Farmer’s daughter leads digital village experiment in Telangana

By: K.V. Kurmanath

From being a poor Telangana farmer’s daughter, she is leading an Intel experiment to create digital villages.

Vanga Nageshwari, 22, would have been toiling in a four-acre farmland had she heeded her parents’ advice and stopped going to college. Since her parents couldn’t finance her college education, she borrowed money to start a computer training institute with eight PCs at Nadimpalli village.

It was then Nageshwari’s mission to make the people in her village in Mahbubnagar district, which has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of migrant labourers, digitally literate. With the money she made from the institute, she completed her BSc.

Nageshwari then decided to convert the institute into a CSC (Common Services Centre) and began to offer Mee Seva, or e-governance services. “Now, I earn Rs. 30,000 a month from the CSC,” she told.

Towards progress
Her efforts soon caught the attention of Velugu, a World Bank-supported poverty-alleviation programme, which was pooling candidates for Telangana’s e-panchayat programme.

“We asked Velugu to suggest the names of women who can lead the digital initiative. We subsequently suggested Nageshwari’s name when Intel approached us,” recalled Jayesh Ranjan, Telangana’s IT Secretary.

Nageshwari thus became the first ever head of Intel’s Digital India centre, under the Ek Kadam Unnati Ki Aur (One Step Towards Progress) programme.

She, along with her sister Nagarani, tours villages with three computers in tow. The duo spends a month in a village, making the people there digitally literate. Intel plans to sell the idea to at least 10 States, with partners chipping in.

“It is a 10-day course, but it is taking me another 20 days to make them understand how to use a computer and a phone to access digital services,” said Nageshwari.

She has so far trained about 800 villagers, of whom about a quarter have passed a digital literacy exam conducted by the Centre. For every student who clears the exam, Nageshwari earns Rs. 500.

The satisfaction derived, of course, is priceless.

Source: The Hindu

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