The Wire article ‘The Narendra Modi Government’s Pursuit of Scriptural Authority Is a War Against Doubt’, published on March 12, 2018, talks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi quoting the Vedas, which consider the Sun as the soul of the world, as an ancient idea to tap into solar energy. The reference is to the PM’s speech at the first International Solar Alliance Summit being held in New Delhi.
The Wire piece seems to dwell mostly on what the Prime Minister said about the Vedas. But the fact is that while PM did talk about the Vedas, he did so in the context of climate change and solar power, making a broader argument which also referred to other civilisations and the importance they attached to the sun.
Well, the PM also talked about many other things. For example, he also talked about a 10-point agenda to enhance solar power capacity.
Several other publications too appeared to pick up on the Vedas cue too and the other things that the PM said were relegated behind the headlines:
Below are the other things that the PM also mentioned as reported:
- First of all, we should ensure cheap and easy availability of solar technology. The solar ratio in the energy mix should be increased and innovation should be encouraged so that solutions for our various needs can be provided.
- He called for concessional financing at lower risk for solar projects. He said that regulatory aspects and standards should be developed to find solutions fast.
- We should work for increased participation and inclusiveness. We should build a comprehensive network of centres of excellence keeping local circumstances and factors in mind. We should look at our solar energy policy development in totality so that this can play a role in meeting the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals of the UN).
- Of the 121 prospective nations, 61 have joined the Alliance, 32 have also ratified the Framework Agreement.
- By 2022, India aims to generate 175 GW of renewable energy of which 100 GW will be solar power. Of this, we have already met a target of 20 GW of installed solar power.
- The aim of the Atal Jyoti Yojana was to install street lights based on solar energy in areas faced with the problem of inadequate electricity.
- The Solar Study Lamp Scheme has benefitted 7 million school going children.
- India had contributed $62 million to the ISA corpus fund and for the establishment of the ISA secretariat.
- India will provide 500 training slots per year for ISA member states. 13 solar projects by India across the world worth $143 million have been completed or are in the process of being executed. India would give $1.4 billion in aid to 15 other developing nations for 27 more solar projects.
- To fill the solar gap, India will launch a Solar Technology Mission. Its focus will be global and our governmental, technical and academic institutions will lead in R&D efforts in the solar sector.
What is interesting is that these points seem secondary or irrelevant to The Wire. Instead, it went ahead arguing its own case. None of the above-mentioned points seem to be a part of The Wire story. As we have seen above, certain other publications did note the context of climate change, although they too seemed fixated on the reference to the Vedas.
The Vedas Reference Was for Combatting Climate Change
Here is what the PM said:
“Even before life first opened its eyes on earth, for ages the sun has been enlightening and enriching people. From Japan to Peru, be it Greece or Rome, Egypt, Incas and the ancient Mayan culture, every civilisation has glorified and given importance to the sun.
However, in India, from thousands of years ago, the central place that has been given to the sun is unparalleled. From thousands of years ago, the Vedas in India have seen the sun as the soul of the world.
In India, the sun has always been seen as the nurturer of life. Today, when we are trying to find paths to fight challenges like climate change, we have to look at this ancient idea.”
If we look at what the PM talked about, he was actually making a broader argument about climate change. He also mentioned several other countries and civilisations where the sun has been glorified. If we can borrow useful ideas from our own ancient scriptures, is that a bad thing?