September 10, 2018

Separated by distance, how Chhattisgarh's smartphone scheme is bringing families together

Pratima Bhagat can be seen beaming with excitement these days. She proudly displays the new smart phone that she has been given as part of the Sanchar Kranti Yojana or SKY. SKY is the ambitious project undertaken by the Chhattisgarh Government to increase the number of smart phone users and to enhance mobile connectivity in the state.The scheme targets to distribute smart phones among 45 lakh women like Pratima and 5 lakh students.

Pratima lives with her four children and husband in Jashpur. Every morning she goes to work at the Solid and Liquid Resources Management (SLRM) centre where waste materials from all over the town are brought and segregated. Pratima and several other women do the segregation work and some of the garbage is converted into compost while other materials are sold as junk.

Pratima knew that with smart phones,one can do video calls. But she never had a smart phone or never could she think about buying one. But now she has got a smart phone for herself and she is excited about the video calling feature. She is learning to use the phone and the first thing she wants to do is a video call to her mother.

Pratima misses her mother who lives in a village around 60 kilometres away. It takes three hours journey from her place. She longs to see her mother and talk to her face to face. But for her it is not possible to go to her mother’s place frequently. She cannot afford to stay away from work for too long. Every visit to her mother seems short for her. After those visits, she does not feel like leaving her mother but she has to come back. But now she can do video calls with her and she is happy about that. “I can now see my mother’s face while talking to her. I cannot go to far away places so this phone will help me talk to my mother and other people face to face without having to go out.” Says Pratima.

For Pratima, the phone has other utilities too. She is going to use the phone to maintain attendance at work.She is also aware that the phone and the internet can be a viable learning tool for her children. She thinks it can open a whole new world of opportunities for them as they can stay informed about various courses and job opportunities as well.

Pratima thinks that the smart phone is not just a luxury item. Rather it is a tool to make life better for her and her family. She feels that the smart phone can be used intelligently to improve the quality of their lifestyle.

“It would not have been possible for us to buy a smart phone because life has other priorities but now that I have this phone, I want to use it to the full potential for the betterment of our lives. My children, I guess, are going to be most benefited from this.” Pratima says.

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