‘Information’ is the most dynamic tool, which propels empowerment of the underserved sections of the society. It is a great enabler for the educated as well as the illiterate. For many, Internet is the biggest junkyard of information. Yet, for many, the junkyard is a source of empowerment. Invariably, dearth of information is observed as a hindrance to the participation rate of people in any of the development intervention at village level.
One of the most important government schemes to be ushered in recent past is Mahatma Gandhi rural employment guarantee act or more commonly known as MGNREGA. This act aims to increase socio-economic status of our country by providing employment opportunities to rural people for 100 days whether or not they are below poverty line or are skilled or un-skilled.
Despite having its objectives and motives at the right place, the success rate of this scheme remains a highly debatable discussion. The age old problem related to lack of awareness and misuse of money for developmental purposes makes this discussion AGAINST MGNREGA. MGNREGA is just an example, lack of awareness and misuse of funds for development plagues every other scheme introduced in our country. Worst affected are real people in real need.
So, why do such problems arise? What is the missing link? The answer is pretty simple, its information dissemination or lack of information or information gap. It’s the basic problem of breakage of information flow between the sender and receiver.
It’s a worldwide accepted fact that Internet is the best source to bridge the gap of information dissemination or lack of information. But it’s alarming to note that only 34.8% of our total population uses internet, major chunk of percentage coming from the urban areas. So basically one can understand the reason behind such huge lack of information/awareness for various government schemes and benefits. Availing government schemes and benefits are a part of our constitutional rights irrespective of anything. The main problem is where rural people are hardly aware of their rights and entitlements regarding various government schemes and benefits. At village this happens primarily because the information mediators or the middlemen often withheld such information and exploit the needy taking advantage of their unawareness.
Hence it is imperative to say that there is an urgent need to serve the community with tantamount of information they are entitled to. And this can be only achieved by strengthening and democratising the environment of public schemes information dissemination, services and final entitlement gains for focused groups and beneficiaries. No proper structure or service delivery access points is leading to serious paucity of information.
Institutionalising the role of information agents can clear such clog of corruption and exploitation at various levels. Integrating a sustained model of social entrepreneurship at grassroots can really help in systematize the representation of information service providers.
In India, Social entrepreneurship is growing day by day alleviating myriad problems of the society by giving them timely solutions. The key aim of which is to inculcate sustainable and dignified living to the under privileged and the marginalized citizens.
The notion of social entrepreneurship can mean different to different organization and individuals. Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) believes that it’s a process of making services available at village level not just to empower the rural community but creating a sustainable livelihood option for the local level entrepreneurs. The idea is to create a social benefit that is not limited by personal gain.
For the smooth flow of information Soochnapreneur is an initiative introduced by SOOCHNA SEVA; where selected personnel from rural areas will be trained with necessary information and technology, so that he or she can make them available to the needful mainly from rural areas. Their prime responsibility is to make information regarding various schemes and benefits available to the needy; in return they are expected to charge a nominal amount to sustain their livelihood. This is an initiative which will hone and incubate entrepreneurial abilities and qualities of an Information entrepreneur. They are selected empowered rural people who in turn will keep on empowering his/her immediate surrounding; be it a block or district. They will lead the wheel of empowerment by making information regarding to government schemes and benefits available to the needful; by this he/she will be the eliminating any chance of corrupt middlemen from exploiting. The SEVA team visions this initiative as an eventual process of sustainability. Soochnapreneurs will carry on doing the work what SOOCHNA SEVA team has been doing since its advent.
We believe Soochnapreneurs are the necessary information agents to bridge the gap and make information available to the rural to most rural areas.