22 July, 2015

Tata Trusts to explore use of technology to bring prosperity to Jharkhand’s tribals

Central India Initiative aims to unlock the potential of tribal communities

Jharkhand: Tata Trusts' Central India Initiative is looking to develop feasible technology options to bring prosperity to tribal communities in the Central Indian tribal belt, home to 65% of India's adivasi community. The Initiative aims to bring prosperity in the region through creating lakhpati farmers – farmers who earn upward of a lakh or rupees from agriculture and allied activities and are part of vibrant community institutions. Building on the success of interventions supported by the Trusts, the initiative aims to bring irreversible impact on quality of life and livelihood of 300,000 households and develop 42 blocks as regional drivers of growth in the region over 2015-20. 24 of these blocks are in Jharkhand. The initiative is anchored by CInI, the nodal agency of the Tata Trusts for the initiative.

In context of the recent launch of the Digital India programme, this first of its kind roundtable convened 40 experts ranging from technology experts and entrepreneurs, state agencies, implementation partners, researchers, media donors and resource support organizations. The deliberations have led to identification of a shelf of feasible digital technology options which can support in the making of lakhpati farmers in the tribal pockets of India. The Trusts are looking for ambitious and disruptive but relevant technology options for marginal farmers in the Central Indian tribal belt, which can work on a business model.

The roundtable examined the potential of technology, insights from existing initiatives, technology and adoption trends.

The Initiative is particularly keen to examine the role technology to support community-to-community sharing of good practices and information, setting up mechanisms through which service providers, or those trying to reach tribal communities, can do so to make their content available. Technology will help in building mechanisms to capture positive stories on the region through visuals and video clips, generating demand among communities for the same livelihood investments. Digital technology can also disseminate market information, keeping in mind that tribal communities prefer low-hassle farm-gate sale. Some specific initiatives like internet carts under the Internet Saathi program in association with Google and Intel, which will carry internet access to remote pockets, is being planned for implementation in this quarter. A tablet enabled English teaching programme is being launched in 140 schools in Khunti. The Trusts will also collaborate with other agencies and incubate development of the shortlisted ideas, which will work in close collaboration with its field programmes.

"We are very excited with the outcome of the workshop. This roundtable was only the first step towards generating a shelf of ideas that we can then incubate and operationalize. While various directions emerged from the discussions that we had, one general agreement has been that technology is poised to play a critical role in disseminating contextual information that can aid in bringing about prosperity amongst tribal farmers," Ms. Vartika Jaini, Senior Development Manager, Tata Trusts, and Executive Director, CInI, said.

About Central India Initiative
The Central India Initiative of the Tata Trusts develops comprehensive solutions for the Central Indian Tribal belt – home to 65% of the adivasi communities of the country. Concentrated in the 900 blocks across Central India, these communities have stayed on the margins of development. These are spread across Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Notwithstanding the rich vegetation and good rainfall, the tribal people living in these districts live in conditions of poverty and often face acute food insecurity. To take forward the initiative in a focused manner, the Trusts, along with other stakeholders, formally registered an associate organization called Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI) on May 17, 2007 under the Societies Registration Act 1958.

CInI serves as a nodal agency for the Tata Trusts for the Central Indian Tribal belt. Under this, it worked with various civil society organisations, agriculture and other knowledge institutions, state agencies to establish models have been established that can significantly impact livelihoods in this region. Independent impact studies show that the work of partners, with technical support from CInI, has resulted in increase in annual incomes from Rs. 24,000 at baseline to up to Rs. 80,000 per household and significant changes through these projects on the quality of life of tribal households in terms of: (a) increased food sufficiency; (b) enhancing resilience of tribal households through diversification of livelihood options; (c) enhanced incomes; and (d) increased access to mainstream resources. CInI has initiated Mission 2020, where it intends to develop 42 blocks as drivers of regional growth while bringing prosperity to 300,000 households through making them lakhpati farmers and promoting vibrant community institutions.

About Tata Trusts
Tata Trusts are leading philanthropic organizations with interests in education, health, livelihoods, arts and culture. We believe in doing what it takes to make a difference. The Trusts promote innovation and enterprise while bringing global best practices for irreversible development gains for communities.

For more information please visit http://tatatrusts.org/

Shilpi Ghosh

Email: sighosh@tatatrusts.org
Mobile: 0989251338
Tata Trusts, Mumbai

Pritha Chatterjee
Email: pritha.chatterjee@edelman.com
Mobile: 07506354505