Villagers in Dughati, Rajasthan, saw their lives lit up with the coming of electricity in their village.
Until recently, villagers in Dughati used to live in darkness. Cooking on wooden fires, using oil lamps or kerosene to light up their houses was the norm. People could hardly navigate the dark roads of the village at night, and women were struggling to cook the evening meal. But two and a half months ago, thanks to the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana(RGGVY) scheme, an electricity connection was set up in the village.
This scheme was launched in 2005, with the aim of increasing the pace of electrification in rural India, where, despite repeated promises from the government, 60% of households still have no access to electricity. Under the scheme, basic infrastructure such as distribution of transformers and distribution lines are provided. An electrical connection is set up in public spaces like schools, panchayat offices, health centers, dispensaries and community centers.
When asked how he feels about having electricity, Hemant, a lively 10-year-old boy replies with a large smile: “Good!”Unmati, a middle aged woman, was proud to be shot while talking over her newly purchased mobile phone. For them, as for the 35 families living in Dughati, life has dramatically been changed with the electrification of their village. Electricity has brought increased comfort and safety in their lives.
Most of them still feel astonished by this modern miracle, and still experience a feeling of uneasiness when dealing with electric appliances. Thus, Nirma is thrilled to receive electricity in her house. She purchased a fan which is indispensable in the burning heat of Rajasthan, but she is incapable of switching it on or off. “It happens automatically,” she claims, and indeed the extremely irregular supply of electricity often stops all appliances.
The families, who are all Below Poverty Line card holders, have been provided an electric connection free of cost, as they are entitled to under the RGGVY scheme. They will now have to pay electricity bills with the meager income they are surviving on. They will also have to buy electric appliances. For many, electricity is still limited to a mere bulb in the living room.
Despite these barriers, electric connection has transformed Dughati village. Electricity is essential to development. It is often ignored, but literacy is correlated to electric connection, because kids can ultimately study at night when they have light at home. It can also improve comfort, for women in particular, and spark mechanization of agriculture, thus improving productivity, and villagers’ income. Simply, electricity enables to start a circle of change, bringing a ray of hope into remote villages, where development is still not explicitly visible.
Sunita Kasera is our Community Correspondent from Rajasthan. She defied the traditional mindset that pervades her state to become a Community Correspondent. Today’s story came her way through a series of chances and unexpected meetings. She was contacted by students from Alligarh University who had seen her videos. Impressed by her work, they wanted to have her as a guide to help them conduct their research in rural Rajasthan. During the course of this work, Sunita came across Dughati village. Surprised to see bulbs and streetlights in the village, she investigated further and came to know that people had very recently received electricity for the first time. Seeing their excitement, she decided to make a video. She chose to prioritize the interviews of women, because she felt they were the ones who suffered more from the lack of electricity.
She received cheerful support when she was shooting. People were delighted: just two and half months after receiving electricity, they were also witnessing film making for the first time. “All villagers were extremely cooperative. We even swapped phone numbers, and we are still in touch now. They sometimes call me or visit me.”