Google takes ‘Internet Saathi’ to Bharat

Tanveer Kaur MumbaiNov 24 Mumbai | Updated on January 15, 2018

Google’s aim is to take its ‘Internet Saathi’ initiative, which focuses on women, to 50 per cent of all villages over three years

Trains women in rural areas to use smartphones and the internet

Chamelidevi, a 27-year-old housewife from a remote village in Jharkhand, has always been keen to finish her schooling and go to college. Her dream was realised when a village headman told her about Google agents who had come to the village to spread internet education among women. Since then, she has been learning via the internet and Google classrooms.

Chamelidevi now checks her exam results, looks for details of local transport, recipes and home-made medical remedies online.

Like Chamelidevi, hundreds of women across the country have benefited from Google’s ‘Internet Saathi’ programme, under which Google agents go from village to village and train women to use smartphones and the internet.

Sapna Chadha, marketing head of Google India, said the aim is to cover 50 per cent of Indian villages in the next 3 years. The initiative focuses on women because of their nurturing quality to reach out to their family.

Quick learners

“Though many of them are not capable of reading and writing, they are quick visual learners. It’s the environment that forces women to push themselves back and you just need to change that approach,” Chadha said.

Paarvathi, who resides in Sewaka Pura, Dholpur, Rajasthan, was encouraged by her husband to attend the internet classes being held at their village. Now, she herself has trained 950 women.

“Earlier, I had just heard of the internet and did not know how it works. I was so frightened of shocks and currents when I held a smartphone in my hand but now, I look forward to buying my personal smartphone,” she said.

Apart from training women, she had ensured that the mid-day meals served in the schools in nearby areas are fresh and hygienic after reading about the government schemes. She had also helped a young boy in her area open a small eatery after she taught him to make simple dishes such as chowmein with recipes available in YouTube videos.

In Naglijhmavat Village, Alwar, Rajasthan, Phoolwathi got herself trained, and has now taught 1,400 more women in the nearby areas. She was inspired by the movie Gulaab Gang, which she watched online, and formed a group of women to curb the evil of alcohol consumption by throwing away all the supplies and searching for related governmental policies on the internet, making sure they were implemented in her village.

Published on November 25, 2016

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