Monday, March 28, 2011

Energy Security:An Indian dream

India is the fifth largest producer of electricity with an installed capacity of 1,65,000 mw. When it comes to per capita consumption of electricity we are ranked amongst the poorest nations of this globe with an annual consumption of about 600 kwh which is a meagre 10% of the per capita consumption of the developed world. If  we really want to raise the living standard of our poor millions we have to increase our power generation ten folds in a reasonable time span of 20-25 years. This can only be achieved if we put this in a national mission mode with an unbiased earnest approach both by our planners and technocrats.
An earnest national approach is all the more important in the light of recent earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan. The nature, intensity, fury and location of natural disasters cannot be predicted or fathomed by present day science and technology. However, as well meaning citizens it is our duty to ensure that natural disasters do not lead to man made secondary disasters.If some nuclear expert compares the probability of a nuclear accident or calamity with the probability of an accident while walking or driving on a road or travelling by a train, he is being untrue to not only the nation but his profession also, for an isolated accident and a catastrophe are entirely different things. while all efforts should be made to reduce the accidents on road a catastrophe should be avoided at all costs.
In the light of all this the energy security should be thought of in the face of following facts. We should primarily concentrate on all Renewable Sources of Energy.
  • The Hydro Electric potential of India is estimated to be 1,48,000 mw out of which only about 32000 mw has been harnessed so far. This is a clean and renewable source.
  • The Wind Power potential of our country is about 1,00,000 mw and so far only about 10000 mw has been utilised.
  • The Solar Power potential of about 35000 sq km of Thar desert alone is estimated  to be a huge 7,00,000 mw. Country's total potential of this source is absolutely mind boggling even if we exploit only those areas which have already been utilised for road and rail corridors, canal network etc which run into lakhs of kilometres can offer thousands of sq kms for use. Additionally a 10 km radius ring road around even medium size cities can offer about 4-5 sq kms of area sufficient to generate about 80 mw.
  • We are producing about 1,10,000 mw of Thermal Power wherein we are moving tonnes and tonnes of coal by rail incurring huge cost on logistics and straining our limited transport means simply because we do not have a national power grid in place.
    Additionally the following thought process should also get the topmost priority from the government to give a meaningful direction to our policies on energy security.
    • National power grid as a first priority.
    • We are losing about 30% of our generated power through theft and transmission losses which can be brought down to about 10% through better engineering and good governance.
    • All major buildings should incorporate energy efficient architecture and design.
    • Save our fossil fuel and carbon resources for metallurgical purposes and futuristic requirements of synthesis of organic compounds which have become such a major requirement of our daily lives.
    • The use of Nuclear Energy should almost be the last resort and kept at a level warranted by our military requirements.
    • The exorbitant cost of producing electricity, presently Rs10-11 per unit for wind power and Rs 18-20 per unit for solar power could well be reduced significantly if scales of production matching to our requirements are kept in mind

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Indian Dream:Our Chance To Become World Leaders

    For long India has been the country of people who have been denied and deprived of prosperity and modern day comforts of life. When we take into account any of the prosperity indices like per capita earnings, per capita consumption of steel, electricity, cement, milk, cloth or for that matter any other parameter, we are no where near even to post world war II figures of advanced nations. This huge gap and magnitude of increase that is required to fulfill the dreams of one billion people is a God sent opportunity to make this country technology leader in many fields. Let us not waste this opportunity by bringing in prosperity through a route which has evolved in this world because of the then limitations in the field of science and technology and material development.
    Electricity generation and connected technologies should be topmost priority as its consumption index is the mother of all other economic development indices and we have to increase its production manifold to catch up with the western world. Surprisingly our politicians and technologists both have chosen a path where we will all the time be following the developed nations and be dependent on them. It is not that developed nations do not understand that ultimate answer lies in the Renewable Sources of Energy. These nations themselves will also ultimately  switch over to these sources when their present power plants and plant manufacturing technologies become obsolete and they have squeezed full value by selling them to nations like India. Till such time the use of renewable energy will be kept at exorbitant price. It is for us to seize this opportunity and make power from these sources at prices comparable with power from present day conventional sources through research, technology innovation and scale of production. We should not forget that even with our meagre per capita consumption of electricity we are fifth largest producer in world. Therefore our targeted yearly additions in power production are far more than the yearly obsolescence of American Plants. Since they have all the technologies for setting up of conventional and nuclear power plants available in house they will not be interested in large scale spending on researches in the fields of utilizing renewable energy sources at present.
    The present world leaders in science and technology are at that position not because of sheer coincidence or stroke of luck but because of long term vision and thinking on the part of their leaders and technocrats.If only Indian counterparts are true and earnest in their approach to fulfilling the aspirations of masses in the field of power generation we will become world leaders in harnessing renewable sources of energy in a decade or so.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Corruption and Black Money - Control Through Good Governance

    The Finance Minister and the Indian Government is all the time boasting of a GDP growth rate of about 8.5% per annum and a promise to maintain the same for coming few years. Can they in the same breath talk of any one  particular value addition in this process excepting one fact that they have not frittered away the national resources in doling out concessions in the name of Aam Admi in form of subsidies, freebies etc. etc.. The golden opportunity that the compulsions of high wages in advanced nations has given to India with its cheap and qualified work force with the right demographic profile as also the limited privatisation in the early nineties is certainly not being properly utilised. Imagine if the opportunity is backed by good governance as was done by Japan and Singapore, where we will be after a decade or so. Needless to emphasize that presently we are being plagued by real bad governance.
    A few suggestions from an Aam Admi which can catapult the GDP growth and fate of  have nots of this country in a manner much beyond our imagination.
    • Declare a war on Corruption & Black Money. ( All Political Parties and MP's should not have any objection to this for it cannot come in the way of their political and economic agenda )
    • Make necessary arrangements to get back all black money stashed in foreign countries.
    • Do away with Quotas and Discretions of all political appointees and officials.
    • UID project should be given topmost priority so as to completed in two year time. ( Make available all resources and money ) Its role in achieving better tax compliance, controlling subsidy leakages and midday meal program leakages cannot be undermined as it can certainly reduce them by 25%. But what about the balance 75% and we can make an even bigger dent in such dubious earnings if only we make it a point to link UID number to all immovable property and all major asset classes as also luxury items like cars, motor cycles, refrigerators, tv's, watches etc..
    • Government should acquire powers to buy minimum 2% of property and land deals in secondary market every year at 1.1 times the declared value (chosen by a random number generation technique).
    • Power of attorney in respect of immovable property should be done away with.
    • All reinforcement directorates to be beefed up many folds.
    • Three tier checks on economic status of general public individuals, government officials, politicians, business and corporates.
    • Reinforcement of judiciary to take care of economic offences and disputes to a level so that no case hangs in the courts for more than nine months.
    • And lastly all rags to riches stories and exponentially growing businesses should be reviewed for ascertaining their tax compliance.

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Corruption and Black Money -The Big Guzzlers & Creators

    You open any newspaper, you switch on any TV news channel, a day cannot pass without a few headlines about corruption and bribery scams. Such scams will invariably be connected with land, housing and real estate. In fact all activity related to this one particular sector be it allotment, sale and purchase, construction, purchase of material or renting and hiring brings in corruption, black money generation and deployment, tax avoidance and criminal activity. This sector and its progress are said to be the index of economic health of a nation. Imagine the extent of degradation of economic health of a nation when the same sector is under the cloud of corruption and bribery scandals one after the other particularly when only a negligible percentage of such cases catch the eye of media. In fact for every case that comes to limelight thousands of cases go undetected.
    Buying and selling of property normally involves 30% of payments through banks and the rest is by cash. It gives huge opportunity of absorbing ill gotten money ( be it from bribery, corruption, tax avoidance or any other illegal activity) to the buyer and simultaneously produces the same amount of black money in the hands of seller.
    In the construction business also cheque payments and receipts are kept to a bare minimum. Material purchases worth 10 lakhs are normally made against a bill of may be1.5 to 2.00 lakhs. This is true about all materials starting from bricks, timber, plumbing and hardware accessories, electrical fittings etc. to name only a few. The advantage to buyer and seller both can be understood by anybody for it does not require expertise in rocket science. Similar are the facts when it comes to hiring or renting of property.
    Gold is the next big culprit when it comes to absorbing of black money and its creation for gold buying and selling is also mainly in cash. As a general rule all asset classes are equal culprits in this game of black money generation and absorption.