While India was under lockdown in April - May 2020 and the entire nation was still awakening to the aftermath of Covid Pandemic, India's public broadcaster Doordarshan was having a great time with TRPs suddenly soaring overnight. Their decision to broadcast Ramanand Sagar's series of Ramayana and Mahabharata serial's of the 1990s gave tough fight to even the Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotsars of the world. With offices shut and nothing much to do, i remember, also watching a few of the episodes during that time.
While rise in Covid Cases, Joblessness, Reverse Migration and Policy Failures made headlines, what slipped through the cracks was an entire universe of students who suddenly were without classes.
Over 1.5 million+ Schools in the country were shut and even by a conservative estimate as many as 100 million students were out of physical classrooms and did not have the means to access digital classrooms. While most private schools and a few government schools transitioned online overnight (which is commendable), the plight of these 100 million+ students is concerning.
While the data of how many students actually do not have access to Digital Education may vary (Refer Sources Here: Scroll, First Post, India Today, The Print), the challenge is multifaceted and manifold. Three cases that i find in my proximity explains the challenges associated with digital access:
1) Our domestic help who joined us back post lock down has three children and none of them is studying now. Earlier all of their children would go to schools.
2) One of the library assistant i know of is unable to let his children take digital classes because he doesn't has a smart phone and cannot afford data recharge for internet every month.
3) One of the music teachers i know of was fired from school and with concerts and music programs no longer in sight (due to restrictions on events), imagine, what his family must be going through.
These are the not isolated cases and i know each one of us would have similar stories from their immediate neighbourhood. I am Digitally Fortunate to read, write and watch online information and appalled to know that there is a whole universe around us who do not have access to any of these . That's when i heard of the concept of Digital Daan - i thought this is an idea whose time has come. Digital Daan is an initiative of Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and i spoke recently to it's Founder & Director - Osama Manzar who is passionate about anything related to bridging the gap with respect to Digital Access.
Listen to this insightful podcast and personal story of Osama Manzar on the Podcast. Key takeaways from the Podcast include:
1) Troubles in life shapes you up for the better. Four years after graduation, he struggled to find jobs and manage relationships without earning a penny.
2) Spotting Opportunities Early can be a game changer. He started Digital Empowerment Foundation in 2002 when Digital the way we have known has not yet arrived. Today, DEF has impacted over 15 million people.
3) Music inspires him a lot and one of his favorite songs is Nirbal Ki Ladai Balwan Se from the Movie Toofan aur Diya sung by Manna Dey Sahab.
You can listen to this inspirational and insightlful journey of Osama at any of the following links:
The episode is in English and listening time is approx. 35 mins.
You and anyone who reads this is digitally fortunate. However, not everyone else is.
You can buy a new Laptop / Mobile in exchange of the old one and save a few hundreds or you can Digital Daan your devices to bring smile and digital inclusion.
Visit www.digitaldaan.in to help someone who may need your device more than anyone else.