Published: 04th August 2017
These riders are lighting up the Northeast, one pedal at a time
These riders on a cycling tour tell how they are bringing electricity to an isolated valley in
Arunachal Pradesh and the joy it brings them
Many of us might have lived away from home at some point in our lives. If you have, then have you ever wondered how it would be if you weren’t able to call the folks at home because of the lack of electricity back there? This is the question that instigated 28-year-old Mehar Kaur to take up the 11-day cycling campaign that is responsible for lighting up 80 houses in East Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh.
Ride To Light, an initiative by Further & Beyond Foundation, a Bengaluru-based NGO, aims at bringing electricity to remote tribal homes in Northeast India in a sustainable way. The campaign is a six-day ride from Tezu to Anini that takes place between January–February. The net earnings go towards The Batti Project that is responsible for lighting up the houses later in the year.
Kaur, like her 13 companions, signed up for both an adventure and social impact. "I knew that it would be great to see that part of the country, but having such a humbling experience by bringing some changes was the cherry on the top," says Mehar, who works as a graphic designer in Punjab. "As Gandhi said, if we take care of our villages, we don't have to worry about the development of the country. So, why not start with them," she adamantly believes.
The trip was an impeccable experience. One, I never expected the terrain to be that traffic and population free. Two, meeting the locals who, I think, were the most selfless people helping our crew. Such are the things that stay with you for life
Lokesh Jain, a participant
Dhruv Ghosh, who has been working closely with the project as a strategist, believes that electricity is an organic need, considering India was one of the first countries to get electricity after London a hundred years ago. "It hit me when a native told us that he wouldn’t want people to walk into his home in the dark," he says, pressing on about why it is a basic need for anyone.
The terrain from Tezu to Anini wasn't an easy path for the riders and 32-year-old Lokesh Jain, who has been on many cycling tours, accords that. But who wants easy when you can experience the snow-capped mountains, unparalleled terrains and an escape from the rat race. "The trip was an impeccable experience. One, I never expected the terrain to be that traffic and population free. Two, meeting the locals who, I think, were the most selfless people helping our crew. Such are the things that stay with you for life," the Bengalurean says.
Talking about the campaign, Dhruv says, "We have designed the trail to suit these amateur cyclists. We cover 300 km in six days; that’s 50 km a day on an average, with a crew following the riders. " In return, the riders individually crowdfund the money to buy the solar light panels for the targeted houses. This, according to Dhruv, facilitates two things — the riders become more invested in the cause and a wider network of people through their contacts. And when this act of physical strength, days of sore legs, and altruistic thoughts come together, it brings light — physically for the valley's natives and spiritually for the riders.