Television viewers had an amusing time when during the just concluded campaign for the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly elections, a senior leader of one party claimed that many places in the state were still bereft of electricity.
And pat came the reply from the leader of the rival party ruling the state, “Just touch some wire there and you will know the truth. The taste of the pudding lies in eating it.”
Such barbs of sarcasm apart, it can be said that scores of young men in many villages in Uttar Pradesh are waiting to get married but no parent is prepared to give away his daughter to any of them — all due to electricity or rather, the lack of it.
These young men are fully qualified to be ideal husbands, having completed their academic or technical courses and are either already earning or are ready to take off. Most of them are endowed with handsome looks, robust physiques and all that should compel any family to give away their daughter under the age-old tradition of arranged marriages. In some cases, the parents of eligible young women had initially been willing but their daughters emphatically gave out a big ‘No’, leaving parents in a strange dilemma.
In the process, these young men are getting older by the day, not knowing when their bachelorhood will come to an end, if at all.
There is no such problem in the case of the young women. They continue to get married to young men from other villages, much to the chagrin of these unfortunate eligible young men whose bachelorhood and the related agony is getting extended for no fault of theirs.
Some of these villages located in the vicinity of Lucknow, the state capital, are among those that have never had electricity. So when parents of eligible spinsters come fishing for qualified grooms, they return empty-handed. They will plainly tell the young man’s family that their lovely daughter won’t be able to survive in their ‘dark’ village.
That is a very plausible position. There is no electric bulb, fan, television set and any other electrical gadget that is indispensable in any 21st century household.
“How can you expect any girl of today to spend life in your home?” they ask the father of the most eligible bachelor in the village. And the poor fellow remains speechless.
Like any other person elsewhere, people in electricity-deprived villages also bought television sets, refrigerators, mixer-grinders and the like in the pious hope of using them to the brim when their village got electrified. But that has not happened for years despite promises by the concerned authorities.
The villagers were promised that there would be the early installation of transformers and provision of electricity poles. Consequently, all these gadgets are lying encased in their packaging, only gathering dust.
Worrying about warranties
When they will see the light of day is a matter of guesswork. The buyers have now started worrying that the guarantee/warranty periods on their goods may already have lapsed. That would put them to further loss.
That is not all. Most of the youth in these villages without electricity acquired cell phones and small laptops which require frequent recharging.
So they rush to electrified villages and even to Lucknow.
It is needless to emphasise how indispensable the cell phone is in today’s life, electricity or no electricity.
It is a real anomaly that we talk of development day in, day out, but hundreds of villages continue to be deprived of this basic necessity even after 69 years of independence.
The phenomenon is prevalent far and wide. But it is ironic that it has happened in Lucknow’s hinterland also, quite close to the renowned medical centre, the Sanjay Gandhi Post-graduate Institute, and a few kilometres away from the seat of the state government.
For the young men, every day they see electrical gadgets lying around in their homes brings fresh hope that one day electricity will come to their homes — and in its trail their long overdue bride.
However, these prospective grooms are painfully aware that she will only come when electricity comes. Poor bachelors!
Lalit Raizada is a journalist based in India.