This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Charkha Features. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

In Just 1 District In Rajasthan, 979 Schools Lacked Electricity. Here’s How It Got Fixed

More from Charkha Features

“Tamso ma Jyotrigamaya” (lead us from darkness to light) is the oft-quoted inspiring Sanskrit verse etched on many a school wall.

Rightly so, because the abodes of learning do dispel the darkness of ignorance by igniting the young minds through knowledge. But in India, many schools in its rural areas are immersed in darkness in absence of electricity.

Similar was the case of 979 schools in Nagaur district of Rajasthan which were non-electrified till a couple of months ago.

But all thanks to an initiative Ujaas (light or illumination) launched by district collector Dr Jitendra Kumar Soni, the students of these elementary and middle schools will return to a well-lit school campus after lockdown restrictions are lifted. Aptly named as UJAAS, the electrification of these government schools has been executed largely with public participation.

Image provided by the author.

It has been a rather long wait, though, for this milestone in the district, which holds the proud distinction of being the founding place of the Panchayati Raj system in the country.

Soon after joining as Collector of Nagaur district in July last year, Dr Soni learnt at a meeting with district-level education committees that hundreds of students in the district have to bear scorching heat since there’s no electricity in several schools. He immediately took cognizance of the fact and directed officials to identify the non-electrified schools.

Soon, an intensive survey was launched that revealed a total of 979 schools under the primary education department were without electricity. Nagaur is one of the largest districts in Rajasthan geographically speaking and electrifying schools situated in far-flung hamlets or villages was not an easy task. It needed substantial funds to execute the campaign.

An estimate was prepared and initially, those schools were taken up which could be electrified with available school funds or support from their respective Panchayats. Dr Soni decided to take the help of Bhamashahs (philanthropists) from industries, big companies and the public to help electrifying other schools located in far-flung areas.

His experience as Collector of Jalore district came in handy where under a campaign named “Charan Paduka Yojna” (footwear distribution scheme), nearly 30,000 underprivileged school children were provided shoes through public participation. The scheme met great success and was well applauded all over the state.

Vast stretches of sand dunes, blistering heat, scattered hamlets and village is a common geographical picture of Marwar region in Rajasthan,” says Rajendra Joshi, the headmaster of Hanuman Nagar Primary School, situated on the border of Nagaur-Bikaner district.

“With electricity in the school premise, we can now think of introducing multimedia teaching mediums. I noticed during the SMILE (social media interface for learning engagement) Programme that children evinced great interest in learning through audio-visuals,” he said.

Inspired by the initiative, the panchayats and individuals are gradually coming forward to donate computers to these schools. The process is rather slow due to Covid-19 and also because schools have not yet reopened. It’s likely to pick up momentum if the schools reopen as per the state government’s recent announcement to reopen schools from Aug 2.

Image provided by the author.

Since schools were closed due to Covid-19, the school staff could easily get the electrification done under their supervision without the tension of disturbing the teaching schedule. The required funds were generated through local philanthropists in no time and remaining expenses were taken care of from composite school grants and development funds available with schools.

“Normally, the basic cost to seek an electricity connection would be around Rs.4,500 but because of the huge distance from electricity pole to schools, the demand notice for some schools went up as high as Rupees Four Lakhs,” the Chief District School Officer Sampatram told.  As soon as the non-electrified schools were identified, Dr Soni directed the Education Department and Ajmer Vidyut Vitran Nigam to work jointly in a true mission mode.

“Dr. Soni personally supervised the campaign and took special efforts to motivate companies and organizations to contribute to the Ujaas campaign. There are some schools in hamlets, with a student nomination of merely five or six but no school was left out from the campaign due to low nomination,” Sampatram added.

Dilip Kumar Sharma, who heads the middle school (set-up in 1954) located at Kantiya dhaani in Khinwsar block of Nagaur, said, “Electrification of schools will definitely provide relief during terrible summer months and pave way for education through computers in near future.”

“I have myself studied in a government school and I can very well relate to the joy of the children when they will see their school having lights, fans or coolers.  Our thrust is that all government schools must have all basic facilities,” said Dr Soni.

Our next endeavour is to equip these schools with computers at the earliest. I am in touch with Bhamashahs and hopefully, the process will be expedited as soon as the Covid-19 situation improves, he added.

Like many old schools of Nagaur deprived of electricity since Independence, there are   11,154 unelectrified government schools in Rajasthan. Taking a cue from the success of the Ujaas initiative in Nagaur, the State Government has now directed to take up electrification of these schools with the help of philanthropists, gram panchayats and available funds with the schools.

The Chief Secretary, Planning, Naveen Jain has written to all the District Collectors on the direction of the Chief Minister to emulate the Nagaur model to electrify the schools in their respective districts.

After the success of UJAAS, the District Collector, who is also an award-winning author and poet, sensitive to the needs of the rural hinterland, is busy working on another initiative – “Ladesar” (the loving kids) aimed at improving the health of malnourished children in the district.

This article has been written by Dr Abha Sharma from Rajasthan for Charkha Features.  

You must be to comment.

More from Charkha Features

Similar Posts

By Suhani Srivastava

By Amar Saeed

By Prakhar Srivastava

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below