Part of India’s renaissance is ordinary people making extraordinary efforts to life of the people around them. This, in a sense, is the continuation of the million mutinies that VS Naipaul wrote about in his 1990 book. Here is one more example if India’s million mutinies.
“Dharavi Diary, a non-profit organisation run by documentary filmmaker Nawneet Ranjan…For the children there, Dharavi Diary is more than just an after-school academic programme. Ranjan teaches them—mainly girls—English, math, computer applications like MS Powerpoint and Excel, and basic coding. In fact, using the open-source developing tool MIT App Inventor, some girls have even built mobile apps to tackle problems like sexual harassment, water scarcity, and lack of education….The premise of the venture is his belief that storytelling and technology should play a bigger part in learning—a world away from India’s system of rote learning. ”When you understand the process of creation, you care more, which is completely missing in our education system. Through this (project), I get to inculcate an attitude of questioning the status quo,” Ranjan, who is from Muzaffarpur, a small town in Bihar, said.
So at Dharavi Diary’s Naya Nagar centre, open from 9am to 11pm through the week, science is taught through experiments. To hone language skills, movies are screened every Saturday….
Getting the project up and running burnt a hole in Ranjan’s pocket. He put all of his $30,000 personal savings into finding a venue, getting laptops, internet, and learning kits, organising field trips beyond the neighbourhood, sports events, film screenings, and even urban gardening.
When the funds dried up, Ranjan’s family and friends helped in cash and kind. In 2016, GO Campaign extended a grant of $10,000 for Dharavi Diary’s Girl Coding Project. As the project gained traction, corporates chipped in. In 2016, California-based Nvidia provided some funds. Later, Dharavi Diary went on to win the Google Rise Award which is helping it expand beyond the shanty town to other underprivileged localities of Mumbai, as well as those in Hyderabad and Pune. The organisation has already met nearly three-quarters of its current Rs1.5-crore (over $233,000) fundraising goal from corporates and individual backers. Ranjan has also applied for a grant to get a 3-D printer….
Instead of pushing technology products, Dharavi Diary gives girls from underprivileged communities the tools to create their own relevant apps. “In fact, a small group is now known as the Tech Girls of Dharavi,” Ranjan said…
Seventeen-year-old Ansuja Madival, for instance, was one of Dharavi Diary’s first members. Before that, she had minimal exposure to computers in school. Today she has achieved something unimaginable to her earlier—launching her own app on Google Play store.
Using MIT App Inventor, an open-source coding platform, Madival created Women Fight Back, which allows one to set off distress alarms and send SMS alerts. It has been downloaded 500 times, Madival said.”
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