As an engineer and closet sociologist, I love stories about cultural change — especially those brought about by modern technology. I’d like to share one that came to my attention recently …
It is well known that the pace at which the average Indian is being freed from the bureaucratic heritage left behind by British India has been accelerating since disruptive changes in economic policy were made in the early 1990′s in New Delhi.
A striking example of this change was flagged at the SAP World Tour in India recently (August 2011), where the village of Soda, in the state of Rajasthan, was the center of many eyes. Soda, for context, is in one of the most backward areas of Rajasthan. Led by Chhavi Rajawat, a young and dynamic professional (she is apparently India’s only Sarpanch (village head) with an MBA) who traded in a career in corporate management for one in village management, Soda is leading a huge transformation in how villages govern themselves — from tracking life events like birth, marriage and death, through the trickier issues around land titles and management to the financial aspects of running the village’s budget. And, along the way, she hopes to educate her 10,000 fellow villagers electronically! (Chhavi, for the record, appears to be doing at the village level what Chandra Babu Naidu was attempting at the state level in Andhra Pradesh not too long ago.)
“If India continues to make progress at the same pace as it has for the past 65 years since independence, it just won’t be good enough. We’ll be failing people who dream about having water, electricity, toilets, schools and jobs. I am convinced we can do it differently and do it faster. In three years I will transform my village. I don’t want money. I want people and organisations to adopt projects in my village as often projects fail owing to lack of a local connect and that is what I am here to provide by bridging that gap,” says Ms. Rajawat.
And, that is precisely what SAP is doing in partnering with Soda. SAP is bringing the same software that has helped 800M consumers lead healthier lives and helps produce 78% of the world’s beer to “e-nable” the Soda Grama Panchayat (the village council). This software will help the village government to improve public administration processes and transparency while supporting better and quicker decisions. (Is this any different than what the average CEO wants for his/her company?)
Want some visibility into how projects are progressing? Check out http://soda-india.in/others. Want to write to Chhavi? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Clearly, change is in the air… one village at a time.