By: M. K. TIKKU, Senior Journalist
An Independence Day address may be a good occasion for celebrating past achievements. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address on India’s 75th Independence Day, delivered from the ramparts of the Red Fort, went a bit further.
On this occasion, Mr. Modi spoke of what had been achieved during the seventy-five years since Independence. This, incidentally, must also include the seven years that his government has been in power. That said, the Prime Minister went on to sketch a broad picture of what may be achievable in the next 25 years.
In his 88-minute address, Prime Minister Modi laid out what looked like a roadmap for the next quarter century. Viewed from that angle, one could not escape the feeling that one was standing at an inflection point in history.
Even as the nation was on way to completing 75 years of independence, it was also getting ready to set the goals for the coming 25 years. That would take one to 2047—which would be about the time India will be preparing to celebrate the first centenary of the nation’s independence.
One of the goals that the Prime Minister set out in his address was about India achieving energy independence by 2047. In view of the fact that India’s current energy imports add up to a whopping Rs. 12 lakh crore (or 12 trillion) per year, it will be a huge target to reach.
But considering that India has had a fairly good record in the field of use and promotion of clean energy technologies, the goal may not be too difficult to achieve. If New Hydrogen be the mantra of the future, the nations would need the experience even if they have the technologies for its use. India, hopefully, has the experience and the technologies to fit the bill.
A noteworthy feature of the Prime Minister’s address this year was the long-term view it sought to take of the country’s energy needs. Among these was setting the target of India becoming self-sufficient in its energy needs by 2047. This may sound a bit of an ambitious goal to achieve.
On the positive side, India is among the few countries that have both the experience and expertise in the field of production and use of clean energy. India has already been engaged in looking at various options in clean energy. New Hydrogen is just one among a whole spectrum of technologies in this field.
Green growth, as Prime Minister Modi pointed out, must yield the ecological answers that we are looking for. But for that to happen, we have to find ways—which include innovative technologies—to get there. On the positive side, such initiatives are expected to generate a good many green jobs as well. And that is encouraging. Such being the green scenario, if one may call it that, it shall still take some political will on the part of governments round the world. And that is what is not forthcoming in sufficient measure.
Significantly, the Prime Minister made pointed reference to the untold suffering that millions of our countrymen had to go through during the partition violence. Their suffering has gone unacknowledged in all the years. That is a relevant question to ask at a time when the nation is celebrating 75 years of independence.
The Prime Minister’s proposal that 14th August be observed as the Partition Horrors Remembrance Day, in acknowledgement of the pain and suffering that these people had to endure as a consequence of the Partition. That is likely to persuade people to revisit the events and arguments that had led to Partition in the first place.
Revisiting history, even if it entails some pain, is a good idea. It is sure to encourage scholarly debate and argument. In fact, 75 years may be the right distance to lend perspective to one’s understanding of the events as these unfolded. There are always lessons to be learnt from the past.