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From Maharishi University of Management

SEPTEMBER 18, 2016 • ISSUE 359

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Promila Bahadur, assistant professor of computer science

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Hoisting the Indian flag at the Guru Institute of Information Technology

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Promila with her 6-year old son and 3-year old daughter outside Maharishi School

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Promila purchased used computers from Maharishi School and carried them back to India for her center

Computer Scientist Changing Lives of Young Women in Rural India

It is not unusual for a 14-year old teenager in India to teach herself to use a computer. But when Promila Bahadur accomplished this in 1991, what she did with this knowledge has profoundly changed the lives of many young women in a poor rural village just 15 kilometers from her home town of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

Promila discovered that young girls in the village of Nizam Pur had no opportunities for education, so she started visiting the village and began teaching computer literacy to young women. Using her own money, she founded the Guru Computer Education Center in 2004, later renamed the Guru Institute of Information Technology. To date, Promila has trained over 2000 individuals, including children, youth, women, and elderly.

“The motivation comes from the fact that God has bestowed the power of creativity on women,” said Promila. “One of my high school teachers told me that, ‘a literate mother can give a literate society.’ So women’s empowerment is a must.”

In 2004 the government of Uttar Pradesh recognized and approved Promila as the first Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE) to start a Common Service Center (CSC) for improving the day-to-day needs of rural Indians. Last year, at a National Conference of CSCs hosted by the Government of India, Promila was selected as one of only six out of 500 VLEs in all of India to receive a special banner.

Promila’s life has changed in many ways since starting her Institute. She has completed her MCA and MTech degrees in computer science, married, and obtained her Ph.D. in computer science from Uttrakhand Technical University in India. Her scholarly work is on multidisciplinary research in natural language processing, which involves incorporation of English, Sanskrit, and computer languages.

In 2015 Promila came to MUM as an assistant professor of computer science. She still maintains daily contact with her Institute in India and continues to support it financially. She is proud of her ability to multi-task, and feels that her daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique helps her maintain a balanced, increasingly successful life.

Promila’s next plan is to establish a computer education hub among a cluster of six Indian villages. The hub would also provide other services including banking, insurance, and pharmacy. “If one day some of our students get the chance to study at MUM, this would be, in fact, a dream come true for me,” said Promila.

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