[Fsf-friends] report about RMS's visit to Ambedkar Community Computer Center in Bangalore

sreejith g.s sreejithgs at gmail.com
Wed Dec 17 13:16:34 IST 2008


RMS's visit to the Slum computing center:

Ambedkar Community Computer Center is situated in a slum area in the New
Gurupanplaya in Bannerghata road Bangalore. In the IT city of
multinationals, it is only one of the slums in interiors of Bangalore that
is not well known outside. On last saturday (13th December 2008) the slum
had a unique visitor who is not only famous, but also considered to be well
known among every part of the world as the founder of free software
foundation. Richard M Stallman's visit turned the attention of IT
professionals and media persons to the otherwise not well known slum.

Ambedkar Community Computing Center (AC3) is a center set up in the slum
area of Gurupan Palya by members of Sthree Jagruthi Samithi, volunteers from
AID (Association of India's Development) and by some Free Software
Volunteers working in IT industry.

The idea of setting up the center was to equip the poor children in the
nearby area with the basic computer skills using quality software which is
available free of cost and shareable. The center uses free software tools on
GNU/Linux to teach and impart computer knowledge to children. The effort is
now showing results and the children   have shown enormous improvement. One
of the children, Mani, a 9th standard student, has created beautiful
pictures using the Free Software tool "GIMP". His pictures got a huge
response from the exhibition conducted during the Free Software National
Conference held in Cochin, this November. Amazed by Mani's pictures,
Stallman agreed to visit AC3 and interact with the children for a few

During his visit, Richard Stallman inaugurated Mani's painting exhibition
and released a book written by children on the basis of their experience in
the slum computing center. Sarasu, who is from the slum area, teaching kids
in the slum computing center presented about the center and the work it is
doing for the poor. Richard Stallman made two corrections to the
presentation. He emphasized that free software is not the alternative, but
it is the right one. He also added that instead of a few success stories the
presentation should say a great success story as the slum computing center
is doing a great job.

There were also cultural events from the inhabitants of the slum. After the
events, RMS interacted with the audience who were from the nearby areas of
slum computing center and addressed their questions.

Here is an extract from Stallman's speech:
"I am honored to be here in the community computer center that is in the
name of Dr BR Ambedkar. I have read about Ambedkar and I was inspired by the
work he has done for the dalit people in India. There are many issues among
the poor and marginalized in India that are more important than using free
software. But, free software is one of the tool that helps the poor and
dalit to resolve some of the issues they are facing. Poor can't afford
proprietary softwares and free software helps them to access computers.
While proprietary software companies are like the colonial rulers who
exploited the masses, free software is freedom and liberation. Ambedkar
Community Computer center is a model for the other parts of the India in
such a way that it gives access to computers for the poor without
compromising the freedom. The Ambedkar Community Center is doing a great job
by empowering the poor with knowledge of free software."*

It was a memorable experience for the people in slum area, the people who
are part of the Ambedkar Community Computer Center and the children who are
the students of the center. They were all inspired by the visit of the RMS
to spread the free software message and also taking the center to next

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