Energized by its exemplary success in providing literacy and integrated development in villages across India, “Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation”, two years back, introduced an innovative digitized supplement to rural life to speed up its integration into the mainstream. This was never before conceived, leave alone an adopted approach to affect rural life. Recently, Ekal was honored with the “Digital Trailblazer Award” at the Digital Conclave organized by ‘Hewlett Packard’ in association with ‘India Today Gr.’ for this unique initiative.
The event was held at the Radisson Blue Hotel in Ranchi, Jharkhand on October 21, 2016. Shri Raghubar Das, the Chief Minister of Jharkhand state presented the award to Shri Lalan Kumar Sharma, Program Director of ‘Ekal Gramotthan’ (village renaissance). Several luminaries including Mr. C.P Singh, the Minister for Urban Development, Mr. Sunil Barnwal, Secretary, Information Technology, Jharkhand state, Mr. Vivek Modwal, Country Manager Hewlett Packard and Ms. Aradhna Patnaik, Secretary Education and Human Resource Development attended the event. The award by Hewlett Packard and India Today is a great testament to the impact Ekal is creating in rural India.
Recently, Ekal had another occasion to put a feather in its cap of achievements. On Dec. 2, the US-India Chamber of Commerce of Dallas/Fort Worth, TX conferred ‘Leadership in Community Service Award’ on “Ekal Vidyalaya” at their annual Award Banquet. Dr. Robert Kaplan, President and CEO of Federal Reserve bank of Dallas was the key-note speaker and Hon.
Anupam Ray, Consul General of India (Houston) was the Chief Guest. According to Kaplan Fruitwala, a member of Ekal ‘Board of Directors’ and Reginal President of South-West region, ‘this Award is given after a rigorous and competitive evaluation process with regards to consistency, achievements and contributions to the Society and Ekal is very grateful that ‘US-India Chamber of Commerce’ has recognized Ekal’s efforts”. Last month also saw ‘Better Business Bureau’ (BBB) putting a seal of approval on ‘Ekal’ as the member of ‘Wise Giving Alliance’, a select group of honorable prestigious organizations for public charity.
Ekal, a non-profit organization, runs single teacher schools in over 54,000 rural remote villages that benefit 1.5 Million young children – more than half of which are girls. According to Mohan Wanchoo, who has pledged $200,000 per year for several years, ‘Digital-Ekal’ works on many different levels and is a lightning rod to change the ‘face of villages’ as we know them today.
Through ‘Ekal-On-Wheels’, a mobile computer training lab, Ekal imparts digital literacy to 5,000 students each year. By next year, there would be 9 such computer-fitted van making rounds of villages and 45,000 students computer-literate, each year. They make use of spoken tutorials techniques, specially developed by IIT Bombay. Another initiative of Digital-Ekal is ‘Lok-Vidya’ or educating a common man.
It provides practical information on vast number of topics related to indigenous conditions so as to improve personal health or crop output. To support and flourish this vast number of digital transactions, Ekal has erected several Internet Towers where the power is provided by solar-panels. ‘Tablet-Computer’ pilot program is under way in some of the villages where teachers make use of ‘Tablets’ loaded with educational material.
According to Dr. Shubhangi Thakur, President of ‘Health Foundation for Rural India’ (another wing of ‘Ekal Vidyalaya’), for next year, ‘Tele-Medicine’, that remotely digitally diagnosis most common ailments, is under consideration, with help from ‘John Hopkins University’, Baltimore, USA. There is also a proposal to put the impoverished farmers directly in closer contact with the market-place through digital technology.
Hampered by unsanitary conditions and lack of awareness about personal hygiene, proper healthcare in all its form is a distant call in rural life. Inspired by PM Modi’s ‘Swachchh Bharat’ (Clean India) clarion call, Ekal has embarked on clean environment campaign in several villages where the focus is on awareness and accountability of ones’s action.
Himanshu Shah, CEO of ‘Shah Capital’, who has pledged $100,000 per year for several years, is spearheading these efforts. Village folks are also being trained to conserve clean water and observe cleanliness in daily functionality. For this to become a way of life, habit-changing infrastructure is being vigorously promoted with necessary tools for their success. In short, ‘Ekal’ is expanding its horizon beyond basic Education, healthcare or village-development. With generous support from masses, it wants to play a major role molding the character of the nation itself. Kindly join and help Ekal through www.ekal.org.