Lighting up the night

Caroline Hartnell

Having visited the Indian state of Bihar at the end of March, the experience of driving through the countryside as it gets dark is fresh in my memory. It is beautiful, fertile country – fields of ripening wheat with palm trees here and there and little villages nestling along the roadside. But as dusk approaches, and then night, complete darkness falls across the landscape, the little villages lost from sight.

The desire to bring light and energy to the estimated 75 per cent of the 90 million inhabitants of Bihar who have no access, or extremely limited access, to electricity is the driving force behind entrepreneurs like Gyanesh Pandey of Husk Power Systems and Anish Thakkar of Greenlight Planet, with whom I spent several days, visiting the villages where they are working and talking to the people who are benefiting. I was also fortunate to be able to meet some of those who are funding entrepreneurs like this, including Vineet Rai, who has created a complex funding system almost single-handed. The large number of pages in this issue of Alliance with my name at the top are based on what I observed and the conversations I had with these and many others. The September issue of Alliance will be back to business as usual, with articles coming from the usual wide range of contributors!

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