Poverty Alleviation Programs – Clean energy to all its citizens should be included as a major component of poverty alleviation programs

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Question – Providing clean energy to all its citizens should be included as a major component of poverty alleviation programs as India strives to achieve double-digit growth in its national income. Discuss the above statement in the light of the recent draft National Energy Policy. – 17 September 2021 

Answer – Clean energy has been called the foundation of the modern economy. Therefore, it has thus become a necessity to emphasize renewable energy for any sustainable increase in India’s national income and subsequently poverty reduction. Sustainable Development Goal 1 mandates access to affordable and clean energy to end poverty of all forms everywhere.

Importance of clean energy in Poverty Alleviation Programs

  • According to the UNDP, access to sustainable energy is critical to making society more equitable and inclusive and to promoting green growth and sustainable development as a whole. Renewable energy is important because the extremely poor cannot lift themselves out of poverty without access to reliable energy.
  • A study by the Energy, Environment and Water Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that India’s growing renewable energy sector will create more than 330,000 new jobs over the next five years (2017-2022).
  • Jobs related to renewable energy can help reduce poverty, as well as jobs that will provide stable incomes, health benefits, and skill-building opportunities for unskilled and semi-skilled workers. India’s ambitious target of generating 160 Giga watts (GW) of wind and solar power by 2022 could require 330,000 jobs in construction, project commissioning and design, business development, and operation and maintenance. Some of these jobs may have a direct impact on poverty alleviation.
  • It will be difficult to develop businesses without providing better opportunities for electricity. The reason for this is that there will not be enough light in the schools and homes and the streets will be dark at night.
  • For India’s rural poor, especially women, clean energy jobs provide an alternative to subsistence farming. Without proper energy services, women in developing countries will face a lack of opportunities to progress in society. Many people spend hours a day hauling water and collecting firewood, as there are no water pumps, and they rely on stoves for cooking.
  • Ensuring adequate access to energy is essential if national development strategies such as health, education, rural development and gender equality are to be successful. In order to produce and prepare sufficient amounts of food to avoid hunger and malnutrition, communities need pumped water not only for drinking but also for irrigation and livestock.

Impact of Draft National Energy Policy on Poverty

  • There are four key objectives of energy policy:
  • Access at affordable prices
  • Improved security and Independence
  • Greater Sustainability
  • Economic Growth.
  • NITI Aayog’s National Energy Policy aims to curb imports by increasing the production of renewable energy in the country by five times to 300 billion units and coal production to 1.5 billion tonnes by 2019.
  • The policy focuses on clean energy resources such as solar and natural gas.
  • The policy aims to ensure that electricity reaches every household by 2022, as promised in Budget 2015-16, and proposes to provide clean cooking fuel to all within a reasonable time.

In addition to improving energy security, increasing energy access and mitigating climate change, renewable energy can help reduce poverty. Although this has been emphasized in the draft National Energy Policy, there remains scope for further action.

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