What are CIRCs?
Community Information Resource Centres (CIRCs) are community-driven, bottom up platforms that seek to bridge the digital divide and transform information-dark communities into information-empowered communities.
A typical CIRC is enabled with computers, cameras, printers, projectors, scanners, internet, wi-fi and broadband. They are run by enthusiastic, young and passionate community members who understand the meaning of information and how it can empower communities of all class and casdre through all possible means like digital literacy, ICT skills, employable skills, English, entertainment, health, agriculture, entrepreneurship, RTI, e-governance and so on.
CIRCs at different locations may undertake different kinds of activities and offer different packages of services but all of them facilitate digital access for all and allow them to avail their daily needs using digital and communication tools as means.
Why set up CIRCs?
Lack of access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is a major developmental challenge as recognised by various national and global mandates such as the Digital India programme or the World Summit on Information Society to give just two out of many examples. Digital incusion of marginalised communities can eradicate poverty and help achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Community Information Resource Centres (CIRCs) are highly effective platforms for reaching out to the unreached, provide digital access to the most marginalised people and make them digitally literate in highly affordable ways. They also provide the basic infrastructure needed to roll out all kinds of ICT for Development (ICTD) interventions to impact the most number of people in the shortest possible time.
While selecting a location for establishing a centre, we follow a set of guidelines. Most importantly, we ensure that the centres serve communities who belong to either SC/ST, tribal, or minority categories living in backward regions. We either reach out or we get a request to set up a centre. Either which way, we start a conversation with our local partners, NGOs, or contacts to get a sense of the need. A thorough need analysis is carried out in the form of a baseline survey. This survey focuses on getting accurate data on the demography of the region, which helps us in also understanding the socio-economic needs of the region. Once we get a positive response from the baseline survey, a recce visit by a DEF representative of carried out to identify a location to set up the centre, keeping accessibility as a prime focus. Security, power situation, connectivity are some of the things we take into account too.
There are many activities that are carried out in a CIRC which the community benefits from. Each centre serve as a:
- Citizen Service Centre
- Education and awareness centre
- Village knowledge centre
- Skill building centre
- English learning centre
- RTI centre
- Information centre for Government schemes, climate change and weather report, agricultural issues and solutions
- Training centre for youth and women
- Community multi media centre
- Community Internet centre / Community cyber café
- Internet Access point
- More than 26,000 individuals made digitally literate since 2007.
- Over 25,000 citizens have availed information services on health, education and numerous government schemes & entitlements since 2007.
- Reached out to 700 NGOs through CIRCs since 2009.
- Over 1 00,000 people have availed digital services through CIRCs since 2007.
- Enabled livelihood opportunities for 8,000 individuals.
- Trained more than 100,000 women through Helping Women Go Online Programme (HWGO) since August 2014.
- Enabled 50 women entrepreneurs under W2E2 programme since May 2014.
- Digitised 3 public libraries in Bettiah and Kanpur in last oneyear, serving over 500 individuals.
- Created digital presence of 700 Panchayats and digitally trained all panchayat members under Digital Panchayat programme since 2007.
- Launched Minority Cyber Gram (MCGY) initiative in 2014 in collaboration with Ministry of Minority Affairs in Chandauli, Alwar district. Digitally Trained over 3000 individuals.
We are constantly striving to upgrade the capabilities of all our CIRCs so that they can bring about higher and higher degrees of integrated socio-economic development and empowerment of people across a rainbow of dimensions. These dimensions include providing access to all kinds of information and online services, enabling participatory governance and better delivery of government services, facilitating education and skilling, ensuring affordable access to telemedicine and health services, spreading awareness of rights and entitlements, promoting entrepreneurship development and creation of livelihoods, connecting rural and semi-urban markets to global and national markets through e-commerce and various other ways to achieve economic inclusion and helping to preserve and protect culture and heritage. We envision all CIRCs to become a ‘model ecosystem of information, digital and citizen centric services’.