A Bright Idea that Helped India’s Poor
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Harish Hande’s first installation of solar-powered lights in a rural Indian home was a stealth operation. The founder of Selco India, then a 26-year-old engineer, believed passionately that millions of Indians living in darkness at night could have their lives transformed by solar technology. But he needed a customer who could afford to pay the high up-front costs of solar lights and testify to their merits.
In September 1994 Mr Hande asked a wealthy betel nut farmer in the southern state of Karnataka for permission to install the lights in his house. The farmer, who had never heard of solar energy, refused. But Mr Hande sensed the farmer’s elderly mother, who had listened attentively, was intrigued.
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