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Not how they do it on Yes Minister

Three days ago, the Government of India launched their “India Energy Security Scenarios 2047″ calculator. It reflects seven hard months by a team under Mr Anil Jain at the Planning Commission. They took the UK’s 2050 Pathway Calculator and adapted it for India. In doing it they have both broken the “three articles of civil service faith” and they have improved the tool.

First, the broken articles. In the words of Sir James Bevan KCMG, British High Commissioner to India, at the launch:

“I can offer no higher praise than to say that the way the Indian side have done this is the exact opposite of how it would be done in the British TV series Yes Minister. As we Brits and you Indians both know, Yes Minister is not a comedy but a documentary. There is a moment in one episode where the devious head of the civil service, Sir Humphrey, explains to the innocent Minister what Sir Humphrey calls the three articles of Civil Service faith, which are these: it takes longer to do things quickly, it’s more expensive to do them cheaply and it’s more democratic to do them in secret.

I have to say that to your great credit you have broken all three of these tenets of the (fictional) British civil service. You have moved with great speed in developing your own energy model. You have done it efficiently and at low cost. And – what would probably shock Sir Humphrey most – you have not done it in secret. On the contrary, you have been open and inclusive in developing your model and in sharing it with everyone through the website we have launched today.”

The level of openness by the Indian team has been brilliant. They have published an interactive web tool, a completely open Excel Spreadsheet, a ream of documentation explaining what they did and they have worked with their stakeholders all of the way. That doesn’t mean it is perfect, of course. Like the UK, they see one of the benefits of publishing so openly is that they will get great and specific feedback on how to make their work better.

In the words of Montek Singh Ahluwalia, (Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and a cabinet minister):

“Our objective in presenting these results is to provide a basis for analysis and informed discussion. The “calculator” is therefore being made available on our website so anyone can make alternative assumptions to explore other scenarios that are feasible. If we succeed in persuading more and more people to use this tool, and come up with their own preferred options, we will consider our efforts have been successful.

I hope the India Energy Security Scenarios, 2047 will help generate informed debate on energy policy issues. If the energy needs of the country are to be met in the long run, in a manner consistent with rapid and inclusive growth, and also sustainability, there needs to be much greater understanding of the choices involved, and the policies they imply by all stakeholders.”

If you want to understand the Indian Energy System, both how it is today and how it might evolve, then I can’t think of a better starting point than the India 2047 Calculator. In many ways it is better than the UK calculator. I love: their Sankey diagram, that allows you to visualise energy flows now, and in the future; their integrated, and detailed, documentation; the way they have added navigation to their Excel model so you don’t get so lost.

It has been one the unexpected benefits of the UK openly publishing our tool that we get to see and learn from the improvements others make. I look forward to seeing more, not just from India but from the other 9 countries participating in our International Climate Fund (ICF) project to adapt the 2050 Calculator to their country. We hope that they can draw inspiration from India, who it is worth mentioning have entirely financed all of their staff costs for this work.

If you like this, you might also like:
1. Some copying is Great
2. Made in Taiwan
3. The British Energy Challenge
4. The Common Problem of Consensus

Filed under: Climate Change, Innovation, Low carbon

Comments: 1 Comment on Not how they do it on Yes Minister
Posted on: Mar 4 2014

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