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Cost Hurdle - Long way to go for rooftop solar systems
The Times of India, 3 September 2014
Delhi government still has a long way to go in clarifying the policy before private individuals take the decision to set up rooftop solar systems. The net metering scheme that was announced by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) on Tuesday is only a nascent step in this direction. The most important issue is the financial incentive that will push residents to invest in solar rooftop systems. Other problems are resolving technical issues like uneven height of houses, specifications for orientation of the roof, how much roof space is required, how will these systems be maintained, among others. “We are glad to know that net meters can be installed and we are open to setting up such systems. But the question is what is in it for us? First the government will have to clarify how much subsidy and what financial incentive will be given to individuals. It must also check whether it is feasible to do these on small roof tops of less than 200 sq yards,” said Atul Goel, convenor of United Residents Joint Action of Delhi who had some meetings with Greenpeace, an environmental NGO studying whether Delhi can implement solar rooftop systems on a large scale. As of now, projects in Delhi only get a 30% subsidy from the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE). “It’s a welcome move that DERC has finally come up with a net metering policy. But how can people use it without a comprehensive solar policy which will specify financial incentive in detail? Only if the incentive is attractive that people would think about it. As of now, a few individuals in Delhi have set up rooftop solar panels to meet their back-up needs because diesel generators cost a lot,” said Abhishek Pratap, energy campaigner at Greenpeace India. The few who have already installed solar panel systems may, however, stand to benefit immediately from the net metering scheme. Anand Prabhu Pathanjali, who recently conducted a study on Delhi’s solar potential, said, “There are very few residences that have set up such systems. Now they can definitely benefit from the net metering scheme. This will also get more people to set up the system in their houses.” There are a few houses in South Extension and Safdarjung Enclave, apart from a few others in West Delhi that have installed solar panels of less than 5kW. The German House of Research and Innovation and WHO building also have panels with over 10 kilowatt peak (kWp) capacity that can benefit from net metering. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is planning to install a system of less than 100 kWp on their office building. “We don’t have much space so we are exploring what can be done. However, we’ll probably not generate enough to have more power than our requirements. On weekends we can supply entirely to the grid,” said Amit Kumar, Adjunct Professor, TERI University.

Education sector needs enlightened approach!
careers360.com , 26 August 2014
THE malaise in India’s education sector has reached frightening proportions. From nursery admissions to the PhD level, access to good quality education is a struggle for India’s citizens, resulting in very negative, competitively-driven outcomes such as a loss in quality of life for both students and parents, uni-dimensionally focussed youth, and a competitive spirit that is exhausted by the time the young reach the work-force! On the other hand, there is a proliferation of dubious service providers that engage in activities ranging from the fulfilling of homework commitments; the writing of proposals/ essays for admission to international universities; attracting students to sub-standard educational institutions and finally providing services that allow institutions to claim 100% placements on this count. In all of the above, it is the despairing student and his family that is fleeced, fooled and failed in society. While the Hon’ble Minister for Human Resource Development must focus on all of the above issues, from the perspective of the TERI University – which is a research University – the following issues need urgent attention: Ensure an environment of excellence: There has been a long drawn out discussion on whether ‘foreign’ universities should be allowed into India or not. But, that is not the moot point. India needs to ensure that it is providing its educational institutions – foreign or national – an operating environment that would attract the brightest minds as faculty members, encourage innovation and knowledge creation, generate curiosity in students and enable them to develop well-rounded personalities with a sense of societal responsibility. The current ‘caste-based’ system (public, private and deemed) of recognizing and supporting universities, even if they are all Indian universities, is definitely not aligned with the aspiration of having Indian universities recognized in global rankings. The ‘caste-based’ system of recognising and supporting universities, even if they are all Indian universities, is definitely not aligned with the aspiration of having Indian universities recognised in global rankings Strengthen the regulatory oversight and accreditation system: This action should again be designed with the intent of providing good quality education that is available in adequate quantities. Part of the current malaise we see is due to a failure in the design, communication and enforcement of a regulatory framework as well as a poor monitoring and evaluation framework. Ensuring adequate supply of good quality educational institutions would allow the market to function as a price regulator more effectively than any other mechanism. Improve supply of faculty resources: A postgraduate student has the option of entering the job market or going on to do research as a PhD student. The best students would today start off on a salary upwards of Rs. 50,000 per month increasing rapidly over a period of 4-5 years. A PhD student gets a stipend of about Rs. 20,000 per month which remains stagnant for the period in which he completes his work. At the end of his or her doctoral studies, the student has limited options for employment, being forced primarily into the education sector as the value of a PhD in other economic sectors of India is yet to be recognized. While several other points can be added to this list, at this point it is sufficient to say that we need a more enlightened approach to deal with the challenges of the education sector – which are large but manageable. By: Dr. Leena Srivastava

Responding to Sustainable Development Issues: News of research and academic initiatives on sustainability has to move from educational supplements to mainstream
The Financial Express, 18 August 2014
This year marks the end of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). Let us just sit back and look at the progress made. Whilst in India, we have moved ahead in the area of environmental education, it is the core concept of integrating sustainable development into our higher education system that remains a not-so-well-understood concept. The unique holistic and cross-cutting nature of education for sustainable development (ESD) remains a goal to be achieved in most of our universities. In spite of the fact that universities need to be engines and innovation centres in sustainable development, there are just a handful of universities that devote themselves to creating knowledge for sustainable development. So, what needs to be done? It should be obvious in today’s context that universities can inculcate the spirit of sustainability in their students, not just by incorporating more theory into their curricula but more so through an experiential learning platform of field work and exercises to understand and reduce the unsustainable impacts of present lifestyles. We could say that Indian universities have a different, and probably easier, playing ground than other global universities. This comes from the fact that our commitment towards sustainability is rooted in the age-old traditions of living in equilibrium with nature and all its elements. We only have to draw from these traditions as we move ahead. Universities in India only need to be helped towards responding to sustainable development issues. We need to have a macro-level approach to reorient our higher education. This is an opportune moment, when we have a new government, and when higher education is one of the priority areas. Three aspects need to be looked at—systemic thinking has to be an approach towards our higher education, greater focus towards capacity building at various levels including skill development and involvement of the media to do a blitzkrieg in improving public understanding of sustainable living. Most universities have responded by adding a couple of courses on sustainability issues. That won’t do. What is required is a change in the thinking and the approach of the academia—a movement away from ‘environmental education’ to ‘education for sustainable development’; a movement away from the departmental or stream-wise thinking to a systemic approach to issues and challenges that the world is facing. Curriculum will follow. Our universities have to focus on capacity building—to raise awareness and provide students with the skills and expertise required for the protection of the environment. This doesn’t mean that we do away with theory. Theoretical underpinnings are extremely important. But when the thinking of teachers reorients towards a sustainability-science and systemic approach, skill development amongst students of higher education to tackle the issues the world, a shared home, faces, will automatically follow. With the time-bomb of climate change not just ticking away but clanging away, only a blitzkrieg by the media and advertising agencies towards promoting public opinion can result in a wider understanding of the principles of sustainable development and an engagement with universities on educational and research initiatives. News of research and academic initiatives on sustainability, like the setting up of a new programme on Water Science and Governance at the Teri University, has to move from educational supplements to mainstream! It is greater public opinion which will result in a growth of greater social responsibility and an understanding of the cause and effect relationship in consumptive lifestyles. Ultimately, it is imperative that our universities accept the urgent need to move from academic discourses on sustainable development to action-oriented involvement of the youth in solving issues that the world faces, through a holistic and systemic approach. Rajiv Seth The author is Registrar, Teri University. Views are personal


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Date News Title Source
21 July 2014 Polite noises: Budget lacks a renewable energy vis... The Hindu Business Line
20 July 2014 Coca-Cola, TERI University fund water management s... The Daily Star
14 July 2014 Sustainable Soulutions... The Times of India (Education Times, Delhi)
8 July 2014 Water world: TERI University invests in regional w... India Today (Aspire)
7 July 2014 Sustainable, green development and gender equality... The Hindu

Malnutrition and Its Linkage to Sustainable Development
ThinK to Sustain, 10 February 2012

Nida Yamin, a student at TERI University, explores the long-prevalent issue of malnutrition in India and its effects on growth and development of the country as a whole, and suggests how community-based programs can improve the situation and lead to national nutrition security.   

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