Last year, a proposed deal between the Indian government and the US – which would see India given access to American nuclear technology – almost brought the Indian government to the brink of collapse.

Kalawati BandurkarDuring the debate, Rahul Gandhi, son of former Indian prime minister Rajeev, gave an impassioned speech in the Indian Parliament in support of the deal. In his speech, Mr Gandhi spoke of the life of Kalawati Bandurkar, a poor woman in the village of Jalka. He spoke of how Kalawati and village were without electricity for much of the day and how ‘poverty is directly connected to energy security’.

Kalawati became a media figure in the nuclear debate and a symbol of India’s energy security issues. In October last year, the government won the debate and the deal was signed. But when will Kalawati and her village get their electricity?

They got it this week.

March 30, 2009, Jalka, Maharashtra, India A young boy is enthralled by one of the fans and several computers, which will now be powered by the solar panels that Greenpeace installed at the Zilla Parishad School, Jalka village. © Peter CatonClean and reliable energy arrived in Jalka in the shape of solar panels that power ten fans and two computer in two of the village’s schools. It took a mere three days to do. Kalawati’s children are amongst the 100 children at the schools.

Centralised energy production has not helped Jalka as called for Mr Gandhi. Despite the Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Station being only 70 kilometres from the village, electricity from it arrives sporadically as cities and large towns get a priority for electricity supply. Decentralized electricity generation from renewables such as solar power will give villages like Jalka true energy security.

How Rahul Gandhi’s nuclear ambitions were going to help the likes of Kalawati and how long it was going to take, he didn’t explain.

The spinning fans and working computers in Jalka show that it can be done now, done quickly, and without nuclear power. And this is only the beginning…

(Photos: Right, Kalawati Bandurkar. Left, March 30, 2009, Jalka, Maharashtra, India A young boy is enthralled by one of the fans and several computers, which will now be powered by the solar panels that Greenpeace installed at the Zilla Parishad School, Jalka village. © Peter Caton)

More information is available at Greenpeace India