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Time for honest and innovative lockdown

Maneesh Pandeya

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Is this the time to go back to strict lockdown again? The argument may sound absurd and unwarranted for many raising the bogey of livelihoods, migrant misery and economic slump. But, this is a harsh reality staring us and for those who are not ready to see the reality, which we have ignored so far under the cover of lowest mortality and highest recovery rates, must wake up and see that the predictions made by top global experts are coming true. We were just under 100 cases a day around 15 April. Three months later, we’re reporting over 38,500 coronapositive cases daily. Do we need the figures to get any higher to jolt us and accept that if global predictions also come true for India’s worst-case scenario, then we will be even higher than the United States’ current Covid-19 figures?

Given the country’s healthcare infrastructure and the current spate of natural calamities aggravating the pressure on available human resources, can India afford a situation like the US and Brazil? Do we have any magic wand than shutting ourselves to at least incur lesser damage to human lives? The shutting down has to be innovative and restrictive, yet productive in a way that those who matter in moving the country’s growth engines — politics, business, investors and the corporate — must maximise the online meeting medium and social distancing norms to keep the business as usual. In fact, the super-spreaders have been those on roads and outside our homes with little or no real contribution in boosting the economy. Can we deliver maximum with the minimum interface — if needed, work from home — to make it a habit as in routine office days?

 We have crossed the dangerous one million mark. Most nations worldwide are switching back in lockdown mode, fearing corona resurgence. The “out-of-hand” situation in India is a picture of paradox. At one stage, the country was an example for many global nations. Today, we ourselves do not know how to handle and what best to do as a nation. Every state is now on its own, issuing respective lockdown restriction guidelines, which are assessed on the basis of daily corona-positive cases and not determined by the actual threat of the pandemic, which is multiplying manifolds like a TB infection or cancer in its last stage.

Many states like Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu are facing the worst and these are the country’s business, political and corporate hubs. Many who still argue that India is still better with over 62% recovery and mortality rate lower than the US, Spain and Italy must not forget if today, we go for voluntary corona testing, we will cross the US current numbers by millions. The 75 cases in the BJP office in Patna, a “super-spreader” marriage party in Bihar, the dozens of positive cases in Raj Bhavans of Bihar and Maharashtra are a stark reality we have been ignoring that we have “underestimated” the pandemic and defied the outcome without logic or any definite health remedy to counter it. The situation calls for policymakers to rethink if restricting public movement outside homes and allowing only essential mobility of those “urgently” needed to keep the governance and business in the country moving.

 It’s time to learn the lessons from corona. Had we ever thought about working from home, doing online business transactions, and countless meetings on social media apps to keep us moving? We have done well and have done it honestly. We also learnt that prevention holds key to our health as we understood the significance of sanitation now. The same way, the bureaucracy and political leadership realised that ignoring “Make in India” was a major miss. Had we realised the true potential of “Make in India” in the last six years, India would have been Aatmanirbhar already and the country wouldn’t have created a fuss on a longer and an honest lockdown to keep the pandemic at bay.

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Opinion

CHINA SHOULD BE THE WEST’S FOCUS, NOT RUSSIA

Joyeeta Basu

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The current crisis over Ukraine appears almost to have been scripted to shift focus away from China. Suddenly, the cold war rhetoric is back in play, with screaming headlines going after Russia and an “evil” Vladimir Putin. The latest escalation in the stand-off between the West and Russia is being gleefully highlighted by western Atlanticist commentators as proof of Nato’s centrality in geopolitics. This has to be seen in the context of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson signing a “New Atlantic Charter” with US President Joe Biden last year, in the hope of breathing life into a moribund Nato, with UK and US taking the lead in guarding the “world” against the rump of Soviet Russia that Putin’s Russia currently is. There is no doubt that Russia’s amassing of troops on Ukraine’s borders is ratcheting up tensions. But there is a counter view that says, but for Russia’s show of aggression, the pro-Russia Donetsk and Luhansk of Ukraine, comprising the Donbas region bordering Russia, will be left at the mercy of Ukrainian troops, given the history of hostility of this region with Ukraine from 2014 onwards, when the war in the Donbas started. Opinion might be divided on whether Putin’s latest show of force is meant to protect the interests of ethnic Russians in the Donbas, or is actually about territorial aggression and plans to create a buffer zone between pro-West Ukraine—which may be allowed to join the Nato—and Russia, or both. But the bottom line is, except for fuelling Atlanicist dreams of a possible conflict, this crisis is a complete shifting of focus from where the focus should be—on the Indo-Pacific. Even this week, China sent in more than a dozen aircraft into Taiwan airspace in what amounts to a psychological warfare against that tiny island nation. It is China that is the real aggressor, an imperial power that is working towards the control of every aspect of life even in the West. It is China that is fighting an economic, cultural and political warfare against the world, 24X7. PRC’s unrestricted warfare is about global domination, about undermining democracy, the free world and remaking it with Chinese communist characteristics. And China has the muscle and economic power to actualize its goal. China is a far greater threat to the world than Russia under Vladimir Putin will ever be, even to Europe.

In this context, it must be acknowledged that there was much substance in what German Navy chief Kay-Achim Schönbach said in New Delhi last week., although he was forced to resign for uttering the uncomfortable truth. He was right in saying that Russia needed to be befriended to fight China, that the Nato should stop hoping that a pro-Russia Crimea, which Putin annexed in 2014, can ever be brought back to Ukraine, and that Putin was seeking recognition. He had clarified, “Even we India, Germany we need Russia, we need Russia against China…Having this big country, even if it’s not a democracy, as a bilateral partner, giving them a chance. It’s easy and keeps Russia away from China because China needs resources of Russia.” “Does Russia really want a small and tiny strip of Ukraine soil? No, this is nonsense. Putin is probably putting pressure because he knows he can do it, and he splits EU opinion. What he really wants is respect,” he had added. But all hell broke loose and Schönbach ended up losing his job, proving once again that the West is still stuck in history—in a Cold War-era black and white binary. However, when it comes to PRC, these very same countries such as Germany use the grey areas to explain their association with the biggest totalitarian power in the world,. After all, Bonn has a thriving trade relationship with Beijing, even when mouthing all the right words about human rights and democracy. So does the UK, a country whose sanctimoniousness ends with discussing India’s “human rights record” in its Parliament, even though it is totally ambivalent when dealing with PRC, with trade being the decider of that relationship.

The western nations are threatening to sanction the living daylights out of Russia if it takes a misstep, knowing full-well that further sanctions will drive Moscow deeper into Beijing’s arms, thus facilitating the continuing rise of PRC. It is almost as if logic has flown out of the window and a battle of egos has started, with the threat of a kinetic conflict hovering on the horizon. The only country laughing amid this is the People’s Republic of China.

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Opinion

CCP’s economic terrorism and the new age political pawns

The fact remains, with the multi-billion dollar Indian EV Market, Musk needs India and not the other way around. Political pawns and economic terrorism will be and are being handled and dealt within India by the government of the day, let there be no doubt around it.

Published

on

Today war and war games are not confined to land, sea and water only. The new age warfare uses all the means other than kinetic as the impact is many times more and at a minimalistic cost and the best thing is that your hand in the game and intentions are hardly seen by masses and millions. This may sound poetic but is the reality of today’s times we live in. Nowadays adversaries use their cloud and your own manpower, systems and processes to work against you, this is very similar to virus attack which manipulates our own cells to make more copies of the virus itself.

Elon Musk had realized his dreams of net-worth and fortunes were heavily dependent on the Chinese markets.

Elon Musk.

Let us look at the recent past when Elon Musk goes to his Twitter handle to complain that the Indian government is not supportive of Telsa coming to India.

This conceptually is an oxymoron under the leadership of PM Modi. The story starts to unfold immediately as all non-BJP or opposition-ruled states jump the gun and start rolling out red carpet (on twitter) for Musk and Tesla, without understanding or politically choosing to ignore the story and real intentions behind the game being played.

Let’s go a few years back when Musk was contemplating starting a factory in India (Bangalore) or Beijing. He had towering hopes, expectations and was lured into China. The point here is that he chooses China over India, a fair enough business decision. CCP follows a three-stage trap model or doctrine of entrapment, dependence, and end game.

During the years 19 -20 his sales sky rocketed and were all time high, which increased his networth. Tesla started exporting cars made out of China to the world over and all the things looked great and at this point in time Chinese dream seemed to be bigger that American dream.

Q1 2021 sales are all-time high and things look hunky-dory going great guns and champagne and celebrations were in the air. At the end of Q1 2021 suddenly Chinese regulators discovered some flaws in seat belts and autopilot of the vehicles and Tesla was directed to bring back or call back all the units. At the same time car ran into some issues in American and European markets as well but not the same issues. Q2 2021 (April to Jun) resulted in a sharp drop in Tesla sales the world over and a hit a big-time roadblock in China. Worth mentioning at this point in time 30% of the global sales of Tesla were coming from Chinese Markets hence stage two of the CCP model had reached. Resulting in a huge fall in share prices, personal net worth, and valuation of Tesla as such. This was much higher than 30% drop in sales.

If we run a quick scan here Tesla was exactly walking the same path as of NIKE; history repeats itself.

Now Musk had realized his dreams of net-worth and fortunes were heavily dependent on the Chinese markets and therefore the CCP. In Q3 2021 July he started praising CCP and supporting their initiatives on Cryptocurrency, which took the world by storm. We in India have had quite a few debates on our Nation TV on this and I have been a panelist as well. After his obedience to CCP and General Sectary XI, suddenly Tesla’s fortune takes a U-turn and all the issues disappear from the Chinese regulators and the sales started to boon again and from an all-time low of 18000 units to 32000 units to 56000 units per month; the story continued till December end 2021. The other side of the coin is that today 50% of sales come from China. So as you see today Tesla’s global sales are decreasing but increasing in China, hence the end game is near.

What is the end game? Indian Automobile sector is a flagship arm of the Indian Manufacturing sector and contributes a whooping 7.5% to the Indian GDP. Needless to say, it creates millions of jobs, and contributes to tax collections and overall wealth creation. Suddenly Musk whose existence is now dependent on Chinese markets and CCP starts the Twitter war as I mentioned above.

Let’s decode it further, Musk wants to import a 100% made-in-China car to India and is complaining about the import duty, which is in the tune of 100%. The reason for that being the promotion of manufacturing in India and also protecting the automobile industry and this is done by all countries in the world as our mantra is Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make India which all other global brands are doing and benefiting. Musk wants a special reduction in duty. Now the question arises, why? Why for him? What makes him so special? Why should India have a differential policy for Tesla?

We are an equal opportunity business hub for all. Musk knows this well, so do non-BJP ruled states, question is why and what finally? Opposition parties want their states to be been seen as pro business and somehow show PM Modi as in opposition of that. They all know import duties are uniform they are not different from state to state, the ideas here is to use this opportunity as a political tool to create dissonance. Imagine what TMC did to TATA NANO, now the same TMC is rolling out red carpets to Musk??

If the Indian government allows this for Musk then we need to allow it for all as simply anybody can go to a court of law and get this done. Hence why should people or any global brand manufacture in India? Anyway, Tesla has a lot of dead inventory in China sitting. Hence we are letting India become a dumping ground rather than a manufacturing base this is like opening floodgates of disaster.

The final stage will be if ever this was allowed when sales will reach an optimal number or cross the threshold CCP can sponsor Tesla to drop prices in India and at that point of time struggling, Automobile industry will get a decisive body blow. This one single move timed well can be the end of the automobile industry in India and associated jobs and benefits.

The fact remains with the multi-billion Indian EV Market, Musk needs India and not the other way around. Political pawns and economic terrorism will and is being handled and dealt with in India by the government of the day, let there be no doubt around it.

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Opinion

CHINA SHOULD BE THE WEST’S FOCUS, NOT RUSSIA

Joyeeta Basu

Published

on

The current crisis over Ukraine appears almost to have been scripted to shift focus away from China. Suddenly, the cold war rhetoric is back in play, with screaming headlines going after Russia and an “evil” Vladimir Putin. The latest escalation in the stand-off between the West and Russia is being gleefully highlighted by western Atlanticist commentators as proof of Nato’s centrality in geopolitics. This has to be seen in the context of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson signing a “New Atlantic Charter” with US President Joe Biden last year, in the hope of breathing life into a moribund Nato, with UK and US taking the lead in guarding the “world” against the rump of Soviet Russia that Putin’s Russia currently is. There is no doubt that Russia’s amassing of troops on Ukraine’s borders is ratcheting up tensions. But there is a counter view that says, but for Russia’s show of aggression, the pro-Russia Donetsk and Luhansk of Ukraine, comprising the Donbas region bordering Russia, will be left at the mercy of Ukrainian troops, given the history of hostility of this region with Ukraine from 2014 onwards, when the war in the Donbas started. Opinion might be divided on whether Putin’s latest show of force is meant to protect the interests of ethnic Russians in the Donbas, or is actually about territorial aggression and plans to create a buffer zone between pro-West Ukraine—which may be allowed to join the Nato—and Russia, or both. But the bottom line is, except for fuelling Atlanicist dreams of a possible conflict, this crisis is a complete shifting of focus from where the focus should be—on the Indo-Pacific. Even this week, China sent in more than a dozen aircraft into Taiwan airspace in what amounts to a psychological warfare against that tiny island nation. It is China that is the real aggressor, an imperial power that is working towards the control of every aspect of life even in the West. It is China that is fighting an economic, cultural and political warfare against the world, 24X7. PRC’s unrestricted warfare is about global domination, about undermining democracy, the free world and remaking it with Chinese communist characteristics. And China has the muscle and economic power to actualize its goal. China is a far greater threat to the world than Russia under Vladimir Putin will ever be, even to Europe.

In this context, it must be acknowledged that there was much substance in what German Navy chief Kay-Achim Schönbach said in New Delhi last week., although he was forced to resign for uttering the uncomfortable truth. He was right in saying that Russia needed to be befriended to fight China, that the Nato should stop hoping that a pro-Russia Crimea, which Putin annexed in 2014, can ever be brought back to Ukraine, and that Putin was seeking recognition. He had clarified, “Even we India, Germany we need Russia, we need Russia against China…Having this big country, even if it’s not a democracy, as a bilateral partner, giving them a chance. It’s easy and keeps Russia away from China because China needs resources of Russia.” “Does Russia really want a small and tiny strip of Ukraine soil? No, this is nonsense. Putin is probably putting pressure because he knows he can do it, and he splits EU opinion. What he really wants is respect,” he had added. But all hell broke loose and Schönbach ended up losing his job, proving once again that the West is still stuck in history—in a Cold War-era black and white binary. However, when it comes to PRC, these very same countries such as Germany use the grey areas to explain their association with the biggest totalitarian power in the world,. After all, Bonn has a thriving trade relationship with Beijing, even when mouthing all the right words about human rights and democracy. So does the UK, a country whose sanctimoniousness ends with discussing India’s “human rights record” in its Parliament, even though it is totally ambivalent when dealing with PRC, with trade being the decider of that relationship.

The western nations are threatening to sanction the living daylights out of Russia if it takes a misstep, knowing full-well that further sanctions will drive Moscow deeper into Beijing’s arms, thus facilitating the continuing rise of PRC. It is almost as if logic has flown out of the window and a battle of egos has started, with the threat of a kinetic conflict hovering on the horizon. The only country laughing amid this is the People’s Republic of China.

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Opinion

CCP’s economic terrorism and the new age political pawns

The fact remains, with the multi-billion dollar Indian EV Market, Musk needs India and not the other way around. Political pawns and economic terrorism will be and are being handled and dealt within India by the government of the day, let there be no doubt around it.

Published

on

Today war and war games are not confined to land, sea and water only. The new age warfare uses all the means other than kinetic as the impact is many times more and at a minimalistic cost and the best thing is that your hand in the game and intentions are hardly seen by masses and millions. This may sound poetic but is the reality of today’s times we live in. Nowadays adversaries use their cloud and your own manpower, systems and processes to work against you, this is very similar to virus attack which manipulates our own cells to make more copies of the virus itself.

Let us look at the recent past when Elon Musk goes to his Twitter handle to complain that the Indian government is not supportive of Telsa coming to India.

This conceptually is an oxymoron under the leadership of PM Modi. The story starts to unfold immediately as all non-BJP or opposition-ruled states jump the gun and start rolling out red carpet (on twitter) for Musk and Tesla, without understanding or politically choosing to ignore the story and real intentions behind the game being played.

Let’s go a few years back when Musk was contemplating starting a factory in India (Bangalore) or Beijing. He had towering hopes, expectations and was lured into China. The point here is that he chooses China over India, a fair enough business decision. CCP follows a three-stage trap model or doctrine of entrapment, dependence, and end game.

During the years 19 -20 his sales sky rocketed and were all time high, which increased his networth. Tesla started exporting cars made out of China to the world over and all the things looked great and at this point in time Chinese dream seemed to be bigger that American dream.

Q1 2021 sales are all-time high and things look hunky-dory going great guns and champagne and celebrations were in the air. At the end of Q1 2021 suddenly Chinese regulators discovered some flaws in seat belts and autopilot of the vehicles and Tesla was directed to bring back or call back all the units. At the same time car ran into some issues in American and European markets as well but not the same issues. Q2 2021 (April to Jun) resulted in a sharp drop in Tesla sales the world over and a hit a big-time roadblock in China. Worth mentioning at this point in time 30% of the global sales of Tesla were coming from Chinese Markets hence stage two of the CCP model had reached. Resulting in a huge fall in share prices, personal net worth, and valuation of Tesla as such. This was much higher than 30% drop in sales.

If we run a quick scan here Tesla was exactly walking the same path as of NIKE; history repeats itself.

Now Musk had realized his dreams of net-worth and fortunes were heavily dependent on the Chinese markets and therefore the CCP. In Q3 2021 July he started praising CCP and supporting their initiatives on Cryptocurrency, which took the world by storm. We in India have had quite a few debates on our Nation TV on this and I have been a panelist as well. After his obedience to CCP and General Sectary XI, suddenly Tesla’s fortune takes a U-turn and all the issues disappear from the Chinese regulators and the sales started to boon again and from an all-time low of 18000 units to 32000 units to 56000 units per month; the story continued till December end 2021. The other side of the coin is that today 50% of sales come from China. So as you see today Tesla’s global sales are decreasing but increasing in China, hence the end game is near.

What is the end game? Indian Automobile sector is a flagship arm of the Indian Manufacturing sector and contributes a whooping 7.5% to the Indian GDP. Needless to say, it creates millions of jobs, and contributes to tax collections and overall wealth creation. Suddenly Musk whose existence is now dependent on Chinese markets and CCP starts the Twitter war as I mentioned above.

Let’s decode it further, Musk wants to import a 100% made-in-China car to India and is complaining about the import duty, which is in the tune of 100%. The reason for that being the promotion of manufacturing in India and also protecting the automobile industry and this is done by all countries in the world as our mantra is Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make India which all other global brands are doing and benefiting. Musk wants a special reduction in duty. Now the question arises, why? Why for him? What makes him so special? Why should India have a differential policy for Tesla?

We are an equal opportunity business hub for all. Musk knows this well, so do non-BJP ruled states, question is why and what finally? Opposition parties want their states to be been seen as pro business and somehow show PM Modi as in opposition of that. They all know import duties are uniform they are not different from state to state, the ideas here is to use this opportunity as a political tool to create dissonance. Imagine what TMC did to TATA NANO, now the same TMC is rolling out red carpets to Musk??

If the Indian government allows this for Musk then we need to allow it for all as simply anybody can go to a court of law and get this done. Hence why should people or any global brand manufacture in India? Anyway, Tesla has a lot of dead inventory in China sitting. Hence we are letting India become a dumping ground rather than a manufacturing base this is like opening floodgates of disaster.

The final stage will be if ever this was allowed when sales will reach an optimal number or cross the threshold CCP can sponsor Tesla to drop prices in India and at that point of time struggling, Automobile industry will get a decisive body blow. This one single move timed well can be the end of the automobile industry in India and associated jobs and benefits.

The fact remains with the multi-billion Indian EV Market, Musk needs India and not the other way around. Political pawns and economic terrorism will and is being handled and dealt with in India by the government of the day, let there be no doubt around it.

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Opinion

DYNASTIC DNA TURNS SAFFRON

Priya Sahgal

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Why did R.P.N. Singh quit the Congress and cross over to the BJP? For that matter, why did Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada, Sushmita Dev, Priyanka Chaturvedi and Ashok Tanwar quit the Congress? If you ask the Congress they will call these leaders opportunistic and point to all that the Grand Old Party has done for them, making some of them the union ministers and giving them party positions. In that Congress is right. These were all leaders who counted for something within the organizational framework. They were also once part of Rahul Gandhi’s inner circle, what was once known as his Camelot, harking back to a time when the Gandhis still retained their Kennedysque mystique. And if Scindia, Prasada and R.P.N. were made ministers solely based on their pedigree, well, then it was all part of the optics that the Congress wanted to convey. This was a party of governance, that had onboard the old guard as well as its vision for the future — young fresh minds, graduates from Harvard, Stanford and Cambridge, from Doon School, Miranda House and St Stephens.

Former Union Minister and Congress leader R.P.N. Singh addresses the media after joining Bharatiya Janata Party, at the party headquarters, in New Delhi on Tuesday. ANI

I recall when Jitin, Scindia, and R.P.N. were made ministers during the UPA government along with Milind Deora and Sachin Pilot. If they were accommodated into the Union Government it was not just because of their dynastic surnames (though there is a comfort in the familiar) but also because of the fact that they symbolized the then Congress way of life. It would also be pertinent to point out that all of them were Lok Sabha MPs and not brought in through the Rajya Sabha. Most them belonged to the Class of 2004 which had as its star debut Congress heir apparent, Rahul Gandhi. If the party promoted these faces, it was to further the narrative around its scion, Rahul Gandhi who was being groomed to take over the party some point in the near future. And it is not that they did not deliver. It was R.P.N. SIngh as Minister of State for Home who reached out to the youth protesting against the Nirbhaya gangrape. He did not make politically incorrect statements like some feudal heartland leader saying `Boys will be boys’ but reached out to them, taking delegations to meet both Rahul Gandhi and the then Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. As Minister for Telecom and IT, Scindia roped in McKinsey to convert redundant post offices into centres of financial remittances in rural areas (Project Arrow) while Sachin piloted the new Companies Bill through Parliament in UPA2.

The reason this narrative collapsed was that Rahul did not live up to the script. While the others were given ministerial berths, he opted to stay out. And so a Scindia or a Pilot could never be given serious power lest they outshine Rahul Gandhi. Yes, they were made ministers (some in the middle of UPA2) but how many of them were `allowed’ to outshine their colleague and Gandhian peer? It is not that the BJP is any different. No one is allowed to take credit or outshine the Prime Minister (Ask Nitin Gadkari what happens when you do that). But, for all its flaws (or not) the Modi Model is winning elections. And that is what politics is all about. What if Rahul Gandhi had joined the government in UPA 1, learnt the governance ropes and took charge in UPA 2 with his team of young professionals turned politicians. Would 2014 have had a different ending? Maybe not but al teast it would have a fighting chance in 2024. Suppose the people lose faith in the Modi government by the next Lok Sabha polls and are looking for an alternative to the Modi Model? There is no Rahul model in place to give them an answer. Instead, we have Arvind Kejriwal offering the Delhi Model and Mamata Bannerjee offering her West Bengal model.

It is all very well for Rahul Gandhi to complain that `power is poison’ when he is made party vice president. Well if that is the case then perhaps he should be running an NGO pointed out RSS leader Ram Madhav during one of his interviews with NewsX. So, if an R.P.N. has left Congress he is clearly letting it be known that he doesn’t feel there is a political future for him in that party. Ditto for why Swami Prasad Maurya left the BJP. In fact, as one of R.P.N.’s predecessors told me while quitting the Congress, `being a Congress member from Uttar Pradesh is suicidal. A Congress member from Punjab still has hope but not from Uttar Pradesh’.

Judging by the Congress reaction, the party leadership is not too unhappy with the loss of these leaders. We are told that Rahul is in the process of building a new Congress, recruiting talent from outside such as Kanhaiya Kumar, and promoting non-dynasts from within such as Bhupesh Baghel and Charanjit Singh Channi. Well, at least there is a plan in place. Now what the party needs is some consistency.

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Opinion

How PM Modi’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat tackles energy crisis

In the backdrop of the need to ensure power availability at a reasonable cost across the country including states located far away from the coal pit head, PM Modi’s call for Atmanirbhar Bharat under ‘One Nation, One Grid’ proved very successful.

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The sustained efforts of the Modi Government during the pandemic including ‘pump priming’ with a multiplier effect on private sector investments and demand as well, has poised the Indian economy to resurge into one of the highest growth rates. Resultantly, the power sector, with a strong co-relation co-efficient with the overall economy, also witnessed buoyant demand for power with the spin-off revival of the generation and transmission sector. The unprecedented and erratic rainfall during the extended monsoon season of this year led to coal supply bottlenecks in the coal-fired thermal power plants in the country. However, with the timely intervention of the government, disruption in the power supply was averted.

In the backdrop of the need to ensure power availability at a reasonable cost across the country including states located far away from the coal pit head, PM Modi’s call for “Atma-Nirbhar Bharat” under the “One Nation, One Grid” proved successful as it was ensured that power was available in the grid from plants which were having sufficient coal stock. It is to the great credit of the Modi government that due to the flexibility introduced in the coal distribution policy, the country did not face any blackout as any shortage at the individual thermal power plants was substituted with coal stock available at other plants. In another visionary measure, coal import up to 10% had also been allowed to augment domestic coal supply to ensure that there was no loss of productivity infringing upon national income due to outages of coal-fired power plants.

The coal-based power generation in the country grew by about 14% during the last year (April to November 2021). Even though the international coal prices saw an increasing trend, to ensure the welfare of the consumer, the Government did not increase the price of domestic coal, since January 2018.

The domestic coal-based power plants have generated 20% more power in this period as compared to last year and ensured that there is no shortage of power in the country despite the steep decline in power generation by the imported coal-based power plants due to high prices of imported coal.

A sudden increase in power demand and high rainfall in the catchment area of some coal mines depleted the coal stock at the power plants i.e. as against standard 30 days of coal stock requirement, a few power plants had near-zero coal stock. However, before the problem could transform into a widespread crisis leading to blackouts and prolonged supply outages, the Government ensured, with effective intervention, that coal supplies to power plants were restored to meet the daily generation requirement.

The overall railway rakes loaded (till 28.12.2021) from Coal India Limited (CIL) sidings and washery sidings near CIL was 296.1 rakes per day which is an increase of 23% as compared to the previous year. Similarly, 259.5 rakes per day were loaded for the power sector from these sidings, which is an increase of 29% as compared to the same period of last year. CIL’s production was 413.64 MT (Apr – December 2021) (5.3% growth) which is very high despite the second wave of Covid during the year. The CIL coal despatch was 481.83 MT during the same period i.e. a growth of 17.64%, which is the highest ever despatch by CIL during this period. Also, the CIL despatch to the power sector was 386.5 MT which is also the highest ever coal despatch to the power sector. CIL is poised to produce 650 MT coal this year and despatch 682 MT this year.

The coal stock at thermal power plants of the country, which are linked with the coal companies, is more than 23.2 MT (sufficient for more than 12 days coal consumption). The coal demand from power plants for the last 4 months of this year is about 243 MT (from all sources) and the coal stock required is about 47 MT. The coal demand is going to increase in the medium-term (up to 2030 or so) although the relative share in total power generation may reduce due to larger integration of renewable power of 500 GW and achieve 50% of electricity usage from renewable sources of energy by 2030. The coal demand from the power sector is likely to hover around 900-1000 MT by 2030. Thus, in absolute terms, the requirement of coal is going to increase despite the anticipated change in the power mix basket.

The steps being taken to increase production are (i) Rolling auction for commercial mining (ii) Amendment in Mineral Concession Rules 2021 to allow 50% sale of coal after meeting with end-user requirement of linked plant (iii) Mine Developer and Operators identified by CIL (iv) A target of 1 Billion Tonne coal production by CIL by 2023-24.

Hence, despite liberalising import of coal during the coal crisis period, the Government, on the whole, has achieved Atma-Nirbhar Bharat by reducing coal imports for power generation by about 50%. India is making great strides in the power sector and it will not be long before we live up to PM Modi’s commitment of 500 GW of Renewable Energy by 2030.

The author is a former Chairman, Haryana Public Service Commission. Views expressed are personal.

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