What makes India a “third world country”? I would say that, above all, it is the fact that hundreds of millions of people in India still go without electricity. It boggles the mind to imagine just how much our human capital goes waste because of this. The lack of electricity snuffs out the chance to open a small business. Just think of all the young kids for whom it is a struggle to do their homework in the evenings. With the lights on, think of the books they could be reading, the information they could be getting off the internet and the fresh ideas they could have come up with.
It also goes without saying that the most deprived here would be members of the so-called “lower castes”, Dalits and tribals, etc.
So, here is Fadnavis government doing something wonderful to celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti.
The father of India’s Constitution would certainly have approved.
When Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, the government identified as many as 18,452 villages in India that had not even been electrified. More than two-thirds of these villages have now been electrified.
But there is more to this statistic than meets the eye. As per the government definition, a village is considered “electrified” if a mere 10% of its households have electricity connections. In other words, even if a village has 90% of its households living without electricity, it is still a village that has been “electrified” in the official sense.
So, the real number of villages without electricity in any meaningful sense is likely to be frighteningly higher. What a sad commentary on our country 70 years after independence.
The 192 Dalit dominated villages that Fadnavis Govt is electrifying today will not be fed some official, bureaucratic definition of “electrified”. They will be given 100% electrification. Electricity for every home. Sabka saath, sabka vikas.
As per the TOI report, these 192 villages are spread out across 20 districts of Maharashtra. The villages include 34 in Akola, 25 in Amravati, 22 in Buldhana, 20 in Nanded, 15 in Washim, 13 in Yavatmal, 8 in Gadchiroli, 7 each in Chandrapur and Solapur, 5 in Hingoli, 4 in Nagpur, 3 each in Ahmednagar and Beed and 2 in Wardha.
This project will be carried out under Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojnaand the Saubhagya scheme.
It also goes without saying who benefitted the most from keeping India in the darkness. Who benefits the most if people are frozen in time, thinking exactly like they did 70 years ago?
Who benefits the most if women are tied to the kitchen, trying to cook with firewood, destroying their health (not to mention destroying the environment) in the process? Who benefits the most if the young people think exactly like their parents did?
Well, it’s a simple question. It would mean that the party that ruled for 60 years would be able to stay in power indefinitely. This is a simple fact that I hope people will understand. The Congress Party has absolutely nothing to gain from moving the country forward. In the 50s, their vote share was above 40%, by the 70s and 80s it had fallen towards the 30% mark. Around 1999/2000, it fell further to the 25% range. In 2014, it fell below 20%. If it falls further to below 15% or 10%, the Congress can forget about coming to power ever again.
In other words, Rahul would have to be really silly to want this country to move ahead.
Okay, I guess I walked into that one. Sorry.
Let’s rephrase. Let’s just say that the establishment that supports Rahul Gandhi would have to be absolutely silly to want this country to move ahead.
Hope you remember this simple fact when you go out to vote in 2019.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.