READI promotes the participation, inclusion and empowerment of farmers, rural youth and women to improve their digital knowledge and skills
New Delhi: While India has made rapid strides in digital technologies and the expansion of IT infrastructure, the rural area of the country has somehow stayed on the sidelines to catch up with the pace of change. Among other things, the capacities of rural communities to harness the power of digital technologies have remained below optimal. To fill this gap and empower rural communities by capitalizing on advances, READI – Rural Empowerment & Awareness – A Digital Initiative – was launched, aligned with Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy to empower Bharat. READI’s mission is to empower rural farmers, youth and women through digital knowledge and skills.
“READI works to empower rural people through digital skills and literacy. It aims to foster the spirit of democracy by enabling inhabitants of rural and remote areas to acquire the skills and knowledge required in the management of digital and social media. It is designed to bridge the digital access divide, ”said Dr Navneet Anand, founder and mentor of READI.
READI is a social responsibility initiative of Fijeeha (Forum of Indian Journalists on Education, Environment, Health and Agriculture) and GreyMatters Communications & Consulting. The first component of READI is a FREE 15 hour online training course on digital and social media management.
The aim of the program is the participation, inclusion and empowerment of farmers, rural youth and women to improve their digital knowledge and skills to use technology responsibly. Through our program, we want to provide hands-on exposure to digital management so that farmers, rural youth and women can take advantage of technology to optimize their lives and livelihoods.
“It is a great coincidence that READI was launched on the day that two great souls of our country were born – Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri. If Gandhi Ji was firmly committed to the cause of Sarvodaya – the development of all, Shastri Ji stood firm. felt so strong for our farmers, the backbone of our economy, ”added Dr. Anand, speaking at the inaugural READI webinar.
Dr Vivekanand Pandey, Pro Vice Chancellor, Amity University, Patna, while sharing his thoughts on ‘digital media and social empowerment’, said multiple interventions need to be made to bridge the digital divide in order to make the Truly self-sufficient and self-reliant India. “The start has to be done by creating digital awareness among the rural masses, which READI aspires to do,” added Dr Pandey.
Professor Prem Mohan Mishra, laureate of the Bal Sahitya Academy in Darbhanga, called READI a much needed intervention. “To bridge the social divide between urban and rural India, it is important to empower the rural population with new age tools like social media,” he added.
Dr Anubhuti Yadav, Head of New Media and Information Technology, IIMC, New Delhi, said new media made up of social media platforms have become an important tool in transforming rural India. “It is indeed encouraging that READI is launched to equip rural youth with the necessary digital skills and enable them to use technology responsibly. The initiative will not only provide interns with digital knowledge, but will also add value to their CVs, ”said Dr Yadav.
Dr Santosh Singh, sociologist and social commentator, said rural youth need to be trained in digital literacy and digital literacy skills. “Right now, they need to know about social media management, online identities, netiquettes, digital communication skills, online safety and security. Online marketing – the sale and purchase of goods and services – is also likely to remain a preferred choice in the post-pandemic period, ”said Dr Singh.
Sharing his vision on “the importance of digital education in empowering youth, farmers and women”, Dr Manoj Kumar Singh, Associate Professor, Department of Hindi, Raja Singh College, Siwan, Bihar, a said the Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to learn how to sustain the socio-economic process in times of adversity. “This has raised questions such as how many are equipped to live digitally. We need to ensure the availability of the infrastructure, access to the required tools such as computers and smartphones, the speed and availability of the Internet, ”he said.
Calling for bridging the digital divide that exists between rural and urban areas, Dr Singh stressed the need for conscious policy decisions to support online education infrastructure by ensuring internet connectivity. “The evolution of human civilization has been a saga of innovation and the use of tools to improve ease and comfort of life. Virtual reality is the new reality. Hence the need to focus on the rural masses, ”he said.