Within a span of 48 hours, this village has built 242 toilets, a record in Uttar Pradesh, and maybe rest of India too. It also has CCTV cameras, public address systems, street lights, regular health check-up events, 18-20 hours of power supply and even a Wifi zone. Welcome to Taudhakpur, a remote village in Raebareli, which can be termed as the country’s first SmartGaon.
The brainchild of two IT professionals — Yogesh Sahu and Rajnish Bajpai, ‘SmartGaon’ is essentially a mobile app that not only connects the village internally and with the urban world, but also serves as a one-stop information centre and a marketplace for farmers. All initiatives undertaken in the village are updated, recorded, tracked and monitored on the app.
Moreover, the app has key features like the villagers’ directory, news and events calendar, health centre and information centre. According to the developers, the app is aimed at reconstructing villages for people to lead a vital life, as in the cities. Pivoting their endeavour on mobile technology and Internet of Things as the future of growth and development, the app’s Gram Mart feature, which supports fair trade between farmers, thereby creating a marketplace for their produce, has been a hit with the Taudhakpur ryots.
Apparently, the trigger behind the idea of bringing about a tech revolution in Taudhakpur was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at San Jose SAP centre during his US trip in September 2015. “Sometimes in my country we used to hear people say that something has to be done to stop this ‘brain drain’. The land of India produces a lot of gems. This ‘brain drain’ can also become a ‘brain gain’,” the PM had said.
This speech inspired Bajpai so much that he decided to do something for India and it was then that he and his close friend Sahu came up with the SmartGaon idea to improve the quality of life of villagers. Amidst the plethora of challenges facing rural India, mobile Internet users have been growing at 26 per cent per annum in villages. Sahu and Bajpai decided to tap into this aspect of mobile internet penetration to give wings to their project.
The transformation of Taudhakpur has not been a day show. It has taken three years of toil by the villagers and support from the gram pradhan, district magistrate and CDO (Rae Bareli) to bring upon the digital revolution. After successfully turning around Taudhakpur in UP, Sahu and Bajpai have now laid the bricks of development in six more villages in Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.