Towards computer literacy in rural India

CIOL Bureau
New Update

PUNE: The awe in their eyes spoke about their long unfulfilled dreams. They

had heard about the IT revolution sweeping across India. But the digital divide

was just too large for them to believe that their lives could ever be touched by

this phenomenon called computer.


A silent revolution is gradually empowering rural schools in India. A Non

Resident Villager (NRV) movement has begun, for a start, in five states where

people are donating their used computers to their villages. The target before

40-year-old Pradeep Lokhande is ambitious, reaching out to 28,000 rural schools

by providing them at least one used computer. A small beginning has already been

made by convincing 78 people to part with their used computers. Life since, has

not been same in these villages.

Lokhande insists that his organization - Rural Relations is not an NGO.

"This is professional organization," he says as he claims to have

taken giants like Hindustan Lever, Procter and Gamble and Marico to the

villages. "Without computer literacy, there is no literacy in an IT driven

world,'' he says. Lokhande hails from a rural background and therefore

understands the need to reach out to rural populace. Last year, Lokhande began

an effort to bring in children from rural areas to convince prominent

personalities to urge all to donate their used computers for them.

"We wish to become computer literate," students declared, in the15,

000 odd postcards sent to 28 celebrities in India. And a small beginning was

made at Mandardev, a small village located near Wai, some 140 kms away from Pune

when a used computer was installed in February 2000. The grateful children wrote

back to Pradeep Lokhande urging him to send more computers. "The NRV

movement is an attempt to empower rural secondary school students by

Non-Resident Villager who desires to give something back to his roots,''

explains Lokhande. In the last 7 years Lokhande has logged more than 5, 93,000

kms, across 28,000 villages in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan

and Uttar Pradesh pushing concepts for FMCGs like HLL and Asian Paints. The

computer literacy project is his way of giving back something to his roots.


Even as the rest of the world talks of e-commerce, portals and cyber money,

Lokhande is worried that the rapid strides in the IT world would widen the gap

between the privileged urbanites and neglected rural populace. And therefore

this is an effort to reach out to these children by persuading people to donate

their old PCs.

"There is nothing hi-tech involved here. The children are taught

computer basics. We have identified these schools through or database and the

extensive visits made to the villages,'' he says. Months later after the

computer have been installed in some of the villages, Lokhande made a few trips

to see how things were working. He came back a happy man. The villagers treated

him like God. More importantly, they added on new software, a mouse and in some

cases the started holiday courses.

Lokhande says that the task before him is pretty uphill and could take years.

He hopes that the NRV movement would make a difference and usher in computer

literacy in rural India.

Pradeep Lokhande can be contacted at Rural Relations, 7, Silver Heights,

Fatima Nagar, Pune- 411040. email:

. website: .