“Every generation brings with it its own set of changes. If you don’t change with the times, you will be left behind.”
This is the philosophy of Mudassir Ansari. Who is helping India to get Digital literacy.
Till the age of 18 he was unaware of computer, never being out of his village. Today he uses technology to bring internet connectivity to rural India.
He comes from a long line of weavers of Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh. By the 1990s due to
Globalisation and easy access to cheap printed material many weavers across India were out of work.
To cope with the situation his father became a tourist guide. The family even went on to set up a phone booth which was run by Mudassir. But still making ends meet continued to be a challenge. Worries of the future weighed heavily on Mudassir’s mind.
He was desperate to find a way. Mudassir noticed that PCs were fast becoming an integral part of all aspects of life. From government and corporate offices to hospitals, schools and colleges, PCs were making their presence felt in all fields. He thought
that if we didn’t make an attempt to learn computing, we would be confined to our small town and to our limited income. Therefore to learn using a computer is a need of the day.
The problem was that there were no institutes or classes that imparted the skill. People had to travel to other cities and attend classes. The nearest city was 30 kilometres away. But he decided to attend classes and through continued practice became proficient in using the PC.
His father was overjoyed. He would tell everyone he met that his son knew how to use a PC. In 2006 Mudassir’s father bought him his very first computer. They travelled all the way to Bhopal to buy the computer.
In 2009, the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), an NGO dedicated to promoting connectivity in rural India, set up an Internet Resource Centre in Chanderi.
Impressed by Mudassir’s hard work and resolve to learn DEF decided to take him in. There In addition to being trained in basic computer skills, he learnt about wireless networking. After this he joined DEF as a networking engineer.
DEF decided to bring Wifi connectivity to Chanderi. He played an integral role in this. He was ecstatic to help the entire city get connectivity. As Chanderi was among the first few cities in India to have this facility. Mudassir has helped more than 50 towns and villages get online.
His work doesn’t end with just ensuring connectivity but he helped set up a two-month course for women and taught
close to 2,500 rural women basic computing skills.
In this age when people have moved from desktops and are using portable computing devices like laptops, there are still places in India where people have never even seen a computer. He gets immense satisfaction in introducing such people to this magic machine.
Computers have brought a sea-change in Mudassir’s personal and professional life. As he says “I did not study beyond the 12th standard and don’t have a university degree, so just based on my qualifications, my prospects for a job were limited. And yet, today, thanks to my computer skills, I am able to work as a networking engineer and earn more than Rs. 20,000 a month.”
Mudassir’s success at work has translated to financial security for his entire family. He is able to fund his younger brother’s education and is confident that he will be able to give his three children better education.
He says “If it weren’t for the PC, I would probably still be manning a small phone booth in a small town in a corner of the country,”