In a democracy like India, the state has a crucial role to play in overall social and economic development. Formulating and implementing the program has a significant role to play in inclusive development in the long run. However, the sheer size and diversity of India means that issues faced in development are complex. Indian society has vulnerable sections and there are inequalities that have to be addressed to achieve wholesome development. The state by itself finds it difficult to reach these sections by itself due to the sheer enormity of the task.
The role of Non-government Organizations (NGOs) in the Indian development story becomes crucial to bridge the gap. NGOs can bridge and play a major role in uplifting the marginalised communities in India through their concerted and focused efforts.
One of the key challenges faced in this regard is the information gap between urban and rural areas in India. This impacts various aspects of development and inclusivity.
There are several reasons for this divide and some of these could be:
- Digital Divide
- Educational Disparities
- Language and Cultural diversity
- Inadequate Infrastructure
- Lack of Access to Media
- Lack of Financial Inclusion
Bridging The Information Gap
The urban and rural information divide is primarily due to socio-economic, linguistic, and cultural diversity. NGOs can help bridge this gap by their concerted efforts. Some of the areas they can look to supplement are:
1) Advocating Digital Literacy – NGOs can promote digital literacy and help rural communities through the use of technology. Imparting basic computer knowledge and harnessing the power of internet can lead to better dissemination of information through online resources.
2) Establishing nodal resource Centres – Lack of financial resources and infrastructure can hamper accessibility to computers and internet. NGOs can look to supplement in this area by establishing resource centres with digital facilities. They can also undertake training for locals who can further help community members in access to information.
3) Fostering Partnerships – With their focussed efforts, NGOs can address the issues of financial resources through their corporate partners. They can use their expertise to collaborate at various levels like grassroot organizations and local opinion leaders to promote spread of information. Using local networks and contacts has the added advantage of trust and wider reach with minimal use of resources.
4) Community Radio – This plays an essential role in the local landscape and is a very pervasive medium especially with rural communities. Community radio provides validation and plays a major role in the spread of information. Use of local voices provides a platform for grassroot communication. It promotes civic engagement and addresses local issues through information spread, education, and the promotion of community-driven initiatives.
5) Government Collaboration – NGOs can help promote state initiatives like public services, welfare schemes, and policies and ensure that information percolates to the rural communities. They are a useful adjunct to the goverment in this regard and help bridge the gaps by advocating transparent and accessible communication from government bodies.
6) Promoting education – Rural education plays an important role in bridging the gap in information accessibility. NGOs play a key role by providing platforms to educate rural communities through local schools, learning materials and financial assistance to underprivileged students.This fosters community engagement and raises awareness through a learning environment. Education unlocks opportunities and provides a platform to rural communities to compete at par.
Is there any NGO that’s actually implementing the above strategies?
S M Sehgal Foundation – Collective Action For Inclusive Development
This top rural development NGO in India that has been working since 1999 to improve the quality of life of the rural communities of the country. A rural development NGO, Sehgal Foundation creates sustainable programs to address rural India’s most pressing needs. The S M Sehgal Foundation has five main program areas: Water Management, Agriculture Development, Local Participation and Sustainability, Transform Lives one school at a time, and Outreach for Development. These programs benefit from the expertise of a proficient research team dedicated to participatory research, impact assessment, and interactive dialogues. This team diligently works to discern informed actions that contribute to achieving sustainable and impactful results. With support from donors and partners around the world, the S M Sehgal Foundation’s grassroots programs and development interventions have already reached people in 12 states across India, empowering individuals and communities in need to escalate and enhance their own development.
Taruni Initiative – Increasing Digital Footprint Among Rural Girls
Empowering girls through digital literacy is instrumental in shaping an informed and technology-driven society. Digital skills not only enrich education but also play a key role in reducing unemployment and fostering socioeconomic development. Ensuring that young individuals, particularly girls, have the necessary technological skills and access to digital devices is essential for them to harness the full spectrum of opportunities offered by the digital era. Aligned to the Digital India program, the Taruni initiative is being conducted across several states under the Transform Lives one School at a Time program of the S M Sehgal Foundation is bridging the digital divide in rural areas. Through village-level centers, the initiative is providing digital awareness and life skills education, empowering girls to lead.
In the adjoining districts of Alwar, Rajasthan, and Nuh in Haryana, rural girls have leveraged digital awareness to access government programs related to health, education, public distribution systems, and more. They have also used these skills for educational purposes, such as research, downloading exam IDs, and checking their results. Several students have applied their acquired knowledge to craft invitation cards and support their families in tasks such as mobile phone recharges, online shopping, and money transfers. These small but meaningful successes in villages like Devla Nangli, Mahua Khurd, Sangail, Jethana, and Indragarh have sparked positive transformations in these communities, empowering girls to expand their digital presence. The evolution towards an informed, information-driven society plays a pivotal role in propelling socioeconomic progress.
NGOs are vital in narrowing the information gap between urban and rural areas in India. This is made possible by their efforts to leverage technology to promote digital literacy. Further, by tailoring communication to local contexts they act as facilitators in improving community engagement and promoting access to essential services.
Collaborative initiatives with government agencies and the private sector help to create an impact in empowerment and sustainable development. NGOs are a catalyst to create a positive change by ensuring that information and opportunities reach every corner of the country. The end goal of holistic growth and equitable progress is only possible through a uniform spread of information.