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).
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.”
With organizations like TCS as part of Tata Group, it is surprising that the IT systems of Air India have not been improved in the last 10 months to even ensure the basic functionality of Modification/Cancelation/Refund, etc. In spite of all this, I am very hopeful that the Tata group would make corrections just like they have done for the Indian passport office!
I had my first flight of life in Sept 1981 when I flew to Narita Airport, Tokyo from Delhi on my way to San Francisco to join the University of California, Berkeley as a Ph.D. student. It was not a good experience both from the food point of view and my own exhaustion due to the last-minute preparation. I was not used to the Japanese food that was served on the Japan Airlines flight. There was no option for Indian-style food. Later on, while traveling between USA and India, we used to look forward to the Air India flights towards the last leg of the flight from connecting to India as we would get food that we liked. There was no option for Direct flights.
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.
Coaching industry flourishes in India at the cost of students’ learning opportunities and loss to nation of innovative minds essential for India to progress fast. Key issue is popular perception of very few “quality”seats being chased by large number of good quality students.
Recently IISc Bangalore Professor Arindam Ghosh highlighted the importance of school education and how the recent structure is destroying the minds of the students. He said that students leave schooling to prepare for IITs ‘Destroys Fabric of Education’.
I basically agree with this statement about students spending 4-5 years in coaching to prepare for one exam is distorting the learning process. They do very targeted learning during this period focused on “cracking” an exam. We do lose a very important part of students’ life where creativity and exploration would have been important. Being able to ask questions is more important learning than trying to learn what is the “correct answer”. We make the students “convergent thinkers” rather than “Divergent thinkers” needed for an innovative mind.
This blog describes my travel woes while returning from USA to India in first week of January 2022. Purpose of writing this blog was to let people know that trouble and system failures can take place in any part of the world and not only in India!
I was in the USA to spend time with my daughter, Juhi, in California in December 2021. As my grandson’s birthday falls in 3rd week of Nov, I normally plan to be there during Nov-Dec time (See my blog How Did I Start Cooking! to know about my baking cake for grandson) Towards the end of December, we spent a week traveling through death valley in California/Nevada area.
I had booked my return trip on Jan 3, 2022 taking a direct United Airlines flight from San Francisco(SFO) to Delhi. As per Covid protocol, we needed to get an RT-PCR test done within 72 hours of departure. The earliest day for testing was Jan 1 and we tried to book a testing slot a day earlier but we were not finding it easily by searching through various possibilities. I woke up early morning of Jan 1 to try doing more search but there was nothing available in either free or by paying $100-$150 per test. There were some that had mentioned walking in and trying but nothing was very clear. I raised an alarm about the difficulty in finding a testing slot. My Son in law, Sanchit, wakes up early morning around 5:30 AM or so. He tried to collect information from his circle too and only possibility of getting a Rapid PCR test done by paying $300 came up – with results available in 2-3 hours.