Anshuman Krishanu


Apart from food, air, and water, electricity has become a man-made necessity for the survival of the human race. Rural India has been playing a pivotal role in economic and civic sustenance through its agricultural prowess and will always have its dominance to keep the civilization going. This underlines the significance of the sagacious assertion by Mahatma Gandhi: “The future of India lies in its villages”. In such a case, rural electrification ushers a new life to the rural population’s agricultural and day-to-day life in modern India’s journey towards progress and development.

However, despite the strides made, there are challenges to overcome and opportunities to seize in this vital endeavour.

Access to electricity can enhance socio-economic conditions in developing countries by positively impacting crucial aspects of poverty, including health, education, income, and the environment.
As India focuses on uplifting its rural economy and empowering underserved populations, rural electrification emerges as a pivotal initiative. Access to electricity not only improves living standards in villages but also fuels economic growth by boosting demand for household appliances and catalyzing development across the country.

India’s rural electrification journey has seen significant progress with government initiatives at various levels. Schemes like the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) launched in December 2014, and the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA) in October 2017 have been game-changers in achieving household electrification. Following the achievement of last-mile connectivity through central schemes, which involved connecting all households and villages to the power grid, the government of India is mulling to set a target to deliver an uninterrupted 24×7 electricity supply nationwide by March 2025.

Challenges in rural electrification

Despite the progress, challenges persist in the path of rural electrification. One of the largest power outages in India’s history occurred in July 2012, leaving 62 crore people in darkness. This incident highlighted issues such as fuel shortages, idle generation capacity, and “policy paralysis” in the power sector.

Furthermore, rural households in India face significant disparities in electricity consumption compared to urban areas. Studies reveal that most rural households are yet to purchase basic appliances, and per capita electricity consumption remains well below the world average. The disparity in access to electricity hampers the overall development of rural communities and contributes to the rural-urban divide.

Seizing opportunities

Despite challenges, rural electrification presents immense opportunities for India’s growth and development. Access to electricity opens doors to various possibilities, empowering citizens and transforming their lives. Extended working hours for small businesses, improved health conditions, educational opportunities for children, and enhanced security solutions are just a few benefits of electrification.

Moreover, electrification drives economic growth by creating new markets for household appliances and spurring entrepreneurship in rural areas. It also paves the way for adopting renewable energy sources and promoting sustainability and environmental conservation.

Sum and substance

Rural electrification in India is not just about providing electricity; it is about unlocking the potential of millions of lives and driving inclusive growth. While challenges persist, the opportunities presented by electrification are immense. By addressing the barriers and seizing the potential, India can truly realize its vision of a brighter, more sustainable future for all its citizens. Rural electrification is not just about turning on the lights; it is about illuminating pathways to prosperity and progress for generations to come, as well as serving as a torchbearer for India’s journey towards “Viksit Bharat.”

Road ahead

India’s commitment to energizing every village with electricity has garnered international recognition. The International Energy Agency (IEA) hailed India’s efforts as one of the greatest success stories globally in 2018. However, sustaining this momentum requires continued investment, innovation, and policy support.

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To overcome challenges in rural electrification, a multi-pronged approach is needed. This includes enhancing infrastructure, ensuring reliable power supply, promoting energy efficiency, and addressing affordability issues. Additionally, community participation and stakeholder engagement are crucial for the success of electrification initiatives.

Views expressed by: Anshuman Krishanu, COO, RODIC Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

 

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