Putting a smile on children's faces

Local organisations with a social motto Janaagraha and Pratham books have made it to the top 10 of Google Impact Award.

Published: 23rd October 2013 08:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd October 2013 08:28 AM   |  A+A-

Local organisations with a social motto Janaagraha and Pratham books have made it to the top 10 of Google Impact Award. Launched in India this August, for the very first time, Google Impact Challenge has chosen two Bangalore based organisations for the top ten.

This award seeks to travel to different regions around the world, asking local non profit organisations to pitch in their ideas on how they could use technology to bring about positive social changes. Once the ideas are pitched, the public votes for the top 10 projects, who finally pitch their ideas to a jury decided by Google. The fan favourite and the next three most-voted projects stand a chance to win the ` 3 crore Global Impact Award.

Founded in 2001, Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, based in Bangalore, works with citizens and the government to bridge the gap between them and improves the quality of life in Indian cities. If they bag the Global Impact Award, Janaagraha will create online and mobile apps that will connect citizens to their government representatives in urban India. These apps will allow users to provide faster, more detailed feedback directly to their representatives, helping to close information gaps.

In three years, Janaagraha hopes to connect 15,00,000 citizens to governments across three metropolitan cities in India. According to Janaagraha, over 39 crore Indians currently reside in cities where there is a disconnect between elected government officials and the people they represent, a huge number for a country running on the democratic model, which should technically allow for more dialogue between the two.

“The idea is to basically expand on our ichangemycity website which brings our elected representatives closer to the public through shared interactions and feedback. The app will be made available on iOS, android and windows, where the public can instantly air their grievances to the MLA or corporator of their ward, and these representatives can respond to them directly through the app,” says Joylita Saldanha, product manager of ichangemycity, a website developed by Janaagraha.

They will also use the grant to further expand their maps, which provides spatial data to the public on where their nearest hospitals, police stations, civic agencies and parks are located. Janaagraha would also like to expand to more cities where they would like to extend the same services they are providing to Bangalore. “We want to further use social networking sites like Google Hangout and Twitter to facilitate this bridging of gaps. So far, we have noticed that there’s no existing platform that does what we do. We hope that we can bring about more interactions in our public spaces, leading to a positive social impact,” explains Saldanha.

AFFORDABLE BOOKS

Pratham Books is a notfor- profit organisation established in 2004 with the mission of putting a book in every child’s hand. Their aim is to fill the large gap for good quality affordable books in languages that children read and learn in.

"Our project will build collaborative web platforms that solve the three major problems that affect children in India – a very low number of books available to them, a lack of linguistic diversity of books and a lack of funding for libraries — so that children can experience the joy of reading," says Suzanee Singh, Managing Trustee, Pratham Books." "We will create an innovative, open source platform to create thousands of new stories for millions of new readers. It will allow people from around the world to join in our societal mission by writing, translating, contextualising and illustrating stories. They will also have tools to remix and retell old and existing content. We hope this will create the largest repository of stories in multiple Indian languages for children to access freely across different formats and devices, including mobile phones," she continues. The books will then be disseminated to children by linking up with frontline organisations that work with them.

They firmly believe that mobile technology is a powerful medium and in time will percolate to the farthest regions in the country - be it phones or tablets.

Visit https://impactchallenge. withgoogle.com/ india2013 to cast your votes before October 31.

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