General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
- Science and Technology? developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
- Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology
Transition to Electric Vehicles: The right approach
The automotive industry and its ecosystem the world over is poised for a radical change with the increasing need to shift to non-fossil fuel based energy for cleaner transportation to protect the environment. Retaining the competitiveness of domestic industry during the transition is a big challenge for policy-maker in this scenario.
India’s transformation into fastest growing auto-hub:
India deserves a pat on the back for the radical transformation from a minor manufacturer of automobiles to the fastest growing auto-hub within a short span by adopting a consistent, well thought out Automotive Mission Plan 2006-2016 (AMP).
- Continuous nurturing coupled with a progressive policy has led to India emerging as the fifth largest automobile manufacturing country in the world with the auto sector contributing 7 per cent to the GDP and nearly 49 per cent to the manufacturing GDP.
- The auto industry provides direct and indirect employment to 32 million people with an annual turnover of nearly Rs 6,00,000 crore and 20 million vehicles manufactured per year.
- This success has been possible without the adoption of coercive policies for localisation of production as is done in China.
- Positive engagement with global giants was key to establishing a globally competitive manufacturing base in India. This led to the fast and seamless transfer of technology and skill development and the ambitious AMP target of Rs 1,57,500 crore investment was exceeded.
Electric mobility options:
- Pure electric vehicles (BEVs) that use energy stored in batteries obtained from the grid.
- Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).
- Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and
- Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs).
Advantages of EVs:
- EVs are much more eco-friendly than internal combustion engines.
- They significantly reduce the oil import bill of nations, bolstering energy security.
- They can also be much cheaper than conventional vehicles in the long run, due to fewer moving parts, lower maintenance costs, and reduced fuel expenses.
Steps taken by the government:
- National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020: It aims to achieve national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles in the country. There is an ambitious target to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards.
- Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme: The scheme will provide a major push for early adoption and market creation of both hybrid and electric technologies vehicles in the country. The thrust for the Government through this scheme will be to allow hybrid and electric vehicles to become the first choice for the purchasers so that these vehicles can replace the conventional vehicles and thus reduce liquid fuel consumption in the country.
Adopting electric mobility:
Across the world there is now an increased momentum towards alternate energy sources. Besides the environment, India also has strategic and economic interest in shifting away from fossil fuels. In this context, electric mobility is seen as the way forward.
- The challenge ahead is not only on how to expedite electric mobility but also to take the industry forward without losing India’s current competitive advantage.
- Due to existing limitations, the fast adoption of electric vehicles needs policy interventions and support from the government.
- Unlike China, India has not invested in technology, particularly for the production of batteries. China has been aggressively pushing for electric vehicles through huge government funding only after establishing a competitive industry for producing lithium ion batteries, motors, controllers, etc.
Path for adoption of electric mobility:
Today, there is a clear divide amongst Indian policymakers regarding the right path for the adoption of electric mobility.
One set of policy advocates plead for a “transformational approach” to aggressively promote only BEVs, excluding all other forms of electric mobility technologies.
They prescribe lower taxes for BEVs, investments for the overnight establishment of charging infrastructure, facilitation of battery-swapping business models and the setting up of advanced lithium ion battery manufacturing facilities at an unprecedented scale.
- The fatal flaw in this “energy only” approach is that India, unlike China, does not have the indigenous technology for batteries and other components and will be critically dependent on imports, particularly from China.
- Secondly, such huge infrastructure cannot come up so quickly and will also involve significant improvement in the existing electric distribution infrastructure.
- Further, with the existing energy generation mix in India, the overall well-to-wheel carbon emissions of BEVs are not better than HEVs.
- As such, this may well merely shift the emissions away from cities to regions that produce power.
Global experience indicates that most countries, barring China, have adopted a technology-neutral approach and supported the full range of electric vehicle technologies till such time that they attained market acceptability.
- This technology agnostic strategy helps market forces determine the optimum technology and allows for the domestic industry and customers to shift to cleaner technologies without disruption.
- It is based on the fact that HEVs and PHEVs do not compete but rather complement and support faster adoption of BEVs. That is because all these technologies have similar components that can together create necessary volumes to bring down the prices of these components.
- This inclusive approach accommodates segments like larger vehicles with usage patterns of long distance travel, higher payload etc., which cannot be served by BEVs.
- Moreover, this also prevents policymakers from placing all their resources in BEVs.
Past experience has established, given the huge success of AMP, that the right approach is the “pragmatic-incremental approach” which will allow India to build on the achievements made so far.
- Instead of a “one size fit all” electric mobility policy, there is a need for a differential approach that factors in the segment-wise ease to BEV adoption.
- The government should push more aggressively for the BEV option for of two-wheelers and three-wheelers and support the full range of electric technologies for other vehicle segments with a clear roadmap for the evolution towards FCVs.
Connecting the dots:
- India is on the path of adoption of electric mobility, however, there is a divide among the policy-makers regarding the right path. Discuss.
Also read: A shift towards Electric Vehicles(EVs)
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation;
- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance-applications, models, successes, limitations and potential
Right to privacy: “I have nothing to hide” argument
The right to privacy hearings before the nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court ended recently. During the conclusion, it was argued on behalf of the state of Gujarat that privacy claims are only made by those who have done something wrong.
“I have got nothing to hide” argument:
Under this view, only people with something to hide, or those who have done something wrong, are concerned about the loss of privacy. If you have nothing to hide, then information about you cannot really be used against you. Thus, the argument proceeds, no harm should be caused to you by the breach of your privacy.
Unfortunately, arguments such as these represent a common misconception of the meaning and value of the right to privacy.
- The “nothing to hide” argument makes an incorrect moral judgement about the kinds of information people want to hide.
- It also wrongfully equates privacy with secrecy, even though they are distinct concepts. Privacy is about exercising the choice to withhold information, which others have no need to know. Secrecy, on the other hand, is about withholding information that people may have a right to know.
- As historian Jill Lepore explains, “Secrecy is what is known, but not to everyone. Privacy is what allows us to keep what we know to ourselves.”
- The “nothing-to-hide” paradigm evaluates any breach of privacy only from the perspective of disclosure of unwanted information.
- Nevertheless, privacy is a much richer concept than secrecy. The right to privacy includes a bundle of rights such as the privacy of beliefs, thoughts, personal information, home, and property.
- Justifying the invasion of privacy “I have nothing to hide” takes a short-term view of privacy and data collection. Data once collected can be used, misused, shared, and stored in perpetuity. Worse, it can be combined with other individually inconsequential data points to reveal extremely significant information about an individual.
Today, privacy is regarded as central to our identity, dignity, ability to have intimacy, and meaningful inter-personal relations. It determines our interaction with our peers, society, and the state.
Privacy should thus be viewed as an integral part of self-development, a shorthand for “breathing space”, since individual autonomy is all about the ability to control and share information selectively. For instance, we do not always want all of our friends to know everything about us.
Does the government has a right to monitor its citizens’ actions?
(After all, if you have “nothing to hide”, then you should not worry about government surveillance.)
- An argument justifying mass surveillance defeats the long-standing principle of presumption of innocence.
- It fundamentally misunderstands the consequences of the perceived loss of privacy and ensuing chilling effects on speech and behaviour.
- The fear that who we meet, what we say, and which websites we visit could be subject to scrutiny, may result in an unconscious change in (even lawful) behaviour. When we believe we are being observed, we are more likely to behave according to socially accepted norms. The change in behaviour, thus, has less to do with the content of our actions, but more to do with the knowledge of being watched.
- Such a modification of behaviour is also evident in the arena of free speech and expression. A person critical of the ruling government may be more likely to self-censor her views if she believes her communications are being monitored. The reduction in diversity of views only undermines the democratic process.
- Surveillance programmes are problematic even when there is no “undesirable” information that people want to keep hidden.
The multiple dimensions of privacy seem to have been lost in the arguments put forward by the state opposing the recognition of the fundamental right to privacy. We may have nothing to hide, but if the arguments of the state are accepted, we will certainly have something to fear.
Connecting the dots:
- A nine-judge bench of Supreme Court in recent hearing on right to privacy it was argued that privacy claims are only made by those who have done something wrong. Discuss the issue with this verdict.
- There is a difference between privacy and secrecy. However, a recent hearing by constitutional bench of Supreme court seems to have ignored this difference. Critically analyze.
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