Girish Sant Memorial Annual Lecture 2013

The First Girish Sant Memorial Annual Lecture was delivered by Dr. E. A. S. Sarma in Pune at the Patrakar Bhavan on 2nd February 2013. The program began with screening of a short film on Girish and release of a book containing memories by some of his friends, colleagues and relatives.


dsc_1889The talk explored the questions and misconceptions that dominate the discourse on economic development and the consequent distortions that have crept into energy planning which is a part of economic planning. For example the common assumption that higher investments lead to higher GDP and hence higher growth does not hold true when scrutinised more closely. Further if we truly wish that this so called growth should be inclusive, then we first need to factor in all social and environmental costs that are imposed by it and also have plans to mitigate them. The present planning approach is however not even accounting for these costs. Apart from such basic issues, Dr. Sarma also presented critical analysis of fallacies underlying many popular assumptions such as, per capita energy consumption is a measure of development and hence the necessity of setting up new generation projects, or nuclear energy is green and clean, or growth has no limits, or the Government is the best judge of public interest and so on and so forth. In fact, the lecture deals with eight of such popular 'myths' about the energy, development and growth debate and finally makes a strong case for how short term gains or political compulsions should not come at the cost of long term planning.

The entire script of the lecture can be downloaded here.The video of the entire lecture is given below:

The lecture was followed by a moderated session in which Dr. Sarma answered questions raised by people from the audience. The event was attended by over 200 people coming from various areas such as academia, civil society organisations, movements, students, and friends & family of Girish. dsc_1908

About the speaker: Dr. Sarma studied Public Administration at Harvard and then did his PhD on Energy Planning from IIT Delhi. He has held various distinguished positions in the Government of India such as Principal Adviser (Energy) to the Planning Commission, Secretary (Ministry of Power) and Secretary (Ministry of Finance). He has also been the principal of Administrative and Staff College of India, Hyderabad. Currently, he is active in campaigning against human rights violations and environmental degradation in the name of development. He is also the Convener of Forum for Better Vishakha, a civil society forum working on civic issues in Vishakhapatnam and in pursuing electoral reform at the local and national levels.

Please visit this page to see more details about Girish and tributes to him.

Memorial Activities

Girish Sant Memorial Annual Event, 2021

A Panel Discussion on

Energy: Taxes and Transition

The energy sector, and in particular, fossil fuels are a significant contributor to the overall revenue of India’s central and state governments. For example, the GST Compensation Cess, which started in 2010-11 with a cess of ₹50/ton on all coal has kept increasing over the years and now stands at ₹400/ton. Further, governments have traditionally depended heavily on taxes from petrol and diesel, and recent increases in excise and VAT further demonstrate this. Roughly 60-70% of the final prices of diesel and petrol respectively are made up of taxes. The total contribution to public tax revenue from taxes on coal, petroleum & natural gas, and electricity sectors amounted to about ₹6 lakh crores out of a total revenue of about ₹34 lakh crores in 2018-19. The taxes on energy sectors contributed 25% of the total tax revenue of the Centre, and 13% of the total tax revenue to the states. Since many energy sources are outside GST, these taxes cannot be offset. Moreover, since the bulk of the tax revenues from the energy sector accrue from fossil fuels, the inevitable energy transition away from fossil fuels towards renewables and electric mobility will have a significant impact on public tax revenues.

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