“One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.”
— Marie Curie
Talk about the right quote at the right time. Thank you Forbes.com.
And thank you Mark for your bold move. You have led the path to show that social media can be a powerful tool to spread the message of love, hope, and action. I want to take the momentum of the current news of the Chan and Mark initiative and try and push for a movement in the context of Nepal.
I couldn’t believe that Mark Zuckerberg received criticism for making the bold and benevolent move of starting the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and for committing to give away 99% of their Facebook shares to fund various missions that are close to their heart. But then I realized, it just proves the point: If no one is criticizing your leadership – you are not leading correctly (Glenn Llopis).
I truly believe that the structure of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was the right move. Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus travels the world promoting initiatives such as this – a social business. According to Yunus, it is through entrepreneurship and social business, his goal is to eradicate poverty in Bangladesh by 2030, a statistic that he claims has already halved by 2013 (meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the number people under poverty by 2015). Yunus is actively promoting his views and his practices on a new kind of capitalism around the world. He advocates to corporations on building a social business like the one Danone started in Bangladesh, a business where all the principles of business are kept intact to keep it competitive and innovative except the profit motive of benefiting its owners and/or shareholders.
Yunus talks about the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a charity window, “charity does a lot of good things but one limitation about charity is that the money goes out does good work but it doesn’t come back. So, you have only one time use of money. But if you can create a social business, …it gets the same work done and then it comes back. So you can have endless use of money and it becomes very powerful.”
So, when Mark wants to allow his billions to attract more money and to keep it in circulation to provide for the “endless” possible uses in the areas of “personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities”, shouldn’t we be thankful instead?
I truly believe that Mark also wants to start a movement, a movement that inspires people to do good and do more of it. Along this line, I also believe that Mahabir Pun, a 2014 Internet Hall of Fame inductee, 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award Winner, and a social entrepreneur wants to create a movement too. A movement to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural Nepal – to build an information highway in Nepal. After Mark announced the internet.org initiative that has now connected 15 million more people with internet, Nepali population including me have been hoping, asking, and reaching out to see if Nepali population will also benefit from the initiative soon. However, we have yet to capitalize on our own local resources and expertise to give momentum to and grow our own national level movement. The movement powered by Mahabir Pun’s vision and tireless action to find our own small ways to fuel his efforts.
For everyone who will be reading this post, you are aware of how large an impact internet and this access to information has impacted your life and your understanding of the world. Sugat Mitra has demonstrated how students can teach themselves given the access to the information technology through his “School in the Cloud Project”. Ending this digital divide will compensate in many ways, the most basic of infrastructures that the people in rural Nepal are denied of.
Yet, with ample monetary resources and expertise, the progress is minimal to say the least.
Yes, according to Mahabir Pun, the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund in Nepal has amassed over a USD 100 million and the fund will continue to grow by millions every year and yet, it sits in the bank with no results. Working tirelessly for over 12 years, Pun says he has been able to reach only about 200 schools and estimates that the results of the combined efforts from a few other organizations have led to internet access for around 500 schools in rural Nepal. Pun is confident that if the fund is put to good use, every mountaintop of the country would have internet access within the next 5 years, much shorter time span if the work picked up speed. And yet, it is sad to hear him say that he has reached out to every Minister in the Ministry of Information and Communication (because of the many turnovers that have occurred during these years) and yet nothing’s done.
And so expressing my gift to give to the world as Oprah rightly says is everyone’s job to know, I ask you to stand with me in standing with Mahabir Pun to bring his vision of eliminating this digital divide in the country.
I have started a petition on Change.org for the following:
- Form a committee with Dr. Mahabir Pun as the Chair of the committee to plan and implement a program to end the digital divide between the rural and urban areas of Nepal.
- Reach out to anyone you can to spread the message. When the access to information is far and wide, we can achieve the heights that we may have only dreamed…. and even those that we have never dreamed off.
Let us work together and work in our own unique ways to “Help the Human Family” as Maggie Doyne 2015CNNHero said while receiving her award and in many of her blogs on BlinkNow.
Note: I have not been in contact with Dr. Mahabir Pun regarding this article or this petition.
Update: Dr. Pun responded to the petition saying that it was possible. Please spread the message and sign the petition.