By Rasika Bhalerao
Of the small gathering of women in the village of Sukali (near Nagpur in Maharashtra), there was a young girl sitting close to me who caught my attention.She seemed to be smart and an active participant of the discussion going on there. This purpose of this gathering at the community hall (more of a tiny room that doubled as a shed for the villagers working in the fields nearby) of the village was so that we could interact with the womenfolk there. This village was carefully chosen as Grameen Foundation had previously conducted some activities under an awareness campaign there and this informal session was just a means of understanding how effective it had been.
The girl named Vijaya indeed turned out to be a smart one. Not only was she well educated but was also the first one from her village to have pursued and successfully completed her degree in MBA.
On asking how this came about, she explained with a lot of fervour that it was the unconditional support that she received from her family that helped her overcome all obstacles and achieve what she did. Her father was the one who had high regards for education and thus encouraged her to study.He himself was one of the highly educated members of the village and thus knew the importance and scope of literacy on the whole.It was with this motivation that Vijaya managed to stay in the nearby city of Nagpur and pursue higher studies.Provided with the opportunity, not only did she complete her MBA in Marketing from Nagpur, she is also looking for job opportunities there.
Vijaya has become a source of inspiration not only for other girls there who are looking for avenues to pursue their dreams and aspirations, but also the boys of her village. Getting the exposure to technology and its ubiquitous use there, she is well versed with mobile banking and other financial services offered online. When in the city or her college premises, Vijaya prefers to transact using mobile apps such as Paytm, Freecharge and Bhim as she doesn’t have to carry physical cash with her all the time. Her mobile phone is enough to get her through the day, no matter where she goes.
What is most striking is that she wishes to pass on this knowledge and subsequent habit of transacting through online means to her fellow villagers back home. She wants to help them become literate and smarter in terms of using technology to avail the benefits that are laid out for them by the government via schemes, banks via their services and other mobile apps (that offer cashbacks and sale on merchandises/services).