Surprisingly, in a city like Bangalore where people are so advanced in technology adoption, there is little awareness in terms of solar energy
-- Subramaniam Parmesh, who works for the trust in Bangalore.
Ranganayakulu Bodavala was working for World Bank in Afghanistan when he realised that children out there could not study because there was no electricity. They did not even have kerosene. He wanted to provide study lamps to the students out there, but for some reasons could not do it. Months later Bodavala came back to India.
However, the thought of providing study lamps to students stayed on in his mind. Years later, he gave shape to this idea and formed One Child One Light (OCOL) foundation—a project that aims at providing solar study lamps to poor students.
"OCOL trust promotes usage of low cost solar lights, that are cost-effective and environment-friendly. It is meant for school-going children who study at night with the help of kerosene lamps, which are not only expensive but are also harmful," says Subramaniam Parmesh, who works for the trust in Bangalore.
Since 2009, OCOL has reached out to six lakh children directly and indirectly. The organisation has engaged with government, NGOs, individuals and corporates to spread awareness about the benefits of solar lamps and lights. "We also provide lanterns to daily wage workers, tailors at a subsidised rate," he says.
To keep the income flowing so that they can continue their endeavour to provide solar lamps free to students, Parmesh visits corporates and apartments on a regular basis to sell various solar products they manufacture. However, the adoption has been low so far.
"Surprisingly, in a city like Bangalore where people are so advanced in technology adoption, there is little awareness in terms of solar energy. I often ask corporates and MNCs to allow me to set up a stall in their campus to display our products and spread benefits of solar energy . But no company has shown much enthusiasm so far," he says.
He has even approached apartments, but the reaction so far has been muted. "Selling products commercially is important in order to continue our voluntary work," he says.
To ensure that study lamps provided to students are not sold off by parents, regular inspections are being made. "We tell students that they have earned this lamp as they have studied hard. We try to educate them by saying that if they study, they will earn rewards like this in their life," he says with a smile.
Parmesh hopes that these children when they grow up understand the value of solar energy.