Union Minister Arjun Meghwal was forced to climb a tree for a clearer cell phone signal as he experienced firsthand the ground realities of the Digital India dream at a village in Rajasthan. On Sunday, the Minister of State for Finance was visiting a village in his parliamentary constituency Bikaner as a component of a media campaign when he lost the network.
He realised it when, while conversing with villagers about their issues, he dialed officers however couldn’t get through.
A villager had complained to him about the lack of nurses in a local hospital and he had tried to call a health officer, without luck.
The village Dhoolia, 85 km from the closest town, is among some 200 hamlets nestled in sand dunes.
The villagers disclosed to the minister that it was almost impossible to catch signals from there, yet they had an answer.
“Climb a tree,” they told Mr Meghwal, who was baffled for a few minutes. The 62-year-old, who is always found in his trademark safa or turban, admitted that he couldn’t really climb a tree simply like that.
A ladder was brought immediately, to help the minister climb with his phone held high. And voila – his cell phone began getting signals.
A video of Mr Meghwal chatting on the phone to an official while balancing himself on the ladder has been broadly shared on social media.
As he finished his call, he climbed down to loud cheering and praise.
What Mr Meghwal had apparently discussed was the construction of a plant to assess water contamination.
After facing the network issue, he likewise directed the setting up of mobile towers in the villages within three months, at a cost of Rs. 13 lakh, and electricity cables.
For villagers used to life without TV and proper phone facilities, the minister’s visit has been nothing short of life-altering.