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Opinion: Our Commitment to Earth Systems - Cleaner Mobility

Opinion: Our Commitment to Earth Systems - Cleaner Mobility

 

This is an opportunity for us to change our perspective towards our surroundings, the environment, and the people around us and to think of the impacts that our actions have on society and the country at large.

By Anil Srivastava and Joseph Teja

The ‘new normal’ for all of us in these days is watching deep blue skies during the day, gazing stars at night, waking up to the chirping of birds and the AQI hovering around liveable standards which our cities had not experienced in last few decades if not more. The earth is teaching mankind the simplicity of life which the human race had taken to unmanageable levels of complexities, while it heals itself. 

The pandemic is looming large, life in lockdown seems surrealistic which was unimagineable until it was announced, which caught us by surprise and without adequate time to prepare for this kind of emergency. The days ahead are difficult and we are not sure how long this would last. 

But whenever the routine life resumes, albiet slowly and gradually in a staggered maner, one thing is certain - Life will not be the same as it was before the pandemic struck the world. We have been taught, probably in the harshest way that with improved air and water quality, life on earth has drastically improved not just for humans but also for the flora and fauna around us, which had been degraded by our own efforts for a quest for 24 x 7 lifestyle, adopting lopsided growth models, with absolute disregard towards ecology. 
 

The switch over to cleaner mobility solutions offers opportunities for manufacturing across a range of products and services such as electric vehicles, vehicle components, batteries, EV chargers, charging infrastructure and generating milions of jobs across industries and skills levels.

The switch over to cleaner mobility solutions offers opportunities for manufacturing across a range of products and services such as electric vehicles, vehicle components, batteries, EV chargers, charging infrastructure and generating milions of jobs across industries and skills levels.

This is an opportunity for us to change our perspective towards our surroundings, the environment and people around us and to think of the impacts that our actions have on society and country at large. The choice is ours whether we continue to burn fossil fuels and pollute our air, water and land or to opt for cleaner, healthier and environment friendly options. 

This may be a bit expensive in the beginning but with greater acceptability would become affordable in due course of time. 

Inevitable technological advances and disruptions are common globally in modern times, all spheres of our lives; be it the way we work, travel, shop, study or entertain ourselves. Mobility and efficient logistics are the key drivers of the economy and as a developing country we need to embrace solutions that are sustainable and equitable for the masses. 

India can leapfrog the western mobility paradigm of private-vehicle ownership and create a shared, clean, and connected mobility system saving 876 million metric tons of oil equivalent, worth $330 billion (INR 20 lakh crore), and 1 giga-tonne of carbon-dioxide emissions by 2030. Transition to Electric vehicles has the potential to cut reliance on oil and offer zero emission mobility for a cleaner environment.
 

There is a need for large scale investments in cell manufacturing, in order to achive higher value addition in the battery manufacturing process in the country.
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The switch over to cleaner mobility solutions offers opportunities for manufacturing across a range of products and services such as electric vehicles, vehicle components, batteries, EV chargers, charging infrastructure and generating milions of jobs across industries and skills levels. 

The automobile and auto component sector contribute significantly to the GDP (7.1 and 2.3%) and employs over 40 million people. Considering that the number of components in an EV is a fraction of those in ICE vehicle. There is an opportunity for the industry to shift supply chain to doemstic sources, reduce dependence on imports and develop the eco-system for inhouse value addition across all tiers of manufacturing, thus giving the real impetus to “Make in India”. 

There is a need for large scale investments in cell manufacturing, in order to achive higher value addition in the battery manufacturing process in the country, since batteries account for 30-40% of the cost of EVs. We cannot ignore the fact that India has achieved significant quantum of mobile phone “manufacturing”, but the net value addition is low, as high value electronic items are all imported. 

The scenario is not really very different for the automobile sector as well. It is time to learn from our past experience and have a renewed focus on innovation, design, development and competitive manufacturing locally to not only meet the domestic demand but making use of the domestic size and scale to become a global leader. Make-in-India with Make-for-the-World should be the new mantra. 

We all have seen the disruption that telecom industry has gone through, in less than a generation’s time. The sctor has progressed from providing basic mobile telephone with the bare minimum services to the Smartphone revolution along with the rollout of successive generations of Wireless Technologies. A switch over from traditional ICE to clean energy vehicles is an ineviteable disruption more so in view of the COVID pandemic given the global commitment to health and environment.

New entrants are quicker to adopt new technologies and deliver innovative business models to create values for consumers. These are challenging times for the industry to shed its archaic thinking process and focus on innovation to make smartest moves to surf the wave of change sweeping the world. 

This offers the opportunity to move forward with a renewed perspective and divert resources to develop supply chains for cleaner mobility. ‘Health is Wealth’, stands good in these testing times, pro-active steps towards ‘Zero Emission Vehicles’ will provide mileage as it adds ‘health and wealth’ to the nation.

It’s a choice we all have to make for our own lives! Steps to transition towards ‘a new normal’ must be in sync with nature, within the limits of Earth’s systems and backed by public health considerations to ensure sustainability for life on earth. May we not loose the sight!

The authors are Anil Srivastava, Principal Consultant & Mission Director, NITI Aayog and Joseph Teja, Young Professional NITI Aayog.