PowerCutsIN: A video interview I did in Karcha Village

(originally posted on the PowerCutsIN Blog)

September 16, 2011: This is the house of Mr. Sukhdev from Karcha Village, Banda, Uttar Pradesh where I had a chance  to visit during one of my work visits.

In this report we hear Sukhdev highlight the following key points: [link to report]

  1. When the transformer at their village burns out and needs repairing, unless they pool in money to pay to the district electricity department, they do not get a replacement. Which technically seems to be a bribe.
  2. The load on these transformers is high since many people use wire tap to the source lines to draw electricity to their homes even without a connection, which adds extra load on the transformer beyond its capacity due to which it fires and goes bad.
  3. They have electricity for around 10 hours mostly only during the nights when the transformers are working.
  4. Due to electricity, his kids can study during the dark for a couple of hours.
  5. Using fans, when there is power helps them to get rid of mosquitoes & diseases caused by them during summers.
  6. When there is no electricity during the night its scary because of threat of theft in the village.

You can view the video here with English subtitles below: [YouTube link]

Advertisements

TEDxShekhavati – Bhawri Devi & Mishri Devi – The Illiterate Entrepreneurs

One of the privileges I have had while working at GDS was working with these women farmers as part of our project in Rajasthan. So when Masarat and me met, and she told me about her plans to do another event in 2011, I was excited and was able to invite Bhawri Devi & Mishri Devi (Founder/Directors) along with my dear friend and colleague Shivraj Vaishnav (CEO) of the company Grameen Aloe Vera Producer Company Ltd (GAPCL) to share their story.

Bhawri Devi and Mishri Devi belong to the Jawaja Block in Ajmer, Rajasthan. They own a company that makes aloe vera juice and accompanying them is Shivraj Vaishnav who is the CEO of their company. These women who can barely write their own name are an inspiration to everyone who think that lack of education is an obstacle to achieving their dreams. In this TEDxShekhavati 2011 talk, they share their story and inspire everyone else to follow their heart.

You can view their talk here (with English subtitles) on the official TEDx YouTube channel. The women also appear in the TEDx promo video by TED.

Other speakers at the event included Manpreet Kaur, Osama Manzar, Avika Gaur (Baalika Vadhu fame), Rajvardhan Rathore, Nusrat Naqwi, Omer Mewati and others. Pictures from my camera are here and the other official pictures from the event are here.

The event attracted a huge audience (5000+) and it was bigger than the last edition and it was organised against all odds. Read Masarat’s post on the event here and Chris Anderson’s (TED Founders) post on the story of the event here.

TEDxShekhavati, is an independently organised TEDx event curated by Masarat Daud-Jamadar which takes place in the Shekhavati region of Rajasthan. This event is attended by Shekhavati people: parents, children, school students and others who will be coming from different parts of Rajasthan and India. It’s the first TEDx in Rajasthan and also first TEDx in India for a largely-illiterate audience, which makes it even more interesting!

Does this irk you?

I have been trying to recollect and blog things I have experienced and witnessed during my extensive travel throughout India. Recently(December 30, 2010) during one of my travel “dramas” where I took the wrong direction train, I witnessed something really weird and discomforting, to say the least. When the train was standing at this station, I saw this married couple get into the train and stand at the doorside for a moment. And suddenly the man started cursing the lady. Curses of the most ugly kind one can imagine and which, as I would put, can make your ears bleed out of shame. It was obvious from the way they two were dressed and came together, they were married. However, after the “cursing” episode, I was in doubt.

Why? Because the lady didnt utter a word in response to this man insulting in public among a lot of people.

Usually, the kind of women I stay around or work with would at least utter something back and some would just give him a stfu. But noone would just sit there and be insulted. So that left me with a lot of “Why’s” because hearing all those words outraged me.

I usually carry my camera around so I had thought of clicking his picture. I asked him, “Sir! Can I click a picture of you?” And he gave me a strange shocked look, but agreed (in a non-verbal way), so I clicked his picture. I guess as an effect of this action, he calmed down a bit and went out of the train to get some fresh air. I quickly asked the lady who this man was and how was he related to her? She told me, it was her husband. The husband was scolding her because he had asked her to stay at a certain “spot” until he went to buy the tickets and instructed her to not move. And as the train arrived, she might have just moved a little away from the spot. And hence, the husband bombarded her with insults in public.

It was a silly reason in my opinion. I told the lady, the village women I work with would have thrashed and beaten up such a man by now. She giggled and the husband returned.

Other co-passengers started telling the husband that “Its OK, and its not a big deal. Everyone makes mistakes etc and he shouldn’t be cursing bad words in public to her wife..” which was nice, but the husband still tried to make a point.

Anyways, the important point is it left me with a lot of questions:

  • What could be the reason for the lady to not voice back? Why the silence?
  • What could be the reason of her giggling when I go and question her being silent? I have met rural women who “command” the house & are confident however this gave me a different picture.
  • What would you have done in such a situation?
  • And finally, does the look of this man’s face irk you? (apologies for not posting the uncut picture, not sure if the anger on his face his visible)

TrainDelayHusbandPicture_129814943493652_2