Dig­i­tal de­vices put Boisar vil­lage on path to progress

PM’s Ru­ral Out­reach Finds Tak­ers

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Mo­hammed.Wa­ji­hud­din @times­group.com

At a top floor class­room of a mod­est build­ing at Dandi­pada in Boisar, Pal­ghar dis­trict around a dozen stu­dents, many of them mid­dle-aged men and women, sur­round their young teacher Deven­dra Sankhe. With vis­i­ble ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence, Sankhe demon­strates on his lap­top the “won­ders” a mere click on the mouse can do. “Af­ter you have logged in, you can use the in­ter­net, go to gov­ern­ment web­sites to learn about var­i­ous schemes, ap­ply for farm loan waiver and schol­ar­ships on­line,” Sankhe tells his stu­dents who dili­gently try to grasp the points he so earnestly ham­mers home.

This is not a usual com­puter train­ing cen­tre where you pay to learn or a cy­ber­café where surfers pay by the hour. This is one of the skill cen­tres es­tab­lished un­der Prad­han Mantri Gramin Dig­i­tal Sak­sharta Ab­hiyaan (PMGDISHA) in part­ner­ship with Sid­diqui’s Ed­u­ca­tional &Wel­fare Trust (SEWT). Be­gin­ning with Pal­ghar dis­trict, SEWT, one of the gov­ern­ment-cer­ti­fied train­ing part­ners, has set up 36 cen­tres in the dis­trict and aims to es­tab­lish around 400 such cen­tres across Ma­ha­rash­tra. Apart from be­ing ab­so­lutely free, the 20-hour pro­gramme trains dig­i­tally il­lit­er­ate in­di­vid­u­als (between 14 and 60) in ru­ral ar­eas on how to use tech­nol­ogy to com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively. PMGDISHA as­pires to reach one mem­ber from ev­ery el­i­gi­ble ru­ral house­hold in the coun­try by March 31, 2019. “City folks have bet­ter ac­cess to tech­nol­ogy and learn to use dig­i­tal de­vices eas­ily. But it is a real chal­lenge to take dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion to the dig­i­tally il­lit­er­ate ben­e­fi­cia­ries in ru­ral In­dia where tech­nol­ogy pen­e­tra­tion is lim­ited,” says SEWT’s pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Anis Sid­diqui. The gov­ern­ment pays Rs 300 per can­di­date di­rectly to the train­ing part­ners on suc­cess­ful cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of trained can­di­dates, adds Sid­diqui.

It cer­tainly has be­gun trans­form­ing the way vil­lagers used tech­nol­ogy ear­lier. So house­wife Neelu Prasad who de­pended on one of her five chil­dren or hus­band who works in an MIDC unit if she wanted to make a call on her mo­bile has learnt to do it her­self and is aware that a fraud­ster can con her if she re­veals her bank ac­count de­tails to him. “The idea is to break the dig­i­tal di­vide and em­power ru­ral cit­i­zens with the knowl­edge to use dig­i­tal de­vices for ac­cess­ing, cre­at­ing, man­ag­ing and shar­ing in­for­ma­tion. The trained in­di­vid­u­als will be able to carry out cash­less trans­ac­tions us­ing dig­i­tal fi­nan­cial tools and on­line cit­i­zen cen­tric ser­vices like farm loan waivers and schol­ar­ships,” in­forms Roshan Sankhe, the pro­gramme co­or­di­na­tor.

Reena Prasad, a school dropout, had only seen a com­puter in her school but had never even “touched” it. When she first sat be­fore a lap­top at this cen­tre a few days ago, she felt a sense of free­dom. “Yeh bhi ek azaadi ki nis­hani hai (this also is a sign of free­dom),” she gushes gaz­ing at the lap­top’s screen. An­gan­wadi worker Akan­sha Jad­hav says she learnt the ba­sics of com­puter in school but doesn’t re­mem­ber much. “Now that it is vir­tu­ally at our doorstep and free, I will learn to do things on­line and even bring my hus­band (he, like most men in the vil­lage, works at MIDC) here,” she re­solves.

Sev­eral col­lege stu­dents too have joined the course. Har­shal Pawar, a stan­dard 12th (Arts) stu­dent, says:“I will hone my skill in on­line shop­ping, bank­ing and other dig­i­tal skills that may help me find a suit­able job af­ter I fin­ish grad­u­a­tion,” Pawar says. “The course can be used as a spark to learn more in the dig­i­tal arena,” ex­plains Karan Patil, PMGDISHA’s man­ager in Pal­ghar dis­trict. Pri­or­ity is given to non-smart phone users and col­lege drop-outs.

San­deep Takke


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