This was actually my second time to India. Compared to my first trip to India, I didn’t experience that much of a cultural shock. Yes, there were cows, monkeys, and camels on the streets. Yes, there was no toilet paper. And yes, the traffic was crazy and crossing roads successfully suddenly became a magnificent achievement.
Yet, this trip was far more rewarding than my last trip to India in a sense that I had more opportunities to communicate and interact with the people here. I was part of the Hariyali project, which was to look for the best solution to provide electricity to rural villages in Gujarat and Rajisthan state. Although we did not have as many trips to the villages as the other projects, we did spend a fair amount of time talking with our manager, Anurag, and interviewing SEWA members as well as business professionals.
One of the interviews was with Dr. Sudhindra (or Dr. S since we can’t really pronounce his name). Dr. S was one of our consultants in figuring out whether building a new solar plant in the villages would be a feasible solution. Before starting his own business in the solar industry, he worked for Motorola in the US for a number of years. The interview was done at his office. It was just a simple room in a large building complex. From what I could tell, there was only one assistant and Dr. S himself working there. Despite the simple facility, Dr. S greeted us with extreme hospitality and kindly explained to us all the nuts and bolts of a solar plant. The interview became one of the most fruitful learning I had in India. Coming on this trip I had never expected to be able to learn this much about the solar industry and the ways to look at cost factoring in energy consumption. Dr. S walked us through his solar plant cost analysis, which for me was more like a combination of finance skills and physic theories.
The interview with Dr. S made me realized how little I know of the different technologies in power generating. To be honest, I was first a little worried about our project and how it would turn out given that our team has no tech background. However, throughout this trip, I have been amazed countless times by how much SEWA members have achieved or trying to achieve, even with their limited resources. Their ambition to dream big is truly encouraging. I sincerely hope that as our team continues on with the Hariyali project here in Seattle, our discussions, analyses, and financial model will be able to provide actual contribution and practical recommendations to help them achieve their goals and improve the livelihood of the villagers.