Martin Luther King Junior rightly said, 'Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that' Light denotes, hope and tranquillity in our nation. Growing up in metropolitan cities, leading a fast life and working towards things we desire, has kept us distant from the reality. Growing up in an economically stable household, in an atmosphere where even an air conditioner comes under necessity than luxury for us. An hour long power cut used to feels like deprivation, making this comfort so naturally available that it isn't something we've to feel grateful for. Thankfully being among the same bunch of people who've got everything in hands, had made me fall into a perception where the real situation has always blinded. Electricity comes so naturally to us that apart from an hour or two power cuts , it never felt something so great to have. Reality struck when we witnessed what struggle for something as basic as bulbs/fans could be. We've grown up watching black and white movies where women would fan their kids from newspapers to provide them some comfort, but I was taken aback when I could experience something I felt a developing nation must have had overcome. What seemed like a black and white movie to us, was the brutal reality of most of the villages. The same villages who were acknowledged only during the census in the past years. After years of giving hopes and bashing them in their faces with every succeeding year, they confounded to their fortune and gave the hope to lead a normal life where their children could dream. But, September 2017 came as a pivotal moment for them. The turning point, they had wished and hoped. The government on 25th September 2017 launched SAUBHAGYA (Sahaj Bilji Har Ghar Yojana) with the aim of achieving 100% electrification of all households. And within 15 months as promised, the government successfully achieved the same target. While this might sound unreal, but amidst all the difficulties and struggles, the scheme turned out to be revolutionary. The scheme has especially succeeded in reaching out to people living in numerous habitations which would have remained outside the ambit of any electrification scheme if not for its foundational premise of ‘universal electrification’. Living in the never ending darkness, people of these villages found themselves stuck in a puzzle of feeling dismissal which had made them resistant from seeing themselves as a part of any growth opportunities and possibility of thinking beyond. The scheme although promised the provision of electricity but what just seems like a resource for upgrading the basics of living turned out to be a pathway for rebuilding futures. Girls in the villages have grown up struggling to find a midway where they could balance education and take care of their households. We met a family with 4 daughters where the elder daughter was studying in 9th grade but held the responsibility of cooking for the entire family. For years she had to wake up with the sun to study because the day would pass doing household chores, and attending school. From working in scorching heat but still keep the flame to study ignited, electricity not only gave her extra hours to have a day beyond just sunlight but also the comfort to sit with her other sisters, make them study along, eat dinner together, she adds how it felt like a family for the first time in all these years. While, hearing their struggles of all these last years got us goose bumps, the kind of excitement a 5 year old girl came up with to share how they bought a new music player to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi this year, warmed our hearts. For us festivals are about new clothes, decorations, lights, sweets but to see how people have been deprived of even celebrating festivals together came to me as another blow. Saubhagya to us might be just an initiative the government took, for the 'betterment' but who knew it'll turn people back into families, houses back into homes.
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