Tendulkar helps light up Maharashtra villages

Visually challenged students cut a cake to celebrate Tendulkar's birthday. Sachin Tendulkar has brought light into the lives of over a thousand residents of Velunje village, in Nashik.

Last Diwali (2012), the villagers were selected for a pilot project to provide electricity through free solar home lighting kits, courtesy a non-profit initiative, 'Spreading Happiness'.

Encouraged by the pilot project results, now Schneider Electric India will offer similar benefits to over 25,000 villages across the country which are still living in darkness, to mark Tendulkar's 40th birthday Wednesday.

The initiative took shape when Tendulkar was introduced to Schneider Electrics' "In-Diya Lighting System", an innovative, affordable and flexible solution to bring reliable, efficient and green lighting to people living without proper electricity access.

"In-Diya is a specially designed LED-based lighting system that operates on main power supply and/or solar power. It provides a backup of eight to 15 hours for indoor use with 50,000 hours of lighting across its life-cycle," said an official.

Aware of the challenges faced by many Indian villages, Tendulkar expressed a desire to Schneider Electric top-brass to take 'In-Diya' to the "real India" and light up the lives of people living in darkness for years.

"As a country, we cannot have our citizens struggle with darkness in their lives with the setting of the sun. We have to use advancements in technology and the capabilities of international majors like Schneider Electric to deploy solutions which can brighten the lives of our countrymen. 'Spreading Happiness' is a small step towards changing lives and bringing smiles to the faces of many people in the country," Tendulkar said.

Country president, Schneider Electric India Anil Chaudhry, said that its BipBop programme -- implying Business Innovation and People at the Base of the Pyramid -- is a sustainable one to bring safe, clean electricity to the most needy people.

It has carried out similar projects for people off the electricity grid in other countries like Nigeria, Senegal and Madagascar.

CAKE CELEBRATIONS

Tendulkar began his 40th birthday with a customary cake-cutting ceremony at the Mumbai Indians team hotel.

Earlier, the Cricket Association of Bengal celebrated Tendulkar's birthday a day in advance by cutting a 10-pound cake in the presence of 100 blind students.

Visually challenged students from Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission Blind School and Light House for the Blind cut the cake in the evening.

"We are overwhelmed with joy. We want Tendulkar to live 100 years," a message from the CAB read.

Wednesday's 40-pound cake cutting ceremony was a private affair held near the dressing room.

Tendulkar's wife Anjali cut the cake and fed him the first piece in the presence of Mumbai Indians team owner Nita Ambani and other guests.

The chocolate cake was made up of special cocoa from Ghana and Madagascar. It had an image of Tendulkar and the World Cup-winning moment of April 2, 2011.

Tendulkar thanked the people across India for forwarding their best wishes for his birthday.

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