Thursday, June 05, 2008

Oil crisis: How about Rahul Bajaj for Indian Prime Minister?

By John Cheeran
How about Rahul Bajaj for Indian Prime Minister?
The Indian automaker has welcomed the hike in petrol and diesel prices for all the right reasons. On Wednesday he told a television channel that though the sales of his company’s products, mainly Bajaj scooters and bikes, will be hurt as direct result of fuel price rise, in the interest of the nation and the future generations to come we should accept the rising costs.
Yes, I agree, when Bajaj says that money to buy crude oil for Indian refineries will not drop from heaven. It has to be found among the direct users of petrol and diesel, at a time when the price of crude oil per barrel has touched $130, and if you can trust Goldman Sachs’ Arjun Murty’s forecast, it will touch $200 mark before the year turns over.
Bajaj is a member of the Parliament. But he does not belong to any political party. He has no constituency to lose, so unlike our populist politicians, Bajaj can speak his mind, even though it is for the good of the nation.
Don't you think that Bajaj should replace Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister?
BJP wants the federal government to cut duties and keep the prices where they are to shield the common man from the cascading effect of fuel price hike. It is easier said than done, where will the government rise funds for its social outlay?

Simple fact is that, when it rains, as it did in Delhi yesterday night, it is difficult not to get drenched despite your umbrellas. Tough times are upon us.

Different and diverse ideas are needed to tackle the energy crisis. India should search for alternative energy sources. The United States is experimenting with corn ethanol, a move which has been widely blamed for pushing the global food prices up.

That perceptive columnist Roger Cohen has written in today’s New York Times about a better experiment—Brazil’s sugar ethanol.
Allow me to quote Mr Cohen.
“Some 35 years after the first oil shock, Brazil has moved from dependence on imports to self-sufficiency while the United States still relies on imported oil for more than half its needs. In the same period, Brazil has developed the world’s most advanced ethanol program, based on sugar cane, while the U.S. corn ethanol program is essentially a wasteful folly of dubious carbon offset merits….
Sugar cane is not a staple. It’s eight times more productive than corn. It grows year round. It must be processed fast, so CO2-spewing transport to distant ethanol plants is impossible (unlike for corn).
Its leftover biomass can be used to produce electricity, enough, by some estimates, to provide a third of Brazil’s power needs by 2030. Ethanol already accounts for about 50 percent of car fuel in Brazil. The vast extent of unused arable land — only 16 percent is cultivated — offers enormous scope. At $40 per barrel-of-oil-equivalent in Brazil, sugar-cane ethanol makes strategic and economic sense.”
I hope Mr Sharad Pawar, India’s Minister for Agriculture and sugar baron, will take the lead in India to develop sugar cane ethanol.
We need initiatives such sugar cane ethanol, at least till such time, when Mr Bajaj or Mr Ratan Tata comes up with vehicles that run on love and fresh air!


Paul said...

Sugar Cane? Wow. I wonder if you can drink it. LoL. But seriously, I'm all for alternative fuel sources. Who isn't? Like right now, there's a B5 blend available. It produces NO greenhouse gases, reduces emissions, and most important of all, it helps conserve 400 MILLION gallons of oil. While working for NORA, I found this site:

That's what got me thinking greener. If oil can go green, so can I. Right?

Kripal Pais said...

While attempts to solve our dependence on oil are laudable, we need to consider all possible consequences of our actions. Just as subsidizing corn production for bio fuel has been blamed for spiraling global food prices, we might have unintended consequences.

From what I understand,sugarcane is a very water intensive crop. Can we afford to invest in such a crop when we are talking about rapidly sink water tables? When people are grappling with problems of not enough food for one square meal a day, can we afford to cultivate sugarcane over food crops? Electricity is produced by burning the bagasse. In this era of global warming and carbon footprints can we afford this?

johncheeran said...

I appreciate and respect the concerns raised by you all here. More informed and those who know aware about the backlashes about alternative fuel sources should carry forward their thought process, don't you think so? I'm no expert, but if brazil can achieve some real progress in sugar cane ethanol, why can't the us and india?

Anonymous said...

Mr Bajaj was leading a group called "Bombay Club" which was cartel pushing its interests. They were staunchly against free markets. Explore more.

John Cheeran at Blogged