Paradigm Shift - From letters to Video conferences

From the heart - Powered by the Thinking Machine

This newsletter has been created and curated by the Founder of Literacy India, Captain Indraani Singh, Senior AirIndia Pilot

Spearheading social change – Guided by digital transformation

India is embracing digitization to keep up with the speed of data transmission and transformation. Being up-to-date has become a requirement in these fast paced times. With respect to addressing social challenges, digital technology and the Internet provide a wide array of opportunities. Literacy India embraced digital transformation years ago to bring about efficiencies in the organization. Over time, I realized that non-profit organizations have a lot to gain from using digital platforms. Being exposed to computer technology as a result of my career, much before the gadget was introduced into the Indian homes, helped me spearhead the change with first hand awareness. The journey towards what we are today was not an easy one. Majority of our work is concentrated in the rural areas, where introducing technology to people who are not ready for change, was a challenge in itself.

However, we overcame these challenges solely due to our undying passion and as a result; we are using digital technology to enlighten people across India today. It has interestingly made the Guru-Shishya (Teacher-student) relationship more global, transparent and digital! With Telecom giants like Reliance, Airtel and Tata providing seamless connectivity, it has all the more helped us connect over audio and video calls without troublesome interruptions and unease. One such situation where telecom saved the day was when one of our trainers was unable to reach Kolkata for a paper bag making training session Without an option to cancel or reschedule, the anomaly put us in a fix. But with Skype and a strong telecom network, the entire training session was conducted without a hitch! Although, this scenario could not replace face to face interaction, not only were we able to achieve our primary goal, but as a result time and resources planned for the training were not wasted. The follow-up training sessions filled in any remaining gaps and ensured that the entire workshop was a success. Digitization has made my entire gamut of work easily accessible. My teammates, teachers and students are on the same plane of thought with me. The best reward is seeing our recipients reaping the benefits of our efforts. It is very exciting to use these technologies in a creative manner for bringing about social change. It is still an undeniable fact that there exists a huge gap between rural and urban India which will remain unchanged till every district and village is ensured a continuous supply of electricity. As we are moving towards the future at a fast pace, there is hope to bridge this gap soon.

Techno-design Gym Workshop

Literacy India organized a training session on professional development for women artisans in Bhatikurd, Bijwasan and Varanasi centers to empower them socially and digitally. The women discovered the joy of using Google search engine to gain inspiration for dress designing and making. Vital information on applying for Aadhar online was also imparted.

Using digital tools for Design Innovations

At the centers of Khedadih, Khatanga, and West Bengal, artisans were taught to use the internet to gain new ideas for embroidery designs and styles. This was a novel way to enable the artisans to cope with having to constantly find new designs to suite ever-changing trends. This training helped artisans learn new techniques to embroider designs, along with imparting basic know-how on using the equipment. Embroiderers are oriented to have an ingrained need to maintain superior quality of product, consistency in colour and proper finishing in embroidery. The master trainers used digital technologies like Whatsapp’s video call, etc. to share information and knowledge, as well as to keep a check on the production process. Artisans learnt how to use the designing software like Photoshop to create a design base, sketches & outlines of embroidery. They then take a printout of the design to use it in final production. Literacy India is using Digital inclusion to strengthen the process of social change. Our main motive is to make the women self-dependent and empower them to lead a happier life.

Ye haunsolon ki ‘Udaan’ hai – Giving Wings to Hope

Literacy India, with the help of professional video makers, made a documentary ‘Udaan’ for women. This documentary starts with the stories of a few women who have benefited by being part of the programs. The documentary focuses on the entrepreneurial efforts of the women, their struggle and their journey in starting an enterprise.The aim was to raise awareness about the various opportunities available for their welfare. Literacy India is utilizing every possibility of communication to bring social change.

Few of the topics covered in the documentary included:
• How to start an enterprise
• The importance of Bank accounts and how to open one
• Group savings
• Social Security schemes by government like Jan Dhan Yojna

Creating a farmer sphere

Tapping the power of Skype, Literacy India is reaching out to farmer groups of Rajasthan and West Bengal Centers. This proved to be an excellent medium for farmers to share their problems, as well as seek various farming techniques with each other. Recently, farmers from Rajasthan shared their knowhow on making vermin compost in a cost effective manner. This information proved beneficial to the farmers from West Bengal farmers, who were pursuing organic agriculture. Technology is also enabling farmers to get in touch with Krishi Vigyan Kendra, bringing down the time-frame in which they get required solutions.

From Single Computer to the project ‘Gyantantra Digital Dost’

When we started with our Digital program, we had only one computer and students took turns using it. We faced several challenges, including lack of resources and funds, but our passion and courage kept us going. We have come a long way since then, with a complete program called Gyantantra Digital Dost running across India. The focus is to educate children and make them handy with technology. These students are the future of our country and we want them to be strong and self-dependent. The year 2017 has benefitted over 70, 000 students. Digital Dost was originally created to capture the interest of Street Children, living and sleeping on the streets. Literacy India gathered that they are at risk of falling prey to social evils like sexual abuse. To empower these children, digital classroom have been set up by the road side to engage their active minds. This platform also continues to help thousands of government school children who need this knowledge as much.

Tech-savvy Social Work

Literacy India has been using technology since the year 2000. I strongly believe that a lot can be done by tapping the potential of technology. When the country was grappling with the concept of computers, I had already installed DOS systems. Such was the level of commitment and the thirst to learn. Today, we have embraced technology, both for our internal work, as well as for imparting education to children. It has impacted our organization favorably in various ways. Our scale of production has also increased as a result of this. Gradually, we are moving our programs, workshops and training programs to digital sessions. This not only brings down expenses associated with travel and accommodation, but also makes sharing of the knowledge and information both easier and faster. We have improved on both the time and cost front, with every step towards digitalization. Literacy India has also launched a mobile application for the Gyantantra Digital Dost program, which proved very easy for anyone to use. This app is taking the right to education a step further, by helping more children. With this, we are making our student tech-savvy. Our students have made short animation films like “Jeevan ek titli.”To watch the animation film, one can click on this link

Acknowledgement

I would like to thank the following Institutional donors for having been large hearted with their contributions in this significant journey.

• Encore Capital
• Dell International Services India Pvt. Ltd.
• Tupperware India Private Limited
• Ashiana Housing Ltd
• Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India
• MasterCard India
• Bry-Air (Asia) Pvt Ltd
• Desiccant Rotors International
• Air Works India Engineering Pvt. Limited
• Chiman Ram Khaitan Chhatra Trust
• Deloitte Consulting India Private Limited
• KPMG
• Shree Krishna Welfare Fund
• General Electric
• Mr. Manu Rikhiye

• OSC Services Private limited
• Adobe India
• Microsoft India
• American Express
• Sucden India Pvt. Limited
• Global giving
• United Parcel Service (UPS)
• Ammado foundation
• Give2Asia
• CAF India
• Sopra India Yogdan Trust
• Anish Memorial Foundation
• Sita Devi Malhotra Charitable Trust
• United Way Delhi
• Mr. Sanjeev Jain