It was not any usual morning clouded with Monday Blues for the students of IIM Lucknow.
Students were excited to attend a Guest Lecture by Mr. Shubhranshu Choudhary who has pioneered the project- Cgnet Swara (Voice of Chattisgarh), a mobile-phone service that allows citizens to post and listen to local reports in their local language using basic mobile phones.
In his lecture, Mr. Choudhary highlighted the tremendous potential of IT in creating a hope for as many as 10 crore Indian citizens living in the ‘Media Dark Zones’ and suffering from utter hopelessness and despair due to lack of even basic necessities like clean drinking water. The problem is further exacerbated by a huge communication gap (inability to understand the local language) between the tribals and the rest of the country. It leads to severe barriers to their socio-economic development as their grievances about government neglect and economic exploitation remain unvoiced. This gloom is then exploited and is the major reason of the support the Maoists enjoy in the hinterlands of Chattisgarh and other parts of India, he believes.
“This is not a Maoist problem, it is a Management Problem“, Mr. Choudhary said.
To address this important problem, he founded Cgnet Swara: a voice portal that enables ordinary citizens to report and discuss issues of local interest. To use it, they call a phone number using any mobile (or fixed line) phone. Callers are prompted to press “1″ to record a new message, and “2″ to listen to messages that have already been recorded. Once a message has been recorded from the field, professional, trained journalists, who access the system using a Web-based interface, review and verify the report. Approved reports are then made available for playback over the phone. The reports also can be accessed on the Cgnet Swara Website.
The students enthusiastically participated in the dialogue, shared their ideas and volunteered to participate in this movement and bring forth a sustainable and scalable version of CGNet Swara.
(Note: Some excerpts are taken from the CGNet Swara website- http://cgnetswara.org/)