The Emerging Energy Industry Is Much More Revolutionary Than What Arvind Subramanian Imagines

Arvind Subramanian’s Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture last year was a status-quo view of a traditional industry with merely the arithmetical addition of renewables as a variable.

Arvind Subramanian delivered a lecture on 17 August 2017: “Renewables May Be the Future but are they the Present? Coal, Energy, and Development in India.” It showed the limits of classic, zero-sum, conventional, neoclassical economic thinking. In his analyses, what was notable were not the variables considered but those omitted, not necessarily intentionally, but because he was unaware of them. 

If the consequences of poorly formulated propositions were limited to fashionably “controversial” academic debates, it would have been amusing. When there are real-world consequences of amateur thinking, especially when delivered from the pulpit of the 16th Darbari Seth Memorial lecture[1] at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) from New Delhi, it becomes difficult to forgive the resulting irresponsibility. 

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