India, a country filled with the youth population, the fifth largest in the world to be exact – posed to be the workforce of the modern world. According to the World Bank, more than 60% of India’s population lives in the rural region. There is a massive divide in the penetration of digital technologies in rural and urban India. Broadband penetration in India is around 21%, while the national average is around 51%.
The exposure of rural children to digital technologies is very minimal. Spur, founded by and managed by students, was initially started as a not-for-profit student group to expose varieties of digital technologies to rural and under-represented parts of India. Spur, literally means “give an incentive or encourage to.” In its initial days, Spur focused on exposing digital technologies to children in orphanages around Chennai city. The activities of the organization were volunteered by the students of Madras Institute of Technology – Anna University. The organization branded as a student group was founded by myself, Akilan, Pravin Srinivasan, Susil Kumar, EB Raghul, and Asma Kaiser.
After some months, we decided to focus on designing and developing the tools that are required for reducing the divide. A digital bus tracking system, which tracks the real-time location of the bus along with its occupancy rate, was designed, and the prototype was presented in Microsoft Azure Meetup in Chennai. We felt that there was lack of enterpreneurship or ‘solve the problem’ mindset among the student community, and thus born was “Spur Talks” a TED like talk show that inspires students to be the future of tomorrow but without the terms and conditions that TEDx talks comes along with.
The activities of the organisation Spur was later merged into an official student club of Madras Institute of Technology and came to be knows as TEDc MIT which organises its own version of Spur Talks – the Innovate talk show, a bi-annual student held TED like talk show in Chennai.
But, TEDc MIT is a whole another story for another post.