OKCL, Ipsita never obsessed about her freelancing career, until now. “On an average, I earn around rupees twelve thousand and more in a month,” says the Bhubaneswar based urban youth a freelancing professional, who is in her early 20s. Over the last year, she has been working to build a career in this field of freelancing. “I check my bank account once a week and it shows that I am fairly getting paid for my work every time.”
Typically, when you start searching for a job, you go into the loop of searching. “Days were tough, the mind was never at peace and earning was not happening anymore,” says Chittaranjan reeling under latent Covid-19 stress and anxiety. Unemployment has emerged as a major problem “as is where is” and it’s become more intense in the wake of the global pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, shutdown and many related concurrent happenings.
“I came to know of freelancing about a few months back and since then I started exploring the freelancing market, now I am at peace as I am able to earn something out of it”. Further, he says “The Digital Freelancing program by Odisha Knowledge Corporation Limited has helped me a lot in enhancing my skill set”.
The journey of Odisha Knowledge Corporation begins in the year 2011, on September 12; formed with the State Government’s vision of creating a knowledge-led economy and knowledge-based communities in all the urban, rural and tribal regions of the state, recognizes bridging of the digital divide is key to survival, development and empowerment of the people and the overall development of the State in the emerging knowledge era of the 21st century in the context of liberalization, privatization and globalization along with four emerging trends: digitisation, virtualisation, mobilisation and mass personalisation. OKCL advocated online freelancing, to create sustainable local self-employment for semi-urban and rural youths who cannot afford to migrate to cities, since Sept 2019, when it started its pilot project with local youths in its corporate office in the area of freelancing.
In this period of pandemic and job losses, the youths working in the space of online freelancing were unfazed. On the contrary, the earnings of these youths increased substantially in the month of April 2020, when so many people across the world faced job losses. Dhirendra says, “the timing of my joining this the project can’t be more perfect, I was in search of job near my home but was not able to find any, which is when I joined this pilot project by OKCL and in a few months corona pandemic occurred. One of my neighbours working in a big city came back to his home due to job loss, however, I kept on with my work.”
Further, many of us now admit that the capitalist engine is broken, that in its current form it inevitably leads to rampant inequality, massive unemployment, and environmental destruction. We need a new economic system that unleashes altruism as a creative force just as powerful as self-interest. Quality education, zero unemployment and activities of environmental restoration are the few factors and forces of hope for the future.
The last 9 years’ story of Odisha Knowledge Corporation sketched with many images of glory and happenings of uncertainties for its existence. Along with all the happenings, its journey never stopped at any junctures. It has produced the expected outcomes by transforming the life of children, youth and common citizens across the state of Odisha. In the words of Ms. Bandana Behera, Headmistress “In the year 2014, ICT Lab was implemented at our school. Since then students started learning about computers and multimedia content, the dropout rate has come down”. Another student Priyadarshini Biswal says, “I like learning through e-Content more than learning via classroom. I would like to thank the School and Mass Education Department, Government of Odisha for introducing us to new methods of teaching and learning”.
The makeover in education and digital literacy are few happenings in the timeline of its occurrence and existence. The Network of its statewide digital enterprises and their contribution to digital literacy created a huge pool of IT literate citizens, which demonstrated their contribution during the situations like COVID-19 and demonetizations to name few of them. More to this few millions of children and thousands of IT Savvy teachers demonstrated their influence during this difficult time by producing a huge number of educational contents to manage the gap of teaching and learning processes. The students became instrumental to help their siblings to get access to the learning materials created by the teachers in many ways.
The drive which began in 2011 has many things to unfold in the coming years. OKCL’s vision for the next 10 years, is to contribute its part towards achieving “The Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations”, along with the empowerment of youth, it is focusing on the development of Women Entrepreneur in its Network of Small and Medium digital entrepreneurs thereby contributing towards SDG Goals of “Zero Poverty”, “No Hunger” and “Gender Equality”. “Green Jobs” is also one of the areas in which the corporation is serious to work upon thereby fulfilling SDG Goals of “Life on Land”. “Holistic development and social transformation needs work at the grassroots level and that is what OKCL has been doing and would continue to do in its journey ahead”, says Managing Director Mr Manoranjan Puthal.