Information is fundamental to development. In fact, lack of information is often the root cause of every other socio-economic deprivation. Why is information so important? One must understand that a democracy could be successful only when citizens are aware of their rights and entitlements and enjoy the freedom to exercise them. However, widespread ignorance about these right and entitlements infects a large section of Indian society. Vastnesses of land area, large population and socio-economic and regional divides have together created a complex barrier that constantly obstructs the flow of information. Quite often, the most vulnerable sections with regards to information deprivation are women, the marginalized, schedules castes and tribes, and the minorities. Ironically, most of government schemes and programmes are introduced specially to empower these sections. Undoubtedly, information deprivation can be blamed as the very root cause of socio-economic backwardness.
Community Information Resource Centres (CIRCs) facilitate the process of dispelling ignorance and creating a holistic environment for information dissemination, even in the most remote and underreached corners of the country. This is achieved through intensive utilization of communication mediums which could be traditional as well as digital in nature. In this way, CIRCs implement initiatives that lead knowledge propagation in remote locations, such as creation of public online portals, developing digitally empowered and responsible Panchayats, making ICT tools easily available to the rural masses so that they can them access information anytime, besides conducting door-to-door awareness programmes. In this way, CIRCs pillar the process of inclusive societal transformation. Resultantly, information empowered, confident rural citizens make greater contribution towards public discourse, whether through online platforms or open community spaces. Besides knowing about their entitlements, women acquire knowledge that not only enhances their intellectual abilities, but also gives the boldness to participate in greater decision making processes.
Digital Empowerment Foundation initiated the Soochna Seva project with an aim to facilitate dissemination of information about public schemes and services, followed by enabling the deserving groups to derive benefits from them. The Soochna Seva team conducts surveys in targeted locations, understands knowledge penetration and analyses local problems in order to ascertain the exact conditions to work with and establish a baseline. CIRCs have been acting as effective platforms for smooth implementation of Soochna Seva initiatives.