ICT â€“ Based Delivery Models Capacity Building and Livelihood Generation Alakananda Rao Alvari Systems Private Limited Kolkata â€“ India email@example.com
Abstract. Rural India is characterized by poverty, illiteracy, infrastructural inadequacies and the myriads of ills that plague those below the poverty line in the third world stemming largely from the lack of scientific awareness, and spread of community knowledge. Over the past decade information and communication technology (ICTs), specially new media like the Internet has brought information access far closer to the rural populace. The Government of India has allocated huge resources for infrastructural backbone. Information Kiosks have been set up and cellphone coverage has scaled rapidly.These new forms of media provide unforeseen opportunity in spreading awareness that can help overcome superstition, improve health care, empower ccommunities and even provide access to income. Yet the impact of all this has been barely marginal ! Why ? Where Technology is a hammer every problem looks like a nail . Technology options cannot be sufficient by themselves. The critical success factor for ensuring that these investments bring about the impact in terms of enhancing income levels and eradicating poverty is the capacity-building for these communities that lie across the digital divide. Investments in capacity building have not been matched up with those made in infrastructure and content creation. The model of an educated, resource-rich populace as in urban areas has been superimposed, which has often led to failures. Our organization, Alvari Systems has developed an ICT-based Skills training project (ICT Livelihood, Education and Awareness Program ICT-LEAP ) for rural youth targeting those with middle/ high school education, who may never have seen a computer before. In a 3-step process the trainees are taken from basic to advanced levels and provided skills to run a small business enterprise, operate computer kiosks and also conduct basic computer coaching. The training is provided in local language, though exposure to English alphabet is requisite, but in the future with the advent of IPv6 protocol and local language enablement, even this may become optional. This program has been piloted in partnership with another philanthropic agency, Anudip Foundation in Sunderbans area of rural West Bengal. Many of the youth trained by us have been operating the Information Kiosks under the CSC scheme in this region, and have set up small entrepreneurial units. These trained youth have now become key enablers in the process of Information Delivery, as they represent the community and this also offers a livelihood option that has an economic impact in the region.
Keywords. Capacity-building, Community, ICT4D, India, Information Technology, New Media, Poverty, Rural Knowledge centers, Science Communication, Village Information networks.