If you want to know why electricity matters, ask the people of Dharnai – a typical Indian village of around 3,000 people in Bihar, Eastern India.
Dharnai’s residents grew up without electricity, in a place where work had to finish at 6pm, and venturing out at after dark brought the threat of attack. Villagers pooled their resources, raising 45,000 rupees to join the grid. But despite their efforts, they request was denied.
When, by chance, a villager met a charity worker on a train in 2014, it seemed they had solved the problem. As a high-profile experiment, the charity offered to install solar panels and batteries across the village. But the experiment failed. The system immediately became overloaded, the poorest were excluded by high prices – three times that of the mains power.
With constant blackouts, rationed hours and repeated disappointment, the villagers’ hopes turned to anger. When a prominent Indian politician arrived at the village to admire the project, Dharnai’s residents had had enough. Meeting him with placards, they demanded affordable and reliable energy – or as they put it: ‘real not fake’ energy.
The demonstration worked. A week later Dharnai was connected to the grid. They now have electricity for their homes and businesses, day and night. It has been transformational. Children no longer had to study by dim kerosene lamps. Street vendors can trade at night. Residents can own mobile phones. Friends can meet up after sunset for chai and a gossip.
The villagers are now aspiring to a better life and a brighter future for their children.
Affordable power means more time for learning, socialising and growing a business. It’s security and opportunity at the flick of a switch, in one of the poorest parts of the world. We may take it for granted, but Dharnai’s residents don’t. That’s why electricity matters.
But they shouldn’t have to fight for it. It shouldn’t take a high profile visit from a local VIP to get connected to the grid. Now we need to fight so they don’t have to. If you agree, join our movement today.