|SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) is a global business and higher education partnership that mobilizes university students around the world to utilize knowledge learned in the classroom to develop business models, which address real world economic issues. SIFE HRC was established in the college under the stewardship of Principal Dr. Indu Shahani, and Faculty Advisor, Pratibha Pai.
The academic year 2009-2010 started
with SIFE HRC winning the Regional
SIFE India Competition in July 2009. This
led to our team being finalists at the
National Competition. The SIFE HRC
Faculty Advisor Pratibha Pai, won the
Faculty Advisor of the Year Award which
comprised a trophy and a sponsored trip to
the SIFE World Cup in October 2009 to
The core SIFE HRC Team was also
provided an opportunity to attend the
SIFE World Cup as observers, and this
brought about a huge motivation and
learning for the students. On their return
they decided that a much greater impact
would be possible if
the team shifted
focus to the rural
areas and helped
bring about rural
t r a n s f o r m a t i o n .
that around 400
million Indians lived
without access to
electricity and a
major proportion of
them lived below the poverty line. Many of
these were in Maharashtra, close to our
bustling metropolis, Mumbai.
Not able to digest the fact that just 100-150
kms. out of our beloved city, our fellow
Indians lived in such appalling conditions,
the SIFE HRC Team along with their
Faculty Advisor set out every weekend in
November 2009 to identify villages that
they could help transform. A discussion
with Hon'ble Minister for Rural
Development Shri Jayant Patil, led to
meetings with the Zila Parishad Thane and
great support from the COO Mr. Waigankar
and the Gram Sevaks of the villages.
And the rest as they say is History! SIFE
HRC has launched Project Chirag, a Five
Point Rural Transformation Model and at
the time of going into print, 2 villages,
Ujjaini and Ghaypatpada have been
successfully lit up with solar lights.
During the summer holidays plans are to
expand to at least 4-6 villages in Wada and
Needless to add that along with Spreading
Light, Transforming Lives of rural
Indians, the SIFE HRC Team has emerged
enriched and humbled.
The students of H.R. College took it upon
themselves to raise funds in order to pay for the
solar equipment. For one week the common
areas of the college were enveloped in
darkness as the lights and fans in all the
corridors were switched off. This graphically
illustrated to the students how it would feel to
be in darkness and sensitized them to the
cause. 'Missing for a Mission' was unveiled
as a teaser campaign where all the clubs and
associations were conveying one message -
they were Missing for a Mission. This
culminated in the campaign for spreading
awareness about '10 Rupees for Light'. Over
four days student volunteers generated awareness all over college and collected contributions.
| These four days concluded with a Carnival Day organized on the terrace of H.R. College the proceeds of which also went to Project Chirag. This was a grand success with a footfall of thousands of students. Four days was all it took to raise Rs.5,15,000/-. This was probably one of those occasions when the 6000 strong student strength of the college came together for a common cause.|
Today rural India is in great need of
transformation. SIFE HRC has thus come
up with a 5 Point Transformation Model to
tackle rural problems. This model includes
the five spheres of Educational, Healthcare
& Sanitation, Environmental, Economic
and Social Upliftment. This village
transformation model is called Project
Chirag - lightening up rural lives in India.
In order to implement these changes in any
village, the primary requirement is
electricity and thus phase 1 of the project is
to light up these dark villages, which have
never had any electricity, through Solar
| In phase 2 of this project, economic
activities would be carried out along with
establishing public kitchens, improving
educational infrastructure and aids, adult
literacy programmes as well as other skill
set enhancement training. The first phase
of this project would be a confidence
building measure which will then make it
easy to carry out phase two in a smooth
manner. SIFE HRC's vision is
Innovation” and keeping
this philosophy in mind the
innovative aspects of the
While financing through traditional means seemed the logical choice, it seemed important to involve students to experience the change they want to see in the world. This resulted in the birth of a new idea…
'10 Rupees for Light' which is a campaign launched by Mr. Deepak Parekh on the 21st January, 2010 to generate funds for lighting up these villages. For a donor, saving 10 Rupees daily for a year translates into Rs.3650/- which is the cost of two solar devices for each rural home. Thus '10 Rupees for Light' is a platform where everyone can make their affordable contribution, to be a part of the change they want to see.
Rather than buying the solar equipment directly from available vendors, SIFE HRC thought of empowering one community to light up another. The solar equipment to be provided to the villages was assembled by a paraplegic community. Besides raising the morale of the paraplegics, this initiative put them at par with the average individual to earn a respectable livelihood. This resulted in a rise in their incomes as they earn Rs.30/- for each solar device they assemble.
Innovative Mentors :
Dr. Indu Shahani led a delegation of students to meet the AICC secretary Mr. Rahul Gandhi to discuss the project. He appreciated the project and the efforts of today's youth towards bridging the gap between the haves and the have nots. Hon’ble Minister of State for Rural Development Mr. Jayant Patil has been a true guiding light by providing on the ground support from the relevant administrative arm of the Government. Mr. Ratan Tata and His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, Duke of York unveiled the first two lamps assembled by the paraplegic community and lauded the efforts and innovativeideas of the SIFE HRC students.
Spreading Light :
The core SIFE HRC team made several exploratory trips into villages that were just 3 hours away from Mumbai city but over a 100 years behind in development. A cluster of villages including Ujjaini in Wada Taluka were identified.
On 12th March, 2010, 82 houses in the village of Ujjaini were lit up with solar lights within a matter of 6 hours by a team of technicians and 25 SIFE HRC members. These may just be some random numbers but for villagers it meant lights in their
lives for a lifetime. Along with solar lighting, training and feasibility studies for alternate sources of income for the villagers were conducted. There were also sessions on Personal Hygiene, the Value of Savings and the Importance of Education.
Way Forward :
Within 48 hours of the successful implementation of the pilot project at village Ujjaini, adjoining Ghaypatpada and four other neighbouring villages will see light before the onset of the approaching monsoon. With this SIFE HRC will now move to Jawahar Tehsil where they have tied up with Pragati Pratisthan, a lead NGO. With 400 million people in India who have no access to light, SIFE HRC looks forward to scaling up the project pan India. We are grateful to all those who have helped in Spreading Light... Transforming Lives!