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Valapad: A fully e-literate village in Kerala

October 05, 2017 | posted in Social Services | posted by : Manappuram Finance
Valapad: A fully e-literate village in Kerala
Valapad is a rather unremarkable coastal village in the Thrissur district. The Valapad Panchayat comprises 20 wards, with 35,237 households, out of which 40 percent fall below poverty line. These days, Valapad has come to be known to the outside world as the head office of Manappuram Finance Limited, one of India’s leading NBFCs with branches across the country. Recently, however, the village of Valapad came to prominence for a different reason. On March 9, 2017, the Governor of Kerala, Hon’ble Justice P. Sathasivam (Retd.) declared Valapad to be a fully e-literate village.
As a matter of fact, when the movement for digitalization gathered pace across India, Kerala was in the forefront. On February 27, 2016, then President Shri Pranab Mukherjee declared Kerala as the first digital state in India. A year later, a small coastal village of the state has come under the spotlight, bringing to mind the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “the future of India lies in its villages.”
This accomplishment is the outcome of new paradigm of co-operation between the local government, a leading educational institution of the area, and a company based in Valapad—the Valapad Grama Panchayat, S.N College, Nattika, and Manappuram Finance Limited. The concept of E-Valapad was first suggested by Mr. V.P. Nandakumar, the MD & CEO of Manappuram Finance Limited, as a CSR project that would also fulfil a pressing need of the community then trying to cope with the impact of demonetisation. The goal of the project was to make at least one member of each family capable of performing digital transactions using a web enabled device such as a smart phone or computer. The project also targeted the local shopkeepers and small business owners with this purpose in mind.
Students of S.N. College, Nattika, drawn from its Commerce and Economics faculty, went out into all the wards of Valapad Panchayat to provide training to people over a period of one week. They took the help of ward members of the Panchayat, Asha workers and Anganwadi teachers, backed up by technology and logistics support given by officials of the marketing department of Manappuram Finance and the Counsellors of the Manappuram Foundation.
Training was given to enable people to perform useful financial transactions by using debit cards, smart phone (especially the BHIM app for financial transactions), POS machine and internet banking. The training department of Manappuram Finance provided professional quality training material to the students.
After the successful completion of Project E-Valapad, Mr. V.P Nandakumar (MD and CEO of Manappuram Finance Ltd.) said that the company was open to the idea of implementing a similar project in other Panchayats as well.
In this modern day world where rapid technological change leads to the birth of new ideas and new ways of doing things almost every day, there is constant change in the requirements of people. No one is exempt from the change happening all around us. As we head deeper into the digital age, the knowledge of information technology assumes great significance. If India’s villages don’t embrace these changes, it will only widen the existing inequality between people villages and cities, with unhappy consequences to the economy of the country. A truly developed country is one where the fruits of development are distributed equitably between its urban and rural areas. Therefore, the Indian government has a responsibility to ensure that the fruits of development reach the remotest villages in the country.
Against this backdrop, the success achieved by Valapad Panchayat shows that in the matter of acquiring digital literacy, even an ordinary village and its inhabitants need not fall behind their sophisticated urban counterparts. And, all this was the outcome of an unlikely coming together of the Valapad Panchayat, the students of a local college, and Manappuram Finance Limited, a corporate entity with deep roots in Valapad that also prides itself on its social conscience.
Subin Joseph
Manager, FAW/ Corporate Communications

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