At one of India’s most prestigious tech universities, IIT Delhi, assistant professor in technology for development Aaditeshwar Seth has been spearheading a social media network for the country’s rural and largely poor population—no Internet required.
Using non-data feature phones, his Delhi-based enterprise Gram Vaani is connecting India’s remote populations in Jharkhand and Bihar—two underdeveloped states—to critical resources such as information on women’s safety campaigns, health programs, and farming techniques. In the process, Gram Vaani also collects data on the country’s hard-to-reach populations, making it a valuable tool for international NGOs, foundations, social enterprises, and corporations.
A native of India, Seth moved back to his homeland from Canada in 2008. “The inequity hits you immediately,” he says, looking back. So he decided to explore a critical question in his research: “How do we build technologies for the marginalized communities to voice themselves?”