11 Sep :I would like to begin by congratulating Chancellor Dr. R.K. Pachauri for his recent re-election as the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, under whose earlier Chairmanship, the organization won the Nobel Peace Prize.
I am very happy to inaugurate the new building complex of the TERI University, which so far had been functioning from a temporary location and now has a permanent home. In its campus structures, advanced science and technology has been put to use in a pioneering manner to ensure efficient utilization of energy and other resources. TERI University, which was granted deemed university status in 1999, has made rapid strides in less than a decade of existence. I am sure that with this outstanding complex, the University will take a major leap forward.
India has attained a level of economic growth which gives us great pride and hope for the future. India today has the good fortune of 53 percent of its population being under the age of 25. The potential of this reservoir of youthful talent is enormous. It is of a scale that has never been seen or experienced in any part of the world in the history of human civilisation. The demographic dividend that is available in the form of this large number and proportion of youth in our population can only be realized if we impart the necessary skills and values to the young generation. We have a responsibility to ensure that we impart education and knowledge in a way that meets their aspirations and also ensures the fulfillment of the country’s development goals. They have also to imbibe the spirit of tolerance and harmony and help in bringing peace and prosperity in the country while they work for achieving these development goals.
The world today and India, in particular, are grappling with the objective of how to wipe out poverty through inclusive growth, while at the same time conserve the natural resources of our planet. Poverty eradication is an indispensable obligation, for as long as there is poverty, it means that there are human beings on this earth who cannot lead a life of dignity. We must fight a multi-pronged war against poverty and win. Our efforts, resources and technologies should be directed towards the elimination of poverty – with education, health facilities and social welfare measures being the instruments of empowerment of the poor and the women.
It is also true that the world has already gone too far in overexploiting and indiscriminately degrading a vast range of the earth’s ecosystems and the natural resources on which depend the very livelihoods of the entire human race and the survival of all species. Our Prime Minister, late Smt. Indira Gandhi, was one of the first leaders of the world to expound on the intricate relationship between nature’s resources and humankind. She said, "We must re-establish the sacred dimension that views the resources of the world as a common heritage, to nurture and to use frugally." We, in India, have always revered the magic and bounty of nature. We need to remember our own traditional wisdom. Institutions and Universities can contribute to a growth path that combines traditional values of conservation and preservation with the modernity of development.
The world needs to work together to address the global challenges of climate change. The increase in concentration of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere, consequent to a century and a half of increasing emissions of these gases largely in the industrialized countries, has led to the serious threat of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, chaired by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, has brought comprehensive scientific study on this subject to the attention of the entire global community. Governments, businesses and other entities around the world are looking for means by which this problem can be solved on an urgent basis. Scientific and research institutions can play a vital role in creating knowledge and systems by which we can stabilize the earth’s climate and prevent the harmful and dangerous impacts that may overtake all life on this planet, if we fail to act. The Government of India is seized of the gravity of this challenge, and the National Action Plan on Climate Change is a major step forward in India’s commitment to meet this serious global problem.
We are committed to a path of sustainable development in harmony with the environment. This requires that we have sustainable patterns of consumption and production, sustainable livelihoods, and sustainable habitats. We can foresee rapid growth of building activity in this country to meet the needs of residential accommodation, commercial and industrial activity and expanding infrastructure to meet the requirements of our growing population. Our towns and cities would need to adopt building practices that are designed to save energy. All the buildings that are constructed from now onwards should adhere to the criteria of very high energy efficiency. Otherwise, we would get locked into a pattern of energy usage which would not only increase our dependence on energy but also create local pollution and depletion of vital natural resources, which are becoming increasingly scarce. The TERI University building represents a good example of technological sophistication in the construction of a sustainable habitat. I am told that the energy usage in such buildings would be 40 percent lower than that of a conventional building of the same size. Even though the initial investment in the building and infrastructure are somewhat higher than for a conventional building, overall it would be highly economical because recurring energy costs and the cost of other inputs like water would be substantially lower. Perhaps, even more important, would be the lower costs to society. The logic flows that if energy demand for a building is lower than of a conventional building, then we do not need to invest to the same extent in power generation capacity, as well as its transmission and distribution infrastructure. So also would be the case with water harvesting that would reduce the demand on public supply of water.
I hope that features of buildings like this will spread eco-awareness and motivate others to pursue similar practices. Training programmes and study courses for architecture and engineering must follow a syllabus that fully covers the range of new construction methods that conserve energy and are environment friendly, using renewable sources of energy. It is high time that we amend the existing building codes to make it mandatory to include energy savings designs and construction technology.
In conclusion, I would also like to congratulate TERI University for all that they have achieved in a range of activities and initiatives. I would like to wish your efforts greater success in contributing to growth of society. The logo of the University is a figure of a running student with an arm reaching out towards the rising sun, symbolizing the quest for knowledge. I am sure that the aspirations of TERI University to be an institution of higher education, that promotes scientific and policy research in the realms of energy, environment and sustainable development, will be met with the dedication of the faculty members and the hard work of the students under the inspiring leadership of Dr. Pachauri.