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Geek by profession, thinker/writer/artist by passion. Part-time blogger,social media enthusiast and a tramp by nature :) A Man Of Mud


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Is Modi's Solar Alliance At COP21 The Real Deal

(Image Courtesy: UNFCCC )
Quite recently I heard an eminent academic speak on the need for PM Narendra Modi to improve his relationship with the press. I think it was the economist Jagdish Bhagwati, a known Modi supporter but I could be wrong. Anyway, a recent event did make me think that perhaps he is right, by not directly engaging with the mainstream media, Modi is not only allowing his image being transformed to that of an opaque personality but also some of his real achievements get ignored and completely sidelined in the nation discourse.  But before that I must confess that though I see Modi the politician as a product of the RSS ideology, Modi the Prime Minister seems be too ambitious to be restrained by ideological shackles especially when it conflicts with his attempts to create his own legacy. This twin personas were especially evident when he was on election campaign in Bihar, his rhetoric being aggressive and almost uncouth and then his statesman like oration in the Parliament at onset of the Winter session which was way mature. However what really surprised me was the lack of adequate reportage by media as well as support from his own  supporters on social media on his successful launch of International Solar Alliance of 120 countries along with French President Fran├žois Hollande during the Paris COP21 climate summit.

While I am not very knowledgeable person on climate change policies, I do know that all participants in the Paris conference were far more serious about climate change than they were earlier but still a comprehensive solution is unlikely to evolve as the developed countries just do not see the fact that the major onus lies on them and they have to take the extra mile. Just because these countries were developed by the time climate change became a clear and unavoidable danger, expecting developing countries like India to cut down carbon emissions drastically and stunt infrastructure development is simply not fair. Especially when India is also facing the disastrous effect of climate change as seen in Chennai floods. Modi's exhortation to look beyond climate change and focus on climate justice was a stand India has taken before, but the announcement of International Solar Alliance is a clear message that India's stand is not "developed countries destroyed the environment for 150 years, don't stop us from developing even if we are destroying it further". Rather, the formation  of International Agency for Solar Technologies and Applications with initial investment of $30 million by India and raise it $400 millions through membership fees and aides, clearly sends a signal that India is also taking global lead in adopting and helping other developing countries (solar resource  rich countries located around the tropics) adopt clean energy and cut down carbon emissions without slowing down development.

Of course, implementing such an ambitious task is not easy and with 300 million people in India without access to electricity, fossil fuels would perhaps continue to be employed but with the cost of solar energy coming down, a global effort to make it more affordable is likely to see it emerge as a viable alternative and clean energy source.  With the alliance headquarters to be set up in India, there is also a great possibility of the move helping the national economy. The proposal has been supported by most environmentalists /conservationists in the world.

However, when it comes to our own media reports and the very vocal Modi supporters on social media I did not come across much information on this Alliance,though they have covered it they don't appear to have given it priority. Rather, I first came across it in foreign news sites which were earlier hostile to India in the climate change context, accusing the country of trying to obstruct the agreement. But the launch of this ambitious project was received very positively by the very same news agencies. Of course, how it works out remains to be seen but at the conference Modi did steal the show in the largest gathering of heads of states since more than half a century which is a much more meaningful accomplishment than his address to NRIs packed in London's  Wembley Stadium. Perhaps it is time Modi really starts giving attention to the media rather than allowing motormouths to issue outrageous statements and also undermine his achievements.

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