Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said New Delhi aims to formally join the Paris climate agreement this year, a historic move by the world’s fastest-growing emitter of greenhouse gases — and a key step toward full implementation of the far-reaching accord.
Modi and President Barack Obama issued a joint statement Tuesday after two meetings at the White House, part of a three-day visit meant to shore up ever-closer ties between Washington and New Delhi. The two countries outlined other steps to fight climate change, including working to phase out highly potent pollutants known as hydrofluorocarbons. That agreement, similar to one reached between the United States and China in 2013, could have the biggest short-term impact in limiting rising temperatures. The two countries also agreed to jump-start construction of six U.S.-built nuclear power plants in India — the first fruits of a 2008 nuclear power cooperation accord between India and the United States.
India’s formal adhesion to the Paris climate accord, once completed, will move the pact one big step closer to the level of global support needed for it to legally enter into force: 55 countries and 55 percent of global emissions. India would be the 46th country, and its entry would bring the tally of global emissions covered by the treaty to 54.7 percent.
“There are a lot of positive, encouraging signals — including today’s announcement — that India is taking the threat of climate change more seriously,” said Jason Bordoff, a former Obama energy and climate advisor who now directs Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.
India’s apparent enthusiasm for the Paris deal is even more surprising in light of its historical opposition to limits on how fast it can develop. For years, right up to the negotiations last December that finally led to the Paris deal, India had been the standard-bearer of countries that put economic development ahead of environmental objectives, including the fight against global warming.
Since winning election in 2014, Modi’s concerns about India’s energy future had largely focused on providing power to the more than 300 million Indians without access to electricity. India’s power minister, Piyush Goyal, has repeatedly defended India’s right to develop its economy with whatever fuel source it could, including coal, a dirty source of power that remains the centerpiece of Modi’s plan to modernize India’s power system.
Yet, environmental problems have suddenly grown hugely forbidding for India. Major cities like New Delhi have worse air quality than Chinese cities, prompting a rethink of how India will get energy. On paper, India has some of the most ambitious clean-energy goals in the world. Modi hopes to install more than 100,000 megawatts of solar power by 2022, a jaw-dropping objective given that India’s total electricity generation capacity is only about 300,000 megawatts.
To help New Delhi meet those targets, the two countries on Tuesday agreed to streamline financing for renewable energy projects, especially solar power, and particularly in rural areas far removed from the electricity grid. The White House said such agreements could help mobilize more than $1 billion in finance to help India develop its solar resources more quickly.
Despite all the fanfare over India’s formal accession to the climate pact, that won’t by itself clean up the country’s emissions, even if the renewable energy targets are largely met. India’s plans to meet the Paris targets call for cleaning up the economy while it grows — not for shrinking greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms. Under the plan it submitted to the U.N., India’s greenhouse gas emissions will probably keep rising for decades to come. If Modi’s ambitious plans for economic growth work out, those emissions could rise even faster.
“We should applaud what India is doing, but not get carried away,” Bordoff said.
In the meantime, climate change itself is already hammering the subcontinent. Ferocious droughts, caused by a shift in the monsoon pattern due largely to climate change, have in the past two years affected hundreds of millions of Indians, emptied villages and farms, and curtailed power generation from thirsty coal plants and dams.
After many years of a development-first pitch, Bordoff said, “you’re hearing constructive rhetoric” from India now. “They are starting to understand that they need to change the path they are on” if the world is to come close to meeting its target of limiting temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius.
Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty
Keith Johnson is Foreign Policy’s global geoeconomics correspondent. @KFJ_FP
Tags: climate change, Energy, India, Report, South Asia
More from Foreign Policy
For the most recent general election, see Indian general election, 2014.
The 2014 general election involved an electorate of 863,500,000 people. It was conducted in nine stages. The expenditure for the 2014 election was approximately 3765 crore. The cost per voter was Rs 1375. Votes were made using over one million electronic voting machines. In the 2014 election, the National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power. The BJP secured a majority of 282 seats. Narendra Modi of the BJP became Prime Minister of India.
India's government is based on Federalism. Elected officials are appointed at federal, state and local levels. In India, there is universal suffrage. Results of elections are determined by first-past-the-post system. Elections are conducted by the Election Commission of India.
The Prime Minister of India, is elected by members of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament. The Constitution of India allows for up to 552 members in the Lok Sabha, with up to 530 members representing the States. Up to 20 members represent the Union Territories. In practice, 543 members of the Lok Sabha are elected every five years. Two members are elected by the President of India to represent the Anglo-Indian community.
In 1952, there were 1874 candidates vying for places in the Lok Sabha. In 1996, this number rose to 139,529 candidates. in 2009, there were only 80,708 candidates. The number of votes and seats won provides a ranking of the major political parties.
The Rajya Sabha is the upper house of parliament. 233 of its members are elected indirectly by the legislative assemblies of the states and the Electoral College of the Union Territories. The President of India appoints 12 of its members. (See Wikipedia, "Rajya Sabha.") 233 members are elected for a six-year term. Every two years, one third of the members retire. The elected members are chosen by proportional representation via the single transferable vote. There are twelve nominated members who are usually an eclectic mix of eminent artists (including actors), scientists, jurists, sportsmen and women, businessmen, journalists and other citizens.
|Year||Election||Total seats||Party||Seats||% votes||Party||Seats||% votes||Party||Seats||% votes|
|1951-52 ||1st Lok Sabha||489||INC||364||100%||CPI||16||3.29%||SOC||12||10.59%|
|1957 ||2nd Lok Sabha||494||INC||371||100%||CPI||27||8.92%||PSP||19||10.41%|
|1962||3rd Lok Sabha||494||INC||361||100%||CPI||29||9.94%||SWA||18||7.89%|
|1967||4th Lok Sabha||520||INC||283||100%||SWA||44||8.67%||BJS||35||9.31%|
|1971||5th Lok Sabha||518||INC||352||100%||CPM||25||5.12%||CPI||23||4.73%|
|1977||6th Lok Sabha||542||JP||330||100%||INC||154||34.52%||CPM||22||4.29%|
|1980||7th Lok Sabha||529 ( 542* )||INC(I)||351||42.69%||JNP(S)||41||9.39%||CPM||37||6.24%|
|1984||8th Lok Sabha||514||INC||404||100%||TDP||30||4.31%||CPM||22||5.87%|
|1989||9th Lok Sabha||529||INC||195||100%||JD||142||17.79%||BJP||89||11.36%|
|1991||10th Lok Sabha||521||INC||232||100%||BJP||120||20.11%||JD||59||11.84%|
|1996||11th Lok Sabha||543||BJP||161||20.29%||INC||140||28.80%||JD||46||23.45%|
|1998||12th Lok Sabha||545||BJP||182||25.59%||INC||141||25.82%||CPM||32||5.16%|
|1999||13th Lok Sabha||545||BJP||182||23.75%||INC||114||28.30%||CPM||33||5.40%|
|2004||14th Lok Sabha||543||INC||145||26.53%||BJP||138||22.16%||CPM||43||5.66%|
|2009||15th Lok Sabha||545||INC||206||28.55%||BJP||116||18.80%||SP||23||3.23%|
|2014||16th Lok Sabha||545||BJP||282||31.34%||INC||44||19.52%||AIADMK||37||3.31%|
* : 12 seats in Assam and 1 in Meghalaya did not vote.
Indian political parties
From 1947 to 1964, the Indian National Congress was India's dominant political party. It was led by Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 – 1964), K Kamaraj (1903 – 1975) and then Lal Bahadur Shastri (1905 – 1966). In the 1970s, the Congress party splintered. Indira Gandhi then led the party to election victory. In 1977, the Congress party lost to an opposition coalition that represented voters opposed to India's state of emergency which had been imposed in 1975. Indira Gandhi regained power but was assassinated in 1984. After her death, her son, Rajiv Gandhi (1941 – 1991) led the party. In 1989, the Congress party lost to a coalition led by VP Singh (1931 – 2008) after Rajiv Gandhi was accused of corruption. In 1990, the Congress party returned to power, led by P V Narasimha Rao (1921 – 2004).
In 1996, a coalition government was formed, mostly from regional parties. Further coalition governments followed, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, I K Gujral and H D Deve Gowda. In 1999, the National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power and completed a full term. For the next decade, the United Progressive Alliance led by the Indian National Congress party formed government under Manmohan Singh.
Parties with strong traditional regional bases include the Telugu Desam Party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. In the 1990s, new regional parties emerged including the Indian National Lok Dal, Shiromani Akali Dal, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, and Janata Dal. Such parties may promote regional aspirations such as Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Shiv Sena or caste considerations as in the case of the Bahujan Samaj Party.
The Election Commission of India is an autonomous entity proscribed in the Constitution of India. It is the federal authority responsible for administering all the electoral processes of India and ensuring they are free and fair.
Elections are conducted according to constitutional provisions and parliamentary legislation. These include the Representation of the People Act, 1950, which mainly deals with the preparation and revision of electoral rolls, and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which deals, in detail, with all aspects of conduct of elections and post election disputes. The Supreme Court of India has held that where the enacted laws are silent or make insufficient provision to deal with a given situation in the conduct of elections, the Election Commission has the residuary powers under the Constitution to act in an appropriate manner.
From 1947 to 16 October 1989, there was one Chief Election Commissioner. From 1989 to 1 January 1990, there were two commissioners. The Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1993 made the Election Commission a multi-member body. On 1 October 1993, a further two commissioners were appointed. Decisions are made by majority vote.
Candidates are required to file their nomination papers with the Electoral Commission. Then, a list of candidates is published. No party is allowed to use government resources for campaigning. No party is allowed to bribe the candidates before elections. The government cannot start a project during the election period. Campaigning ends at 6:00 pm on the second last day before the polling day.
The polling is held between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm. The Collector of each district is in charge of polling. Government employees are employed as poll officers at the polling stations. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being used instead of ballot boxes to prevent election fraud. After a citizen votes, his or her left index finger is marked with an indelible ink. This practice was instituted in 1962.
Research into an indelible ink was commenced by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (|CSIR). In the 1950s, M. L. Goel worked on this research at the Chemical Division of the National Physical Laboratory of India. The ink used contains silver nitrate and so, is photo-sensitive. It is stored in amber coloured plastic or brown coloured glass bottles. On application, the ink remains on the fingernail for at least two days. It may last up to a month depending upon the person's body temperature and the environment.
Electronic voting machines (EVM) were first used in the 1999 election and became the only method of voting in 2004. The EVMs save time and report results. A voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) was introduced on 14 August 2013. The first election to implement the VVPAT was a by-election in the Noksen assembly constituency in Nagaland. In the 2014 general election, VVPAT was operational in 8 constituencies as a pilot project. These included Lucknow, Gandhinagar, Bangalore South, Chennai Central, Jadavpur, Raipur, Patna Sahib and Mizoram constituencies. A slip generated by the VVPT tells voter to which party or candidate their vote has been given, their name, their constituency and their polling booth.. VVPAT has been in news recently (2017), following the demand of Opposition parties to make it mandatory in upcoming elections all over India due to allegations on the government of hacking the EVM. For the voters it is very important to know on how the VVPAT works to enable them cross check whether the vote they have given goes to the right candidate. Here is a brief " At the point when the voter presses the button against the name of the applicant of her/his decision on the EVM unit, the VVPAT unit produces a paper slip, additionally called 'ballot slip'. This paper slip contains the name, serial number, and image of the candidate selected by the voter for his vote. "
Further information: None of the Above in Indian Elections
On 27 September 2013, the Supreme Court of India judged that citizens have the right to a negative vote by exercising a "None of the above" (NOTA) option. This was the result of petitioning from the Electoral Commission and the People's Union for Civil Liberties from 2009. In November 2013, NOTA was introduced in five state elections.
India does not provide general absentee voting. On 24 November 2010, the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill 2010 was gazetted to give voting rights to non-resident Indians but a physical present at the voting booth is still required.