How Intel is digitizing rural India

Intel India claims to have made the experience of personal computing real for more than 250,000 local citizens till now, thanks to their Unnati Kendras. The technology giant Intel is also investing ₹1,100 crore in its upcoming R&D centre, which can create 3,000 jobs.

Unnati Kendras were inaugurated last year and are on-ground facilities serving as common access digital learning centers for local citizens, focusing on education, entrepreneurship and innovation. Each centre is equipped with Intel powered devices, vernacular language content, and relevant training programs for local citizens in the state, to create opportunities for skill development and digital empowerment.

Since the launch of the first centre in April 2016, Intel India has seen an average of 47 citizens entering each Unnati Kendra per day, and of these, 18 requested demos in basic PC skills.

According to Intel data, 44% of the walk-ins wanted to use computers to access e-learning and educational content, with 28% aspiring to use computers for creative self-expression, and 28% for entrepreneurial activities. 33% of this universe were students and youth between 18 and 25 years old and 22% were women, who are the early adopters and change agents in these new markets.

Debjani Ghosh, Vice President, Sales & Marketing Group, and Managing Director, South Asia, Intel said, “Technology relevance and access are crucial for a knowledge economy, and given that majority of the Indian population resides in non-urban areas, the vision behind Ek Kadam Unnati Ki Aur has been to make digital skills mainstream in those towns. This milestone is a moment of pride for all of us, and just the start of something bigger. Through continued work with the government and the ecosystem, we strive to make a tangible difference to individual lives and communities through the power of the computing.”

Meanwhile, Sandeep Aurora, Director, Marketing at Intel South Asia said, “As the next wave of technology adoption comes from non-urban India, Ek Kadam Unnati Ki Aur has been oriented specifically for these markets. We have worked with nearly 20 eco-system vendors to ensure that the Unnati Kendra experience has enabled first-time users in regional areas to better understand how computing technology can be integrated to improve their daily lives.”

User rights:

According to the user insights from the centres, the top PC-based activities have been video-based computer training, understanding e-commerce, browsing detailed information on government policies, e-mail and applying for jobs on job portals.

Village Level Entrepreneurs in charge of the centers are taking on the mantle of Unnati Gurus or local knowledge bearers of technology, who are responsible for demonstrating the basics of PC usage to walk-ins on Darpan, a multilingual user interface which comes in six regional languages. These trained personnel are conducting daily in-depth sessions on digital literacy, computer skills and internet facilities, along with dedicated guidance sessions in entrepreneurship, language and vocational training to improve the educational and employment prospects for local citizens.

The 100 centers in Tier II, III, IV and V towns are in operation across 11 states pan-India; Telangana (14 centers), Uttar Pradesh (14), Andhra Pradesh (13), Haryana (11), Maharashtra (11), Tamil Nadu (10), Karnataka (7), Gujarat (6), Assam (5), Chhattisgarh (5), and Kerala (4). The centers are also being used as platforms for the delivery of last mile digital services and government related information about Digital Literacy, Financial Inclusion, and Healthcare, for the benefit of local citizens.

Of the 11 states, Telangana, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh witnessed the highest footfall and interest in PC literacy. Telangana and Uttar Pradesh, which have the highest number of Unnati Kendras in any state, with 14 centres each, together account for 115,000 individuals experiencing the power of the PC, almost half the national total, while Maharashtra has outperformed the national average, with a weekly footfall of 1000 citizens across 11 centres.
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