Monday, August 8, 2011

Necessity the Mother of Technology Advances in Rural India?

I remember in the seventies and eighties even we, living in a mega metropolis like Mumbai, couldn’t get a telephone line and in the nineties, at a heavy cost to India (please google "2G scam"), cell phones took off in India. Suddenly, even our villagers had connectivity. So many of them might not have had light, clean water to drink or proper roads to walk on amongst other things. But they had cell phones! 

The light they used was smokey kerosene lamps that polluted their air, gave them breathing problems and made their eyes water. But now, guess what? Fed up of kerosene lamps, our villagers are powering their houses with solar panels. They kept waiting for a power grid, one that was promised by - you guessed it - their Government. But year after futile year of waiting and the electricity grid never did reach so many of their villages. It just remained an empty promise. Many of them had invested heavily in getting their houses wired in anticipation of the grids being introduced in their villages. Unfortunately, it was hard-earned cash that went down the drain. Now, thanks to the private sector, they've shelled out once more to have solar panels installed on their roofs.

Solar powered houses have one or two problems. The main problem is that the installation cost is high. But when villagers are shown how they make up the cost in no time at all by not spending on kerosene which gives them so many health problems, they've started buying in enthusiastically. There are other problems too. Without getting too technical, it is to do with ac-dc currents and batteries. But the advantage is that solar panels are relatively maintenance free. And the more they are used (as in Germany) the cheaper they get.

As for the government electricity grids which have already cost them dearly, they have been forced to write that expense off. Still, they are thrilled and who can't help but be happy for them.

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1 comment:

  1. Bringing light to the poor in Philippines.