This professor-led NGO is lighting up villages across India with solar-powered lamps

Chirag Rural Development Foundation, which has brought solar power to 400 villages till now, aims to electrify 15,000 villages and impact two lakh lives by 2020. 

India is the world’s third largest producer and consumer of electricity after the United States and China. But, millions of people still remain in the dark. While a number of projects have been taken up by both government and private agencies, an NGO is lighting up the lives of people in rural India.

The Chirag Rural Development Foundation (CRDF) has successfully electrified its 400th village, Baldyachapada in Mokhada, Palghar district, in Maharashtra. It also plans to introduce solar-powered lamps in over 16,000 homes under its project Chirag.

The project was started in 2010 by 62-year-old Pratibha Pai, a professor at H.R. College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai.

Pratibha Pai
Pratibha Pai, on the extreme left, with team members of project Chirag. Source The Logical Indian

She initially started Chirag to electrify villages with the help of her students. However, what started as a holistic venture became her passion after it started bringing a significant change in the lives of people.

The next year, in 2011, she left her full-time job, and focused more on the project under her newly co-founded NGO. Sharing why she started her NGO, she told DNA:

“There are thousands of villages in this country with no electricity, and we wanted to bring about a change in rural India.”

Nine years and counting, Pai’s NGO has come a long way. With the help of a local NGO called Diganta Swaraj Foundation, it has electrified its 400th village in India. With this, Pai has benefited around a lakh people in rural India.

Pratibha Pai
Launching the solar power lift irrigation system. Source Free Press Journal

In a conversation with The Logical Indian, she said,

“We identify villages based on their needs for electrification, visit the area, and come up with a proposed plan.It is a 360-degree model that not only brings light, but also impacts lives by addressing issues such as education, livelihood, health, and environment.”

A single project runs into lakhs, and to carry out such large-scale electrification, the NGO collects funds from corporates and private companies. It charges a nominal fee for the solar equipment to give a feeling of ownership to the villagers. The charges are waived off for areas that are extremely poverty-stricken.

Pratibha Pai
Source Free Press Journal

In addition to this, the NGO also conducts seminars and orientation programmes to help villagers understand the need to use solar energy and avoid using kerosene lamps.

Apart from the installation of solar panels, the NGO undertakes maintenance work to keep the lights running. For instance, Pai explained,

“The solar panels are only required to be wiped when dirty and the battery needs to be changed once every two to three years.”

Not just homes, but even street lights and solar power lift irrigation systems to water fields have also been taken under consideration. The NGO also educates people on how to save money to afford solar batteries, which can cost anywhere between Rs 300 and Rs 500.

The NGO is present operating in Meghalaya, Assam, Uttaranchal, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan. It plans to electrify 15,000 villages and impact two lakh lives by 2020.



School children’s from seven different states of India reached Chandigarh for this year’s 1st Children’s Peace Fest-CPF2019, being organized jointly tomorrow on martyrdom day of Mahatma Gandhi, as part of the worldwide 150th anniversary celebration of Mahatma Gandhi, by Yuvsatta, Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights-CCPCR, Department of Environment, Chandigarh Administration and State Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh. The programme has been organized at two places of Government Museum & Art Gallery and Government Home Science College, Chandigarh.

Sharing her joy Deepali, Coordinator of Zila Parishad High School at ISO Village Patoda of Aurangabad, Maharsahtra, who had come to Chandigarh with her School Principal and 10 School children’s for the event said that there village is also a model of rural development and Chandigarh is an urban model. So for them there is so much to see, learn and grow along with people of Chandigarh. Gagandeep Singh of Baba Aya Singh Riarki School at Hoshiarpur District which is also known as Shanti Niketan of Punjab with 3500 meritorious students and no teachers shared that they have brought with themselves a pictorial exhibition on life of Mahatama Gandhi to spread his message of ‘Ahmisa and Service before Self’ wider.

Other prominent guest students are from Cresent Public Sr. Sec. School, Banuri, Teh. Palampur, District Kangra, Carmel Convent School, Jammu, J & K, DAV Police Public School, Madhuban, Haryana, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) and Youth for Integration, Dhaleshwar, Agartala, Tripura. The unique thing about the Children’s Peace Fest this year is that these guest students will be staying with local students families ‘Student Host-Student Guest’. And host Schools CL Agarwal DAV Model School, Sector 7B, Carmel Convent School, DAV Model Sr. Sec. School (Lahore), Sector 8C, Gurukul Global School, Manimajra and St. Stephen’s School, Sector 45, Chandigarh.

Grant available to NGOs | HSBC Skills for Life-2019| Last Date to apply is extended till 31st January 2019

Dear Changemaker,


The Swades Foundation in partnership with HSBC is inviting proposals from NGOs, for skills projects that have specific emphasis on empowering youth from disadvantaged communities/ background through skills training.

We welcome you to explore this opportunity for financial support, please visit for detailed information on the programme, eligibility criteria and the process to apply for grant. The deadline to submit your application is January 31, 2019.


Click here to download the application pack.


You may also circulate this RFP with other NGOs who you feel might be eligible to apply.


More about HSBC Skills for Life in partnership with the Swades Foundation

HSBC Skills for Life is a five year INR 100 crore commitment by HSBC India that will focus on employment linked skill development of disadvantaged youth, upskilling of teachers and educators, and women’s empowerment through financial education and livelihood enhancement. Under the umbrella of this programme, HSBC and Swades have forged a five-year INR 50 crore partnership that will skill many thousand disadvantaged youth across the country and indirectly impact and inspire many others.


As part of this joint programme, HSBC and Swades have announced this ‘Request for Proposal’ seeking proposals that will focus on employment linked skill development of disadvantaged youth. The grant available ranges from INR 25 lakh to INR 75 lakh, for projects with duration of 12 to 18 months.

Across the previous three grant cycles (i.e. 2016, 2017 & 2018), we have approved grant of over INR 33 crore to 68 NGOs across 21 states.

NGOs registered in India as a Trust, Society or a Section 25/ Section 8 Company, and having a valid FCRA registration only are eligible to apply.

Read more about this grant opportunity at



With best regards,


Manager – HSBC Skills for Life

Phone  : 022 61093731 [Mon – Fri; 10 AM – 5 PM]

Email    :

Lifeline Express of Impact India Foundation: A Profile


Impact India Foundation (IIF), an International Initiative Against Avoidable Disablement established through a United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution, was launched by the Government of India on 2nd October 1983. Its aim is to act in partnership with the Government as a catalyst bringing together the corporate sector, Non Profit Organisations, professionals and the community in mass health projects of National priority, using existing delivery systems and available infrastructure. Today, Impact is active in fourteen countries under the banner of the International Federation of Impact Organisations (IFIO).

IIF’s vision is to catalyse  healthcare systems to make India disability-free by developing strong and replicable healthcare models through partnerships to reach India’s under-served population. The Lifeline Express (LLE): This has been ably demonstrated by the Indian Railways’ partnership with IIF which has enabled the Lifeline Express – the World’s First Seven-Coach Hospital Train donated by the Indian Railways – to conduct more than 1.43 lakh surgeries for the rural poor and medically benefit over one million patients – all free of cost – in the remote, Tribal and Naxalite-prone areas of our country: 199 projects conducted across 135 Districts in 20 States of the country, over 27 years.

The Lifeline Express  has so far provided medical services made possible by the “donated” services of about 200,000 medical professionals from India and abroad.  About ten Lifeline Express projects are held at remote railway stations every year; each halt for a period of a month to provide free-of-cost corrective surgeries: Cataracts, Hearing impairment, Cleft Lips & Post-Burn contractures, Post contracture releases of Polio, and Cerebral Palsy cases, Club Foot, the treatment of Epilepsy & Dental problems, as well as, the recently introduced Oral, Breast & Cervical Cancer, Prevention of Stroke, Family Planning & Health services. About 8000 persons benefit at each location. The Lifeline Express is a recipient of numerous accolades including the United Nations’ Grand Award for Excellence in Public Service and has been honoured by the Government of India with the release of a National Postage stamp. This programme has been replicated by four Lifeline Express trains in China, two in South Africa and Riverboat hospitals in Bangladesh and Cambodia.

1. BBC’s film on the Lifeline Express (LLE): “The Magic Train” v=TNqjOTx6nR0 . The film documents the 101st LLE project held at Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, in 2008 which medically served 6263 disabled rural poor persons.
2. BBC’s  ten-minute film on the Lifeline Express telecast in 2016:
3. Reuters news coverage of the Lifeline Express:
4.  SBS Australia TV telecast a film on August 28, 2018, on the LLE which covered the 193rd Lifeline Express at Latur, Maharashtra in June 2018 benefitting 10207 patients. Please click  on the You Tube link (or copy and paste on your browser window):
This film was re-telecast on Al Jazeera TV on October 21st evening.

The Community Health Initiative (CHI) – a sustainable, replicable model in partnership with the Government covering two million Tribals in rural Maharashtra – achieved, in its first phase (2005 to 2012), 72% reduction in disability in Thane District, using existing infrastructure and available delivery systems for sustainability. Please view “Rainbow of Hope”:
The programme has evolved into a well-integrated set of preventive interventions aimed at the holistic improvement of the health of the community, with specific focus on Reproductive, Maternal, Neo Natal and Child Health + Adolescent (RMNCH+A). The CHI’s current model focuses on Adolescent girls to break the cycle of malnutrition at the individual and inter-generational levels. Investing in their nutrition is a prerequisite to ensure adequate returns on investments made in their empowerment, education, livelihoods and as potential mothers. There are 113 million adolescent girls in India; about 56% of them are anaemic.
Another intervention is Maternal Nutrition Supplementation: Combined with Nutrition Education, Diet Supplementation and Counseling on Ante & Post Natal Care, the project monitors and improves outcomes of women’s pregnancy and lactation periods and their infants’ progress. Yet another project aims to strengthen the Government’s Anganwadi (Day Care Centre) systems to ensure children aged 0-5 years and mothers are malnutrition-free.