JHARKHAND: The Jharkhand Police have gone ahead and done something unusual. They have set up a ‘Gadget Bank’ for the public to donate their old electronic devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets. The objective is to make these devices available to underprivileged children so that they can attend their online classes.
The dearth of smartphones has been a major hurdle for children belonging to low-income families. Data available with the state government indicates that over 65 per cent students enrolled with government schools have no access to online classes being conducted centrally as their families don’t have smartphones.
Mobile phones and computer devices are generally discarded after a couple of years for newer gadgets. Gadget-loving people fear their misuse before their disposal and avoid donating them as these are registered in their names.
So, Director General of Police Niraj Sinha decided to solve both issues in one go by devising an action plan: all mobile phones, laptops or tablets coming to the police station are to be sent to the district headquarters where superintendents of police (SPs) are authorised to hand over the device to any needy student on a recommendation of the school principal.
Till date, the state police headquarters reports to have received 1,477 smart phones, 32 tabs, 21 laptops and 36 computers over the last two months. These are gradually being distributed among the children as per recommendations from school principals.
“This is a brainchild of DGP Sinha under whose guidance this programme is being conducted all over Jharkhand. All district SPs and ground-level officers are proactively working to make it a success so that the digital divide in the society could be bridged,” says IG (Operations) and Jharkhand Police spokesperson AV Homkar.
“We are taking all precautions so people who donate their electronic gadgets do not face any inconvenience in future,” says Homkar. “People can come forward without any hesitation. Our work is noble and focused on helping underprivileged children.”
Of the smart-phones donated so far, most have come from Jamshedpur. “Out of 534 mobiles received so far in Jamshedpur, only 81 were pre-used while the rest were brand new. The donors believe they are doing their bit for a good cause,” says Jamshedpur SSP M Tamil Vanan, adding, “At least 140 smartphones are still lying with the police as they insist the recipient must belong to the BPL family, must be studying in a government school or orphaned after their parents died due to Covid.”
Principal of Bankathi Utkramit Madhya Vidyalaya in Dumka, Shyam Kishore Singh Gandhi, known for organising mohalla classes in remote villages, has appreciated the project. “The initiative has benefitted students who are meritorious, but could not attend online classes due to lack of resources,” says Gandhi, adding this act will to minimise e-waste. Gandhi also suggested that traditional TV sets lying unused at several homes should also be donated. “Many children can take advantage of the classes being aired on Doordarshan,” he said.