A renowned professor at IIT Bombay, Prof. Chetan is also known as the ‘Solar Man of India
Gandhiji’s Dandi Yatra Was For India’s Independence, Gandhi Global Solar Yatra Is For Energy Independence!’
Today the world is standing at the crossroads of a contradictory energy scenario wherein, on the one hand, energy access needs to be provided to billions while on the other hand, increasing demand and usage of energy is causing catastrophic climate change. The issue of climate change is not only a matter of worry for some but for each and every person living on this planet. It is not just a local problem, but a global problem. The 2018 IPCC report finds that “limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in energy and there is need to adopt 100% Renewable Energy as early as 2050 in the purview of the climate change.
In this backdrop and going by my experience of over two decades in the field of Solar Energy and local community functioning to spread Solar, I decided to embark on a global yatra across continents, across countries and across cities in India.
As 2019 is the year of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary, what could have been the more appropriate time than this to undertake yatra? After quite some deliberations, we named it Gandhi Global Solar Yatra. It captured all essential messages that I wanted to give; Gandhian philosophy for a sustainable world, Global outreach as the climate has no boundaries, Solar energy as Sustainable energy solution and reaching out to all by travelling to them.
This way we see that GGSY draws its context from climate change, energy access, self-sufficiency in energy, adoption of clean and green energy and global harmony, finally marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
I commenced this Yatra from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on December 25, 2018, traversing successfully through five continents, 30 countries, 30 cities with travel travail of 1,50,000 km, which finally culminated on August 15, 2019, at Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad. The day also marked the announcement of founding of Energy Swaraj Foundation in the august presence of Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission.
To mark the occasion, the Students Solar Ambassador Workshop has been organized on 2nd October 2019 in New Delhi, wherein more than 1 Million students will receive hands-on training in the Solar lamp assembly. Here, many national and international schools, colleges, institutions, organisations are enthusiastically participating to spread the message to the world – Way forward is Solar, by assembling and lighting a million lamps together.
The yatra is aimed at sensitisation towards the dire consequence of climate change, skill development for millions of students across the world and awareness about off-grid Solar solutions for complete, cost-effective and reliable energy solutions like Solar energy.
The world needs to switch towards green energy sources and utilize energy efficiently for sustainability to breduce greenhouse gas emissions
Travelling around the world as a part of Gandhi Global Solar Yatra was an incredible experience. Seeing the world in one go, having the opportunity to look at the entire spectrum of the world, developed countries, developing countries and under-developed countries in the same time frame was quite an experience. The yatra has created a deep impact on whosoever it touched, based on the experiences, some invaluable conclusions can be drawn which will have a long-lasting impact on the prevalent scenario.
In spite of so much damage happening all around us, we are just not bothered to take any concrete action to mitigate climate change, curb pollution, plant trees, not cutting the forests, dumping garbage properly so that planet remains inhabitable for generations to come. This is the scenario world over; we are running our lives as usual with rampant usage of fossil fuels which are the major reason for climate change.
The world needs to switch towards green energy sources and utilize energy efficiently for sustainability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy technology-based solutions today, particularly Solar due to advancement in technologies and reduction in cost, can be utilized to meet the complete 24x7 energy needs locally and sustainably. The approach of generation and consumption of energy to fulfil our requirements needs a relook.
In this context, Energy Swaraj is proposed based on the Gandhian principle of “not mass production but production by the masses” is required to be applied in the field of energy for energy sustainability to address United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Local people can be trained to own, manage, and operate Solar enterprises at every level including assembly, sale, after-sales service, and manufacturing.
Therefore, the idea of Energy Swaraj is much more relevant and required. The Gandhi Global Solar Yatra is promoting the message of Energy Swaraj. During this yatra, the principles of self-governance, self-reliance, non-violence, decentralized institutions, etc. are being discussed.
Probably, Gandhiji’s Dandi Yatra inspired me, which proved a milestone in India’s freedom struggle. Maybe my Gandhi Global Solar Yatra proves a milestone for people of this world, who may attain energy independence, Energy Swaraj and save the planet from the drastic calamity of climate change. Who knows?