Osama Manzar Founder and Director of DEF spoke with Nashim Hashmi who was associated with Digital Empowerment Foundation as a centre coordinator. Now, he is a successful entrepreneur and a household name in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra. He is a propagator of last-mile connectivity and community networks by giving access to digital solutions.
Nashim got inspired from Mahabir Pun, a Magsaysay awardee from Nepal in one of the DEF’s award functions and started working in the field of connectivity.
‘We did this through the CIRC (Community Information Resource Centers) by using the Railtel connectivity to provide an Internet connection to the local community using radio. It was a challenge to make people understand about any other internet connection than BSNL’ said Nashim. With the increasing demand for bandwidth, they shifted from radio to fibre connectivity.
He is playing a pivotal role in maintaining the connectivity in Panchayats which the government has started trough BBNL (Bharat Broadband Network Limited, BharatNet) by giving five connections to local institutions like Anagnwadis.
For people who are unable to afford Wifi; hotspots and community Wifi are the emerging potential options according to Nashim.
As the nation was at a halt due to the current pandemic and lockdown, online education and work from home have become a necessity which increased the need for digital connectivity. Taking it as an opportunity to utilize all the infrastructure, Nashim has started providing internet connectivity to some of the remotest pockets in the country to the most isolated people. He has created a digital ecosystem by connecting 200 people in the past two months.
‘Our efforts met the needs of the people’, said Nashim. He is going house to house to provide solutions through digital technology.