It is good to have a technocrat prime minister. But PM Modi rubbed online denizens on the wrong side after he offered what some would regard as a brilliant piece of insight: he suggested that wind turbines can be used to generate clean drinking water, oxygen and energy.
PM Modi was talking with Henrik Andersen, President and CEO of Vestas, one of the leading wind turbine companies in the world and a pioneer in the industry. Modi had essentially two things in mind. Whether wind turbines could be used to generate clean drinking water, particularly in coastal areas; and whether the same turbine could be used to generate oxygen. He then asked if all three – clean drinking water, oxygen and energy – could be generated from one windmill.
Technically speaking, it’s possible to extract oxygen from air through fractional distillation. Air is filtered and cooled until it reaches -200°C. When air liquefies, water vapour condenses and is removed with filters. Carbon dioxide freezes at -79°C, oxygen at - 183°C and nitrogen at -196°C. The liquid air and nitrogen are then separated.
The other is the fractional distillation process. In fact, this is the way astronauts breathe in space. Astronauts make oxygen by running electricity through water, in a process called electrolysis. In fact, the International Space Station’s water recycling system produces drinking water from waste and other discarded liquids, including urine.
The last person one expected to react to any such scientific phenomenon was Rahul Gandhi. But too much knowledge is a dangerous thing. The Wayanad MP lost no time in sharing a video of PM Modi speaking about wind energy with a veiled suggestion that he had got the wrong end of the mill.
Gandhi wrote: “The real danger to India isn’t that our PM doesn’t understand. It’s the fact that nobody around him has the guts to tell him so.”
Incidentally, Andersen, with whom PM Modi was having this exchange, was more than excited at the suggestion. “If you come and visit me in Denmark, you can be the idea for our research development. I can't say how pleased I am with your ideas,” he said blushing like a schoolgirl.
BJP leaders were not amused. Hitting back at Gandhi, Union minister Piyush Goyal said, "Nobody around Rahul Gandhi has the guts to tell him that he doesn't understand. He mocks PM Narendra Modi's ideas when the CEO of the world's leading company endorses them." He also tagged a news report with his tweet that says wind turbines create water from thin air.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also attacked Gandhi in a tweet, saying, "Rahul ji tomorrow morning please get up at night and read the two scientific papers that I have attached herewith. Though I'm sure you won't understand the complexity of the subject..."
He also attached news reports that said wind turbines create water from thin air and another saying wind turbine makes 1000 litres of clean water a day in the desert.
BJP's head of social media department Amit Malviya also attacked Gandhi.
"There is no cure for ignorance and entitlement. Entitled brat Rahul thinks everyone around the world is as clueless as he is... He mocks PM's ideas when CEO of world's leading wind energy company terms them inspirational! Watch the last bit of the video he himself has posted...," he said in a tweet.