November 28, 2023


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Jharkhand Sets Up Gadget Bank To Bridge Digital Divide

Jharkhand will soon create an electronic gadget bank by using electronic devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tabs that have been discarded and distribute among underprivileged children to help them attend online classes.

Neeraj Sinha, Director-General of Police (DGP), said the initiative has been taken by the state police to bridge the digital divide among children. People are expected to donate their extra gadgets to create a bank for distribution to needy students for their online classes.

“Due to the existing inequality in our society, access to online classes among the children is limited which has created a digital divide. Those having smartphones or laptops can attend online classes but those who lack them are not able to do so. This is likely to increase the existing inequality in society,” said the DGP as reported by The New Indian Express.

Second-hand smartphones and laptops which are in a running condition but discarded by users for updated versions, will be collected and distributed among the needy, he added.

Distressing Stories

Sinha said that he was moved by two incidents and therefore decided to come up with the idea. Last year, a student of mathematics honours at Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College, Aishwarya Reddy, 19, had asked for a laptop, even a second-hand one, to continue her online classes during the COVID lockdown. But her father, a motorcycle mechanic, could not fulfil her request. In November last year, Reddy allegedly committed suicide at her home in Telangana, calling herself a “burden to her family” in a purported suicide note.

Tulsi Kumari, a Class V student at the government-run middle school in Bagunhatu in Jamshedpur, sold mangoes by the roadside so that she can buy a new smartphone to attend online classes. Her father had fractured his legs in an accident and she was staying at an outhouse in Bistupur. Her video was shared widely on social media leading to a Mumbai-based businessman not only buying a dozen mangoes from her for ₹10,000 each but also arranging a smartphone and a tutor. These two incidents had a profound impact on Sinha.

Smartphone Bank At All Police Station

Sinha issued a directive to the senior superintendents of police of Jamshedpur, Ranchi and Dhanbad and superintendents of police in the remaining 21 districts asked them to start smartphone banks at all police stations (over 527 in the state).

“The police station officials will have to maintain a daily register of the equipment deposited and also submit a receipt of the items to the users so that they can be assured that in case of misuse of the gadgets they will not be held legally responsible,” reads the directive

The daily register would contain the name and address of the depositor, IMEI number of the mobile phone, unique identity number of laptop, date and time of depositing the gadgets.

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