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   Thursday, February 27, 2020
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Tatas aim to go green

The largest industrial group of India begins consultations to reduce carbon emissions

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This is one project that could win the Tatas more accolades than the launch of the common man's car or the proposal to build affordable housing. A Tata Sons' director announced recently that the group is hiring consultants to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions at its top four polluting units making steel, motors, power and chemicals, and also at Tata Consultancy Services. Together these five companies account for 80 per cent of the group's overall carbon emissions. The goal is being set for these companies to reduce their carbon footprint to bring emission levels on par with those following global benchmarks - all within the next three years.

Such initiatives could motivate other corporations to follow suit, especially through collaboration and sharing of technical know-how. The Anglo-Scandinavian Global Leadership Technology Exchange (GLTE) is a global consortium set up for precisely this purpose and it is in the interest of growing companies to enrol as members of GLTE or any other similar body as the Tata Group has done. The idea is to move from mere rhetoric about climate change and sustainability to undertaking prototype projects based on innovation and with collaboration.

Greening of industry is being taken seriously more as a business opportunity that will reap rich dividends in the future rather than reducing it to tokenism representing corporate social responsibility. A great deal of innovation is happening worldwide to face the challenge of climate change, not the least being efforts to use technology to clean up industry. Distilleries in India, for instance, are going in for a zero pollution system with new technology. Several cutting-edge innovative techniques are being made available to treat industrial effluents. In addition to cleaning up production processes, much energy can be conserved by going in for energy-saving measures in office buildings, factories and lighting and other electrical appliances.

From the consumer side, green labelling would facilitate informed choice and boost demand for energy-efficient products. Currently, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency awards star ratings to products on the basis of how green they are. Buildings are rated, too. Subjecting products and buildings to green auditing and rating is currently voluntary. This could be made mandatory once sufficient public awareness is created. It is in the interest of all to try and reduce individual and corporate carbon footprints so that the total volume of carbon emissions of the country can be scaled down.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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