Monday, January 19, 2009

Welcome to SELCO INDIA!

In SELCO we believe that poverty is the greatest threat to the environment. The poor use some of the most inefficient and polluting types of fuel. They do that not because it is cheap but, because they do not have a choice.

In 2009, India is supposed to be growing at a rate between 7-9% however, 650 million of its citizens still do not have access to reliable electricity and many more millions do not have access to cleaner forms of cooking.

Most of the population seem to be insulated from the growth that the government and many of the corporates are celebrating! The classic line taken by corporates is that the growth will have a trickle down affect. Well, let us not fool ourselves with percentages, growth patterns, demographics and so on. From our own experience in the field – we can boldly say that the trickle down effects have been more on the negative side than positive. The growth has led to increased migration from the rural to urban, drastic growth of slums in urban areas, unimaginable pressure on limited resources like water and other basic amenities: well we can keep going. What we need to ask ourselves is who is responsible? – All of us are!

Today we are hiding behind programs like CSR activities, Green initiatives, Volunteering etc. These are not solutions that will make a big difference. They will not lead to any concrete solutions to the complex problems that make up the whole issue of poverty.

We all need to act fast – not in coming up with solutions – but with putting in processes to apprehend the problems and bring out the appropriate solutions. There is absolutely no quick-fix solution to poverty – we are not selling soap or shampoo packets here. We are trying to come up with solutions that will address the basic needs of the poor and not the ‘wants’. The wants have been conveniently disguised as needs by the corporates that are making a mockery of the sector called as ‘rural markets’. Most of the supply chains created to ‘capture’ the rural markets have been one-sided. Not only are the solutions ‘rich’ centric but we also expect the poor to buy the goods that the rich produce and we hardly reverse the supply chain in a way that the poor can have access to the ‘rich’ markets.

For a sustainable solution to alleviate poverty – many of the processes need to be reversed. Solutions have to come from the stakeholders (the poor) themselves. – but they need to be provided with appropriate infrastructure, tools, access to finance and so on.

We, in SELCO, believe that sustainable energies like solar energy can lay the foundation for creating the appropriate platform for the poor to come out of poverty. Decentralized technologies using sustainable energies cement the missing links in many parts of the chain – a chain that will lead them to a better quality of life in a more holistic way. SELCO INDIA has provided reliable services to more than 100,000 households and for many we been partners with to take the 1st step away from poverty.

We will express our views on a variety of subjects through this blog and welcome your thoughts and opinions to engage ourselves in an open discussion on how we can move closer to, if not finding solutions, at least asking ourselves the right questions that will point us in a direction to alleviate poverty.