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‘H.O.P.E’ describes India’s success, says PM Narendra Modi to Durban

There are around 1.2 million people of Indian origin in South Africa, most of whose ancestors were brought here as indentured labour

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  • ‘Hope’, where H stands for harmony, O for optimism, P for potential and E for energy; describes India’s success story, said Modi
  • There are around 1.2 million people of Indian origin in South Africa, most of whose ancestors were brought here as indentured labour
  • India registered a healthy growth rate of 7.4 percent this year, 2016, he said it was the bright spot in the global economy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday, July 8, called South Africa the birthplace of satyagraha and said it was in South Africa that Mahatma Gandhi conceptualized his politics.

“India’s rise is a story of rare resilience, renewed resurgence, superb speed and spectacular scale,” Modi said in his trademark Indian diaspora rally at the Ticketpro Dome, the entertainment hub of Johannesburg.

“Today, India’s success story can be defined in just four letters, ‘hope’, where H stands for harmony, O for optimism, P for potential and E for energy,” he said to the cheers of over 11,000 people.

“The credit for this does not go to Modi but to the 1.25 billion people of India.”

Modi started his speech with a mixture of English and Hindi.

“When I see all of you, I am reminded of your ancestors and their struggles and bravery,” he said.

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“Under decades of apartheid isolation, they not only preserved culture, tradition, and language, they also gave them new wings to flourish,” he stated.

“The beauty of Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Urdu and Telugu continues to enrich the fabric of South African society.”

There are around 1.2 million people of Indian origin in South Africa, most of whose ancestors were brought here as indentured labour.

This apart, there are also estimates of 15,000 to 20,000 Indian nationals and professionals who are new immigrants.

“The colours of Holi, the sparkle of Diwali, tastes of Pongal, and festivities of Eid are not just the rainbow of Indian traditional cultural resources,” Modi said wearing a Madiba shirt, an Indonesian batik shirt that was a favourite with late anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

He reminded the crowd that after international sanctions were lifted on cricket in South Africa on July 10, 1991, India was the first country that the South African team toured.

Modi urged the people to join in India’s growth story.

“India is a land of opportunity for those who want to innovate and create, trade and invest,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Image Source: vpaksh.com
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Image Source: vpaksh.com

“Come, see the transformation that is taking place in India.”

Stating that India registered a healthy growth rate of 7.4 percent this year, 2016, he said it was the bright spot in the global economy.

The Prime Minister said India and South Africa have similar aspirations and challenges.

“India and South Africa are strategic partners. We should build a partnership that spans the entirety of human endeavour,” he said.

According to Modi, this partnership can scale new heights in diverse fields “from agriculture to health care, from culture to commerce, from industry to institution building, from investment to information technology, from mining to manufacturing from sports to science and technology, and from defence to development”.

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“As South Africa works for economic prosperity, safety and security, it will find in India a trusted and reliable partner,” he stated.

The Prime Minister concluded by saying that the Indian community in South Africa was a window to India’s heritage.

“Your achievements, your contributions, and your success make us all proud,” he said.

India and South Africa signed four agreements on Friday following bilateral discussions led by Modi and South African President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria.

Following the diaspora rally, the Prime Minister left for Durban where his engagements were scheduled for Saturday, July 9.

Modi arrived in South Africa from Mozambique on Thursday night, July 7, on the second leg of his four-nation tour of Africa.

This is his first visit to mainland Africa and is also the first prime ministerial visit from India to South Africa since then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in 2013 for the G20 summit in Durban.

Prime Minister Modi is set to visit Tanzania and Kenya after the South African visit. (IANS)

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Does India’s Giant Step in the Direction of Green Energy Signal an End to Coal?

Coal consumption forecasts have already been downgraded significantly from 2013 projections, and major shifts in energy policy like Modi’s are likely to add significant weight to the idea that India might well become a much bigger player in renewable energy production in the next 20 to 30 years

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FILE - Smoke billows from chimneys of the cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant in Dadong, Shanxi province, China. VOA

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced its target to increase India’s renewable energy capacity to an equivalent of 40% of the nation’s total green energy output, it raised eyebrows. Could this mean an end to India’s coking coal industry?

Is there investment for green energy?

For any alternative to coal to be a serious consideration, there must be investment sources. Already India’s renewable target has attracted investors like Japan’s SoftBank, which agreed to a deal to sell power generated from a Northern Indian solar bank at 2.4 rupees per unit – below that of coal power, which currently costs over 3 rupees per unit.

Contrary to the enormous investment in the production of solar panels being manufactured by China, which has made them cheap enough to encourage this Indian growth in solar renewable energy, there has been relatively little investment in Indian coal.

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Workers operate machines at a coal mine at Palaran district in Samarinda, Indonesia (VOA)

For instance, state-run NTPC has cancelled several large coal mining projects, including a huge plant in Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, the private sector has continued investing in renewables. Adani Power has over $600 million invested in solar panels in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

That Modi has made an investment of $42 billion in the renewable energy sector over the past four years and his renewables plan is likely to generate a further $80 billion in the green energy sector in the next four years is good news for the Rupee. External investment in India is likely a sign of increased currency transaction in forex trading signalling the Rupee gaining strength against other pairs. Like the Indian economy, millions of dollars are traded on currencies every day, and increased interest in the Rupee helps cement India’s economic and investment potential.

How reliant is India on coal power?

Not so long ago the Indian government had a target to connect 40 million households to the national grid by the end of 2018. It even tasked CIL, the state coal monopoly, to produce over a billion tonnes of coal per year by 2020, an increase of almost 100% from 2016. It’s an ambitious goal, notwithstanding the environmental impacts of mining for such an unprecedented amount of coal. This is the same coal that already generates 70% of India’s primary commercial energy requirement; compare that figure to the UK’s 11%, Germany’s 38%, and China’s 68%, while France has practically shut all of its coal power stations. This means that India’s shift from coal could have important implications for the global climate, and any investors looking towards coal would be making a very brave and risky decision.

Coal
Environmentally, coal isn’t a sustainable source of power, certainly not in current quotas.

The increasing problem with relying on coal

Environmentally, coal isn’t a sustainable source of power, certainly not in current quotas. Clean-up costs could make coal an out-of-date power source sooner rather than later. A report by Oxford University estimated that investors in coal power may lose upwards of half a trillion dollars because assets cannot be profitably run or retired early due to global temperature rises and agreed carbon emission reductions.

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Coal consumption forecasts have already been downgraded significantly from 2013 projections, and major shifts in energy policy like Modi’s are likely to add significant weight to the idea that India might well become a much bigger player in renewable energy production in the next 20 to 30 years – although it’s difficult not to see coal remaining an important power source considering India’s significantly large coal reserves still available in Eastern India.