going green

India can get all petrol, diesel vehicles off roads by 2030. Here’s what it will take to go electric

China used buses as the catalyst to transition to electric vehicle penetration. Can India use two-wheelers?

In April, Piyush Goyal, the power minister at the time, claimed that India would introduce electric vehicles with such vigour that by 2030, there would be no petrol or diesel vehicle left to register. The following month, the Niti Aayog released a report estimating that the country could save around $60 billion by rapidly adopting electric vehicles.

Since then, the subject of electric mobility has featured prominently in the media, eliciting sharp, and often contrasting, reactions from government agencies and automakers.

It would be grossly incorrect to claim that it will be easy for India to make the transition from internal combustion engine automobiles to electric vehicles. However, the benefits will far outweigh the pain of transition, especially given the rapid rise in solar power generation.

Still, three fundamental question need to be addressed if India is to realise its electric mobility dream.

Who will take the lead?

Introducing electric vehicles will require several actors at national, state and city levels to work together. Nationally, the ministries of road transport and highways, housing and urban development, heavy industries, power, new and renewable energy, foreign affairs as well as institutions such as the Niti Aayog will need to formulate policy and regulations; provide clearances, including for imports; fund and build infrastructure. Since the action will start from cities, state and city administrations will have to be actively involved in developing charging and other infrastructure.

Then there is the question of how to usher in the electric mobility revolution. Two countries that have successfully increased electric vehicles’ share in their transport systems have followed different approaches. While China has focused on the automobile industry and is using buses to catalyse electric vehicle penetration, the Netherlands has adopted the strategy of creating charging infrastructure to spur growth in electric vehicles. In both cases, the positive economic impact of such measures has led to sustained growth, with China emerging as the global leader in electric buses and the Netherlands in vehicle charging technologies.

In India, the ministries and agencies concerned need to work together to find the right strategy to catalyse the transition to electric mobility. As China has used buses as the catalyst, can India use two-wheelers?

China has emerged as the global leader in electric buses. Photo credit: AFP
China has emerged as the global leader in electric buses. Photo credit: AFP

How to tackle the battery challenge?

One of the biggest deterrents to making electric vehicles is the battery as more than half of a vehicle’s cost goes into the battery pack. While the cost of batteries has been falling, it must come down further if electric vehicles are to compete with internal combustion engine vehicles.

India does not manufacture lithium-ion batteries. Indian companies import lithium-ion cells from China and assemble them into battery packs because setting up a cell manufacturing unit is costly. For long, the battery manufacturing industry was dominated by Japanese and South Korean companies but China is estimated to account for 55% of the global lithium-ion battery production, and this is expected to grow to 65% by 2021.

While India needs to get into battery production soon, it must also secure the supply of materials such as lithium, graphite and cobalt – required for making batteries for electric vehicles – from countries such as Australia, Chile, Congo. India does not produce enough of these materials.

Moreover, India needs to invest heavily in research and development around battery making, including in alternative technologies, because whoever controls the battery will control the eclectic vehicle.

What happens to existing automobile and petroleum industries?

India is the world’s fifth-largest automobile manufacturer and the largest manufacturer of two-wheelers. More than 2.5 crore motor vehicles are produced in the country every year. The sector provides employment, directly and indirectly, to nearly three crore people and contributes 7.1% of the Gross Domestic Product.

As per the Automotive Mission Plan 2016-’26, prepared jointly by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers and the government, the Indian automotive market is estimated to be $16.5 billion by 2021, potentially generating up to $300 billion in annual revenue by 2026, creating 65 million additional jobs and contributing over 12% to the GDP.

India is also the world’s third-largest oil consumer. Its oil demand is expected to grow to 458 million tonne by 2040, while the demand for energy will more than double by 2040 as the economy grows to over five times its current size. It is estimated that 99% of petrol and 70% of diesel consumed by India goes to the transport sector.

Clearly, in addition to the automotive sector, any electric mobility revolution will disrupt the oil and gas sector as well. It is important, therefore, to figure out how the existing ecosystem would cope with the change.

The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020, which envisages around seven million hybrid or electric vehicles in the country in the next three years, now appears unachievable. If India is to achieve the goal of fully electrifying its motor vehicle fleet by 2030, it needs to develop a clear road map that addresses the concerns listed above – and it needs to be done now.

Amit Bhatt is Director, Integrated Transport, World Resources Institute India.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

Play

This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.