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Time to harness the sun
By Priyam Kumar



While Indian government compromised nation's long-term security for nuclear energy plants, it totally ignored the unlimited solar energy available in India.

The nuclear treaty between India and the US came as a ray of hope for millions of citizens of our power-deficit nation. It's true that nuclear energy may be able to satiate the power needs of the people. However, the fact remains that nuclear energy uses non-renewable sources, produces copious amounts of radioactive waste, without any fool-proof way to dispose it.

The nuclear deal is but one example of our continuous dependence on fossil fuels. It is true that this form of energy, like other existing forms of non-renewable energy, provides an immediate response to our power needs. But does that justify making it our number one priority? No!

The mighty Sun, a renewable source of energy, provides limitless opportunities for power generation. We all know that in India, the sun shines for nearly 300 days a year and our entire land area receives a whopping 5000 trillion kWh/year of solar energy. However, the amount of solar energy produced in India is merely 0.4% compared to other energy resources. In fact, India ranks seventh in the field of photovoltaic development and is able to produce only 6.4 MW/year by government funded projects. The reason given is the poor efficiency of solar cells and the high costs of installation. Besides, it would take time for this technology to actually power our country at the level we desire. But there are ways to speed up the use of this technology in our country.

We may not have large pieces of land to set up titanic solar projects. But, if we have enough land to build malls and SEZs, then setting up innumerable small solar projects all over the country should not be a problem. Of course, we do not need capital from foreign banks, countries or investors to accelerate the application of this technology.

If we have enough land to build malls and SEZs, then setting up innumerable small solar projects all over the country should not be a problem.

Around 30 per cent of Indians are supposed to be above the poverty line, accounting for more than 300 million people. If every person from this massive socio-economic group invests Rs. 100 a month in India's Solar Energy Bank, we can generate a staggering amount of Rs. 30,000 million per month. This money could be used for research, not only in solar technology but in many other fields as well and especially to develop a number of micro solar energy projects for the poor.

Development of solar technology involves the engineering field. India has lakhs of B.E /B.Tech engineers passing out every year. If most of the colleges included renewables as a part of the curriculum, then almost every student would gather sufficient knowledge to improvise upon the existing technology. A good many small-scale practical projects could be implemented at the college level. This way, every student would acquire sound basic knowledge of the subject. The scientific aptitude would be strengthened from the very basic level. Even if the development of technology requires high level research, it could be strengthened by strengthening the root level research.

By a modification of approach and a change of mindset, India can speed up the process of solar technology development and reduce the impact of global recession as well as global warming. Maybe we cannot dream of solar powered cars, aircrafts and machines today. But we can at least fulfill the dream of lighting every home, soon.

Priyam Kumar  |  priyamwriter@gmail.com

Priyam Kumar is an Engineering student.

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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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