A project called “Smart Village” aims to give young people access to online educational resources, information on government programmes, and multimedia services. In 2015, the Prime Minister of India put forth a plan to upgrade a cluster of 300 villages into smart villages. Like in other villages and towns of the country two Kashmiri villages of Kunan and Poshpora were included among one of the few Indian villages to receive the tag of “Smart Villages.” This was made possible by Aseem Foundation, a Pune based NGO.

The baseline for smart communities is always constant, whether it is a city or a village. It is how one uses the technology to better the lives of people.These networks are designed to host a range of services that a typical village resident might need, which includes education, health care, government schemes & policies and employment. These services are accessible on any smart phone or computer held with the residents or available at government computer centres and schools.

In Kunan and Poshpora, one such network has been established. All residents have access to the network through their personal computers and smart phones. Educational content segregated based on different classes, multimedia services hosting different genres of songs and videos, announcements of various Government schemes and policies, new welfare schemes, and local events are just a few of the services offered on this network.

Educational content for students in classes VI to XI are provided in the form of videos that are tastefully designed for easy access. Additionally, it gives residents the chance to promote their skills or businesses and find out relevant information about themselves and the community.

The Aseem Foundation worked to bring the project to reality. A WiFi router mesh has been placed throughout the village to provide coverage for as many residents of both villages as possible. The back end connectivity is through a point to point antenna that has been mounted on a mobile tower to give it an extended range and coverage. A website hosting all the above services has been created and is being monitored and updated on continuous basis. The plan is to take inputs from the local users and upgrade the same accordingly.

During the inauguration, a student from Government High School Kunan stated that “It is similar to having a dream in which you are entering a community with free Wi-Fi. Once you access it, you are directed to a specific website that has loads of content generally for all the requirements of any person. By using the website, we can learn through animated videos while explaining through cartoons in the infotainment module”.

Young students along with Local Citizens stated after the launch of this project that “the system can be very useful for all the youth, children, and villagers as well as for their educational and administrative system. Smart village revolution project is the first to be launched in Kashmir valley, and it will prove fruitful for the population here”.

With the help of this unique project, the gap between the regular citizens, government portals, local businesses and residents etc have been reduced to a great extent. Kunan and Poshpora have became the first Smart Villages of this type in entire Kashmir region. This can be further improved and customised by continuous contributions from each one, so that the system can be gradually updated to reflect the actual needs and practicality on the ground. The village’s youth, children, and administrative system can all make great use of it which in turn shall lead to development both individuality and region as a whole.

The residents of Kunan and Poshpora collectively expressed their gratitude to Indian Army and the Aseem Foundation for their vision and developing this hamlet. The residents are sanguine that the project will go a far way to uplift the standards of education and awareness of the residents of Kunan and Poshpora.

This smart village is waking up to a new, smarter era in Kashmir – one that is brighter, advanced and ahead of time.

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