Towards a people centric energy transition

A panel discussion exploring opportunities to address associated development challenges

Saturday, 11th February 2023 | 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM | Pune

Venue: Navalmal Firodia Auditorium, Health Science Building, Fergusson College Campus, Pune

The discussion was on the ongoing energy transition, highlighting and addressing people centric issues which have not received sufficient attention.  

It was an in-person event and was held in Pune. It was also broadcasted on Zoom for those who wished to join online.

Following is a video recording of the discussion. More information on the panelists is provided below.

More about the panelists

Ashwini Kulkarni is with Pragati Abhiyan, a Civil Society Organisation based in Nashik Maharashtra, which she has founded with likeminded friends. Ashwini worked extensively on MGNREGA, working with the Community and Government at all levels from local administration to the ministry in Delhi. She also worked with researchers to understand the program in the context of rural development. Her work on rural livelihoods led to exploring the issues of small and marginal farmers especially those engaged in rainfed agriculture. Public policies and public investments are the main drivers of development, and hence studying policies of the Government has been important part of Pragati Abhiyan’s work. Ashwini is closely associated with RRAN and NREGA consortium.

Geetam Tiwari

Geetam Tiwari is Professor and Head of the Transportation Research and Injury Prevention  Centre and joint faculty at the Department of Civil Engineering, at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.  Her research focus includes traffic and transport planning and traffic safety focusing on pedestrians, bicycles and bus systems and highway safety. She has worked with city, state and national governments in India on public transport and road safety projects. She has many publications and has co-edited books on transport planning and safety. She is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion since 2009.

Kanchi Kohli

Kanchi Kohli is a Senior Researcher at Centre for Policy Research. Her work areas cover the fields of environment, forest and biodiversity regulation and governance in India. Kanchi’s policy research and practice explores the links and gaps between law, development, sustainability and environmental justice. She has authored several reports, research papers and popular articles as part of her work. Her twitter platform #lawforall publicised significant aspects of Indian environmental law for a year and was regarded as an innovative form of environmental law pedagogy. Kanchi teaches environment law and development courses at government training institutes and universities.

About the discussion

Today the world is witnessing an energy transition, which is changing the face of the whole energy sector. It involves far-reaching changes, such as the phasing down of fossil fuels; increasing solar and wind energy sources; and electrification of transport, cooking and industry, to name a few. The transition is driven by technology changes, climate and natural resource challenges and government policies.  Current discussions on the topic give limited attention to the new issues created due to the transition, and to the possibility of using this opportunity to address existing short-comings in the energy sector. The panel discussion was an attempt to bridge these gaps, so that the transition can be people-centric and catalyse development.

Some examples of such gaps include: assessing the energy needs for universal quality of life; ensuring the livelihood needs of the majority; city planning and public transport to address mobility needs; ensuring quality of supply to small consumers; taking a people-centric approach while introducing major changes in policies and institutional structure; and addressing socio-environmental issues of big renewable systems.

The panel discussion began with an overview of the ongoing energy transition, with a focus on the neglected development challenges. The subsequent discussions would drew upon the experience of the panellists who are addressing some of these challenges in their respective areas of work.

The event was moderated by Sreekumar Nhalur, Member, Prayas (Energy Group).

About the Girish Sant Memorial Annual Event                    

Girish Sant was a noted Indian energy analyst and policy commentator, who unfortunately passed away in 2012. Throughout his professional career, Girish made immense contributions to the energy sector, primarily to serve the interests of the poor, prevent gross inefficiencies and improve infrastructure sector governance. His work, humility and eagerness to engage with challenging issues earned him respect and friendship from across the spectrum. He also motivated and mentored a large number of young researchers and activists to work in energy policy and governance issues. He co-founded the Pune-based non-governmental organisation, Prayas, working in the areas of energy and health.

An annual event in memory of Girish Sant has been organised since 2013, where committed professionals provide a public interest perspective on critical issues in the development space. More details available here:  This was the 11th event in the series.