However, in some other cases, moderating the extravagant lifestyles of the rich is essential, because certain activities consume much greater energy than others. A two-way flight from Delhi to Washington, once a year, consumes as much energy as 35 km of daily car driving round the year! And one 35-km journey by car consumes as much energy as running an LED tube-light for four hours every day for an entire year!
The Indian economy faces tougher energy challenges than some other large economies because a majority of the population has started using modern energy only recently, and their need for energy to lead a dignified life is bound to increase the demand substantially. However, our domestic energy resources are limited, and we are already importing 85 per cent of our oil and 15 per cent of our coal requirements.
These energy imports amount to 8 per cent of the national income, and are poised to claim a share beyond 10 per cent soon. This percentage is twice that of China, the US, and the EU. For every rupee of tax paid to the government, we give half a rupee to other countries which goes out of our economy — this certainly isn't a happy situation. If energy imports are reduced by half, 4 per cent of GDP would remain within our economy, increasing GDP growth by 1 per cent.
The failure to understand this phenomenon is a primary cause for concern. The sale of air-conditioners and air travel is doubling every four to five years, while the sale of cars is doubling every seven to eight years. This rapid increase in energy-guzzling activities by a small section of the elite is unsustainable and cannot be simply seen as a sign of development.