Sunday, July 25, 2010

SWADES movie in real life - An inspiration

How many movie scripts turn themselves to real stories? It is, however, another fact that several movie scripts are based on real stories or incidents. SWADES - a patriotic movie, was one of the best movies made in Bollywood. The core theme of the story was awakening Indians to do something(or give back) possible for their society - more so who are outside India. It requires great courage to be a character like Mohan Bhargava (played by Shah Rukh Khan) in real life. For some, such a character seemed impossible. Reality, sometimes, is far more different than conclusions drawn by the mind. 

So, this blog article brings you the case of Gyanesh Pandey - a Bihari who left for US long ago in search of better prospects and now has returned permanently. His research and knowledge is lighting up villages in Bihar. The parallel between the movie and this case study is the core theme.

Note: Most of the facts presented in this article are taken from a detailed article that appeared in Rediff. The source is this link. Also, this article is not about the technical aspects of the working. Every such mechanism will have its pros and cons. Nothing is perfect. What is sure is that it is changing the lives of thousands of people in villages.

Gyanesh Pandey is an electrical engineer who studied and worked in US for several years. Later 2 other friends - Ratnesh Yadav and Manoj Sinha joined. Manoj studied microprocessors and worked in US. The team researched and concluded through various experiments and developed a low cost model of generating electricity from husk. Husk is a product that goes waste in almost all villages.  While Gyanesh is the engineer returned back, Manoj is the MBA graduate taking care of business aspects.  The Chief Strategy Officer is Charles Ransler. Manoj and Charles are students of Univ of Virgina - Darden School of Business. The business plan they demonstrated won the most Innovative Award in Texas in 2008. Here is the link of the univ website.

 The above picture is that of Charles and Manoj.

This is what MIT Engineering Magazine published - Turning Abyss of Darkness into Islands of Light

The company they set is HPS - Husk Power Systems. The website is
  • Even the waste can be used as a manure and the process reduces carbon emissions drastically - almost 200 tonnes.
  • 120 villages in Bihar get 6-12 hours uninterrupted supply of power - 12 hrs is significant from having no electricity at all. The villagers have mobile phones but no electricity to charge and they would walk miles to get them charged for Rs.5-10 before they got electricity.
  • 3 villages in Uttar Pradesh too get power.
  • 50,000 villagers are getting electricity - something they have never dreamt of seeing in their lifetime.
  • 24 hours can be given but there is no such demand for now as villagers are beginning to realize the benefits of electricity.
  • Gyanesh has become GOD for people -
  • Future plan is go up to 200 villages by year end and select villages in Maharashtra later. By 2014 to reach 2000 villages across India.
  • West Champaran, Tumukha and several villages in Bihar are getting electricity - These have been extremely backward regions of India
  • 32 plants set up till date 
  • The Central Govt and Bihar Govt are ready to tie up with the company to generate electricity.
1 PLANT = can generate electricity for upto 5 villages (depending upon number of households - 2000 to 4000)
Each plant = Rs.15 lakh to set up and distribute
Each plant can supply 32 Kilo Watt of Electricity
Funding - done by Universities in US, World Bank = $4 million  and $75,000 from Shell Foundation
Efficiency = close to 99%.
Rs. 120 for running a fan and 2 CFL bulbs is charged from people while Rs. 80 is the charge for taking a connection.

 As Gyanesh himself says (SOURCE) - The entire village would be asleep by 8:30 – 9:00 pm. But now they stay up much longer. They don’t panic if they forget to carry a torch light.  Now they don’t have to pay to charge their cell phone - they can do it at home. Earlier, small businesses would charge the villagers Rs 5 - Rs10 just to charge a cell phone.”

"This is the best experience of my life…Electricity can seed a lot more than just some lumens of light. It can affect each aspect of roti, kapda and makaan (food, clothes and shelter).  And the way we do this ensures that every single individual who interacts with us goes feeling a little bit better about things.”

"This is certainly a welcome change in the villages. People can work longer if they wish to at night. Children who used kerosene lamps are able to study better. Women can do the cooking at a convenient time instead of rushing during the day time.Snake bites and burglaries have also decreased. Shopkeepers do business for a longer time. Electricity will also help set up small-scale units in the villages."

As far as his motivation to do this, here is what he says - "But the good thing is I had the drive, a motivating factor from within, to work in India. No one pushed me to do this."

Just imagine if even 10 such innovations can reach Indian villages - what power they can unleash. Progress can be made through simple ideas and these guys have proven it. I salute these heroes...

Further study can be done from the materials below:

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