Mr Nivalkar Gajanan, not only transformed his life by learning how to use a PC, but has also shared his digital knowledge to improve the livelihood of 160 farmers, women and children living in a remote Telangana hamlet.
Nivalkar Gajanan comes from Gimma village of Adilabad district in Telangana, and was studying for h
is diploma in Industrial Training when he first learnt how to operate a PC. From paying utility bills to maintaining records, and from learning about government schemes to learning about the world, the many uses of a computer and the potential it represented left him awe-struck.
In 2010, determined to introduce people in his hometown to the convenience and excitement of using a PC, Gajanan set up a Common Services Centre (CSC). The centre, like others across the country, aims to make e-governance services accessible to the common folk in non-urban India. For a small fee, village level entrepreneurs, who run the centre, help digitally illiterate villagers use the internet to apply for go
vernment schemes and avail different government benefits.
In 2015, the Government of India announced the Digital India programme, and launched the National Digital Literacy Mission to ensure that every household in the country has at least one digitally literate individual. The initiative inspired Gajanan to start training government health and education workers on how to use the PC. It was when he was training students in the local government school that he struck upon the idea of training an entire village. The sarpanch of Akoli extended his unconditional support to Gajanan.
In January 2016, Gajanan started enrolling one member from each of the 160 households in the village. In a small room in the gram panchayat, he set up four of his own PCs. He even invested in two Wi-Fi hotspots and an LED screen.
Next, he divided the villagers into different batches: housewives, children and farm labourers were taught in the morning, from 7am to 12 noon. Farmers were taught in the late evening.
Gajanan followed a pattern of interspersing classes with fun competitions to assess the progress of the villagers and to keep them engaged. Prizes such as school bags for children, LED bulbs for women, etc were given to motivate learners.
At the end of the course, many villagers were adept at using the PC, a fact that was reflected in the results of their official assessment by the National Digital Literacy Mission, and Akoli was declared Telangana’s third 100% digitally literate village.
While Gajanan bore the cost of training the villagers himself, he was awarded Rs. 65,000 by the Government of India when the villagers successfully completed their assessment. Gajanan reinvested this money in the village, setting up a permanent computer centre with two PCs and an internet facility.
Today, children from the village use the PC at the centre to access free tutorials online, while farmers use them to get tips and suggestions about farming. Computer knowledge has also translated into better employment opportunities for many; some of the trainees have been hired by Gajanan himself to spread digital literacy to other villages in rural Telangana.
Source : The Better India