Their Life Starts with Sunshine...
It's not shining in Rural India - Walk with me in a village of UP which has never seen a "Light bulb" !!
“India lives in villages” were the golden words of Mahatma Gandhi many decades ago.
Ironically, after almost 7 decades the data does not seem to disagree. Today a majority of the Indian population still live in the villages. Though there is substantial migration from rural to urban areas in India for work & employment, still almost 65% of India continues to live in rural areas and 1/3rd of it below the poverty line.
I was on an official trip to UP village called Ram Baksh Kheda, approx 30-35 km in the remote district of Mohanlalganj (a Lok Sabha constituency), southeast of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. I thought, this is not that far from the state capital to have been ignored continuously for years, by all political parties and municipal bodies .. this was a village, as a local cab driver put it, "that has never seen a light bulb" !!
When asked what would they do if they had access to light, it became clear that their ambitions were small, really small... It was hard for them to imagine their future any better than their parents or grandparents. Education for the kids, or for that matter anything, sewing, cooking, household, farming etc all was limited to the daylight. They retire as the day retires..
With no electricity, the village relies solely on kerosene, which is expensive despite government rationing (1/3rd of their total income is spent in buying kerosene) & has many health hazards. Security is a big concern after dark. There were narratives of snake bites and related deaths after sunset.
For them, their day starts with sunshine and is over with sunset.
However, our netas and bureaucrats seem to be ignorant about all this. They talk about “Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikaas” which means “Taking everybody along and development for all” .. where is the development share of Ram Baksh Kheda and thousands of such villages and people living here?? There are tracks for cycles in an urban city where you hardly see many cycles, but there are no roads for the poor ! There are massive monumental memorials & parks being built, whereas the poor children in villages still struggle for good education, sanitation and healthcare or even a light bulb...
It's not over yet.....there is a silver lining !
Lot of people today are working on rural development and there are many startups focusing on this sector - esp. sanitation, healthcare, agriculture, education. I wish them all the best from the bottom of my heart and applaud them for doing good for social upliftment of the society and contributing to lessen the gap of urban vs rural. Rural, being "The Golden Pyramid" of the eco-system.
Hopefully, there will be a "lightbulb" in every house and "sunshine" in everyone's life.