YouthSpark Profiles highlight young people in Asia Pacific who are dedicated to changing the world through technology and inspiring others along the way.
Name: Sathya Narayanan Subramanian
Occupation: Managing Director, Coimbatore User Group India Private Limited (CBEUG) and a law student
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” An aphorism that Sathya has taken to heart, and one that guided his personal belief that technology should be used for opening up greater opportunities for everyone. The 23-year-old set up an online community in 2006 to bring together students around common IT interests. Today, Coimbatore User Group India Private Limited (CBEUG) is going beyond technology evangelism to run its own Digital Literacy Program, aimed at empowering less privileged students in Coimbatore.
The Digital Literacy Program won Sathya (and four other aspiring young technologists) a two-week trip to Ecuador to help boost their leadership skills and galvanise their knack for creating change through Microsoft YouthSpark’s Challenge for Change competition.
What inspired you to start the Digital Literacy Program?
At CBEUG, our focus has always been on knowledge sharing, and we wanted to venture further by bringing the benefits of technology to underprivileged students in Coimbatore. We started running the Digital Literary Program in 2011 to conduct hands-on training on IT fundamentals, such as how students can make use of computers in their daily life. To broaden the impact of this community initiative, we also developed an online portal, based on the Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum, enabling students to gain easy access to e-learning sessions.
Can you share with us the objective of the programme?
Our ultimate goal is to enrich the lives of 100,000 local students by the end of 2015. We are currently working with various partner organisations and volunteers to achieve that goal.
What is the most pressing challenge facing youth in Coimbatore, and how can it be addressed?
Young people often find themselves losing interest in the university courses they are enrolled in, which may impact their academic performance and future employment. I believe more needs to be done to encourage students to start exploring educational options at a much earlier age.
How has Microsoft or the YouthSpark programme been able to support your current initiatives?
Becoming a Microsoft Student Partner in 2009 marked a significant turning point in my life. Through participating in various YouthSpark activities, I experienced how technology has the potential to transform young lives and their communities. I got the chance to meet and exchange ideas with other like-minded YouthSpark participants from around the world, working together towards a common cause—using technology to bridge the opportunity gap.
A big part of CBEUG's activities is sharing knowledge about app development. Is there any coding advice you would impart to an aspiring app developer?
Young developers lacking in coding experience often have the wrong impression that programming languages are difficult to learn. But that is not true! Anyone with an interest in coding can easily pick up programming basics by exploring the resources available online and practicing with the right tools.
Microsoft Small Basic, for instance, provides a simplified programming platform that novice coders can use to execute a few simple lines of code effectively. With this fundamental knowledge and loads of practice, anyone can start exploring the world of coding to create innovative apps that have a positive impact on the community.
I aspire to … become a social entrepreneur, who can drive social change and contribute to the country, while making a comfortable living out of it.
To read about Sathya’s experience in the Amazon rainforest, click here.