Although the mission of CIRCs across the country is of similar nature, they act differently in different demographic situations. Besides, monthly Digital Literacy Program and information services at CIRCs, the main objective of the centre is to provide a common platform where the villagers can sit together and discuss social issues and watch a social film of their interest. Moreover, this is also a centre point where broad access is possible in order to service the full range of information needs of the community.
CIRCs are community platform towards:
Improving lives through Digital Literacy
- India is a digital contradiction or a case of complexity as far as the case of ICT is concerned. On one hand, the country is patted strong for its IT prowess with the IT and ITeS sectors constantly expanding the export share, contributing to national GDP and its human resource making regional , national and global presence. On the other hand, back at home; India faces its grim reality of a country with widening digital disparity with more than 80 percent of the population in digital poverty. India’s performance in technological readiness is disappointing and as per the latest ITU report titled ‘Measuring the Information Society’, India ranked 119th of the 155 listed countries. This digital divide and its consequences are not good for the country’s long term stability, strength and growth and there is an urgent need to drive domestic technology adoption in India. The first step in doing this is letting the citizens and the society at large know what the benefits of technology are in their life. The Digital Literacy Program which aims to increase literacy in India is noble, but digital literacy is a necessity today to complement and jointly contribute to development and growth with equity. The Digital Literacy Program seeks to bring into focus the need and importance to promote and execute digital literacy for millions in India. For instance, showing a farmer how the internet can give him relevant details like weather, Mandi (Market) pricing and eliminate the middle man to sell his crop directly will trigger faster adoption.
- Post the training at CIRC centre, the study captured information on knowledge of basic ICT and internet skills and usage/application of the internet. It was found that almost all the learners were able to operate and perform some basic tasks on computer along with appreciated using of business productivity tools like word processing and spreadsheet and the uptake of web based activities like searching for information, email and social networking. Following example has been taken from the study of human impact of the program;
33 year old Leisungak Halam, was just an active member of Self Help Group (SHG) involved in micro enterprises of pickle making and selling in the local market. When she heard about computer centre being opened in her village near Panchayat, she joined the first batch to learn computer. She specially got turned into Facebook and learnt how to make a page for her products to promote. She in fact became more popular in her community for increasing her income from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1300 as she now gets calls and orders for her pickles, turmeric powder, jam and other household products. Needless to say her other co-member of SHG now want to get hooked to facebook.
- The hundreds of workers get the details of their job card from Ratnauli CIRC centre. In the last six months, with nearly 10,000 beneficiaries, it is fast becoming the citizen’s tool to
fight corruption in NREGA in Ratnauli. Not just in Ratnauli but across 24 Panchayats, including
Patahi, Toorky, Mahantmaniyari, Gwaridih, Dumari, Harishankar, Majhauliya and Rampurmani
villages. The ultimate goal is to equip the people with Information.
- Many people having minimal qualification have got ready jobs post training at CIRC centres.
For example, Avinash Dadhich, a 23 year old young graduate was unemployed and searching for job prior to joining the program at the Arain Panchayat after which he polished his data entry abilities including word processing, spreadsheets and basic internet knowledge, he applied for the job at National Informatics Centre (NIC).
- Information regarding Government Schemes.
- Information regarding hospitals imparting best medical checkups and facilities.
- Information regarding availability of jobs in local government bodies.
- Information regarding available schemes for BPL card holders.
- Information regarding how to accomplish work through Panchayat.
- Get to know the areas of progress in your village or Panchayat.
- Information regarding Right To Information Act.
- Information regarding joining in Community Radio Service.
- Documents Printing
- Photo Printing
- Internet Browsing
- Online Learning and Practice Centre
- Digital Public Library
- Digital Filmmaking & Weekly Film Screening
- Filling an RTI application
- Online Learning and Practice Centre
- Information related to Govt. Policies/Schemes
- Information on employment opportunities
- Railway/Bus Ticket Booking
- The main objective of CIRC centre is to provide a common platform where the villagers can sit together and discuss social issues and watch a social film of their interest irrespective of any discrimination. People belonging to different professions from around many villages come there and sit in a local gathering where they discuss their various problems and how to eradicate them.
- Many women labourers come to CIRC centre in Ratnauli to seek information regarding to NREGA job cards which owes to eradication of gender discrimination and helps for the empowerment of woman power in India.
- Among the main beneficiaries of CIRC centres are:
- SCs. STs
- Asha Workers
- Health Workers
- Unemployed Youth
- NREGA Workers
Skill Development and Capacity Building
- With great delight and satisfaction it is stated that the work happening with the 40,000 strong weaving communities in Chanderi in Ashok Nagar District in Madhya Pradesh is an example in itself. The CWIRC facilitates the process of value addition at all levels. It helps in enhancing the existing skills in weaving and textile designing, thereby increasing the weavers’ earning capacity through the support of ICT tools.
Different aspects of CIRC
CIRC works with any information dissemination related activity for communities. For example, in Rajasthan the centre empowers artisans and minorities, in Ratnauli, Bihar and Kapashera, Delhi it works with laborers, in Muzaffarpur and Champaran it works with students. In Giridih, the centre attempts to empower every class of citizen, which in Ranchi CIRC works for tribals. In Northeastern states such as Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Guwahati CIRC is committed towards the upliftment of tribal population and digital empowerment. For fisherfmen folks in Southern india who are often at the receiving end of natural calamities due to lack of information, CIRCs provide prior information and makes them more independent by digitally helping them in their business. In some areas of rural and urban India unemployed youngsters, girls, Asha workers, tribal communities, minorities, MNREGA labourers, elderly and farmers are provided information and knowledge through CIRCs.
Panchayats are also getting empowered
CIRCs are also digitizing Panchayats and bringing in positive change in the country by empowering this sector. For example in Rajsamand district, Oplioden village, Rajasthan CIRC is running in the Panchayat building itself. Within the next 6 months, CIRCs panchayat work will be more streamlined.
Presence of Community Radio: In CIRCs one can get to see the pleasant sight of communication through community radio. In Bhadrak (Orissa) with the help of local NGO Disha, a Community radio station Radio Bulbul will be started and in Giridih one can hear community radio Jagriti.
CIRCs encompass many plans
In CIRC one can not only see digital literacy programmes running but also many other programmes. With partnerships like British Council’s association Learn English, IIT Delhi RHKN, a Health Unit with the association of Nestingbits Technology, eNGO Programme in partnership with PIR, with ISOC’s association W2E2, DEF’s W4C, Digital Panchayat and other associations like EU Soochna Seva , Minority Cyber Gram which runs with Ministry of Minorities in various CIRCs. In the near future in association with Intel CIRC’s basic computer course will also be improved. In future, the gap between Bharat and India due to lack of opportunities arising out of information.