It took a few days of travelling around the world, but the INDIA 25 team is finally reunited in Delhi, ready to start our adventure across India to meet social entrepreneurs. After months of preparing our project from four different locations, through Skype calls, Google Drive, emails and Dropbox, being on the ground working together is strange and exciting.
We started out strong with a meeting at 8:30 a.m. on our very first day. Making our way through the unfamiliar, though not illogical, numbering system of Delhi streets, we found the office of Sumit Dagar, a young designer, who created a smartphone for the blind. The Braillephone screen is made up of electronically-activated pins to convey information to the user by touch instead of sight. The phone can render text and photo information in braille as well as convert visual elements into braille elements. As a designer, Dagar is careful to get into the user’s mindset and understand how they can experience a familiar product in unconventional ways. “Blind people remember how to do things in sequence,” he told us, “so the phone is designed to fit with how they process the world.” Sumit Dagar reminded us at the start of our trip that there is never a single solution to a problem, but that answers always depend on the audience for which they are destined.
With these thoughts on our mind, we set out into the streets of Old Delhi to get our first taste of life on the busy capital’s streets. A good trip is usually said to give you an eyeful. In the case of Delhi, we got an earful, nose-full, mouthful and touch-full as well. The great Jama Masjid mosque, the trash-ridden small streets, a row of spice shops and a taste of local cuisine whirled past us as we joined the anarchic movement of Delhi traffic.
To wrap up our day, we met up with Ajay Chaturvedi, a man who runs what at first appears to be a standard Business Process Outsourcing company, but in fact turns out to be an educational community building stronger villages. Chaturvedi’s business, HarVa, begins by training women in villages to use a computer and from there expands their education, not only in the field of technology, but also in agriculture and community building. Ajay Chaturvedi is a man with a vision and HarVa is the expression of his philosophy of life to help others learn to create on their own, rooted in deep personal values.
We are only at the start of our trip and these are only the jotted down impressions of a first day. Even though we have a month ahead, we can never seem to get enough time. Already we are leaving Delhi today and with our crowdfunding campaign coming to an end in a few hours, it feels like we are at the big sendoff we have been waiting for.