Cleantech, for an inclusive green future in India – Cleantech Solutions for Rural Livelihoods: A Structural Boost Needed | 26 August 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about leveraging cleantech for livelihoods and jobs, especially in rural areas, to make the green future inclusive in India.


  • GS3: Indian Economy; Environment;
  • GS2: Social Justice;
  • Essay;
  • Prelims


  • In his Independence Day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized the importance of aligning climate action with development aspirations and economic growth.
  • The green economy paradigm provides an optimistic pathway to align development and environmental outcomes.
  • This article discusses how cleantech solutions can be used to enhance rural livelihood opportunities while contributing to climate action.


  • Clean technology, also known as cleantech, refers to various companies and technologies that aim to improve environmental sustainability.
  • It includes a broad range of technology related to recycling, renewable energy, information technology, green transportation, electric motors, green chemistry, lighting, grey water, and more.
  • Clean technology solutions are considered profitable against a wider variety of criteria compared to other types of technology investment.
  • The current key sectors in the clean technology industry are:
    • Renewable energy: This includes technologies such as solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power.
    • Energy efficiency: This includes technologies that reduce energy consumption, such as smart grids, efficient lighting, and building insulation.
    • Green transportation: This includes technologies such as electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as alternative fuels like biofuels and hydrogen.
    • Water and waste management: This includes technologies that reduce water consumption and improve waste management, such as greywater systems and recycling technologies.
  • Clean technology products or services are those that improve operational performance, productivity, or efficiency while reducing costs, inputs, energy consumption, waste, or environmental pollution.
  • Clean technology aims to avoid environmental damage at the source through the use of materials, processes, or practices to eliminate or reduce the creation of negative environmental impacts.


  • Initiatives in the Hinterlands:
    • Different initiatives have taken the green economy approach to the hinterlands of India by enabling access to cleantech solutions for livelihoods among the rural population.
    • For instance, solar dryers converting throwaway tomatoes into sun-dried ones in Andhra Pradesh, biomass-powered cold storages helping farmers in Maharashtra selling lemons make a gain that is three to five times that of the original price, or solar silk reeling machines reducing drudgery for thigh-reelers and doubling their income in Odisha are some of the 50,000-plus examples of how cleantech solutions are already contributing to the jobs and incomes of rural women and men.
  • Structural Boost Needed:
    • India’s rural economy that comprises 120 million farmers and 34 million microenterprises often struggles with unreliable electricity access and a dependence on expensive and imported diesel.
    • These cleantech solutions that are powered by renewable energy can help India reduce its diesel imports, avoid the loss of perishable food and enhance rural livelihood opportunities while posing an investment opportunity worth $50 billion for investors and financiers.
    • Research at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) shows that just 12 such cleantech solutions have the potential to impact at least 37 million livelihoods or about 16% of our rural population.
  • Steps to Scale Up – To traverse this journey from 50,000-plus to tens of millions, there needs to be a three-fold approach:
    1. Leverage existing government programmes supporting livelihoods.
      • For instance, the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana that extends collateral-free loans for microenterprises can be used to enable the adoption of cleantech solutions.
      • Similarly, the Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro food processing Enterprises (PM-FME) scheme that supports the adoption of technology among micro food enterprises can be used to unlock support for solutions such as a solar dryer, an energy-efficient multipurpose food processor or a solar grain mill.
    2. Enable large-scale financing of cleantech solutions.
      • It requires supporting bankers’ capacity on credit assessment for cleantech and hedging their risks in the initial stages of the market through partial guarantees.
      • Moreover, active engagement with financiers is important to structure loan products that are aligned with the cash flow scenarios of users.
    3. Enable multi-actor partnerships between technology innovators, manufacturers, distributors and service providers, financiers, and market-linkage players to enable an overall ecosystem.
      • For instance, there are solar dyer companies that are not only deploying dryers but are also enabling financing for users to adopt the dryers and buying back the final produce from them to ensure market linkages.

Way Forward:

  • India has massive ambitions for a clean and green future. By focusing on cleantech for livelihoods and jobs, especially in rural areas, we can make that green future inclusive.

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