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IIT Prof Chetan S. Solanki from the Department of Energy Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay, has toured the world to promote solar energy under the program Gandhi Global Solar Yatra. On Oct 2, 2019, which is the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Solanki wants 1 million students to make a solar study lamp.

Today, the world is on the crossroads of the energy contradiction, wherein the policymakers emphasize the need to provide energy access to the billions on the one hand, and on the other side, mitigating climate change is a humongous challenge. The world is already hotter by nearly 1°C. Climate change has dire consequences, and therefore, the world needs to adopt 100% Renewable Energy by 2050, in just 31 years according to the 2018 IPCC Report.

In this context, Prof. Chetan S. Solanki from Department of Energy Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay said that this is the time to bring “Energy Swaraj” on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s famous philosophy of “Gram Swaraj.”Prof. Solanki said that “Gandhi Global Solar Yatra (GGSY) is planned to promote localized energy self-sufficiency for sustainability, mainly for those who lack access, as it is possible today to provide 24X7, complete, cost-effective, reliable, and sustainable solar energy access while protecting the environment, creating livelihoods, and empowering locals.”

To promote Solar Energy and Energy Swaraj, Prof. Solanki has started his Gandhi Global Solar Yatra (journey) from Sabarmati Ashram from 25th December 2018. Prof Solanki said, “There could not have been a better place to start my Yatra other than the Sabarmati Ashram, where Gandhi Ji had spent his entire life in preaching the ideals of ‘self-sufficiency’ and ‘non-violence.’ Even though, I have visited Sabarmati Ashram earlier also, but I never felt this divine strength which I got this time.”

After spending two days in the Sabarmati Ashram, he embarked on his first international Yatra or Gandhi Global Solar Yatra in the South-East Asian Countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar. On his first visit to Universitas Syiah Kuala, he addressed the students on the need to mitigate the climate change along with the ensuring the energy access to all. He also gave them a demonstration of hands-on training of assembling a solar study lamp. He after visiting Indonesia, he addressed the students of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, in Malaysia.

Prof. Solanki confessed that while walking on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, for Gandhi Global Solar Yatra, he read this quote by Tomothy Berry, ‘When you try to do something, it is hard to fail completely.’ This quote became an inspiration to him, and now he is determined to spread the message of Energy Swaraj globally.

Visiting Myanmar became another source of inspiration for him, wherein he found that of 100 houses, 95 are firm believers of the Gandhian Principles. Given the electrification status in Myanmar, Prof. Solanki said, “Off grid Solar Technology is best solution for energy deprived close knitted communities of Myanmar. It would be well-suited that the communities skip one generation of tech, and go from wired to wireless.”

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