Adaspur is a village panchayat located in Cuttack district of Orissa state in India and is about 20 kilometers from Bhubaneswar. It’s a fairly large village with over 7000 residents. Literacy is above average. It has a highschool and a well known autonomous college Udayanath College of Science and Technology. The “digital divide”, however, is deep and easy access to good reading materials and skill training is still difficult. There are many economically disadvantaged students in the area who will have a bright future for themselves and can contribute to the nation if only society can support their hunger and need for acquiring skills and being able to easily access knowledge. How can we make technology, science, literature and learning accessible to them and pave the road to a point of light?
Three months ago, one of the dozen active volunteers working under a SEEDS umbrella in nearby districts met me at my campus residence to discuss some post-action plans during the raging corona period. I brought up the issue of long term enablement. One of the ideas was empowering with better access to knowledge and learning. I discussed the idea of supporting the needy students with Mr. Santosh Majhi who is a volunteer, columnist and Yoga teacher at a college. He immediately picked up the idea of a library for the needy students of the region and identified it as an unmet need. In brief, Mr. Majhi said the following in Odia when I subsequently interviewed him: ମୋର ବହୁତ ଦିନ ଆଶା ଗରିବ ଅସହାୟ ପିଲାମାନଙ୍କୁ କମ୍ୟୁଟର ଶିକ୍ଷା କେମିତି ପ୍ରଦାନ କରାଯିବ.. ଯେମିତି ମୁଁ ବଞ୍ଚିତ ଥିଲି.. ଗ୍ରାମୀଣ ସେବକ ସମାଜ ପ୍ରତିଷ୍ଠା କରିବାର 5 ଟି ଉଦେଶ୍ୟ ଥିଲା ସମାଜ ସେବା, ପର୍ଯ୍ୟାପ୍ତ ବୁକ୍ଷ ରୋପଣ,ଗାନ୍ଧିବିଚାର ର ପ୍ରଚାର ଓ ପ୍ରସାର, କମ୍ୟୁଟର ଶିକ୍ଷା କେନ୍ଦ୍ର ଏବଂ ଜରାଶ୍ରମ.. କମ୍ୟୁଟର ସେଣ୍ଟର ପାଇଁ ଅନୁଷ୍ଠାନ SEEDS ପାଖରେ ବହୁତ ଋଣୀ କାରଣ ତାଙ୍କର ସହଯୋଗ ପାଇଁ ଖୁବ ଶୀଘ୍ର କମ୍ୟୁଟର ଶିକ୍ଷା ପ୍ରଦାନ ଆଶା ପୂରଣ ହେଉ ଅଛି.. ଏହା ଦ୍ୱାରା ଆମ ଅଂଚଳ ରେ ଅସହାୟ ଗରିବ ପିଲାମାନେ ମାଗଣା ରେ ଶିକ୍ଷାପ୍ରାପ୍ତି କରି ପାରିବେ..ବିଭିନ୍ନ କମ୍ୟୁଟର ଶିକ୍ଷା ଥିଲେ ବି ଗରିବ ପିଲାମାନେ ଟଙ୍କା ଦେଈ ପଢିବା କାଠିକର ପାଠ. ପାଖରେ ଓଡିଶା ଅଗ୍ରଣୀ ଶିକ୍ଷାନୁଷ୍ଠାନ ଉଦୟନାଥ ମହାବିଦ୍ୟାଳୟ ଅଡ଼ଶପୁର ଏବଂ ଆଶା ପ୍ରତିବର୍ଷ 500 ରୁ ଅଧିକ ପିଲାମାନେ କମ୍ୟୁଟର ଶିକ୍ଷା ପାଇବେ.. ସେ ଲକ୍ଷ୍ୟ ନେଇ ରାଷ୍ଟ୍ରପିତା ମହାତ୍ମା ଗାନ୍ଧୀ ଉଦେଶ୍ୟ ରେ ଆରମ୍ଭ ହୋଇଥିବା ମହାତ୍ମା ଗାନ୍ଧୀ ଇ ଲାଇବ୍ରେରୀ ସେଣ୍ଟର ର ମୂଳଲକ୍ଷ୍ୟ…ଧନ୍ୟବାଦ
Mr. Majhi discussed with his own volunteer organization Gramina Sevak Samaj (GSS), a Gandhian inspired group that has a history of community work exemplified by the below news article, met to discuss the concept of an electronic library and computer center. They made a formal resolution and followed up with me. In turn, I took the proposal to the SEEDS-USA board to earn the support of our nonprofit organization which promptly appreciated the importance and pledged economic support to the tune of US$1200 for this “project”. With that green light, I started out to create a small electronic library, a learning system and a network of computers that will benefit the school and college students and the citizenry around Adasapur in the Niali area. We had the GSS group to work on contributing one or two rooms in Adaspur village that can house the systems which we are busy building. GSS team is preparing the rented space to make a structure suitable for housing the library and computer center and getting electricity and internet connection, despite their monetary challenges, especially aggravated by the pandemic through personal sacrifices and small generosity from individuals. The hardware, software and elibrary content systems being built in my office.
SEEDS, Bhubaneswar, Jan 1, 2021
UPDATE by Priyadarshan Patra
After building the systems in my office, we carried the gizmos to the library building in Adaspur. It took 3 hours to set up, install, and prepare for the inauguration. The inauguration ceremony took 1 hour. My wife Anu and SEEDS India Trustee Sri S.C. Choudhury accompanied me. The e-library is now operational.
SEEDS, Bhubaneswar, January 12, 2021