Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was assertive in admitting that India as a whole gives him hope for the future because it, despite becoming world’s most populous country, is well prepared to tackle big challenges. Gates went on to acknowledge India’s what he believed remarkable achievement in eradicating polio, lowering HIV transmission rate, reducing poverty, cutting infant mortality rate and increasing access to sanitation and financial services.
The statement holds water for the reason that we are not only doing good in tackling ever growing climate change but are also performing well to enable India become self reliant in every aspects including defense production, infrastructure development and even managing our finances – Unified Payment Interface (UPI) digital payment acceptance in over a dozen countries and more nations showing interests being an example. India, in fact has come a long way to the extent that foreign nations have started recognizing its capabilities.
Until a few years ago we in this part of South-East Asia, facing a proxy war, were terribly engaged in conflict that had taken its toll on our economy and progress. Entire border stretch with hostile neighbors beginning from desert of Rann of Kutch in Gujarat to International Border in Punjab and Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir stayed alive with shelling, intermittent firing, infiltration, and smuggling of arms and narcotics. Engrossed in progress, the western world never cared for this part of the sub-continent and whenever we, engaged in conflict, looked towards the West, it dismissed our resolves describing our issues as bilateral and only to be settled by just the two nations alone.
Then the tables turned and today when Ukraine and Russia are engaged in a full-fledged war and western world is throwing its weight behind Volodymyr Zelenskyy, India is negotiating. This could become possible because we stopped entertaining nuisance coming from across the border and concentrated more on consolidating our position viz a viz strengthening borders, overhauling internal security, having a strong foreign policy, launching biggest ever cleanliness drives and meeting minimum basic requirements like potable tapped water, electricity and communication that’s now reaching last person in remotest of the village in India.
Interestingly, this is being acknowledged by foreign nations and individuals like Bill Gates who himself appreciated three major spheres where India is doing well and contributing in strengthening world economy, fighting environment challenges and eradicating hunger. According to Gates, India’s innovative approach in increasing yield of next-generation chickpea, making rotavirus vaccine that prevents virus due to which fatal cases of diarrhea increase and efforts of turning waste into bio-fuels and fertilizers are three major areas in which India is going to change it’s fate and contribute in world programmes.
In another such move, Karan Faridoon Bilimoria, a British Indian businessman and life peer in the UK House of Lords, and a university chancellor about a month ago too had recognised India’s growing leadership qualities and said in the house, “India has a vision to become, within 25 years, the 2nd largest economy in the world with a GDP of $32 trillion. The Indian Express has left the station. It is now the fastest train in the world-the fastest-growing major economy. The UK must be its closest friend and partner.”
This recognition of India’s ability was made known to the world only especially when we have become 5th largest economy in the world. Bilimoria also admitted in the House that India is the fastest growing large economy in the world. He had said and I quote,” India with 1.4 billion people, 75 years of democracy, a young country, a growth rate of 8.7% in the last financial year has contributed one out of 10 unicorns with over 100 unicorns”.
He also recognised India as the 4th largest producer of renewable energy and solar power adding that The UK India Free Trade Agreement is well advanced and India is only the 12th largest trading partner of the UK. Describing India as “Indian Express” train, he went on to add that today everyone wants to do business with India which has the Presidency of the G20 and is poised to become second largest economy in next 25 years.
Impressed by our efforts, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have invested in the project wherein we are able to develop high yield chickpea varieties that are more resistant to even droughts. This, according to gates will help farmers earn money, end hunger and also help in tackling climate issues that were destroying our crops. Gates in his article published in leading dailies have while appreciated development of this type of crop, he is sure that increasing heat on planet will not affect this variety and everyone will be in a win-win situation.
His second area of interest and India’s effort is vaccine manufacturing. Knowingly that a virus that causes diarrhea amongst children and aged and also causes deaths needed a vaccine that was costly and not available in abundance, India decided to manufacture its own rotavirus vaccine. Gates pumped in money and enabled collaborators and developers besides researches in India to develop this vaccine and saved many precious lives. India has today reached a stage where its exporting this vaccine and saving lives in other nations as well.
He was also appreciative of India’s efforts of turning waste into bio-fuels and fertilisers for which Gates Foundation has also pumped in money. This development will lessen our dependency on crude oil imports, oust combustion engines, encourage green energy and enable us to reach our targets of meeting our fifty per cent energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030. Today, we are fast switching over to solar energy and replacing combustion engine automobiles with electric vehicles. This is India’s contribution towards environment protection in no time and an overseas appreciation strengthens this resolve.
India, in fact is leading from the front when it comes to tacking climate change. Knowingly that a meager one degree Celsius increase of temperature that has been observed after industrialization is coming heavily on our health, water management, agriculture and allied spheres, we are already on the path of reversing this trend. Adoption of more efficient and cleaner technologies in thermal power generation, promotion of renewable energy generation and increasing the share of alternative fuels in the overall fuel mix are some of the initiatives that have started yielding positive results in our fight against climate change.
The way people are switching over to electric vehicles, we are on the right path of reducing emissions coming from transportation sector that’s currently dependent upon combustion engine. Government’s initiative to introduce electric vehicles as public transport system in big cities as part of smart city projects too is contributing in a bigger way. We are collectively promoting energy efficiency in the economy, industry, transportation, buildings and even appliances of daily use.
Efforts to reduce emissions from waste, development of climate resilient infrastructure, implementation of Green India Mission and massive afforestation besides India’s Net Zero Pledge at Glasgow Climate Summit are all aimed at protecting the world from climate change. At a very micro level, we are rejuvenating our water bodies scattered across the length and breadth of India and also replacing bulbs at homes and on streets energy savers. Rejuvenation of water bodies will not only help in tacking heat waves but also help stray animals and aquatic life get their food and water from.
The world today is marred with unavoidable and irreversible floods due to heavy rainfall, cyclones, degradation of terrestrial ecosystems, draughts, cloud bursts, earthquakes, melting of sea ice and glaciers besides rise in sea levels. Being the second largest populous and disaster-prone country in the world, our 59 per cent land is vulnerable to earthquakes, 8.5 per cent to cyclonic storms and 5 per cent susceptible to river basin floods. Jammu and Kashmir has already faced several floods, landslides, earthquakes and cloud bursts leaving many dead and homeless. As such we need to be more cautious of climate change and try not to add more to the damages done to our environment.
As part of National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), India has been able to harness a cumulative 57 GW solar energy till last year and intends to tap more solar and wind energy through renewable energy corridor and roof top solar panels which can now be installed because of altered building bye-laws in smart cities. Solar radiation monitoring stations have been set up across the country to facilitate people know about power of this green energy.
India has been able to replace old sources of light by 366.85 million LED bulbs, 7.207 million LED tube lights and 2.340 million energy-efficient fans through Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) scheme till 2020 besides Street Lighting National Program (SLNP) for the same time period has achieved a target of installing 11.25 million LED systems across the nation. Constructing energy efficient complexes is also in pipe line for which Energy Conservation Building Code programme has been launched which will enable us to depend more on natural lights and save environment. To sum up, India is doing it right, as said by Bill Gates and this righteousness for sure is in sync with global efforts that are getting acknowledged.
(The writer is senior journalist)