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Funds crunch blurs his vision for computer programmers

Krushnakant Mane, a blind computer programmer, is on a mission to promote his course to produce more blind programmers. —Photo: Vivek Bendre  

Regarded as a hero of India’s free software movement by none other than Richard Stallman, Mumbai’s blind computer programmer Krushnakant Mane is currently knocking on the doors for funds to promote his course dedicated to develop more IT professionals from visually-challenged students.

“Computer programming needs ideas and not eyes. I am not looking for sympathy because I am blind. I am seeking technology for everyone, which includes the blind community as well,” Mr. Mane told The Hindu .

A graduate in economics, who chose engineering after completing his bachelor of arts degree, Mr. Mane did his masters in the United Kingdom and is currently pursuing his doctorate from Catalonia University in Spain.

A well-known free software advocate in Kerala, he is credited for developing GNU-Khata, an open source accounting software, which stands as an alternative to Tally. His software, funded by the Kerala government, is currently being used for by the State.

“It speaks too,” he said. “I always wondered why blind students give up commerce studies after reaching a certain point. Offices do not want to invest for special accounting software for them and blind persons cannot use the existing ones. So we designed this to talk. It is open source and easy,” he said. It is currently available in Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Bengali and Punjabi. His current endeavour is to create blind computer programmers.

“We must accept first that this is not rocket science. There are no prerequisites. If a person knows how to save a file, he or she can be a programmer,” he said. Mr. Mane along with his peers has formed ‘Digital Freedom Foundation’ to take this initiative forward. The course will be taught free of cost.

Currently, the group has neither office nor funds, and has raised the crowd-funding demand.

“We are not really happy with the response so far,” he said. When asked whether he will accept corporate funding for a free software course, Mr. Mane was quick to respond. “It will be accepted with no threads attached,” he said.

He said his ambition is such that blind programmers should not come as a surprise to people. “It should be a matter of fact. They are human beings and can do exactly what others can,” said Mr. Mane. Mr. Mane clarified free software means improvement at every step. “All work done by us should not only be good, but excellent. It should have enterprise quality,” he said.

A two-time TED speaker in Indonesia and Pune, he is also a consultant for the Brazil government on free software usage.

“Other States have gone ahead of us. We are not bothered or may be tied up under agreements with Microsoft. There is a need for a rich State like us to explore the options,” he said.

Mane is credited for developing GNU-Khata, which stands as an alternative to Tally

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 6:35:12 PM |

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