In the age of digital media, Pradeep Lokhande, a Pune-based social activist and entrepreneur, wants to keep the age-old communication tools alive. And, he has found out a way to do that!
He communicates with 58 lakh rural people through postcards and receives 150 postcards daily.
He also has data of 49,000 villages
in 10 Indian states in which he has visited 5,800 villages. “A postcard still brings a smile to my face. I have received 94,000 of them from the children of villages in Maharashtra, where I have helped open around 3,055 libraries,” said Lokhande.
Lokhande, who is known as Postcard man of India, has just one line address– Pradeep Lokhande, Pune, 411013.
His one line address is a result of heavy mail traffic that he receives on his address.
It started when his wife and father wrote around 20,000 postcards to teachers, sarpanches and postmasters in 4,700 villages to enquire about the weekly bazaar. But, they did not receive a good response, prompting Lokhande to travel to villages and along the way he gathered information about employment rate, markets, level of literacy etc. Slowly, the response to his postcards started rising.
In 1996, he contacted Tata Tea and Parle to delve into the data available with him. He thought it would be prudent for companies to understand consumer behaviour and in turn create more jobs in rural India.
He also started an organization called Rural Relations
with the aim to develop rural India. Since then, he has been involved in a number of initiatives. He has installed 600 computers across 540 villages so that children attend school, to help people in their business and other such things.
Lokhande, who comes from a humble background, also started the concept of Non-Resident Villager (NRV), which encourages city people to adopt a village and help its residents.
“Each one of us is an NRV, for our roots do, in some way, come from the villages. So as an NRV, we can always reach out, support and contribute something to the development of rural India,” says Lokhande.
He has also started a library movement called Gyan-Key to instill reading habits amongst students. The library is for the students and by the students in which rural students donate their books on their birthday.