24 Aug

Seva Setu’s IT skills training programs

We’re glad to announce that we have now completed four batches of skill training in basic IT and computer skills. Around this time last year, Seva Setu had started off with its skill training initiatives to ensure that people in remote locations get a chance to compete in present day markets. We’d identified stitching and sewing to be one easy to implement training program. The other more important skill which we had decided to focus on was IT and computer skills. Having these skills immediately opens up a host of markets and also ensures they’re host to new and quicker ways for gathering information.WhatsApp Image 2016-08-05 at 12.21.25 AMWhatsApp Image 2016-08-05 at 12.22.49 AM

Late last month, we wrapped the fourth and final batch, all of which took place in Vaishali district. A total of 116 students were a part of these 4 cohorts and were taught general computer literacy and were exposed to basic productivity tools like emails, spreadsheets etc. Classes included both, theory and practical sessions. We now aim to start a set of satellite centers in Phulwari block in Patna district and see how they go.


One of the students told us how she’s able to now give online competitive examinations, something which she used to miss out on until recently. Another spoke of the wider set of activities she’s now able to get done (testimonial in the image).

With this happy note also dawns a realization that this is just the beginning. We realize that the process doesn’t end here.

One immediate action item for Seva Setu is to facilitate them to get employed – by being the setu (bridge) between those who need IT skills and those who possess it. A simple yet interesting opportunity we learnt was the existence of Vasudha Centers [1] – small computer centers in each panchayat whose aim is to aid villagers to make use of various facilities online. Some of the more entrepreneurial students from our batches can easily set these up and get them running.

Another important lesson for us from this exercise was how opening one center in one central location really did not ensure that a sizeable population benefited from such facilities.  We saw a reluctance in people staying as close as 5-10 kilometers to come over to our centers – those that benefited were all residents of the town the center was opened in. We intend on opening small, low-cost, low-resource satellite centers across various blocks as against setting up a full-fledged training center in any one location. We have seen this to help people overcome their inhibitions of acquiring new skills and making them open to trying out new things.

With this thought, we see that our job has only begun. We are in the process of setting ourselves targets to open more such training and IT training centers. We’ll keep you posted.

[1] – https://www.csc.gov.in/

04 Aug

Empowering Persons with Disabilities

The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities released its annual report for 2015-2016 last year.


The report showed that roughly 50% of those disabled in India have not acquired a government provided certificate which would then enable them to avail a number of welfare schemes the government provides (notice how some states like Rajasthan stand out). These welfare schemes vary – from monthly monetary pensions being given out to facilities like motorized cycles, hearing implants etc. which are made available at a minimal cost. This means 50% of those who deserve such facilities simply do not get to avail it;  and most likely 50% of this budget goes without being utilized. 

Category wise number of persons with disabilities as per census 2011

The table shows the percentage population who have been issued a disability certificate by the government. This number if as low as 50% in most states. Normalizing this data with each state's population will also lead to insightful results!

The table shows the percentage population who have been issued a disability certificate by the government. This number is as low as 50% in most states.Notice how Rajasthan is an outlier given how few certificates have been issued. Food for thought - are these government estimates accurate? Can you think of easy ways to validate their number?

Notice how Rajasthan is an outlier given how few certificates have been issued.
Food for thought – are these government estimates accurate? Can you think of easy ways to validate their number?

Seva Setu decided to act on these numbers. Being the “setu” we are, we set ourselves on the task of aiding those who have missed out on this process. We’ve begun by collecting data from the field – by going village to village, with an aim to cover select blocks in the districts of Patna, Vaishali and Katihar by this quarter.

Till date, our teams have visited 6 Panchayats. We’ve analyzed the data from 3 of these Panchayats (Kurthol, Kuretha and Baikunthpur) consisting of roughly 16 villages and this is what we find – 232 people were identified to have at least one form of disability. Of these, only 111 (48%) had their certificates made while the remaining 52% did not know about it/had not made their certificates. Their mean age was 27 and 65% of them had one or more of their legs affected. We have started working on getting the 52% to apply for their certificates and we aim to get them enrolled for these benefits in the next two months.


We have a rolling target of 2 months to cover each batch of these Panchayats we visit. We want to ensure that there really are no people left who have not been able to utilize these government schemes. With this vision in mind, we march full steam ahead!

The government’s annual report is a prime source to dig deeper into these matters and also ask the government for progress on its promises.

If you’d like to experience drafting and following up on RTIs, let us know and we’ll let you in on the action too! We will also be glad to hear your views on what policy level changes ought to be made in order to reduce this under-utilization of such useful schemes.

We also have attached a video from our archives which highlights a case from a similar drive we had held in 2014.