Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 : Poverty

Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. The aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion. On October 15th this year bloggers everywhere publish posts that discuss poverty in some way. The following is my little effort towards the cause.

Lighting hope in rural India

Poverty is one of the many social problems facing the world in general and India in specific. Poverty is not an isolated problem. Most of the other ills plaguing our society - population explosion, illiteracy, unemployment, child labour, natural calamities, lack of affordable healthcare, crime  and so on - have complex cause-effect relationships with poverty. So one cannot approach one of these problems without having to deal with the others. Fighting poverty is a task that requires the coming together of efforts of several sections of people. But sometimes, an individual with a strong will can make a huge difference. One such individual is Dr. Harish Hande who was named the Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation.

Who is a Social Entrpreneur?
Entrepreneurship is a buzzword these days. Whereas a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur assesses success in terms of the impact he/she has on society. A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem - rural electrification, in this case - and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change. 

Harish Hande was born in Bangalore, Karnataka and raised in Rourkela, Orissa. After completing his schooling up to 12th grade in Orissa, he went to IIT Kharagpur for his undergraduate studies in Energy Engineering. He then went to the U.S. to do his Master’s and later PhD. at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell,  also in Energy Engineering. Shortly after completing his PhD, he co-founded SELCO INDIA, a social venture to promote sustainable technologies in rural India. With its headquarters in Bangalore, SELCO has 25 branches in Karnataka and Gujarat. Today SELCO INDIA has installed solar lighting systems in over 85,000 households in the rural areas of these states. SELCO has pioneered access to rural solar electrification for below poverty line families through a combination of customized lighting systems, innovative micro-financing, and an understanding of market needs of different user groups.

Watch the following video documenting the success of Harish Hande and SELCO.


  1. The blogging community effectively changes the conversation on the web and focuses audiences around the globe on that issue.


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