Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech this year, claimed that 10,000 of the 18,000 unelectrified villages (according to 2011 Census data) have been electrified now. Is that claim true in spirit?
An article in First Post cites research published by Rahul Tongia, a Fellow at Brookings India, adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an advisor to the Smart Grid Task Force of Government of India, which throws interesting insights to this problem of ‘electrified’ but unelectrified villages.
In an op-ed piece in The Hindu published on 7 October, 2014, Dr. Tongia, citing the 2011 Census data, wrote that if we considered household-level data, only 55.3 percent of rural homes used electricity as the primary source for lighting. The figures were lower for houses with a wire as per National Sample Survey data.
Dr. Tongia argues that a village can be called electrified only if majority of the households have good supply of electricity and ends his article saying, “why we need meaningful electricity service, not merely a wire connection to every household.”
The effort is welcome, the First Post article concludes, but, in the process, it shouldn’t end up as mere paper exercise.
VIDEO: Rahul Tongia on Rethinking Access and electrification in India
Trump made the case that only he could effect change by blowing up the system. Modi, in the same way, did have a persuasive narrative that small changes at the margins can’t tackle deep-rooted problems like corruption. We needed big and painful changes, really disruptive ones.