National Digital Literacy Mission: Reforming Livelihood in India’s North-East Region

sriActive participation from local governing bodies, non-governmental organizations and self-help groups is a necessity in strengthening the grass-root approach, opines Srinivas Tadigadapa, Director – Enterprise Solutions Sales & Marketing Group, Intel South Asia in conversation with Veena Kurup.

Intel-led National Digital Literacy Mission was implemented in three distinct locations – desert region of Rajasthan, hills of Tripura and coastal town in Andhra Pradesh. Can you share Intel’s experience in serving these three varied areas?

The National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLN) initiated in 2012, focuses on training the underprivileged and rural citizens by creating awareness about the importance of digital literacy. The core objective of the initiative was to make IT an integral part of the daily livelihood of the masses and we have touched 1.4 million lives till today. The program succeeded in enhancing the educational patterns, income levels, creating new job opportunities, enhancing healthcare facilities etc. The three distinct regions located at Rajasthan, Northern Tripura and Andhra Pradesh were part of the Follow the Fibre (FTF) program. The purpose of this initiative was to drive 100% digital literacy in the first three Panchayats to receive the National Fiber Optic Network (NOFN) connectivity. The Government of India in 2011 approved an initiative for establishing NOFN to provide connectivity to all the 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats in the country. Hence, Intel led NDLN focused on building capacity around the FTF approach by creating awareness about the benefits of using broadband connectivity. The initiative received commendable positive responses from the masses, wherein we saw school dropouts returning to classrooms, women coming out of their daily households into regular coaching classes etc.

Can you throw some light on the NDLN project implemented at Naogang Panchayat in Tripura?

Noagang is a Panchayat under Panisagar block of North Tripura – third-smallest state in the country. It is 200 km away state capital Agartala. Bordered by Bangladesh to the north, south and west, and the Indian states of Assam and Mizoram to the east, the Panchayat has a population of 409 families, which is largely dominated by the indigenous communities of Halam and Ranglang tribes. Due to its peculiar location, numerous infrastructure and socio-economic hurdles were aroused while implementing the programme. Amidst all these challenges, we succeeded in achieving the desired result through a planned approach, wherein the major focus was on establishing last-well connectivity and development of right capacities.

What were the major hurdles faced while implementing the NDLN program in Tripura and detail us about the strategies adopted to tackle these challenges?

Erratic power supply and the daily livelihood of the citizens were amongst the major hurdles aroused while implementing the NDLN initiative. However, we focused on adopting a grass-root strategy to introduce our FTF approach in the Northern Tripura region. The training and coaching sessions were scheduled after considering a fleet of influential factors like – availability of electricity, viability and connectivity of transportation networks, daily chore of the masses and their business routines.

Active participation from local governing bodies, non-governmental organizations and self-help groups is a necessity in strengthening the grass-root approach. The active support from local governing bodies supported us in achieving the desired results.

Apart from NDLN, what other programs have been initiated by Intel in India’s north-eastern region?

Intel’s operations have been active in the north-eastern region since 2007, wherein the prime focus has been on transforming education through technology. Intel Teach was one such program which focused towards reforming the educational patterns with the support of technology and covered 410 government schools and trained 12,989 teachers. Intel Learn is other such initiative that was introduced in the state of Assam. Through the program we succeeded in training 591 learners across seven Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya’s of the state. Additionally, we also collaborated with the Assam state government for National Vocational Education for imparting IT as a part of the curriculum.

How has been the response in these north-eastern regions towards such initiatives?

Participation from the masses has been really positive and appreciating. IT and IT enabled services though are increasingly gaining momentum in our country, the penetration of personal computers is less than 10% as against India’s whole population. Hence, Intel focused on educating the masses about the relevancy of the program in their daily livelihood. An initiative aimed towards bridging the digital divide needs to be focused upon nourishing the grass-root sectors, for which customization of training activities is a must. Considering the active participation from the masses and government bodies we will be also expanding our presence to 10 more states involving Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and North-East areas.

“Our aim was to drive 100% digital literacy in the first three Panchayats to receive the National Fiber Optic Network (NOFN) connectivity”

Intel’s 2014 Plan for Enterprise Business

– Expanding footprint on the National Digital Literacy Mission
– Internet of Things (IoT), High Performance Computing & Big Data Growth Drivers
– Education Evolution: Drastic rise to be witnessed in Device Ownership
– To extend flexibility & scalability of x86 ecosystems
– Forecasts acceleration in supercomputers
– Intel to engage in research on enhancing efficiency & scalability of code