Sunday, April 29, 2012

INDIAN GROWTH STORY: A REALISTIC PICTURE

Everybody on this globe recognises the opportunity provided by the global economic situation and outlook, Indian demography, Indian economy size, availability of large competent technical and managerial human resource along with  technical and engineering competence to catapult Indian nation to the status of a global economic superpower.The Indian GDP stands at 1.7 million million dollars which is about 1/9th of US GDP whereas per capita is about 1360 dollars which is a dismal 3% of the US per capita. Even if India manages to  grow to an economy as big as that of present USA, per capita wise it will only be comparable to today's per capita of East European countries. 
Growth rate vs GDP increase: Indian GDP can become 9 times its present value if it keeps on growing continuously at 10% for the next 23 years. The same period increases to 32 years with a drop of 3% in the annual growth rate. 
In the light of these facts, the following need to be understood and addressed by India's planners and polity otherwise the Indian dream of becoming a world leader will perish sooner than later.

  • Will this opportunity window be available to the country for such a long a period.
  • Will developed nations continue to pass on low level manufacturing hubs to India as they did for Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea and lately China or their experiences with a big economy with potential to become an economic superpower will make them hesitant to make use of cheaper manufacturing base of India with potential similar to that of China. After all developed countries also wish to grow richer rather than stagnating at present levels of prosperity.
  • Will India grow rich before getting old or grow old before getting rich.
  • Does India expect that it will be offered status of an economic superpower on a platter.The offerings will come only in areas which give value addition to the earnings of the developed world in short term as well as help maintain their technology leadership in the longer run.
Indian polity and planners have to work seriously to extend this opportunity window much beyond the realms of global economic situation and outlook through policy action on administrative, judicial, electoral and economic reforms to mitigate corruption, doing away with subsidies, provide good governance and some out of the box thinking for avoiding getting old before getting rich, become technology leaders in renewable energy fields rather than live on bought and borrowed technologies as and when they are offered at whatever prices along with attached strings.Simultaneously Indian polity and planners should aim to increase the tooth to tail ratio of annual budgets ( Ratio of  funds devoted to GDP growth to funds devoted to all government expenditure ) at all levels in states and centre within the applicable constraints of fiscal deficit and inflation.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

ENERGY SECURITY : INDIAN SOLUTION

Energy security is the key concern with all nations whether developed, developing or under developed in the light of the fact because of following.

  • Energy needs are growing day by day.
  • Amongst conventional energy sources viz Hydro potential is limited all over  world though it is an absolutely clean source of energy. Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Energy have a limited availability, may be for another five to six decades and have major associated problems.( Environmental in case of fossil fuel based energy and devastating, catastrophic long persisting accident risks in case of nuclear energy)
It is therefore mandatory for the mankind to seek energy security from renewable sources like hydro, solar, wind, tides and geothermal which are clean and almost eternal. Since every nation is uniquely placed with respect to availability of these sources on its soil, energy security solution will also be different for each nation and will be country centric. India cannot blindly follow what US, Germany, Japan and others are doing. It has to devise its own strategy for adopting the right mix of various renewable energies depending on their availabilities region wise.
  • For north India comprising of Indo Gangetic plain and covering Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar  Pradesh,  Uttrakhand,  Bihar,  Bengal etc. energy security  solution  with a mix of hydro, solar and wind power is within the realm of possibility for per capita power consumption equal to that of advanced western nations.
  • For North East the solution lies totally in the use of hydro electric potential of the region.
  • Coastal India comprising of Orissa, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa etc. can rely totally on hydro and wind energy for energy security solution.
  • Central India along with Rajsthan and Gujerat should harness all their solar and wind energy potential for an eternal solution to their energy security.
National Grid
Since the transmission and distribution losses of 35-40% are a big drain on power production and cost an out of the box solution requiring minimal transmission will be an enormous asset in building an energy security solution. This is possible only through having small power production centres. Incidentally such requirements can easily be met with use of on site solar and wind power generation without compromising on the capital cost, production cost or efficiency of power generation in any way.The grid application can be limited to major hydroelectric power sources and Thar Desert solar power ultra ultra mega power generation hub for the use of railways and big cities which already have and are likely to have metro rail in future..

ENERGY SECURITY IN INDIA : SOLAR AND WIND POWER

Whenever one talks of solar and wind energy options for achieving energy security, a lot of fuss is created over the capital cost and power generation cost of these alternates. It is always implied that huge power producing hubs using these energy sources will be part of a large grid. For a meaningful comparison solar and wind energy has to be evaluated on the basis of a standalone onsite concept applied on a village level which is their forte. This concept does away with the requirements of a grid. 
By way of example let us take a village of about 1000 households with a population of 5000. For a per capita consumption of 2000 kwh annually purely for domestic usage, 10000000 kwh or 10000mwh are required which translates into a power generation requirement of less than 1mw assuming constant loads for 24 hours all 365 days of a year. Keeping in view the vagaries of demand within 24 hours of a day, 5mw generator of wind and solar power each will more than suffice for all kind of requirements.This will require a land area of about 50 acres which every village has in the form of SHAMLAT land ( A piece of land owned by a village collectively for common use of the village ).

  • The beauty of solar and wind power generators is that the power generation cost of 1mw is the same as that of 10mw or more in the same way as the traction cost of a vehicle remains the same whether we have one vehicle or more. The scale of production of vehicles lowers the cost of vehicle but cost of producing 1BHP of traction power remains the same.The scale of production will reduce the cost of solar panels or wind turbines but will not effect the cost of energy production.
  • Solar and wind power when used onsite standalone mode does away with the capital cost requirements of a grid as also the major amount of 35-40% transmission and distribution losses and the overall cost becomes close to all kinds of power generators in use.
Besides being an attractive power generation option because of versatility in terms of vagaries of on site requirements depending upon size of households conglomerate, ability to be upgraded with annual  demand  increases and incurring costs as per the availability of funds keeping smallest village as a viable unit, solar and wind power option offers following additional advantages of far reaching importance to the country.

  • As there is no requirement of hauling of fuels from mines to generation sites,  no additional load on road and rail transport infrastructure for production of power.
  • No additions to global warming
  • The nation will be free from any catastrophe through ever lingering possibility of nuclear plant accidents.
  • No chance of blackmail by fuel suppliers.

New industrial hubs and Special Economic Zones can also meet their power requirements through a combination of solar, wind and emergency switch-over diesel based power. An integrated corridor of land all round will accommodate a ring road, ring railway for to and fro logistics requirements of men and material and solar panels and wind turbines for electricity generation.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

INDIA CALLING For NATIONALISTIC POLITY

Infrastructure development without doubt is the next gen growth engine of Indian economy and the thrust being provided by Indian planners to this sector is understandable. A lot of advantages that accrue as a result of this thrust lose their sheen because of the rampant corruption during development and maintenance. Worst still are the effects of Indian malaise of not bothering about the state of assets once created and the apathy of the polity, executive and every one towards this all important aspect of nation building.
Per capita availability of vehicles is one of the many indexes of prosperity of any nation. It is really nice to learn that India is currently producing 2 million plus of motor cars and something like 5 million 2 wheelers annually. But at the same time one shudders to think about the scene on the Indian roads in 2020 and beyond particularly in the light of lack of planning concerns on the part of rulers of the country. Apart from traffic jams and inconvenience to the road users which many a times is talked about in the country, the most crucial thing, that is,
  • the loss to national exchequer in terms of additional heavy expenditure on oil imports and 
  • the national loss in terms of break down, wear and tear and maintenance of individual vehicles ( private or state owned ) seems to be nobody's concern, not even of our so called nationalistic polity.
It is a widely accepted fact that prosperity will come as a result of and will result in 50% of the population in urban conglomerates. At present more than 80% of the vehicles are are plying on the roads of top 30 big cities of the country wherein travelling 1 Km can take even more than five minutes because of congestion and chaos coupled with terrible state of roads. Most of the highways are also in bad shape for more than four months of the year.
Clearly India is wasting about 50% of its fuel because of lack of proper infrastructure and the maintenance level of whatever it has. The fuel import bill of Rs 4.00 lakh crores which is likely to escalate to more than Rs20 lakh crores by 2020 by most conservative estimates as a result of exploding demands of personal vehicles, public transport and logistics requirements of a growing economy of 1 billion Plus people.
If only we have a set of people at the top who think in terms of country and what is best for the country rather than showing insensitivity to all that is good for the country and its assets whether with the government or with individual citizens, a lot can be achieved for catapulting the growth, mitigation of poverty, social and socio-economic empowerment etc. etc. through massive savings in oil imports and accompanying subsidies.