Google India has joined hands with Tata Trusts, the charity arm of Tata Group, to educate rural women about internet by sending 1,000 specially- designed bicycles equipped with internet devices into remote villages.
Each of these bicycles will be operated by “Internet Saathis” trained by Google and the target is to train about 500,000 Indian women in the next 18 months. The internet mogul is terming the initiative a step towards the Digital India vision of the country.
“While women are making rapid progress on adoption of internet in urban areas, women in rural areas are getting left behind. Today, only 12 per cent of Internet users in rural India are women while in urban areas it is 50 per cent. We need to come together to address this challenge and empower women in rural India through trainings and programmes that can transform their lives,” said Rajan Anandan, managing director of Google Southeast Asia and India.
The initiative will kick off from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Jharkhand and will be rolled out across the country eventually reaching out to over 4,500 villages and five lakh women across rural India over the next eighteen months.
The internet cart would be available in a village for a minimum of two days every week for over a period of four to six months.Once the cart has completed the training in a cluster of three villages, it will be moved to the adjoining cluster for completion of a similar cycle.
“In addition to access, the internet has brought dignity and self respect to poor people. I am delighted that the Prime Minister of India is putting on that India needs to digitised. Google as a company has digitised the world and it’s a privilege to work with them towards bringing women online,” Tata said.
Google had launched a similar programme last year through a tricycle cart. However, since it faced difficulties in steering the cart, it turned to bicycles and teamed up with Tata Trusts, which will manage the on ground rollout with its partners whereas Google will invest in providing bicycles and training content.