It’s been three years since Janwaar Castle kicked off as an experiment. In these three years, we’ve successfully managed to familiarise ourselves with the village and the issues the villagers were facing – or that’s what we thought. But it was high time we took the next step to weed out beliefs from facts, and to make this understanding more quantifiable – a bit more concrete. This is how our data project began.

As part of the data project, our primary goal was to collect the demographic, economic, education, and occupation information at an individual and household level. This data would then be matched with existing government schemes to identify those individuals/ families eligible for them. Once these individuals/ households are identified, we have the manpower ready to help the villagers apply for the schemes. On top of this, we’ll also get a much better understanding – at an aggregated level – about the issues that the villagers are facing. This will help us to prioritise and think of ways to tackle these issues one by one.

We initially faced quite a few challenges in identifying the relevant schemes for Janwaar. There is no single source of schemes available online that is exhaustive, accessible, and consumable. So after quite a bit of teeth-grinding and hair-pulling, we finally identified about 70 direct benefit schemes from a total of more than 350 schemes that the state and central governments offer in Madhya Pradesh. And while
we were in no way confident about the exhaustiveness of this number, we were comfortable in the consensus that it is a good start.

So we moved on to the data collection.

Here is a story written by Avinash Kothuri on hehalf of th evolunteers who’ve been collecting the data which at least I feel provides deep insights what such a data tool we are building would mean for Janwaar.