“Open Forum”, a development organization, was incorporated in the year 2001 by some like minded people for the development of the Grassroots Communities and is registered under Societies Registration Act (XXI) of 1860. Open Forum is widely recognized for working in Rural India by using the various means of Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs). Whatever the stage of development is, no country can afford to ignore ICT. Although this technology may not be of decisive importance to the very poorest countries, it may still exert a major influence on their ability to acquire knowledge and tap into global networks.
It’s well defined that the longest journey begins with the first single step, so we did. In the year 2001 we started our activities, based upon the development for the Grassroots Communities. With our aim of development, for Grassroots Community, in a short span of time we extended our operations to another states and today we are operational in Ten States of Nation. The entire team of Open Forum is continuously working for the development of Grassroots Communities. We started with the Community based Computer Education Programmes, but today we are providing many customized community based services to the local community where we are operational with use of contents.
India is largely with more than 60 per cent of our population dependent on agriculture and allied activities. It is important to address their needs with value added information. In many situations we have witnessed local knowledge coming to the rescue of major global problems. It is a fact that the knowledge base in the grassroots actually gives ways to various solutions at the global level. Similarly other global issues like the HIV AIDS, Food Security, Digital Divide; it’s the grassroots communities who can suggest appropriate strategies.
Various ICT initiatives aimed at improving access of information communication to the grassroots communities are more inclined towards pushing external information. But the fact is not all the external information provided through such initiatives is much of use to them. They are more tuned to their own information and knowledge, which is local and is more relevant to their needs. It is not just the global knowledge but also a balance of global and local information that helps in improving quality of life at the grassroots.
Presently, no doubt, content through Information, Education and Communications program are reaching to the communities, but not sustaining at that level. Government, Non-Government Organizations are doing their best to empower the communities with knowledge, but their withdrawal leaves the vacuum behind. No doubt, other mainstreaming media are also playing a vital role, but there is a need to reflect on how ICTs could be used for IEC and need-based content could be made available to them.
The content for community needs is immense if we take the holistic approach. But there is a need to build a system to segmentize the whole process for convenience and how content-coordination mechanism could be developed to make contents available, accessible, acceptable, communicable and sharable through various ICT tools.
Open Forum, while promoting ICTs in the communities realized the importance of blending of local vis-à-vis global content and the unprecedented urgency and need to digitize content to reach out to rural and urban communities of India, as well as tailor the content as per the respective needs of the communities. With its coverage to grassroots communities of more than 106 districts – including Grassroots Organizations, NGOs, Multilateral organizations, Private sector, Media, Academicians and Governments as its partners, took the initiative of strengthening the content database for catering to these needs, but to fill-in the gap, there is a need to build content coordination mechanism.
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