The Government of India has recently launched a programme named ‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyaan’ (UBA), under which the higher education institutions would be encouraged to take part in solving problems related to rural India like sanitation and hygiene, water, health and education through the help of technology. This can transform the scenario of the rural India and if the technologies are ‘relevant, robust and affordable’, considerable change could get registered.
The Unnat Bharat Abhiyaan was launched on 11 November 2014 on National Education Day, which was done to mark the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who was the first education minister of India.
Under the UBA programme there are 18 institutions that are currently roped in. These institutes include IITs of Bombay, Delhi, Gandhinagar, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jodhpur, Kanpur, Madras, Kharagpur, Mandi, Patna, Roorkee and Ropar, BHU Varanasi and also Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhopal and Malviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur. If UBA’s is believed, almost 70 percent of India’s population still lives in rural areas, who are associated with mainly agrarian economy. The workforce associated with agriculture is almost 51% but it accounts to only 17% of the GDP. Under the programme each institute would adopt certain villages where they would work. IIT Delhi has adopted 32 villages across Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Likewise, IIT Bombay has adopted 27 villages and IIT Madras 11 villages till now.
The Unnat Bharat Abhiyaan Cell ( UBAC) IIT Delhi co-coordinator S.K. Saha said that the main aim is to take already developed solutions to the rural people and how to create links with them so that problems faced by them can be taken up by the IIT community as their academic problems or otherwise. The villages were selected based on earlier interactions with some of the faculty members of IIT Delhi. It is emphasized here that the technical solutions whenever available with any IIT will be taken to a village or a cluster of villages that have similar requirements or demands.
The whole programme could turn out to be very useful on grounds that it would include linking of knowledge to the field, and technology development could get linked to help small technical problems of rural artisans. It could help rural people in the field of education, health, irrigation and agricultural innovations alike.
According to HRD Minister Smriti Irani, “Unnat Bharat Abhiyaan will connect our institutions of higher education to develop technical solutions to address challenges in rural India.”