Children of a Rajasthan village regret that they couldn’t meet Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg when he recently had a townhall session at IIT Delhi. Mark had visited their village Chandoli in Alwar in October 2014 and held with them a 45-minute lively interaction on how internet can help their village evolve as a real “cyber gaon”.
The ministry of minority affairs during the UPA government had declared Chandoli as India’s first cyber village.
But, what the children regret now most is that they didn’t ask for Mark’s email ID then to carry on the interaction with him and ask him to pay another visit to their village and see the difference himself.
It is not that the children didn’t try to go to Delhi and meet Mark. They tried out pooling money. “But, we couldn’t collect enough to travel to Delhi,” said Hajrat Safwan, a student of Class 10.
Safwan remembered Mark telling him that many people like him were CEOs in the Silicon Valley. “You can also make a company and make a big name for yourself,” he had advised him then. Safwan said the Facebook founder asked him if he knew who founded Facebook and he pointed towards him and said he was sitting next to him. “I felt very lucky to have met him, but feel sad we couldn’t meet him again. I wish I had taken his email ID.”
Vishal, another student of his class, while reminiscing the Facebook founder’s 2014 visit, remembered telling him that he loved making friends and chatting with them on Facebook. “We thought if we had taken his email ID, we would have written to him to come here once more to see how the children in the village had taken to computer learning,” he said.
Chandoli, 20 km from Alwar, is dominated by the Meo community who are mostly illiterate. The government opened a free computer training centre here to impart basic computer training to the village children.
School principal Krishna Kumar Dhavaria said, “It was a historical moment for the school.” He said the computer training had become a sort of “problem for us” of late as the students now demand internet connection in the school computer lab.