Atanu Garai

Atanu Garai designs and implements ICT solutions for improving delivery and uptake of public services in public sector programs for rural jobs, food security, finance and health. In his current assignment with IPE Global, Atanu helps design and implementing mobile payment to workers employed in Indian rural jobs program MGNREGS, fund management by the Panchayati Raj Department, among other initiatives in Odisha (India). Previously, he led the development of ICT strategies for improving public health interventions in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh for Abt Associates, IntraHealth International, and Population Council. Atanu has received a graduate degree in e-Governance from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland). He is currently pursuing a master degree in computing in School of Computer and Information Sciences, Indira Gandhi National Open University (India). As part of this degree requirement, he is working on the project Improved Carrier Access during Rural Emergencies (iCARE) which shall use volunteered vehicles otherwise remains idle available with rural Indians to transport beneficiaries during health emergencies to the health facilities. In iCARE, health workers shall enrol volunteering vehicles in a call centre which shall assign vehicles available in locations nearby to beneficiaries requesting vehicles for transportation. Through the ICTD4D scholarship by IFITT, I am expecting to work with the mentor in design, implementation, and evaluation of the iCARE intervention.

Interview with Atanu:
When and why did you decide to research in the area of information technology for tourism development?
Tourism is a key source of income for a large section of population in in Odisha (India). In other states, opportunities for investment and growth in tourism industry is quite high. Some states like Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, among others have made good number of showcases of the tourism initiatives in the web. Some others are still lagging behind. In this regard, private and public sectors must cooperate in developing websites to inform potential tourists about facilities and travel. I have long been interested in exploring the potential of information technology in tourism sector.

What is your study about?
I am pursuing a graduate degree in computing in the School of Computer and Information Sciences (SOCIS) in IGNOU. The curricula provides practical and theoretical education and training in design and development of computer applications. In the course of this study, I shall design, develop, and implement a software application as part of the project work.
The project Improving Carrier Access during Rural Emergencies (iCARE) aims overcoming challenges in providing timely, cost-effective, and reliable transportation primarily to pregnant women and their families to visit their nearby healthcare facilities. In rural and remote India and elsewhere, pregnant women and their families remain reluctant to avail institutional delivery, often due to limited and timely information on access to carriers. In this project, a software will be developed for enrolling the volunteered vehicles and connect the beneficiaries and volunteer vehicles through a call center.

How do you think your study can provide a positive impact onto your community?
The study helps me in connecting to a number of teachers and peers in the academic and practitioner community in the disciplines of computing and information technology. The knowledge gained in the practical aspects of software development and research on human computer interface will help develop software applications acceptable to the community health workers participating in the iCARE project.

Where do you see the tourism development in your country in 20 years if your study would be realised on a large scale?
Though the iCARE project is yet to be proven on the ground for its efficacy, it has the potential to be useful in tourism sector as well. We would highly appreciate if you could send us this information soon.

Contact Atanu at: [email protected].