Dhondu Warkhede, a 21-year-old tribal in a remote village in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district, is intimately attached to his cellphone, a gadget which keeps him connected to the world.
But the BSc student has now discovered that his phone could also be used as a problem-fixer.
A training workshop on ‘new media’ organised by NGO Manav Vikas Sansthan with support of Unicef, exposed 30-odd tribal youth to Internet-based applications and use of mobiles to connect to Internet so that they can use it to raise issues on various citizens’ websites.
"I sent an e-mail to an official regarding broken hand pumps in my neighbourhood and I got a positive response. Now, I'm studying the administrative system properly to understand who to approach for what problem," Dhondu said.
Technically, the training was conducted by team of CGNET Swara — a voice portal on which common citizens could report any matter of concern.
The trained youth would also be provided opportunity to connect to the website. The participants were from tribal districts like Betul, Raisen, Sehore, Hoshangbad, Chhindwara and Balaghat.
Sulochana Saryam, a 20-year-old college student from Chhindwara learnt to use Facebook and to send official emails.
"I only used the Internet for my college assignments, but now I understand how I can use it to get problems redressed," the woman said.
Vimlesh Uike of Hoshangabad said he had understood the process of recording for the CGNET Swara portal and added that initiatives like these could be good way to get issues resolved.
Speaking at the meet, Unicef communication specialist Anil Gulati said that new media offers an opportunity for young people to connect to a larger world and make them sensitive towards issues which affect children and young people.
Shubhranshu Choudhary, of CGNET Swara explained the working of the voice portal and the way cell phones could be used to access it to raise issues that affect the youth and their neighborhood.
According to the 2011 census, 2011, the percentage of people with mobile or telephones in the state is 46%.
The report said that 33.5 of the rural population have mobile phones while in urban areas, the percentage of mobile users was 61.
However, the rural areas in the state are yet to get 3G internet services.