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Passion for a purpose

Passion for  a purpose
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Passion For a Purpose, Dark and Light, Lady with the Lamp. Darkness of any kind brings not only gloom, but a certain sense of insecurity too. Be it...

Lighting Up Lives

Darkness of any kind brings not only gloom, but a certain sense of insecurity too. Be it the darkness as in dark and light or the darkness of ignorance, the pain of being consumed by it is untold. Hence, its but natural to worship the light that leads you out of darkness into the world of ‘knowing’. Precisely OCOL (One-Child-One-Light) is giving that light which allows the rural folk to pursue education, day to day activities and extended work hours which adds up to their earning capabilities.

Like ‘Lady with the Lamp’, we have our own ‘son of the soil’, Dr Ranga who literally brings rays of light into the lives of many underprivileged. Dr Ranga (Ranganayakulu Bodavala), is the Founder President of THRIVE (an NGO working towards benefiting rural and tribal communities in Home Lighting, ICT, Education and Health using advanced and innovative technologies) and One-Child-One-Light campaign. Having served in the Rural Development sector for a long time, Ranga always had the burning desire to do something for the underprivileged. After seeing the rural folks’ lives from close quarters, he realised their basic need for a proper light and decided to light up their lives. Hans India’s rendezvous with this spirited Harvard alumnus, brought into light various aspects of our country, its ‘true pace’ in development, human’s zest to learn and much more….

How does it feel to be a Harvard alumnus?

It gives a great confidence and courage, since you rub shoulders with stalwarts, scientists and even Nobel Laureates. You see people with a vision who wish to make their lives into fruitful endeavours. This inspiration is enough of an impetus to keep you fuelled life-long.

How did OCOL come into being?

Kerosene lamps and toxic fumes are common sights in any hamlet or even towns after sunset. As per our Census, India alone has over 120 million (12 crore) school going children and more than 70% of these children still depend on oil lamps for studying in the dark. The Indian Government faces a huge deficit of nearly Rs 24,000 crore per annum due to subsidies on kerosene, and faces huge losses as nearly 40% of this is pilfered and sold off in the black market. How can the Government’s Right to Education initiatives be truly implemented meaningfully if our children have to struggle to study in pollution and dim light in the first place? There is a dire need to address this issue at the earliest. Seeing the rural folk go through this hardship for education was heartrending. This propelled me to launch a large scale social initiative with the support of likeminded and highly motivated individuals who would promote the concept and ensure wide-spread awareness and gather as much support as possible to make this happen – and thus One-Child-One-Light (OCOL) was born.

What is OCOL’s mission?

OCOL's mission is to support every underprivileged child's right to education by giving a safe, clean and low-cost study light.

The mission sounds idealistic, but did it take off easily? Especially when such huge financials are involved?

Having a vision alone is not enough. A workable action plan is mandatory. If finance is one hurdle, convincing people to shift to LEDs is another Herculean task! Since this was my baby, initially I funded the project entirely from my pocket. As the programme gained momentum, philanthropists sponsored Study Lights for children from rural schools. Corporates and industries incorporated the OCOL programme as part of their CSR activity.

In most of the implementations, local OCOL LED Light Assembly Centres are established with the village SHG members through the assistance of local NGOs. Training and host of other support and even Working capital loans are provided by Thrive Solar. Thus this creates value addition to the project in terms of employment creation potential.
How is LED superior over the desi kerosene lamps?
LED Study Lights are highly efficient, solar chargeable, much cleaner, brighter, and safer to use. They are very cost effective and can be provided at prices as low as Rs 100-400 each. LED is a type of semi-conductor diode which is known for its efficiency and durability. For a watt of electricity consumed, an LED could produce more luminosity (Lumens) brightness than any known CFL (which was the nearest competitor) or Tube-light. The LED batteries did not drain out quickly unlike when used with CFLs or other lights and as a result the battery charged well and lasted longer, giving about 1 lakh light hours as compared to CFLs which gave only about maximum 20,000 light hours. It also comes with a guarantee of three years.
Apart from these economical and output factors, LED lights also withstood the health test. They are also safe to use, as the lights are enveloped in plastic casing that are sturdy and heat resistant.
In case of a power cut, can Thrive Energy’s solar panel (manufactured in Germany) be used for charging the study light?
With all the positives in favour of the LED lightings, the OCOL team is constantly striving to further improve upon certain existing shortcomings as well. These include steps taken by them to make the lights even more affordable, reduction in failure rate, improving charging systems, comfortable sighting and increase in safety.
How would you describe the government’s approach towards widening energy access, providing electricity/modern energy services to remote and deprived areas of the country and popularising clean/renewable energy?
Things move a bit slow when government is involved. After rigorous pursuance with the Chattisgarh government for years, I could convince them to take up an initiative to make Chattisgarh a kerosene-free state with cabinet approval.
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