Bikaner: Union Minister Arjun Meghwal was forced to climb a tree for a clearer mobile 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 part of a media campaign when he lost the network.
He realised it when, while talking to villagers about their problems, he dialed officers but could not 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 nearest town, is among some 200 hamlets nestled in sand dunes.
The villagers explained to the minister that it was almost impossible to catch signals from there, but they did have a solution.
"Climb a tree," they told Mr Meghwal, who was baffled for some moments. The 62-year-old, who is always seen in his trademark safa or turban, admitted that he couldn't really climb a tree just like that.
A ladder was brought immediately, to help the minister climb with his phone held high. And voila - his mobile phone started receiving signals.
A video of Mr Meghwal talking on the phone to an official while balancing himself on the ladder has been widely shared on social media.
As he completed his call, he climbed down to loud cheering and applause.
What Mr Meghwal had apparently discussed was the construction of a plant to assess water contamination.
After facing the network problem, he also 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 television and proper phone facilities, the minister's visit has been nothing short of life-altering.