In the ’50s and ’60s, solar energy was just a glint in the Indian scientific establishment’s eye. Two of our intellectual heavyweights, D.D. Kosambi and Homi Bhabha, clashed over whether India should concentrate on solar or nuclear energy. Kosambi’s view that India has a natural advantage in the solar sector, compared to the enormous costs of nuclear power, was ultimately disregarded. Since then, we have dawdled for years. According to the CAG, our solar energy centre in the renewable energy ministry, which is meant to link government, institutions, industry and consumers, sent back 44-76 per cent of its budget between 2002-7. There was practically no headway in research or tech, or any productive relationships with industry.
But now, India is all set to come up with a global energy breakthrough, with a solar plan that aims to generate 20 GW (that is, 20,000 MW) over the next couple of decades (the largest in the world). This would make us a leader in renewable energy, and would radically change India’s role in climate change mitigation. Obviously, there is much to be worked through in order to transform solar energy from a small boutique alternative to a steady and substantial part of our energy mix — most importantly in the price differential between conventional and solar power. India’s solar plan aims for grid parity by 2020. Another significant shift is the focus on solar thermal, along with photo-voltaic (electricity-generating) technology.
All of this sounds thoroughly commendable, but the question is, how will it be executed and who will pick up the tab? While private industry is most competent to take on this task, payback will take a long time, and much of the risk and R&D will have to be publicly footed. The challenge is to structure incentives to spur disruptive innovation, without having to prop it up altogether. Once we have a clear aim, cost estimates, and a set of our own commitments by the time Copenhagen rolls around, India is entitled to ask the world to pitch in, at least in terms of financial support. Either way, India has finally come to a constructive position and crafted a plan commensurate with its capacities, rather than whingeing about the unfairness of having to take action on the world’s behalf.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
An Indian Express editorial cites DDK's views in favour of solar energy.
JJ Roy Burman cites DDK in his article on the term 'Adivasis':
At the outset it needs to be realised that a nation-state like India is not a cultural but political entity which was borne due to a quirk of history. Imposing Hindi as a national and official State language over all the regions is not a very civilised act—it smacks of North Indian chauvinism. Secondly, it is also not true that the tribes in all quarters of the country are aboriginals of the regions where they inhabit at present. While the famous historian Kosambi (1956) viewed that the tribes had migrated to the plain areas at a much later date only after the vegetation had thinned out and wild animals became less numerous—making the area less dangerous for human habitation and fit for settled cultivation, Archana Prasad (2003), the young scholar from Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, feels that the tribes practising settled cultivation in the plains were pushed to the hills and forests by the profligate Aryan invaders and later Hindu settled cultivators and the outside traders. Either way the tribes are not autochthons of the spaces occupied by them at present. In 1980s Andre Betteille` had similarly expressed about the inapplicability of the concept of aborigine to the tribesmen in India.
MR Rajagoplan of the Gandhigram Trust writes a biographical sketch of DD Kosambi and Dharmanand Kosambi. (.doc file)
The impact of his work, however, continued growing after his death. Eight years after his death, in 1947, three books honouring Kosambi were published. As many as 14 years after his death, in the year 1980, he was decorated with the ‘Hari Om Ashram Award’ by University Grants Commission for bringing to light the mutual relationship between science and society. The freshness of his ideas and thoughts has not reduced one bit even nearly half a century after his demise. Last, but not least year long celebration has been arranged for his centenary in Pune beginning from July, 2007. The inaugural lecture was delivered by Romilla Thapar a famous Historian. Prabhat Patnaik and Irtan Habih have delivered talks. The last in the series would be in June 2008. Pune University would bring out a publication of these 12 lectures.
Prime Minister of India has sanctioned a Chair in the name of Kosambi with an amount of Rs. One crore in Pune University. He has also announced the release of a postal stamp in Kosambi’s honour.