All India Society for Electronics and Computer Technology (AISECT) is a Bhopal based NGO. It has been engaged in building local rural capacities through innovative awareness building campaigns, development of customised software and content, and building the spirit of entrepreneurship. With over 4000 centres operating in 29 Indian states, AISECT mostly works at the community level. The team has been engaged in the past five years in reaching those areas that do NOT yet have electricity. To demonstrate that the digital world should be kept out of reach or limits of the rural India, especially in villages and blocks that have been most backward in development definition.
AISECT has launched an innovative way to reach the unreached through Mobile Information Technology (IT) Vans. Terms as “Yatra Van”, since 2000, a mass campaign for the people to popularise IT. The objective is to create mass awareness and dissemination in India. The programme was launched on the National Science Day on February 28, 2000. It took the team 8 months to be ready. The Yatra phase lasted for a month a half from October to mid-November. Yatra in Hindi means journey.
The initial phase of the activities is followed by promotion of information technology as a vehicle for Knowledge Based Enterprises especially at the district, block and sub block levels (these are various administrative structures of governance in the states) and for employment generation. The number of districts covered was 100, and span of 200 blocks.
The success of the awareness campaign generated new demands on innovation, research and development, technical and hand holding support, which was the next priority for the organisation. Combined with the demands were specific requirements of different stakeholders. The thrust in the rural areas was to promote IT entrepreneurship orientation. This was supplemented with an IT Olympiad championship to over 100,000 students, who also chance to participate in essay and poster competitions. Parallelly, 1000 teachers were trained, and this resulted in the creation of a website and web-dialogue among the participants.
The mobile van that was prepared for the roving awareness campaign was customised and prepared housing battery operated machines, with appropriate hardware and software.
This mobile van travelled in 2000 to 50 blocks and covered:
- Computer based demonstrations
- Audio – Video demonstrations
- Software for rural applications
- Film and Slide shows
- Poster exhibitions
- Electronic Hobby Kits
- Books exhibitions
- Career counselling
- Internet demonstrations
The following activities were undertaken after the mobile vans began its awareness campaign.
- Analysis of Information need surveys
- Setting up of Block Level Multi-purpose I.T. Centres
- Setting up of Panchayat Level Information Centres
- Commencing Computer Education Programmes in Schools
- Formation of Computer Clubs in Schools
- Formation of Regional Language courseware groups
- Resource Groups for Software/Courseware development
- Development and Publication of software, courseware for social applications
- Starting of training and education programmes for various cross sections of people
- Making Panchayats and Blocks the focal points of I.T. Application, to generate awareness, employment and to empower people.
Such innovative approaches and focus on building capacity in rural India has been the thrust of AISECT for the last twenty years. AISECT’s work at the grassroots has created a silent revolution, and must be commended for its innovation and dedication, since the group activities have been adapted to the global technological changes. The group’s publications in Hindi language contributes training resources for other organisations as well.