Prof Prabhat Ranjan’s talk at 29th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference, London on “Energy Justice and Social Licensing”
Transcript of the talk
So I’ll move us to a global context. You gave a really great introduction of in the US what’s being done.
And I’d like to pass this next question to Prabhat. Prabhat, as the fusion ecosystem moved towards the fusion pilot plants and commercialization, what concerns do you see regarding the global south’s role in the process? And what opportunities do you envision in this process?
Thank you. Global South is not only a geographical concept. It’s also an economic concept. And that economic concept keeps changing. And the countries that are part of the global south are not really fixed. Today, if I take from Steve’s talk, he talked about the industrial revolution. If I see economy before that, from 1st AD to 1800 AD, it was India and China, which was producing maximum 20 % to 30 % of global manufacturing was happening in India and China. It was industrial revolution which changed the games. And things moved to global north at that time. And the countries like India became poorer in that process.
I returned from the USA after finishing my Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in 1986 to Kolkata. My research work was on Nuclear Fusion and it was carried out at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory(LBL) using the fastest computers of the world at that time(CRAY-1, CRAY-2) set up as part of the Magnetic Fusion Energy Computer Center(MFECC) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory(LLNL).
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The study of the impact of the Technology Vision 2035 document is an ongoing process and based on this mid-course correction in strategy is important for the country to move ahead. We have seen good action and progress in certain areas e.g. Waterways. However healthcare sector is still lagging and going by the current trend, we would not achieve the targets set by TV2035. Frequently, authorities responsible for these set a lower target for themselves that does not require a major effort!
After Hon’ble PM launched Technology Vision 2035 on the morning of Jan 3, 2016 (See my blog Making and Launching of Technology Vision 2035), our focus shifted to its impact on the future of India. In that blog, I mentioned that “In the very first meeting on TV2035, I emphasized the importance of being able to communicate the document among citizens at large and policymakers, in particular. I mentioned multiple means of communication that are relevant today: (1) Print Media (2) Electronic Media (3) Social Media (4) the Internet (5) Workshops etc. Each one of these needed their own way of providing information from the document.”
Finally effort to create a digital fabrication movement is sweeping across the country with the AICTE IDEA Lab network growing. This would have profound effect on the innovation landscape of the country as well as manufacturing sector and growth of GDP and move India towards “Aatmanirbhar Bharat”
While preparing Technology Vision 2035, after joining TIFAC as its head in April 2013, we started tracking various technologies that were likely to impact us in the coming decades. I have described these aspects in detail in my blog Making and Launching of Technology Vision 2035. Among the many technologies that were on the horizon, we had 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing). This was also covered widely in the Manufacturing Sector Roadmap of Technology Vision 2035. I was aware of this and of FabLab initiative from MIT. 3D printing and other digital fabrication technologies were revolutionizing prototype development as well as customized manufacturing. The cost of setting up labs of this kind was around Rs 50 Lakhs at that time. Due to lack of awareness and cost, very few places in India were setting up such facilities. Most of the educational institutes were not aware of these developments nor were these part of the curriculum. Even those places (one could count them on fingers) were mostly setting it up for projects and special facilities, not for the part of regular training of students as part of the curriculum. From my project funding, I had procured a PCB milling machine to reduce the time to make PCBs. This made it easier for students to indulge in hardware development.
For nearly four decades, I have been involved in the Nuclear Fusion work due to a midnight patriotic feeling while on my way out of the country for higher studies and since then have continued to play a role in developing or promoting nuclear fusion in India. I hope to continue contributing to this and expect to see applications happening in India too!
Starting in 1983 at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (and Univ of California, Berkeley) till 2002, I did full-time research in the area of Nuclear Fusion in USA and India. I contributed through modeling, development of data acquisition and control system, variety of system development, experiments, and operational improvements as well as solving technical problems to enhance the performance of both the first generation Tokamaks(a type of Nuclear Fusion Reactor) in Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics(SINP), Kolkata and Institute for Plasma Research(IPR), Gandhinagar to international levels of performance. At IPR, I was project leader of Aditya Tokamak from 1996 to 2002. I was also Project Leader of SST-1(Superconducting Tokamak) Operation and Control Group from 1997-2002.
Here I describe my contribution during the continued contribution to Nuclear Fusion for almost 4 decades.