Monday, October 13, 2008

An Unforgettable Lesson from a Kid

I was attending a FOSS training camp by free software movement activists in Bangalore last weekend. The sessions were followed by a demonstration from a 9th standard kid Mani from a slum area in Bannarghatta road, Bangalore. When he demonstrated the usage of GIMP by drawing pictures, I and every one among the audience were amazed. In fact he is a physically disabled kid who seems to have a natural talent for drawing.

I had tried out GIMP a few years back, but I lost interest when I felt that it is too complex and I have no inclination for drawing. When some of the volunteers were teaching computers to students in a slum area Mani expressed his eagerness to learn GIMP an image manipulation tool in GNU/Linux. One of the volunteer Hareesh provided a video on GIMP and he taught GIMP by himself using that video with the help of Balaji(A volunteer of free software movement and an employee of Sun). He became so proficient in the tool that he was able to draw a beautiful picture in a short span of time. GIMP is an equivalent tool for Photoshop, but considered less user friendly and not that much popular compared to other image manipulation tools.

We are living in a knowledge era and access to knowledge is more easier through collaboration and social networking tools. But a huge population of India is outside the reach of this vast knowledge. India has a huge talent pool with rich human resources that is unexploited. It is our duty as socially responsible citizens to reach this knowledge to masses who are poor or ignorant. This incident was an example of the use of free software as a tool to empower the masses through knowledge. Kudos to the team who are successfully running the computer center for underprivileged in the slum area. Contrary to popular assumption, people has the ability to come out successful irrespective of their background if they are provided help and access to knowledge. We need to be patient and give them the right tools to bring out their talent.

Read a report about the slum computer center in:

Here is a video about mani in the GNU website: How GIMP changed Mani's life

Here is an article I wrote for Bangalore citizen matters about Richard Stallman's visit to Ambedkar Community Computer Center:

Stallman's visit to Ambedkar Community Computer Center

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