Spouses of African leaders to visit Akshardham temple

New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) Spouses of African delegates will be treated to a diverse mix of Indian heritage and culture starting with a visit to Swaminarayan Akshardham temple on Thursday.

They will also interact with “solar grandmothers” who light up homes in Africa using solar energy.

Ruchira Kamboj, India’s ambassador to Unesco, told mediapersons here that the nearly four-hour programme for 17 first ladies will be a “very diverse mix” and it attempts to show Indian heritage and culture.”

“Solar grandmothers”, the women, aged over 35, being trained on harnessing solar energy at Tilonia village in Rajasthan’s Ajmer district at an organisation called ‘Barefoot College’ run by Sanjit “Bunker” Roy, were also present at the media interaction.

Kamboj said the programme for the first ladies was “composite”.

Asked if spouses could have been taken to heritage sites like Qutub Minar and Humayun Tomb, she said there was a narrow window of about four hours to cover all events and the programme was finalised after consultations.

The first ladies will witness a modern fashion show, highlighting the handlooms of Varanasi and will be treated to Indian food. They will also be shown how to prepare Indian delicacies within a short span of time.

The Third India-Africa Forum Summit got underway on Monday with the summit meeting being held on Thursday.

Roy said that illiterate and semi-literate women from non-electrified villages all over Africa have been trained in six months to turn confident and competent solar engineers. Instructions were imparted through sign language.

He said the training has been imparted since 2008 through India Technical Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme of the Ministry of External Affairs.

Over 270 solar grandmothers, he said, trained from 36 African countries have electrified over 160 villages covering nearly 12,000 houses and had saved close to one million litres of kerosene.

“What the barefoot model has powerfully demonstrated is the advantage of a partnership model for Africa that benefits the whole community than just a few,” he said.

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