Kerala tribal youth’s dream journey: From daily wager to software engineer in Europe

When he was in Class IV, Binesh Balan had done manual jobs in his native Kolichal in Kasaragod to escape grinding poverty.

Published: 19th January 2021 06:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th January 2021 04:01 PM   |  A+A-

Binesh Balan in Amsterdam

Binesh Balan in Amsterdam.

Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: When he was in Class IV, Binesh Balan had done manual jobs in his native Kolichal in Kasaragod to escape grinding poverty.  Two decades on, the boy, now 29, belonging to the Mavilan tribal community, succeeded in developing an open banking software as a researcher at the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands (Holland).

In reflection, Binesh Balan’s journey was dream like, but he had to fight for each one of his right in a caste-entrenched society and it was his can-do attitude which helped him triumph over adversity.

“From language, college admission and getting scholarship, there was no shortage of obstacles. But I was able to overcome the hurdles with the help of a few enlightened minds,” says Binesh, who is doing research in social and cultural anthology in Amsterdam since 2019. 

Rexchange software
“Right from my early years, I had a deep passion for computers and used to do programming. Hence I thought of startups. Last year, with the help of a colleague from Idukki I started working on a banking software which will cater to future generations.

Now, it has been fully developed as an open banking software. The Fintech software will be called Reciprocity exchange or Rexchange,” Binesh told  TNIE. Unlike the other types of software used in Indian banking system, Rexchange stores money value not in Indian Rupees but in a digital value called Reciprocity or Rv. 

The account which keeps Rv is known as the Coop Bank Account Number (CBAN ) which can store high denomination currency values like euro, dollar and pound and can be withdrawn in Indian Rupees. 
The CBAN account functions only through the Rexchange app . “The app was launched a week ago and already 69 people have downloaded it. The value of Rv is decided by Live Rexchange Rate (LRR). LRR will rise as per the rise in number of CBAN accounts,” according to the Idukki native, who worked alongside Binesh. 

A natural liking 
While in Class IV, Binesh used to travel 8km to the of nearest town Rajapuram just to play video game in an internet cafe. He was so fond of computers that he learned to develop basic programme language three years later. 

“Though I managed to secure a pass in only one or two subjects in high school, I was an expert in computers. Even our teachers used to consult me,” he said. After completing his degree in Development Economics and  obtaining an MBA later, he went to the UK under a central government scholarship to study at the University of Sussex. “I had to work as a cleaning boy from 4am to 8am in Sussex since the scholarship amount did not suffice,” he said.

“The approach of the Kerala civil society, state government and NGOs towards tribal communities is deplorable. The general view is that tribals should learn from the other ‘civilised’ communities. But in my view, it was just the opposite,” added Binesh. 


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