Images ( above) from Purasakkudi, the birthplace of C V Raman
Chennai, June 17, 2016: On June 20 two Internet dark villages in Tamil Nadu that have produced Nobel Laureates will wake up to the joys of connectivity. To coincide with World WiFi Day, Internet & Wi-Fi service provider Microsense is networking the ancestral villages of Sir C.V. Raman and Dr. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.
Purasakkudi (home town of CV Raman) and Mangudi (also known as Agaramangudi) are barely 20 kms away from bustling temple town Thanjavur, a tourist hotspot. And yet, despite producing two world renowned physicists, these villages are unheard of.Now Microsense’s Managing Director, S. Kailasanathan, an IIT Madras, IIM-Calcutta alumnus is rectifying that by connecting these villages to the world. The project has been a labour of love for Kailasanathan, an ardent fan of the work of Sir C.V. Raman whose findings on the scattering of light is an important tool for analyzing the composition of liquids, gases and solids.
Microsense team tracked down the descendents of the Nobel Laureate and sought their blessings before embarking on the project. The trigger was the appeal by the Wireless Broadband Alliance, a global body that is committed to connecting the unconnected and had appealed to all its members to do something special on June 20, the inaugural Wi-Fi Day being celebrated worldwide.
For Kailasanathan, it made sense to network these two Tamil Nadu hamlets ahead of 2,50,000 other villages waiting to get connected under government plan given the fact that they had produced such eminent physicists. Sir C.V. Raman’s family had agricultural land here and even today although the family has moved to cities, his ancestral home is intact here.
C.V. Raman’s grand nephews and nieces are delighted. “Hats off, for this wonderful initiative,” said V.S. Sunder, the scientist’s grand nephew and a mathematician at The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai.Microsense is drawing on its 30 year experience in setting up communications solutions to network the villages. The company provides Wi-Fi and broadband services to premium hotels and has expertise in setting up Wi-Fi in Airports, Malls, Stadia, Coffee Shops, Colleges, Townships and Cities. Microsense got into implementing Wi-Fi technology invented in 1999 as early as 2000.To begin with, Microsense will be setting up Wi-Fi hotspots for internet access at a few locations in the village that includes the Panchayat Office and residential localities using Microsense’s path breaking Cloud Wi-Fi platform.There are challenges of course in providing connectivity. They include provisioning power, drawing in the last miles from far off locations, besides deploying the Wi-Fi gears. Physical security and safety of this equipment including real time maintenance is also a challenge that Microsense engineers are getting ready to wade through, says Sujit Singh, CEO, Microsense.
Most of the 1000 families in the two villages own simple smartphones and when Wi-Fi hot zones go live on the World Wi-Fi Day on Monday June 20, 2016, Microsense Director Rajiv Talwar hopes they will all be able to access internet. Initially, he feels it will be most useful for children of the villages who can use the Internet as an educational tool. To start them off on their learning journey, Microsense will donate two laptop computers to the Mangudi government aided village school (up to Class 6) and a desktop as a common resource for use by the villagers (also to be located in the village school.)
For the Nobel Laureate’s grand niece Uma Parameswaran, a retired professor of English now based in Canada, this initiative resonates as she says, “C.V. Raman had great faith in the younger generation and enjoyed taking schoolchildren around his Institute. Busloads of children were at the Raman Research Institute grounds the day of his cremation, November 21, 1970.”
Uma , who penned a biography of her grand uncle describes how Sir C.V. Raman had said, “Ultimately the aim of scientific knowledge is to benefit human life.” She feels Microsense’s initiative at Raman’s ancestral village honours his commitment to science and to the younger generation.
As residents of these villages, accompanied by a local village head, gather in Mangudi under a colourful Shamiana on June 20, 2016 they will fondly remember with pride their two Nobel laureates yet again.