India will choose newer, cleaner technology: Sibal

November 6th, 2008 - 12:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore, Nov 6 (IANS) India’s growth as an economic powerhouse will leave less of an ecological footprint as it can opt for newer and cleaner technologies, leapfrogging traditional methods that have contributed to global warming, the country’s Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said here.”We don’t have to go the way that the West has, or the way China did. We can choose a whole new innovative way to develop our cities and industries,” Sibal said Wednesday, adding that India will have the advantage of modern clean technologies while pushing for economic growth.

“We are yet to build our cities, our big industries, our big power stations. We are yet to reach that stage,” he said. But when the country got down to developing its infrastructure, “India will have leapfrogged without going the traditional route”.

Sibal was delivering the Fifth “Global Business Leaders Lecture” organised by the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Institute of South Asian Studies, a Singapore-based think tank.

Questioned by the audience, comprising mainly of non-resident Indians, about the slow pace of change in India, the minister emphasised the fractured nature of Indian politics and the failure of coalition governments to see eye-to-eye on a common agenda. Some level of chaos was inevitable in a democracy as diverse and disparate as India’s, but steady economic growth over the next decade would iron out many of the country’s worst problems, he said.

He linked the noisy and often-times disruptive politics in India with the major challenge posed by ecological degradation, describing these as the two problems the country would have to tackle in the coming years.

“An ecological system that is ready to erupt and a political system that is ready to disrupt: these are the challenges confronting us,” Sibal told a spellbound audience.

India would employ its growing prowess in evolving cutting-edge research in fields such as biotechnology, bio-engineering and geospatial technologies to ensure that the country’s development was environmentally sustainable, he said. In avoiding the route taken by the Western developed countries, India could, for example, “choose cleaner energy options. We can put emphasis on public transportation systems”.

Already six percent of the country’s total energy basket was from wind energy, and the way ahead would see greater contribution of renewables such as solar and wind energy, wider use of biofuels and non-polluting energy sources such as nuclear energy, the minister said.

The Indo-US nuclear agreement, and the subsequent Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver had opened up enormous opportunities for India in gaining access to high-end technology, which the country had been denied for more than three decades. “We are now on par with China with regard to access to technology,” Sibal said.

Earlier, participating in the International Energy Week conference now underway in Singapore, Sibal called for greater access for developing countries to clean technologies. The “only way to meet the challenge of global warming was through science and technology,” he said, urging the advanced countries to increase the availability of cost effective clean technologies to developing countries many of which rely on fossil fuels as a major source of fuel.

India was ready to share its expertise in science and technology with the developing countries and hoped advanced countries would extend help with technology transfers and capacity building as part of the international response to the global problem of climate change.

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