Edit & Opinion

In India’s Opinion | The Dispatch on 13 July, 2020

Every Monday to Saturday, The Dispatch brings to you a selection of Editorials from leading newspapers across the country.

 

The good news

“With India headed for a bumper kharif harvest, agriculture continues to hold out hope amid crisis,” read the editorial of The Indian Express. It further reads,”Farmers have completed sowing of kharif crops in nearly 55 per cent of the season’s normal area by the first week of July. Last year at this time, they had achieved hardly 38 per cent coverage, while undertaking the bulk of plantings after mid-July and all through August. The primary reason has been the southwest monsoon’s timely onset and the country receiving 14 per cent above-normal rains so far. With water levels in major reservoirs at 146 per cent of the last 10-years’ average for this time and groundwater tables recharged from the good pre-monsoon showers as well, farmers have sought to capitalise on the excellent soil moisture conditions. Not surprisingly, every crop — from paddy and pulses to maize, bajra, jowar, small millets, soyabean, sesamum, groundnut and cotton — has posted a significant acreage jump over last kharif. Fertiliser sales registering high double-digit growth every month from November is further proof of farmers’ inclination to plant and also invest in their crop,” read the full editorial here.

 

Malabar moment

“Inviting Australia into Malabar exercise can be part of larger strategy to address strategic consequences of China’s rise,” read the editorial of The Indian Express.It further reads, “Delhi’s reported openness to Australia’s participation in India’s annual naval exercises with the US and Japan hopefully marks the end of its incredibly slow adaptation to a rapidly changing maritime environment in the Indo-Pacific littoral. In inviting Australia, Delhi is also hopefully putting away its needless defensiveness on choosing its partners for security cooperation. Way back in 2007, the Indian Navy invited the maritime forces of Japan, Australia and Singapore to join its annual bilateral Malabar naval exercises with the United States. On the face of it, having a five-nation naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal seemed sensible, to optimise the costs of conducting so many separate bilateral exercises with India’s partners. It turned out to be anything but,” read the full editorial here.

 

Walk the talk, China

“Dichotomy between speech and practice rankles,” read The editorial of The Tribune. It further reads, “Diplomats talk the talk well, and Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong’s statements calling for India and his nation being partners are unexceptionable. Indeed, this was the premise on which the two countries had been building up their relationship, with increasing trade ties and top-level interaction. Unfortunately, hopes for long-term peace took a body blow after the recent border clash in which soldiers were bludgeoned, and some were killed. The Ambassador is right in that India and China should be partners, but the clash and casualties that resulted from it have made it all the more difficult. Chinese expansionistic tendencies have been noticed in various theatres, including the South China Sea, and indeed, the sincerity of the envoy’s remarks comes into question when the action taken by his country does not match the soothing sounds of cooperation,” read the full editorial here.

Lockdown crimes

“Urgent intervention needed to curb offences against women,” reads the editorial of The Tribune. It further reads, “The rise in cases of sexual offences involving family members during the Covid lockdown is a cause for concern. For instance, Himachal Pradesh prides itself on being a tourist hub and pitches itself as an investment destination. But the incidents of rape, molestation and kidnapping, especially in the past week, raise doubts about the state’s ability to tackle crime in general and those against women in particular. The state does have dedicated helpline numbers, online complaint portals and community policing schemes to check crime. But it also needs to make sure that these are working and do not get affected by the prolonged lockdown which has seen offices being mostly shut or work being done with only the required staff strength, reducing chances of complaints being registered. Retaining the efficacy of the system will remain a challenge. Also, not all women are familiar or have access to online facilities to make complaints. The lockdown has also meant less mobility, being confined and absence of social connectivity, increasing chances of such crimes,” read the full editorial here

Sure power: On India’s solar strategy

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stated resolve to tap the energy of the sun to substantially power the economy and everyday life is to be welcomed, because it could help chart a green deal for the future. He restated the case for greater reliance on solar power, for energy and as a path for self-reliant industrialisation, at the inauguration of a 750 MW photovoltaic project at Rewa, in Madhya Pradesh last week,” read the editorial of The Hindu.
But as he would recognise, the idea of building a domestic solar manufacturing industry that delivers increasing volumes of quality photovoltaic cells, modules and associated equipment is long in the tooth. India’s installed base of this green power source is about 35 gigawatts (GW), and its projected addition of capacity until 2024 in a COVID-19 affected future is estimated by the industry to be of the order of 50 GW. Viewed against the goals set five years ago for the Paris Agreement on climate, of installing 100 GW of solar power by 2022, there could be a sharp deficit. Combined with low domestic cell manufacturing capacity at 3.1 GW last year, and heavy reliance on China, high ambition must now be supported by aggressive official policy. The Chinese story is one of a steady rise from insignificant manufacturing capability in the 1990s, to virtual dominance through active government support in identifying and acquiring top technologies globally, importing critical raw materials such as polysilicon, acquiring solar manufacturers abroad, and investing in third countries with ready capability. Importantly, the domestic market was treated with great importance while promoting exports.

The pandemic presents a critical opportunity for India to plan a green deal, on the lines of what the EU has committed itself to: that future growth and employment should align itself to environmental and sustainability objectives, particularly in energy production, away from dirty fuels such as coal. There is no better time than now to make solar energy a strategic sector, giving it as much importance as defence. As the architect of the International Solar Alliance, which attracted about 120 nations at its launch, India needs to show leadership to advance the manufacture and absorption of solar photovoltaic infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries. The key requirements are integrated policies fully supported by States. Industry must get help to set up facilities and avail low cost financing — both important elements in China’s rise — and be able to invest in intellectual property. A forward-looking programme should also look at emerging trends in deploying solar innovatively. These include newer technologies such as aesthetic photovoltaic window and roof tiles for buildings, multi-role urban structures, and greater use of residential and commercial buildings to deploy more panels. Rapid progress requires a strategic shift to aid competitive domestic manufacturing.

 

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