To empower village communities to solve their social and economic problems, Anil Shaligram imparts contextual education on information technology. By setting up a network of locally-run IT seva kendras, he is creating the necessary infrastructure and skills for IT to get embedded into everyday problem-solving.
Anil’s initiative IT for Social Change (IT4SC) uses local community gatherings to demystify computers and impart basic skill training workshops. With the help of villagers, community-owned IT Seva Kendras are set-up and run as cooperatives, offering locally driven computer literacy. Till date, five centers have been set up, either owned by the community or part of existing civil society organizations.
Villagers have used these new skills to take on development issues like scarcity of water, health, unemployment, and education and now recognize themselves as valuable contributors to their own development. “Our methodology is different from formal training. At every step we constantly connect the teaching to immediate problems faced by the villagers,” Anil emphasizes. Several villages have successfully collected data on issues such as unemployment, and used it to lobby with the government for better services and opportunities. Anil started his pilot in a village in Maharashtra and now works out of 52 villages from 15 districts. He partnered with Ajit Foundation to bring in a water mapping program, JalChitra, designed to help laymen predict shortages and improve planning and usage of water resources. Villagers were able to use their graphic design skills to map their land, water resources and launch local water auditing projects. The water management pilot project in Beed district was successful in storing 4,000,000 liters of water in its first experiment, and the initiative is now spreading to 35 districts.
Anil now plans to use IT for interconnecting social sector online, developing softwares to solve critical problems and creating an option for crowd collaboration. He recently started CasCade Systems, a company that develops 'Safety and Remote Sensing Software for Earth Moving and Transport Equipment' software. Using GPS and GPRS technologies, this software altered for cranes, piling equipment, man lifting machines, automobiles, oil rigs and railways can ensure safety for thousands of lives.
Note: This was updated in February, 2014. Read on for the ELECTION profile.