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“It takes a village”: Making Indian villages smarter

Access to sustainable energy services is the backbone of development. Imagine the potential development of Indian villages if they had access to energy 24 hours a day!

“It takes a village to raise a child”, says the famous proverb. The message is that it takes the participation of an entire community to make a child grow up in a safe and healthy environment. In India, many villages today lack access to electricity, clean water, sanitation and nutritious food. What could happen if these villages had a constant access to energy services?

The potential positive outcomes of this idea were in focus when Innovation Norway and Smart Innovation Norway arranged a workshop on smart village development in rural India. A constant access to energy will act as an enabler for good education, healthcare, clean water, and improved livelihood. These outcomes will again contribute to boost income levels, gender equality and democratic engagement in rural India.

In a country with more than 650,000 villages, there is a huge potential of raising rural people’s living standards by providing 24/7 energy access, said Director of Innovation Norway in India, Helge Tryti. The local NGO Haritika, which participated in the workshop, informed that a local village-turned-“entrepreneur” in Madhya Pradesh has leveraged on such energy access to develop a small photo studio in the village. Before, the villagers had to travel fifty kilometers to the nearest town for this.

Norwegian technologies, concepts and solutions may help to create sustainable employment in these areas. Norwegian expertise in off-grid solutions, solar-based mini-grids, bioenergy, irrigation, and information technology are valuable in meeting the potential in rural India. However , apart from technology implementation there is a need to change mindset and create awareness through social reengineering among Indian villagers. Such social reengineering is critical for smooth adaptation , operation and sustainability of Norwegian solutions proposed to be implemented  in an India village.

The Smart Village workshop was organized by Innovation Norway and Smart Innovation Norway. Several Indian stakeholders, such as PowerGrid Corporation of India, Rural Spark, Haritika NGO, TERI, Indian Biogas Association, were present. We look forward to follow the development of smart villages in the future.