8minutes brings sunny days to Lucknow’s first women’s mosque


Did you think Delhi’s pollution levels this winter were alarming? Time to revise some facts, because Lucknow wasn’t far behind the national capital. From the concentration of coal mines and coal-fired thermal power plants in the area, to power crunches in the scorching summer heat – Lucknow sees it all.

With a mission to bring some much-needed clean air and sunshine to this smog-filled city, 8minutes, a solar energy solutions provider, helped the Ambar mosque in the city go solar. The mosque started in February 1997 by Shaista Ambar in defiance of patriarchy, has played a unique role to facilitate a dialogue within the community on women rights. With installation of solar panels on the roof, the mosque will not only feed electricity back into the grid, but also help improve air quality by reducing its carbon footprint.

Team MarkUp spoke to Arjun SriHari, the brain behind initiating the solar campaign, to understand the efforts that went into making this a success.

What was the idea behind initiating this campaign?

The idea was very simple. We wanted to set a good example. Plus, we wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to go solar. It’s something you can do right now and something that rewards you from day one, in terms of the savings that you realize, as well as the benefit to the environment.

What went into executing this?

There was a lot of coordination in terms of various stakeholders who were involved. It is an all-women mosque, and Shaista Ambar had to face a lot of opposition, in terms of the traditional elements present. Behind the scenes involved trying to reach out to her, and I think she bought into the idea very quickly. So, there we didn’t face much resistance. Once we got her on board, there was a point of getting other people involved. Then we had to figure out how we’re going to pull this off. We analyzed their bills and their electricity consumption. We were quite sure, we wanted to do it, but we just wanted to be sure that it makes sense.

After that it was more of a push to make sure, relevant people are on board. And I must say, it was very smooth. They were quite proactive in getting us what we needed, and they helped us wherever they could. We also had to see how we could amplify this message. Shaista Ambar does a lot of great work for people, and is well-respected. So, we wanted someone like her who could disseminate the message to a wider audience.

How important is it for a brand like yours to impart social message along with a campaign?

I think it is critical to everything that we do. It is about changing the mindset. It is almost like telling people to go vegetarian, because you are asking them to give up something that they have been using for years, and are comfortable using, or had no other choice. Moreover, a lot of people are also not aware of the alternative. You’ve been conditioned into thinking there’s only one option.

Similarly, for 60 years there’s a power company that has dominated your life, given you sub-standard service, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.  But now there is a change, where you can take your power consumption in your hands and decide how you want to consume energy. It is about education and awareness, and so, most of what we do starts with education and awareness. There are myths that need to be busted, lot of baggage that we deal in terms of misinformation. Education and awareness are important for anything to do with social impact.

What are the most essential elements of video marketing?

If you’re able to capture human element in a video, I think that’s very powerful. Nothing has the sort of pull that visuals have. Images are very powerful. When you add emotions to that, it becomes even more powerful. So, we wanted to capture this woman’s struggle, we wanted to capture the good that she’s doing, we wanted to capture the progressive mindset that she has in terms of going solar, and we wanted to capture how this can be used as a case study for a much larger set of people.

Debarati Dasgupta

Debarati Dasgupta

Debarati is a senior content writer at BoringBrands. She churns out blogs and social media content for clients, when not busy fantazising and writing about her travel adventures. Debarati has previously worked as a correspondent with Reuters News and as a copy editor with HT Mint. Find her on Twitter @DasguptaDebbie

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