Enriching Empirical Visit to Nuh

I have been travelling to Smartpur locations across the ten districts in India and this is a travelogue of my journey to the district of Nuh, Haryana where there are 10 Smartpur centres. Having connected with the district coordinator and the entrepreneurs of the ten centres on call I knew them, however, I was excited to meet them. Around 11 am, we reached the Nuh Hub centre, in Tain village. As a humble gesture we were welcomed by the Smartpur team there. I witnessed the hard work that the team has put in to gain the confidence of the community in Nuh. Initially when the Smartpur project started in Nuh the community was extremely critical and apprehensive about the initiative.

Don’t Ring the Alarm Bells

Parwada in Visakhapatnam is an industrial area; consequently, talks of industrial safety measures and fire hazards are frequent among its inhabitants. Ever since a fire broke out last year and claimed eleven lives, the frequency of such conversations has, understandably, increased. DEF believes that not only the workers at these factories, but also their children, should be provided with adequate information and made aware of safety measures so that they are able to help themselves and others. Therefore, DEF collaborates with the local government school and runs drills and practical workshops. Our Project Officer, Tiru Patel, is particularly engaged in and motivated to make sure that the children in Parwada gain practical knowledge, become aware of the circumstances around them and learn how to react appropriately.

Country-wide Women’s Day Celebrations

On the occasion of International Women’s day, Kaithwalya Hub Centre in Ghazipur district held an elaborate celebration to commemorate its women participants and its students for their outstanding contributions. Our SoochnaPreneurs also addressed the women at the centre and spoke to them about their rights and laws that guarantee those. After this, the students who come to the centre to learn computer skills addressed the people at the centre through a presentation on women who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of society. The students spoke of Mother Teresa, Savitribhai Phule, Rani Lakshmi Bai and of many such women who have inspired countless others through their work, fearlessness and dedication. Some students even recounted their own stories of overcoming hurdles and cited them as examples of female agency.

Governance & Finance Awareness Camps in Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh

Since the establishment of a DEF Centre at Vikrampur two years ago, we have worked tirelessly to organise activities and drives that help us remain true to the vision of ‘Smartpur’. Many noteworthy activities have transpired in the past and, with our most recent events, we are determined in our efforts to carry the endeavour forward. On 17th February 2022, Vikrampur Hub Centre organised a governance camp where two retired government doctors, Dr Jagat Narayan Singh and Dr Mukhtar Singh, informed the attendees about various government schemes that they could avail. This session was attended by thirty-two of the most senior inhabitants of the village, among others.

Leveraging Digital for Relief Opportunities in a Pandemic

When the lockdown was first imposed in March 2020 and everything was shut down, rural and remote India was the worst hit. Unlike the urban populations, people from rural and remote locations in India didn’t have access to fast-speed Internet connectivity, many of them did not possess a digital device per household member or have access to the many mobile apps that made the stay-at-home a little more bearable for their urban counterparts. Transitioning to online banking, grocery and food delivery or work from home didn’t come as easy to them. This population was not just unable to access services but was also ignored by the systems largely, leading to their further marginalization due to reverse migration, loss of livelihood, poor access to health care, reduced access to food supplies and disconnect from educational opportunities, among others.

Providing Digital Services in Unconnected Regions of Telangana

Chouttupal is a one hour drive from Hyderabad on the Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway. Jagdish, Digital Empowerment Foundation’s project officer in Chouttupal had sent me the location of DEF’s centre in Chinna Kondur village near Chouttupal. As I drove on the busy highway I wondered why DEF had opened a centre so close to the city as we are known to be present in remote locations. All my doubts about this centre’s location were assuaged as I turned left from the highway at Chouttupal. The 6 kilometre drive from the highway till Chinna Kondur is through a forest, the one village that comes before Chinna Kondur seemed like a rural village in the heart of a forest.

Digital Development in Nuh

On 11th Feb, 2022 I got an opportunity to visit the Smartpur centre in Nuh. The primary vision of the program is to empower marginalised communities in information dark regions to access, consume and produce information online using digital interventions and ICT tools. The district has lush green fields on both sides and as I crossed them I felt excited to see what awaits me at the centre in the village of Tain. I along with my co-worker were welcomed by Mr. Samar Khan, the district coordinator. He gave us a brief introduction about DEF’s activities in the district and then he showed us the classrooms where digital literacy classes were being conducted by Mr. Deepak, the computer trainer.

Digital Inclusion at a Young Age

During recent time digital technology has reached to a new high and digital divide has widened too. Concentration of users in the urban and semi urban areas and on the other hand rural areas are still crawling to get digitally equipped and driven. Digital technology not only connects to the world but also opens doors of opportunity in building a career and earning a living. One such place is Nayakdih village in Uttar Pradesh, being an outskirt area digital footprint can be seen but quite limited. Like other teens Harsh too is interested in digital technologies- mobiles, computers, tablets and more. But the nearest computer-training center is 3 kilometers from his home; few of his friends go there. It charges Rs.600 per month, which is like a significant part of his father’s income, which would be too much to ask from his father.