Krishnan Pallassana: Change agents of social transformation

Reading time: 5 minutes
16 January 2015

NEW DELHI: Krishnan Pallassana, India Director, The Climate Group, visits an off-grid village in rural India to see how locals’ lives are being transformed by the low carbon technology that is lighting their homes thanks to our Bijli – Clean Energy for All project. Principally founded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery, Bijli aims to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing the lives of rural villagers in India, providing clean and cheap renewable and solar-powered energy.

Just before the Christmas break, I visited a Bijli project location in Shahada, Maharashtra. Nothing made me happier than to meet again the family of Amber Singh. Six months ago, the young Amber and his wife Usha with their infant son were hesitant, shy and unsure, having taken the huge risk of a poor family investing in a solar system. Today, I could see and sense the transformation in the family. And I am not surprised!

Back then, while Amber was away at work, Usha was at home. Today, that skinny shy woman has been replaced by a healthy lady facing men from metros with confidence. Six months ago, their infant son was sickly, always in a slumber and coughing constantly. Today, the wide-eyed toddler boy looks plump and hearty – and was constantly trying to grab our attention.

PROSPEROUS FUTURE

The smiling family’s new home solar system has clearly helped increase their income. Nowadays, Usha also goes to work, and at home she cooks under the electric lamp. I asked her when will she buy the TV she wanted six months ago. Peals of laughter follow and she says, “soon, very soon”.

The Climate Group is an agent of change, pursuing our mission to herald a new economic era that will usher unprecedented equitable social development and economic prosperity for all. Worldwide, our excellent team is committed to this shared mission; optimistic and positive despite the constraints and challenges that we face on a daily basis.

As we constantly search for that ray of motivation to keep us going, nothing works better than visiting those people who are experiencing the transformation because of our intervention. In my past two decades of social sector engagement in various countries, I have always looked up to the people at the grassroots for inspiration, be it the rugged and often insecure terrains of Afghanistan or the serene calmness in the islands of Andaman.

So after a long period of offices and busy metros, I could not think of a better energy boost than to visit the villages where our Bijli project has made a difference. On December 23, I set out to Shahada in Maharashtra to be with the villagers to find out if the opportunities we provided them with have indeed been realized.

THE IMPACTS OF BIJLI

Vinod, field representative of our partner S3IDF, was smiling from ear to ear when I met him on arrival. He had just completed a project that for him is turning out to be a grand success; from on-time implementation to people’s ownership and acceptance. The business model of the Bijli program was surely working.

I had only one request for Vinod – to take me to the same village where we went last time. I wanted to meet the same families and hear about the impacts of our program. That’s how I landed up at the door of Amber and Usha in Satpipri village.

Familiar faces greeted me as we walked through the village. Solar champion Kanti Lal greeted us and recollected my promise of coming back to their village soon. The immaculately organized home of school teacher Gulab Mitha Powra continues to astonish me. He says his children have improved so much in their studies since solar powered lamps adorned their homes.

There are new enterprises coming out of the solar mission too. Dama Ahanj, who has some health issues that does not allow him to do harsh physical labor, has started a grocery within his hut which is lit by his new solar system. His small business is growing and he has found a new vocation to sustain his family. His wares were prominent and shining under the white hue from the LED lights installed within.

For years now, we have taken energy for granted never realizing its true potential to enhance productive capabilities of people. Bijli project has brought in multiple benefits, most important to enhance productivity and thus create a social revolution.

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by Krishnan Pallassana

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