In a world as established as ours, it is desolating to see how under-developed some areas remain and how unequally technology is being spread. Today in India, more than a billion person do not have access to power which we, occidentals, depend on and take for granted. More than a billion can’t see the world past 5 pm; more than a billion can’t access the internet; more than a billion are caged by the misfortune of being born in poor countries who do not put science in the hands of the people…
In fact, the problem in India today is that the enormity of the territory combined with the lack of financial abilities restricts many districts of having access to electricity. This shortage is clearly a burden to the economic growth of the country since people are ‘paralyzed’ as soon as the sun disappears. Of course, the government is aware of the situation but poverty and lack of expertise terminates all plans and initiatives taken to solve this strenuous issue.
Luckily, fresh corporates and startups have emerged proposing promising solutions that would bring light and power to many rural areas that were yet abandoned. Omnigrid Micropower Company (http://www.omcpower.com/) from Waiting for Light (by Jake Abrahamson) is a great example of companies that have come up with some genuine ideas and used science for the improvement of humanity.
In fact, “corporates” always denoted a negative connotation when it comes to the domain of science and research. Generally, businesses in this sector are denounced for relentlessly seeking for profit regardless to any damage or social harm it may cause. We find many examples where the work of companies has been subject to critics and controversies (fracking industries, gas industries, nuclear plants, pharmaceutical industry…). The common point to all these cases is that science was always seen as a profitable practice, something that can lure consumers who become victims of a bigger conspiracy.
Reading about the work of OMC impressed me and stirred my enthusiasm. The rising of promising enterprises that seem to know how to use science effectively is reassuring. In fact, it seems that some corporates finally found the perfect strategy and method to implement and use science at its true value. OMC is an India based company that leases at cheap rates electrically-rechargeable lanterns and batteries to rural Indian households who do not have on-grid power supply. What’s remarkable in the company’s work is that each part of the deal receiving the desired outcome/profit. Rural families are having light and electricity! This allows them to go get water at night; it allows them to spot snakes and animal predators and stay safe; they can connect to the internet and learn about the world; children can study and adults do the labor… On one side, bringing light and electricity to everyone is first and foremost a social success: you’re not only promoting equality but also economic growth since people are being more productive and connected to the rest of the world. On the other side, the economic value of science is also directly affected since the corporate is earning money by leasing the lanterns, thus achieving its purpose which is to make profit. Finally, the process is created while respecting the environment, as the lanterns are recharged with solar energy.
To conclude with, the company clearly met its ambition: it is using science for the development of humankind while understanding the social value of science (making it available and clean), with its economic values interrelated and not dissociable (one leads to another).
I honestly believe this company should be hailed as a poster child to the industry, as it is promoting the real value of science: a “science for the people”.