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Globalization, New communication Technologies and Rural Development in India: A Critical Analysis Virendra Pal Singh

The present paper first of all reviews critically the strategy of rural development in India and their social consequences for the rural masses in India . In the second part the paper examines the consequences of the globalization on the rural masses in general and on the weaker sections in particular. In the third part , an attempt is made to explore the ways the new communication technologies can be used to facilitate the process of rural development in India . The paper also suggests for adopting new policies for the faster diffusion of these technological innovation in rural areas by recasting the strategy of integrated rural development in India. I The Strategy of Rural Development in India After independence one of the major tasks before the independent national government was to formulate and execute the plans for restructuring the Indian society. The immediate step in this direction came with the abolition of the instruments of exploitation like Zamindari and Rayatwari Land tenure system which had been responsible for the collapse of the Indian economy. In the first Five Year Plan (1952) the laws regarding tenancy right and ceiling of land holdings were implemented. This enabled the tenants to get back their land from the clutches of rentiers. The other major steps for restructuring the rural community were the innovations of Community Development Programme, Panchayati Raj and rural co-operatives. Moreover, social movements like Bhoodan and Gramdan were launched by eminent social reformers like Vinoba and Jai Prakash Narain. The Community Development Programme introduced in 1952 was an attempt at asystematic and integrated rural development in the country. The basic objective of the programme was to serve the rural people and to reach as large number of them as possible. The programme put into operation the concept of making a multi-purpose functionary responsible for the needs of the rural households. It was a major departure from the Gandhian model of rural development, which emphasized on the self-sufficiency of the village. Thus, for the first time, the office of village level worker (VLW) supported at the Block level by a team of various subject matter specialists was introduced and the community development block was made a unit of planning and development. For all the rural development programmes at the block level and for the block level functionaries, the Block Development Officer was supposed to act as a cocoordinator. By the end of Second Five Year Plan every village in India was brought under this scheme, the major items included in this programme were related with the following eight categories: (1) Agriculture and related matters, (2) Communications, (3) Education, (4) Health, (5) Training, (6) Social Welfare, (7) Employment and (8) Housing. The programmes adopted to cover these items may be classified into following four categories: (a) construction programmes (include roads, culverts, drains, pavements, school buildingd, community centers, dispensary, house for poor villagers and drinking water sources); (b) irrigation schemes (wells, pumping sets, tube wells and tanks); (c) agricultural programmes and (d) institutional and other programmes (Youth Club, Women‟s organizations, Community centers, etc.) (Desai 1978: 613). The impact of the community development programmes has been a subject of analysis and evaluation for a number of social scientists (Dube 1958; Taylor 1958; and Lewis 1958). They have attempted to assess the nature of the impact of this programme on the life of the rural people, The major weaknesses of the programme were as follows: (1) the government machinery had not assimilated the true spirit underlying the entire programme. The programme was operated more as an executive assignment.

pressure of popupation was increasing at a much faster rate. the real locus of political power is at the middle tier i. Thus. amendments were made in the panchayati raj act and provisions of allocating and disbursing funds directly to village panchayats were made in order to check misappropriation of funds at the district and samiti levels. was appointed to correct the drawbacks in implementation. “The power of these bodies varied from the state to state as a consequence of the structural and operational variations in the pattern of panchayati raj institutions. It was again under political pressure that somewhat diluted IAAP was put into operation . artisans and agricultural laboureres could not get much from the programme. the block and the village level throughout the country to ensure people‟s participation and inculcate the democratic values at the grass root level. but at the intermediate and the distrcict level variations have been found in their organization. The IADP was designed as a pace setting programme which would demonstrate how to augment production more rapidly and as a path-finding experimental programme which would develop innovations. Although. It made artisans and agricultural labourers relatively more handicapped than the cultivators and therefore created greater inequqlity in the rural community.. As a result. These institutions were introduced a t the district. The three-tiers are the gram panchayat at the village level. popularly known as Balvantrai Mehta Committee. workshops and investments were also lacking at the field level The centrally laid down criteria for the selection of the districts were not met in full. The committee recommended as a way-out the formation of a hierarchic three-tier system of rural local government to be called “Panchayati Raj”. certain facilities like soil testing laboratories. As the programme entailed heavy public spending. The involvement of the people in the programme was lacking. the Team for the study of Community Projects and National Extension Services. Thus. Politics emerged as a variable of significance in the selection of of districts.e. In 1964. all the states decided to have direct election to the village panchayat. In 1950‟s agricultural yields were very low and it became apparent that agricultural production was not increasing quickly as was expected. the community development programme could not bridge the gap between the rich and the poor but conversely widened the gap between the two. (3) the advantages of the improvement were taken by the large cultivators while small peasants. More (high) caste.” (Maheshwari 1985 :3). he is the key figure in the whole set up. India invited a team of American experts to suggest the strategy for an immediate augmentation of agricultural production. of India 1961: 316). fresh ideas and procedures for wider adoptations in agricultural development (Maheshwari 1985: 73). panchayat samiti at the block level and Zila Parishad at the district level. politicians actively lobbied for the inclusion of their constituencies. the selection process often was inspired by ascriptive criteria. But they created other kinds of problems which will be discussed later while evaluating the performance of later strategy of rural development. At the village level. this new programme followed the concept of IADP but its staffing pattern was reduced in intensity. In three tier system of panchayati raj. He can easily influence the authorities at the block and the district levels. the country was thus compelled to feed its population by import of foodgrains. the panchayati raj institution also became the instrument of getting various advantages from the development programmes for the land owning and high caste people of the villages.The administration of the programme was predominantly based on aids from the reliance on the government. the programme widened the gulf between the rich and the poor cultivators. more education are still the requisites for political success. (2) the government machinery relied more on propaganda and spectacular results rather than on group work and voluntary creative participation of the village people. In 1957. more money. Moreover. more land. Gray (1978: 537) observed that “ they (samitis) consist almost entirely of members of the dominant land owning castes. On the other hand. whatever yhe political affiliations of the members concerned. In 1989. the concept of IADP was extended to other districts under the nomenclature of Intensive Agricultural Area Programme (IAAP). In 1959. with the Samiti president. The Third Five Year Plan (1961-66) incorporated the IADP and this programme was to be taken up in one district in each state with a purpose to contribute both to a rapid increase in agricultural production in selected areas and to suggest new innovations and combination of practices which could be of value elsewhere (Govt. The accepted recommendations were packed into what came to be known as the Intensive Agricultural District Programme (IADP) which went into action in 1960.

in 1964. initially IADP and IAAP both had shown little sign of acheiving their principal targets of augmentation of agricultural production. the focus of SFDA was directed towards intensive farming while MFAL emphasised on the provisions of subsidiary occupations and other employment generating programmes. The food problem in the country became more severe as a result of continuous drought from 1964 to 1967. Simultaneously arrangements were made for the irrigation and supply of the fertilizers. that it concentrated on the development a given area not the development of a sector. Its members were the heads of sectoral department which were closely concerned with its programme. I the sense. This was a well-synchronised package programme involving action at many levels and sectors of activities. This aroused a concern for the marginal man and in the process. The programme made serious efforts to generate the farmer‟s own interest in in agriculture by means of the promising him an incentive or a remunerative price for his produce. These agencies were set up as corporate and autonomous bodies to work at the district level. fallacies in identification of beneficiaries and delays in release of subsidiary have been major drawbacks of the programme. Central Co-operative Bank and Zila Parishad were also represented along with some non-officials. The financial institutions like the Land development Bank. In order tomeet the problems of developing high yield variety seeds suitable to Indian conditions and to regularise the supply of these new varieties institutions like Natioanal Seed Corporation (NSC) and State Farm Corporation (SFC) were set up in 1966. the programme functioned under the overall control and supervision of a State Level Co-ordination and Review Committee which consisted of senior officers of departments closely connected with the activities and programmes of agency. India imported as much as 10 million tonnes of foodgrain from the USA. The basic objective of the agency was to to raise the earning capacity of the target groups through various programmes related to the improvement in agriculture. The benefits of the programme were received mainly by those farmers having commendable size of the land and other material resources and left small and marginal farmers completely unaffecte dif not worse off. At the state level. the IADP got tremendous success and led to “green revolution” in the country. local aspirations and local potential. In 1974. the development programmes are based on development of local resources and based on local needs. But the integrated approach to rural development emphasised on spatial development. the programme was well supported by the institutions of agricultural research centre like Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI). Although the results of this strategy were very fruitful as the country attained self-sufficiency in production of foodgrains but It had disrupted the traditional rural socio-economic structure. subsidiary occupation etc. Thus. Moreover. The sectoral development appr oach tended to divide development into departmental activities and responsibility for development perceived as administrative responsibilities. As the major thrust was the development of a given area.(Maheshwari 1985:75). it gave more emphasis on micro-level planning rather than centralized macro-level planning at . Moreover. In such a crisis situation the IADP was linked to New Agricultural Strategy (NAS). The agency was set up in selected districts. training and research in agricultural sciences. But due to bureaucratic bottlenecks and lack of sufficient credit facilities the programme could not do much for the upliftment of the small farmers. marginal farmers and agricultural labourers. In order to control the market forces institutions like Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Warehousing Corporation were set up to buy grain at the officially announced price and to storage it respectively. the programmes like Small Farmers‟ Development Agency (SFDA) and Marginal Farmers‟ and Agricultural Labourers Agency (MFAL) were launched in 1971-72. These schemes were to be prepared in co-ordination with technical departments of the state government. The NAS wa sput into operation in 1966 and as a consequence. a more comprehensive strategy envisaging direct attack on poverty was adopted which was basically different from the earlier approach to rural development-the „integrated rural development approach‟ against the „sectoral development approach‟. Agricultural universities began to set up and they were made responsible for education. Its organisational structure consisted of a governing body with a small executive staff headed by the district head. In mid-seventies. Thus it has further widended the gulf between the rich and the poor. the distinction between the two agencis was abolished and a single agency of SFDA-MFAL came into existence.

it also concentrated on certain target groups i. The most ambitious programme IRDP has been the subject of criticism among the social scientists on a number of grounds: (1) IRDP is not an integrated programme in the real sense of the term as it does not integrate resources basedon sectoral planning with the house hold based planning. Thus. the strategy of rural development should be such that can generate gradual changes in socio-economic fabric of the Indian society. Thus. Therefore. Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) with its components TRYSEM and DWCRA and Jawahar Rojgar Yojna and other state sponsored programmes of similar nature can be put in this category. (2) The Antyodayaapproach of IRDP which aims at giving self-employment to the poorest household of rural society is not a realistic approach as these households are of the aged and the handicapped or the poor who have little enterprise or riskbearing capacity. In fact.e. In a multipronged attack on poverty this approach has a legitimate place. Putting more burdon on this approach will discredit the line of attack. the integrated rural development programme launched in 1979 tended to decentralize the development planning at the district and block levels. education etc. It included Minimum Needs Programme. integrated rural development had two major components: (a) area development and (b) beneficiary oriented programmes. generate wastage.. While the programmes of the second category aimed at reaching benefits to the poor directly creating productive assets for them. The programmes in the first category had mainly focussed on development of infrastructure and local resources. These problems can not be checked without bringing desired structural changes. The studies of wage employment programmes have indicated that the programmes have been implemented in very diluted way and the whole thrust of the integrated approach to rural development has ben lost in political and bureaucratic manhandling from the very begining. The delinking of area development with beneficiary . she warned that overemphasis on wage employment may also produce similar results. Apart from its emphasis on the area development. it is capable to help only a very small number of people. Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP). to take up any activity independently. In her view. Thus. (3) The subsidy element of IRDP has encouraged corruption in rural areas and has raised indebtedness of the poor in many cases. but it can not be a mainstay of such a programme” (Rath 1985:245). poor sections of the society. But unfortunately IRDp clubs together both the categories in one and expects even the second category (in fact gives priority by using Antyodaya approach) to take up self employment. The idea of integrated area development planning was dropped in the very beginning when it was suddenly extended to all the districts in 1980. In fact. the integrated approach to rural development has two type of programmes-self-employment programmes and wage employment programmes with difeerent nominclatures changing from time to time depending on the choice of political leadership in power. Hirway (1985) distiguished between two categories of the poor (1) those who have atleast some asset or have some skill. Integrated Tribal Area Development Programme (ITDP) and Desert Area Development Programme (DADP). Because the problems of non-percolation and corruption are originated from our socio-economic structure. the interference of political leaders at micro-level planning of the programme is not fruitful but most harmful (Hirway 1978). Thus it has not helped the rural poor in most of the cases. he emphasized on concentrating massively on wage employment generation rather than self employment programme. It is merely a household based plan whose main focus is on identification of the rural poor and preparing a plan for these individual beneficiaries. overemphasized self employment as a measure for poverty alleviation. (4) Gains of IRDP have not percolated to the lowest levels as a very low percentage of beneficiaries have crossed the poverty line. Thus. On the above grounds Rath (1985) argued that “the strategy of IRDP is largely misconceived. Studies of IRDP shown that these households have faced the worst in various schemes. Hill Area Development Programme (HADP). many times assets with very low productivity were given to the poor under the programme. The achievement of this series of the programme also failed to give desired results. She suggested that the former category should be given assets for self employment while the latter should be offered wage employment. coruption and ulimately cynicism. These categories should be treated separately by suitable policy measures. (5) Our economy does not have enough assets for distribution to the poor under IRDP.the national and the state levels. education or enterprise to take up self employment and (2) those who neither possesss any asset nor have any skill or enterprise. Consequently. Rath has under emphasized the need of self employment. IRDP in her view.

This new communication technology can be used in inducing the process of social change in India. People‟s participation in the government sponsored rural development programmes has remained a dream. the strategy of rural development in India has been unable to bring structural changes in the rural areas and the gulf between the rich and the poor widened even after a series of development programmes using sectoral as well as integrated approach to development. Globalisation is seen as the overall consequences of closely inter-linked processes of change in the areas of technology. In the concurrent evaluation of NREP in Assam the present investigator found that “the planning of NREP in Assam was adhoc in nature and suffered with a number of other shortcomings such as lack of planning skills at the district and block levels.oriented programmes was the first casualty of the programme. The story of voluntary efforts for rural development is also not very different. The new media technologies particularly Internet has brought significant changes in the field of education. New communication technologies are facilitating the process of globalization and socio-cultural scenario is changing at a faster rate in these societies. investment. cultural artifacts. so that no clear distinction can be drawn between cause and effect . Education is one of the institutions. In last decade. Such flows integrate virtually all countries into a larger global system. As an alternative of these structures the state took initiatives to promote voluntary agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) in development process by establishing People‟s for Development India (PADI) and Council for Advancement of Rural Technology (CART) in 1978 which later in 1986 merged together with a new nomenclature „Council for Advancement of People‟s Action and Rural technology‟ (CAPART). More or less similar situation prevailed in other states as well (Maithani and Singh 1986. social and political changes that are affecting virtually all the world‟s people today. This change is closely related with the processes of globalization. trined incapacity and lack of proper orientation among the officials who are entrusted to draw the blue print of the programme at the field level. The allocation of development fund directly to village panchayats has further defunct the programme and it has now remained as a charity programme just to pump some money in the rural areas . which not only transmits the cultural heritage of a society but also intervenes in the process of social transformation. this process is taking place in most of the countries of the world. Developments in all these areas are mutually reinforcing or reflexive. The economic reforms introduced in 1990s have further complicated the task of rural development in India. The growth of NGOs took momentum in later part of the 1980s and 1990s.) as without historical precedent. Singh 1994). which has implications not only for social and cultural institutions of developed countries but are also transforming the social fabric of developing societies like India. II The Consequences of the Globalization on the Rural Masses Globalization in its present form is a process. both formal and informal. in the next part of the paper an assessment of the consequences of globalization on rural masses will be examined. migrants. With the turn of century the voluntary sector registered its presence in undertaking the task of rural development in different parts of the country. The programme was implemented without understanding the basic concept and idea of planning. Globalization refers to the increasing interdependence of the people across the . As institutional structures to deliver the goods of development were directly under the control of the government. Globalisation is the central driving force behind the major economic. It was because of the apathy of the government officials to involve the people in the programme. The societies throughout the world are now passing through the process of profound and rapid change. Transformationalists regard contemporary patterns of cross-border flows (of trade. Although rural link roads and school buildings were selected on top priority throughout the state in the Sixth and Seventh Plan but no effort was made to prepare a shelf of projects as well as inventories of the existing roads and school buildings in any of the districts of Assam” (Singh 1995: 159-160). economic activity. etc. cultural. environmental factors. and thus bring about major social transformations at all levels. governance. communication and so on. The projects undertaken by different NGOs have hardly made any impact on the socioeconomic conditions of the rural people (Singh 1999) Thus.

sense of security. Its impact can also be observed in the field of mass media communication and other social and cultural institutions of the society. Under the pressures of these institutions the government has lost interest in rural development programmes and no serious effort has been made to streamline the strategy of rural development in last one decade. and the pressure applied by the WB/IMF through their conditionalities. One of the conequences of globalization is that economic policies of developing countries are greately influenced by the institution like IMF and WTO who have a tendency to pressurize the government to cut the subsidy from the agriculture sector which is the base of Indian economy whose 70 percent population still depend on agriculture and related activities. and not the least. decline in investment in agriculture. steep price-rise sans matching increase in incomes. the life for the rural poor in particular and masses at large has become far more painful and insecure due to the panic and penury resulting from globalisation (Tripathi 2002) The process of globalization will further marginalized the rural areas as economic growth will bring prosperity in urban areas and underdevelopment in rural areas. Another attraction for them in India as in other Less Developed countries (LDCs) was the availability of cheap skilled labour.world. it refers to a basic shift in the institutions of our lives (Giddens 1999). The political leadership at that time was keenly interested in signing the GATT and to become the member of World Trade Organization (WTO). It has given rise to a debate among the social scientists on the one hand and the policy makers on the other hand to assess the impact of the processes associated with this wider phenomenon on the social and cultural institutions of the societies not only in the developed societies but also in academic and political forums in the developing societies particularly those who have adopted policy to privatize and liberalize their economy in the recent past. patenting. misconceived and ill-planned disinvestment of even profit-making public sector undertakings at throw-away prices resulting in heavy losses. erosion of self-confidence. extinction of village industries and crafts as well as numerous small industries due to unequal competition. but more fundamentally. marginal farmers and agricultural laboureres will be worst affected. Privatization and Liberization. it refers to the increasing impact of living and working in a single. This has brought some new dimensions to the Indian economy. Within rural areas small farmers. and national sovereignty. The downfall of USSR as one of the model of economic development through state owned public enterprises and the emergence of some of the countries of East Asia who have adopted free market economy into Newly Industrialised Countries (NICs) has compelled the planners in India to review the economic policies. in 1990s India adopted the policy of Globalization. Only some patchworks can be seen in the form of Pradhanmantri sadak Pariyojna etc. Some of the adverse impact of globalisation on the disadvantaged sections of the society. On the whole. It helps in giving a boost to some of the sectors of economy but at the same time the inefficient management of some of these public enterprises turned them into non-profitable units and a burden on the government. global market place. greatly enhanced corruption and a series of scams in public sector undertakings. masses at large and rural areas in general has been manifold such as: Sharp decline in employment opportunities. Thus. WTO regulations. Globalization in India The globalization in Indian economy started in early part of 1990s with a shift in economic policies from a mixed economy adopted after independence in which both the public and private sectors were given due consideration. problems arising from dumping. But the process of globalization is not confined to economic and political concerns of these societies. retrenchment of labour sans alternative avenues. resource crunch adversely affecting social sector especially health and education. It will thus intensify the poverty in rural areas as problems of unemployment and under-employment will further increased with globalization . The priority areas were established in the form of public enterprises owned and controlled by the national government. The Multinational Companies (MNCs) found the Indian market very attractive where they could sell their products. which initiated the process of economic reforms in India. hitting hard the poor small and marginal peasants and landless labour.

feedback is limited and delayed. In the next section an attempt is made to explore such posssibilities.of the Indian economy. The computer and its various application in satellite and cable television. Firstly. but that are different in many other respects. In contrast mass media communication includes all those means of transmitting messages that enable a source of one or a few individuals to reach a large audience. The new media integrates the characteristics of both interpersonal and mass communication. meaning that the participants in a communication process have control over. cable television. within a period of one or two decade. process and exchange information (Singhal and Rogers 2001: 31). namely. The new communication technologies can facilitate the transformation of the rural society if these technologies are applied at massive scale. the process of globalization poses new challenges for the planners and practitioners to cope up with this process of transformation in such away that it cannot have an adverse effect on the rural population and the weaker sections of the society. This development of communication services in India provided new employment opportunities to the people both in urban and rural areas. the new media are like interpersonal communication. and can exchange roles in. The . and the massages are often relatively low in socio-emotional content. The establishment of PCO/STD/ISD booths even in small towns and urbanized villages can be taken as an important parameter of the development in Indian society. during the decade of 1980s modernization of Telecom sector particularly use of satellite technology to connect the telephone and availability of telephone connection with STD and ISD facilities not only helped in smooth and faster communication both at the national and international levels but also provided better connectivity to rural areas. What are the possible consequences of these changes in the field of economy and communication for social and cultural processes in India ? Whether these changes will enhance the process of development in India or will lead towards the further underdevelopment of the Indian society. This gives rise to some theoretical questions. The message flow is from one to a few individuals. It also demands new policies for the development of the rural areas for the development of the rural areas by introducing new communication technologies. their mutual discourse (Singhal and Rogers 2001: 31. Interpersonal communication consists of face-to-face exchange between two or more individuals. In India following changes have been taken place in last few decades which may be said to began the process of e-revolution in India. in that the messages are targeted to specific individuals (de-massification). Communication technology includes the hardware equipment. wireless telephony. telecommunications and the Internet are the main driving force of communication revolution taking place in India. Mc Quail 2000 : 128). Secondly. III New Communication Technologies as Facilitator of Rural Development in India Recent Developments in Communication Technologies New communication technologies such as satellites. Information exchange via the new media is interactive. But interactive communication through the new media is somewhat like mass media communication in that hardware equipment is necessarily involved. Interactive technologies of communication are at the heart of the communication revolution that is occurring in India. feedback is immediate and usually plentiful and the messages are often relatively high in socio-emotional content. Thus. advent of mobile and cell phone in recent past enhanced the process of globalization. which have yet to be addressed by the social scientists in India. the Internet and computers are bringing about noticeable changes in Indian society. privatization and liberalization in India. at the mass level so that the “information revolution” can be brought in the country at a very fast rate . It proposes to think afresh for the new for the new strategy of rural development in India in the light of these rapid changes comparable with the changes took place in 19th century European society. In this sense. The new communication technologies have certain characteristics that are similar in some respects to those of both interpersonal and mass media communication. organizational structures and social values by which individuals collect. The “information revolution” if directed properly has the potential to transform the social fabric of the rural society in India. Internet and mobile. Some type of hardware equipment is always involved in mass communication. Communication that occurs through these media often links two individuals or a small number of people.

The new media technologies particularly Internet and mobile have opened up new ways of communication in last one decade. For example. By empowering people with access to computing and the Internet. or get information on new agricultural techniques. Computers and Internet as a new form of educational technology is undergoing a rapid expansion and it offers an interactive and user-friendly approach in imparting information to the learners.Primary. farmers could use the connected computers to get commodity prices faster. The popularity of E-mail. especially the young. Privatization and Liberalization initiated the process of economic reforms in India. which has been adopted very widely by the Indian masses . Internet chatting and use of Internet for educational and commercial purposes has opened a new era of communication in Indian society. It increases the interest of the user in addition to providing consistency. The Internet has been adopted very widely by different sections of the society for performing different types of activities. The district administration could get details of problems in near real-time. Thirdly. E-mail has been emerged as one of the most popular mode of communication among the educated people. greater opportunity to learners for revision. The most important characteristic of the Internet is that it has blurred the notion of time and space. These connected computers themselves will not work wonders. but they will open up people. but are also transforming the social fabric of developing societies like India. in-depth thinking and integration. The mobile phone is another medium. The Internet is integrating all existing form of media and is affecting the mode and contents of communication among the Indian masses. privacy. the policy of Globalization. It offers an opportunity to improve the quality of teaching and students‟ learning experiences. living in the rural areas. But globalization in its present form is a process that has implications not only for economic institutions of developed countries. The most important feature of the cell phone users is that it has not only been adopted by the urban elites but also by the self-employed artisans such as carpenters. Although. New Communication technologies are facilitating the process of globalization and socio-cultural scenario is changing at a faster rate in such societies. The voters would communicate their concerns to the politicians and bureaucrats electronically. In case of the developing societies. The youth would get details on job opportunities across the state. The advent of computer and Internet has opened up new avenues of interactivity among any set of individuals from any part of the world. in the sense that the communication through Internet can take place in a fraction of a second connecting two or more people at the same time from any corner of the world. The eligible could search for matrimonial matches across adjacent villages and towns. and reduced learning. petty businessmen etc. women. some specific measures are required to protect the interests of these social groups. we can create a bottom-up revolution across India. which could be harnessed in a myriad of different areas. . to new ideas and new worlds. not only among the general population but it can also be effectively used for reducing further marginalisation of the disadvantaged social groups of Indian society with appropriate interventions. the Internet. globalisation and privatisation are bound to marginalize some sections of the societies such as SCs. The availability of Internet on mobile is a new development in the field of communication. secondary and higher. at any point of time. Multi-media technologies can be of multiple uses both in the formal and non-formal settings. rural population and minority groups like the Muslims. which was initially computer mediated communication technology. It has a great potential to break down the bottlenecks of communication in remote areas as this is based on wireless technology. Therefore. Computers and the Internet can break barriers of geography. It can not only motivate the students and increase their interest in their learning process in formal educational set-up but also can be of great use in providing e-services in remote rural and urban setting. The village officials could share governance best practices faster among their counterparts elsewhere. which have existed since time immemorial. which has important implications for social processes both for the developed and developing societies. They will make people learn new skills. STs. has now revolutionized the world of communication. Computer and Internet can also be effectively used to promote education at various levels . Fourthly.popularity of mobile phone in Indian middle class is one of the prerequisites of globalization process. blacksmiths.

Mountain Forum (for knowledge sharing on mountainous region communities in over 100 countries on topics like renewable energy. which can be built upon to layer a whole range of different services. the majorities and the minorities) to be created by the new communication technologies along with the forces of globalization and privatization. By making computing available to every citizen.Many of these and other activities could doubtlessly be performed without computers. they will force a seismic change through the lines of governance. That is where technology can make a difference. Bridging the digital divide through technology has been the focus of many initiatives worldwide. computers will do little. computers can indeed be the boon for the contemporary societies. they have barely made a difference to the lives of people in most of the developing societies of the world. from jobs to marriages. . Multipurpose Community Telecentres (in four farming and fishing villages of northern Mindanano in the Philippines). Mali. Pakissan (for farmers in Pakistan). Some initiatives in this direction have already been taken by some governmental and non-governmental organizations in the form of pilot projects for the development of the villages. Nairobits (Web services centre for slum children in Kenya). But by themselves. throughout the world as well as in India. much of India‟s IT industry has focused outward – making India as a destination for outsourced services. from increasing governance transparency to reducing corruption. India can become one of the first markets to try out a set of new ideas as Indians have the requisite technology skills to put together the solutions. MahilaWeb (for information sharing about women and gender in Nepal). especially changes in government’s processes. They will become the platform. This can also help in bridging the possible digital divide (among the rural and the urban. and suggest working ideas for the development of the villages and the disadvantaged groups. But now. agro-industry. Across Borders (connecting Palestinians in refuge camps). Madanmohan Rao (2003). From primary education to adult literacy. We should also now be looking inwards. Rural Multipurpose Community Telecentres (libraries and online centres in Benin. Computers have been the disruptive innovation of the past two decades. potato research). from providing a two-way flow of information to enabling transactions. Tortas (e-commerce portal for homemade cakes made by Peruvian women). Tanzania and Uganda). the time has come to take computers and allied technologies to every town and every village of the world. There is a need of major applications to make a difference. Street Children Telecentre (for IT skills in Ecuador). Virtual Souk (for underprivileged artisans in the Middle East and North Africa). MarketWatch (price information service in Mongolia). Bankilare (a community network in Niger). Nabweru and Buwama telecentres (for economic empowerment of women in Uganda). Mozambique. So far. PeopLink (artisans portal for 22 developing countries). But there is a pain in those processes. Grameen Phone (in Bangladesh). Only through such a mass-scale deployment can we create a platform on which can be layered other programmes whose power can now be amplified dramatically. the advantaged and the disadvantaged. And yet. provides a summary of various such projects in his report on the IT Summit 2002 held in Nepal: Examples from other countries include: FarmNet (for agricultural workers in Uganda).

HealthInfo (for IT among health workers in Ethiopia). fertilizers. scientific farming practices as well as market prices at the village itself through this web portal . markets (potential for export). in the Western State of Maharashtra. vegetables). improve farm-gate price realisation and cut transaction costs. S. cancellation of bus trips). Permits / Licences. „Information Village‟ project‟ set up by the M. and outputs (rice. Kerala is rolling out an “e-governance grid” via a network of information kiosks providing sales tax forms. Project „eChaupal‟. Latin America and Asia). This builds upon the Gyandoot project of Madhya Pradesh. domicile certificates. ration card forms. Metrocomia (outsourced Web services centres in about a dozen countries in Africa. Examples in India include: TaraHaat (for e-marketing in rural areas). women‟s diseases). Warana Wired Village was conceived as a pilot project to bring benefits of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to rural India. pesticides). Warna Wired Village Project (for sugarcane farmers in Maharashtra). Transport Department Services to Reservation. The Andhra Pradesh Government has launched „eSeva‟ with the aim providing “One-stop nonstop service” to the citizens offering a wide spectrum of services ranging from Payment of Utilities Bills. They can also access latest local and global information on weather. and IndianVolunteers. in Pondicherry for the purpose of providing information for the rural people on prices of agricultural inputs (such as seeds. Passport Applications and Downloading of Forms. health care (availability of doctors and paramedics in nearby hospitals.15. transport (road conditions.an organizational platform for developing IT enabled services to rural and semi-urban populations through the usage of state-of-the-art software. Choupal also facilitates supply of high quality farm inputs as well as purchase of commodities at their doorstep. Drishtee . Certificates. and company registration. income certificates. Bhoomi is project launched by the Government of Karnataka to create a service to computerize land records and make them available to the people at a nominal fee of Rs. wave heights in the sea). setup by the ITC across the agricultural belt in India to offer the farmers all the information. entitlement (the multitude of the schemes of the central and the state governments. Village Leap (for selling scarves made by Cambodian women). Warana is a cluster of seventy villages. etc. cattle diseases. AkashGanga (for dairy cooperatives in Gujarat). fortysix from Kolhapur and twenty-four from Sangli district. weather (appropriate time for sowing. banks).org networks volunteers interested in such initiatives. HoneyBee Network (documenting grassroots innovations for knowledge on sustainable natural resource management). Malaysia has come up with a number of “demonstration applications” such as Project Cybercare for providing Internet access and educational resources among 26 networked orphanages and a telecentre called e-Bario has also been set up for the Kelabit ethnic community in rural Sarawak. Communications Boat Project (to bring IT tools via boats to Amazonian communities). products and services they need to enhance farm productivity. areas of abundant fish catch.all in Hindi. and private information exchanges and transactions. Swaminathan Research Foundation. which enables include access to government programs and benefits. Gyandoot (community centre network in rural Madhya Pradesh). market related information. . The National Informatics Centre is proposing a “Rural Studio” initiative for developing reusable software components and services for the rural development sector.

is doing a number of projects in the areas of World Computer with a goal to create a sustainable digital ecology that maintains traditional values and community while opening economic and expressive opportunities. etc. There are several cooperative societies actively working in Warana complex like Sugar Cooperative. Educational Institutions. e governance.) Media Lab Asia: MLA. quick redressel of public grievances. Dairy Development Society. . local commerce. Sugarcane is the major crop of this area and most of its production in Kolhapur and Sangli districts is processed at the Warana Sugar Co-operative factory. taxes and fees pertaining to the participating departments and offer quality services to the citizens. A Deb. Sristi (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Innovations) a nongovernmental organisation setup to strengthen the creativity of grassroots inventors.” (More. Possible applications are school education. FRIENDS and Akshaya: Kerala‟s FRIENDS (Fast Reliable Instant Efficient Network for Disbursement of Services) centres accept all utility bills. Super Market. weighing scale. Setu: An initiative by the Maharashtra government for setting up citizen facilitation centres across the state is Setu with an aim to create foundation for citizen centric e-governance. Sustainable Access for Rural India: SARI is a project in the villages of Madurai district in Tamil Nadu to offer voice and Internet services that aims at identifying and providing appropriate access technologies and applications that will be of use to the local community. about 2. So far. Women‟s Cooperative Society. These include: Headstart: It is a project in Madhya Pradesh to provide “computer-enabled education and development of basic computer skills for all students in Primary Schools and Middle Schools through the 7000 Jan Shiksha Kendras (cluster resource centres) located in Middle School premises in 48 districts. It will equip every Jan Shiksha Kendra in the state with computer hardware and multimedia software. etc. Mahiti Shakti Kendras: Started in the Panchmahals district of Gujarat. innovators and ecopreneurs engaged in conserving biodiversity and developing eco-friendly solutions to local problems. petitions for all sections of the office. from a discussion paper by DP Bobde. card reader & instrument to integrate the full process. at district headquarters and subsequently at taluka headquarters by offering single window clearance of 83 important certificates. common registry of letters. Each village has about 200-300 farmers registered as members of various cooperative societies. the Mahiti Shakti Kendras became a single-window clearance for forms and other information that people in small towns and villages may require. It repositions the JSK as a media unit capable of providing computer-aided education for the children of the middle school in which the JSK is located and familiarization to computers to all children in primary schools through simple demos and games to excite their imagination. Also developed was an accounting system (Rojmel) to automate and integrate their accounting function in the system. RR Rane.700 Headstart centres have been set up. Cooperative Bank.India. There are several projects centred around Education. Akashganga based in Guajarat with the objective to spread information technology among rural masses among identified milk cooperative society beginning with computer and software in regional language. farmers‟ commodity market information. Information pertaining to ongoing schemes like those under the District Rural Development Agency and District Planning Board have also been made available. a joint initative of MIT Media Lab and the Indian Government.

talk on phones. the Andhra Pradesh government contracted with NIIT for setting up 663 modern computer classrooms with over 8. The computer lab will also be equipped with Internet. and get newspapers and magazines. almost all meant for the rural population. So far. it is an idyllic world. What is needed is for the village and its people to have greater access to new opportunities. Even as the nation moves ahead. However. creating excitement in and around the school. by providing them with the right technology and information they need to make decisions. Yes. Each of the schools would be provided with a computer lab. However. as part of a Rs 6. · An email ID. What is needed is an interactive solution. so that not only all the 6 lakhs villages of India are connected together and provided with the benefits of the e-networking. This kind of solution. which provides access to computing resources and the Internet. Its interaction with the external world is quite limited. From a villager’s point of view. thereby making learning exciting and fundamentals strong and building a Sound foundation to IT literacy. villages can now watch TV. When we take a look at Indian projects. Simplifying difficult concepts. In a sense. women. At the minimum. This is what has to change. The village needs to become a self-sustaining unit. They are used by the community before or after school hours and during holidays. used by children of that school during school hours for learning curriculum through interactive games and exercises. that can be provided for the villages can be thought of from the view points of four stake-holders: 1. there should be at least one person in the family who knows English and can use a computer. this is what he would like to see: · A connected computer. According to Jain (2003a). according to Jain (2003a. ensuring that he can be reached electronically. and minority groups like the Muslims are uplifted. “ today.000 students. from the successful pilot projects. . STs. · Community Learning Centres (CLC): CLCs are being set up by the Azim Premji Foundation in rural Karnataka. · Vidya Vahini: The Indian government has launched a project called Vidya Vahini to provide for IT and IT-enabled education in 60. Major interventions have to be taken to draw up large-scale projects. with the villagers having a say in what they do and how they grow”. Web-broadcasting and e-learning. Intranet and television to facilitate video-conferencing. they are all pilot projects. b). about 90 CLCs have been set up.1 million schools). It is not part of a larger community. but also other marginalized sections of the societies such as SCs. (Source: Jain. But by and large. 2003) These are some of the successful small-scale educational projects concentrated on the general population as a whole. averaging Rs 90 per student per month. the village voice is silent. The underlying idea is to use the solution to put more power and responsibility into the hands of the local community at the village.000 computers and implementation of computer education in high schools to educate over 300. the village for the most part has remained an island of its own. the village is singularly isolated. one can gain insights to achieve this. some of them have been major successes.AP Schools: In 2002. The five-year project was worth Rs 155 crore. A CLC has about 6-8 computers in a Government Higher Primary School.000 crore project. except when it comes to the ballot box. unspoilt by modernity. and at the same time integrated with the rest of the ecosystem. · A programme to ensure that he and his family can be made literate and e-literate.000 schools in India over three years (India has about 1. with the objectives of attracting children to schools. A pilot covering 150 schools is currently underway.

· Ability to provide better services to the citizens (for example. · Programmes to upgrade his and his family‟s skillsets. which are disseminated by the state/district administration for village activities. 3. It should assist in identifying and tracking the resources that a village has. One can think of the state (or district) as managing an enterprise with multiple branch offices (the villages). This is the first step towards the transformation of the rural economy and its people. There are three . . so they can become better at what they are doing and learn new skills. which helps bring out good ideas and success stories from what others are doing. who are more extremely backward educationally as compared to the other sex. there should be a way the village can notify the appropriate government department for action. certificates) and other information (eg. · Have a mechanism by which they can collect payments for their offerings. classes for attitudinal change of the muslim population especially towards the education of the muslim girls. · Share and discuss best practices with other village administrators. Special education programs for woman on health care. land records. To ensure a successful and profitable business. and in turn get regular updates from the village on progress on key parameters reflecting the “health” of the village. 2. . · Provide comparisons across villages on various parameters. so that unauthorised access does not happen. there should be a right mix of centralisation and decentralisation. Think of this as a community weblog. This is a “peer -to-peer” interaction model which is not possible today. · Provide a micro-credit facility to enable villagers to save money and get loans when required. there by uplifting the rural people. · Protection of data. where he can sell his products directly without being dependent on middlemen who take away much of the profit. This should be combined with service-level guarantees from the government departments. 4. the solution should: · Help in village planning and monitoring. . · Access to e-markets. child care. · Access to various e-Services for government interactions – from accessing information to doing transactions. so they are comfortable with technology from an early age. medical records). to be able to identify success stories and enable their replication across other villages. From a village administration viewpoint. telemedicine). · Computer-enabled education for his children in schools.This is what the state administration should be seeing in the solution: · Two-way information flows: the administration can update the village and its residents on various government programmes and schemes (this is typically done through the publishing of gazettes). This is what the solution will have to offer. using of e-mails and the like. household industries. · Get a distribution point for eCommerce (delivery could take place through the postal system). Electronic accounting for the funds. · All of this to be available for a monthly basic fee of not more than Rs 20 per family. except for sporadic gatherings.· Storage Space for keeping electronic copies of key official documents (eg. Rural marketing organisations should be seeing the solution like: · Use a medium by which they can reach out to villagers for their products and services. In case any of these resources has a problem.

The task of transforming rural India require political determination and dedication. Singh. March Hirway. Singh. AVARD. Jan. New Delhi . P. The rural development programmes may also be directed to provide necessary support in this task.html.html. V. First. 1994: “Dr. Monday. The tariff rates of mobile and internet services should be subsidised for rural areas so that communication process can be facilitated. http://www. Monday. Tech Talk.) Social Development and Justice in India. P. Rath. March 10. It will in long run will transform the social.6. Gray. New Delhi. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. No. No.366-385. G. 2003. Maheshwari. 4.emergic. The cost of computers and mobile phone sets are to be reduced. Pillai and Chris Backs (eds. V. 1958: India’s Changing Villages. R. Rath. P. S. Vol. Oscar 1968: Village Life in Northern India: Studies in a Delhi Village. Tech Talk. 1. 4. The massive task of revolutionizing the rural communities necessary infrastructures are not only be created but also it has to be ensured that basic amenities like connecting the villages by matelled roads and regular electric supply (which has been emerged now as one of the major problems at national problem). S. starting with those that can have the greatest impact for the villagers. Jain. 1-16. R. Journal of Assam University. Rural Development in India. 1. A. set up a TeleInfoCentre in every village. P. M. March 13 Jain. C. Indira 1978: “A Critique of target Group Approach” in S. Urbana: University of California.) Winners and Loosers. Desai (ed.key ideas in using technology to transform Rural India. Finally. References Desai. computerise key government operations in an eGovernance initiative. B. March Hirway.org/collections/tech_talk_transforming_rural_india. pp. Bombay: allied Publishers. Ambedkar‟s thoughts and Strategy of rural Development in India” Emerging Trends in Development Research. No. Journal of Rural Development. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Gadkar (eds. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Vol. Radiant Publishers Singh. 1978: Rural Sociology in India. K. Singh and R.emergic. New Delhi: Sage Publications. “Garibi Hatao: Can IRDP Do It?”. V. Rajesh 2003b: Transforming Rural India: A Wider View. R. D. 1995: “Planning and Implementation of NREP in Assam” in R. P. Tripathi. Hugh 1978 “The Problem” in A. and V. Economic and Political Weekly. Lewis. economic and cultural fabric of not only of the village India but also of its urban counterpart.-July. Economic and Political Weekly. 119-126.org/collections/tech_talk_transforming_rural_india. Indira 1985:“Garibi Hatao: Can IRDP Do It?”. P. 2002 Impact of Globalization on Regional Development in Asia Focussing on India . Singh 1986:‟Planning and Implementation of NREP in Arunachal Pradesh”. 1999 “ Role of NGOs in Rural Development: Some Case Studies”. pp. network these TeleInfoCentres to create a Village InfoGrid to ensure a peer-to-peer communication network between villages. Next. N. pp. 1&2. D. Dube. Rajesh 2003a: Transforming Rural India: IT for the Masses.) Rural Sociology in India. Maithani. http://www. vol.