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/ Freeman



A photo posted by @freemanindia on

That India is ‘Developing’ makes it an exciting place to be. It is easier to influence the outcome of a transition, than to instigate transition from a stable environment. For the past two years I’ve been living on the outskirts of Bangalore. Development is a visceral reality out here. Earth movers, JCBs, cement factories, ambitious layouts with stones demarking plot boundaries and small signs saying 1st main, 2nd main, 1st cross all denote a transition in process.

Central Bangalore is ‘Developed’ as much as San Francisco. Small projects happen here and there, but nothing like the large scale earth moving happening on the periphery. Similarly, another 100 kilometers out is ‘undeveloped’ and not changing quickly.

The ‘Development’ of India is happening in the edge around the cities as they absorb the immediately surrounding country side and a larger portion of the population.

Living out here, ‘Development’ takes on a very specific meaning. It deals with the needs of an increased mass of humanity occupying previously rural land. How do they get clean water, food, electricity, internet, shelter? How do they manage their biological waste, plastic waste, e-waste?

Bangalore is especially interesting to me because the self perception and growth of the city is tightly connected with IT. The needs of an IT community are very different from industrial needs. IT workers can be productive working on laptops with very little large scale infrastructure surrounding them.

This makes IT a great sector to cater to as an area develops because their real needs are so minimal.

Right now I believe the Bangalore IT scene is limited by the number of competent IT workers / developers present. The appetite of funded tech startups for quality talent is huge, and the current higher education system in India isn’t satisfying the demand.

Fortunately, gaining experience in this field just requires spending time online, taking online classes, working on projects, reading online books and blogs.

It doesn’t take much to enable a decent quantity of young ambitious software developers to hangout on a farm and develop their technical skills in this way. Their core needs can be taken care of without pouring concrete or damaging the land they occupy in anyway.

If small land holding farmers in the region put up temporary shelters and 4g routers they can invite young ambitious people from around India and the world to come to Bangalore, spend time living on a farm learning web and mobile development while they connect with the Bangalore startup community by attending tech and startup meetups.

This is what I’m doing with Jaaga Study, but I believe the opportunity is much larger than anything I can hope to achieve myself. I imagine Bangalore proper surrounded by a ring of informal ‘co-learning’ spaces where young people live on farms developing their skills preparing to join the technology industry.