says IIT Madras‟s annual technical festival Shaastra
Shaastra, the annual technical festival of IIT Madras, is aiming to spread computer literacy to villages in India with its new initiative „Computer Literacy for All‟. By making use of old computers donated by residents of the Institute, not only is Shaastra helping the underprivileged, but also effecting a reduction in the amount of e-Waste generated by the premier institute.
Shaastra, which will be held at IIT Madras from 5th - 8th January 2013, is well-known for being one of the biggest technical fests in Asia with footfalls of over 20,000 witnessed every year. Innovative and enthusiastic students from over 200 colleges are gearing up for the four-day event, to be held in the famous wooded campus of IIT Madras. Marked by the release of IIT Madras‟s very own research magazine, and new intiatives like the Research Expo, IITM Ideas Challenge, Shaastra Envisage the first ever fully student organized tech show, Shaastra promises to be bright and better than ever before. In keeping with this year‟s theme of ‘Igniting Imagination’
Shaastra Computer Literacy for All aims to strengthen computer infrastructure of institutions that serve the needy and hopes that the idea of donating unused computers picks up in a big way so that charitable institutions are less burdened. In its inaugural edition, the beneficiary is the Sevalaya Orphanage in Kasuva village.
In a three pronged initiative, first old computers irrespective of the condition they were in, were collected by means of donations from institute residents. Some were working well. Of the others, whatever could be rescued from the junk, whether a hard disk drive or a RAM card or a monitor or a keyboard, were salvaged and repackaged to make new systems from these old parts. Then, these computers would be donated to the Sevalaya campus in Kasuva village where they will be put to good use by the needy. Finally, with the help of the IIT Madras chapter of the National Service Scheme (NSS), students would be helped in learning how to use this powerful tool, the computer.
In a country like India, where education is seen as the primary means of social upliftment, access to Internet and computers promises to be a boon for effective long-distance learning in villages without quality education or schools, opening up access to new vistas of information. Meanwhile, as the world of technology advances rapidly, the problem of excess amounts of dangerous e-waste being generated is plaguing society. Out of 30 million installed computers in India, 80% are desktops which will soon become obsolete due to wide availability of inexpensive laptops and tablets. Says Akhil Sai, the coordinator of this initiative, “This is how I got the idea. I had an old PC at home, which I had earlier bought for Rs 80,000 that I was selling for just Rs 2,000 as it had become obsolete. I thought, instead of selling it for peanuts, it would be better if it were used by someone who valued it.”