Incepting LIT: Lockdown Institute of Technology By Ashwani Ashish

“Wo kaise bhi pahunch toh jayega apne ghar,
Lekin wo unme se nahi jinka ghar hi unka daftar raha hai,
Wo koi insaan thodi hai,
Wo toh majdoor hai, isliye marr raha hai.”

Above is a quatrain from the first poem that I had recited on my YouTube channel, a couple of months back. To my pleasant surprise, the poem (based on the hardships a migrant worker happens to deal with) garnered a plethora of positive responses from everyone. I always desired to take up to speaking more frequently than just writing, but there always used to be a severe sense of reticence pouring in. May be the confinements of the lockdown finally got the better of my reluctance, and I could open-up a tad more in the digital ecosystem. And not only me, scores of netizens started showing up (apart from showing off) on the (n-1) number of social media forums. Tik Tok anyhow had to be excluded!

People realizing the importance of technology has been a sweet and a sanguine outcome of the lockdown inflicted due to Covid-19. But the repercussions of lockdown have unfortunately and undeniably been severe. Particularly in India where the term technology itself along with its implications is still a jargon for most of the humongous
population. And if something is far-fetched for the majority despite a cornucopian and an ever-increasing supply, ironically, it’s not the supply, but the demand which is not reaching the people. In simpler terms, people don’t even know what technology is and what role it can play in making their rather cumbersome lives appear a cakewalk, at least physically, giving them ample of time to focus on their emotional scuffles!

Let’s deal in figures. Close to only 27% of India’s population owns a smartphone. It could have easily been more, had Freedom 251 not played a typical ditch. A mere 7% have a computer and laptop in their households. Contrarily, 54% of the people have access to internet in the country. This evidently yields that internet has reached more than half of the population, but most people are not capacitated to access it. For the same reasons, the ones who can work from home in this unprecedented pandemic, trust me next time think twice before calling yourself unfortunate due to any ‘xyz’ trivial happening in your life. The lines I started off with, were born out in a phase where we had millions of our workers from the unorganized sectors on roads, all lumped, limped and lamented, returning to their natives after losing their work and eventually running out of not only their pockets but out of hope as well. If only they were blessed with the ability to work from home!

In 1920, when the Spanish flu had wreaked havoc, metaphorically in a time when the world had not even recovered from the aftermath of World War 1, the usage of telephone increased substantially which recorded a major boost in the telecom sector. This test case can have the then poor(er) India completely out of equation because forget about 1920, telephone was a dream for the majority here, even for a major chunk of the initial decade of this millennium. So, as they say, history does repeats itself. Now, exactly a century later, when the world is excessively toiling with another pandemic, telecom and technology are being used in abundance, in India as well, but only by a select few. So why not zero down to an all-inclusive approach when it comes to technology and launch flagship schemes that underline technology rather than only launching schemes that have technology underlining them?

In India the major problem is unawareness. Institutions are relentlessly trying to make their functionalities digital, but only a nominal percentage of their consumers are aware of the same. Arguably, making everyone competent enough to handle technology and understand the nuances is a gargantuan task, but the complexity gets trimmed if the responsibilities are taken up voluntarily. Why not we, the ones leveraged with a technical acumen step up?

 We can start training the deprived ones around us to use the technology based facilities and give them a mantra and a belief to become self-reliant or at least let them know about the digital schemes of their respective institutions and provide them the details of suitable points of contact for the same. Once they are equipped with a digital understanding, we can ask them to further train a few people who happen to be in touch with them and this may instigate a chain of technological wave across our region(s). I may be sounding over filmy but there has never been harm in being both: realistically optimistic and optimistically realistic! If even a single person in every Indian household knows about technology and its contribution in making life appear superlatively effortless, we will surely wake up to a day where we will finally find ourselves in an India parametrically fit to be called “Aatma-Nirbhar”.

-Ashwani Ashish

The author is a Business Intelligence Senior Analyst at NTT Group in India.

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