Tata Trusts, the philanthropic entity started by Tata group founders, is turning to the power of technology and innovation to carry out its charitable work looking to impact 100 million lives by 2021. Be it efforts to empower rural women, break gender barrier in access to Internet in villages or address gaps in learning levels of students of government schools, Tata Trusts is now banking on digital ecosystem to scale up, enhance efficiency and reduce costs of many programmes that it runs.
“Our aim is to make a difference to the lives of 100 million by 2021 across India through interventions using technology and innovation under several programmes we are undertaking now,” Tata Trusts Head (partnerships and technology) Prabhat Pani told PTI. Even in the development sector, the role of technology and innovation is extremely important as the population that needs support outstrips the limited funds, he added. “With technology, for the same amount of money, we are able to reach out to a larger part of the population. Besides, being able to do things in a different manner also contributes hugely to efficiency,” he said.
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Citing the example of Internet Saathi, a programme which Tata Trusts runs together with Google, Pani said that in the last 18-20 months, 88,000 villages have been covered to train 25,000 women to use Internet for various activities ranging from getting information on agriculture, health, sanitation and education to even Net banking. “In the next two years, we are targeting covering 3 lakh villages and training 1 lakh women to become Internet Saathi,” he said, adding that the programme has also been pushed to reduce gender barrier for access to Internet in rural areas.
According to Pani, the aim of Tata Trusts, which holds 66 per cent stake in Tata Sons, the holding company and promoter of Tata companies, is to eventually make more of these women generate income and help them become rural entrepreneurs. Likewise, the Trusts is also looking to intensify other digital technology-based programmes such as ‘mKhushali’, an app-based system that allows early identification of pregnant women and ensure their quality care.
In partnership with Khan Academy, Tata Trusts is already working on reducing gaps in learning levels of students of government schools with a personalised approach, teacher competency training and offline usage of e-learning resources. For Tata Trusts, Pani said the goal is to demonstrate how a difference could be made in the lives of those who need assistance by using technology and innovation through its various programmes. “While we will be able to do only in pockets, if we are able to show the power of technology and we are able to share the knowledge, the understanding and insights from it with the government and other players, then everybody gains in the process,” Pani said.