so that entrepreneurship is freed from bureaucratic hurdles. It seeks to open the gates for research, innovation and employment generation. Recently, various reforms were announced in the agriculture sector pertaining to APMC Act.
Push towards privatization: Under it, the government intends to privatise all non-strategic public sector entities and even open up of erstwhile reserved sectors like defence and space to private investment. For instance, the defence ministry recently placed a list of 101 items under import embargo to boost the indigenous manufacturing of military hardware.
Atmanirbhar Bharat is important for faster economic growth, absorbing the shock of global supply chain fragility, filling up the developmental gaps, ensuring health and economic security and to deal with any adverse geopolitical situation.
However, to successfully implement the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat, several large scale and longterm measures like making subsidies performance dependent and strengthening public regulation will have to be taken in conjunction with aforesaid measures. More importantly, increased investment in education and skill development is imperative to complement the structural reforms announced in the package.