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Roopashree Byregowda
IARD 4020
Influence of Information Technologies(ICT) and Digitization on Rural Development. Recent trends and Efforts in India.

ABSTRACT
Amongst the emerging Asian Economies, India is a nation with 70 % of population living in rural areas which casts pressure on Government to focus more on development of Rural India. ICT acts as a provider of major opportunities to rural livelihoods and contributes towards poverty reduction. Productivity of rural areas can be enhanced by usage of ICT and Digitization . Through various E-Governance initiatives, Government of India has ambitious objective of transforming the interaction of citizens with government in an electronic form. Through this, Government can ensure more transparency and better administration. Through this paper an attempt has been made to identify various building blocks that have led to rural development through various ICT initiatives.

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INTRODUCTION
India consists of more than 500 villages. It is known as a rural economy as 60 percent of its population resides in the villages. For the development of the country rural development is the major thrust. The government of India has been giving high priority to rural development with the Objective to achieve rural-urban integration in growth processes. The focus of development is to include disadvantaged sections of society i.e. it includes Equality in Growth.

In today’s era Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has brought remarkable change in the lives of people in every respect also enabling government to deliver better services even at remotest corners of the country. Various ICT applications have been designed specifically for the people residing in rural areas of the country. Ministry of Rural Development (India) has taken various initiatives at different levels by way of strengthening the ICT infrastructure to provide opportunities, information and easy access of the rural development Schemes to all citizens in rural India. Such developments have facilitated access to innumerable services and information in a very economical manner in a scenario where the cost of accessing information has been a biggest hurdle for the poor farmers. Through ICT, several e-governance initiatives have been adopted which have ultimately proved to be a major contributor in rural development.

OBJECTIVES
To identify the building blocks towards rural development through ICT.

To study different E-governance initiatives in India through digitilization.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The paper is based on secondary data and data is procured from published sources like the websites of Ministry of Rural Development, research papers, books and periodicals and newspaper reports.

Outcome :-
Better Understanding towards effective implementation of ICT and Digitilization for the rural development through various initiatives
RURAL DEVELOPMENT
India is a nation with 69.8% of total population lives in rural areas . With such large rural population government is required to make concrete efforts for the development of Rural areas. Undoubtedly Government of India has made considerable efforts like Digital India campaign initiated in 2015 to reduce the digital divide and ICT has proved to be a tool for its successful implementation. As per Chambers rural development is a strategy which enables people to benefit themselves and their families by fetching more of what they need . Rural Development is a process which leads to sustainable improvement in quality of life of poor people residing in rural areas .

Table highlights that even though the percentage of rural population in India is decreasing since last two decades but still it accounts for major proportion of total population. In 1991 the percentage of rural population was 74.3% which reduced to 72.2% in 2001 leading to 69.9% in 2011. This decrease in rural population could be understood as an indication that there is a need to provide better facilities in rural areas. It indicates that more people are migrating to urban areas in past two decades in order to get access to better facilities and services available in cities.

URBAN RURAL
2011 31.2 69.8
2001 27.8 72.2
1999 25.7 74.3
Source: India In Figure:2015, Ministry Of Statistics And Program Implementation
As citizens of rural areas get more educated about the convenience they can derive from biggest revolution of internet access they’ll be able to explore more and stay well connected with growing trends. Rural users as a percentage on internet population will rise from 29% in 2013 to 40-50% in 2018. (BCG Analysis, 2015). Mobile internet users are likely to constitute 60-70% of the total online population.

POTENTIAL TOOLS, DEVELOPMENTS and ACCESSIBILITY :
SPEECH-BASED AUTOMATED COMMODITY PRICES HELPLINE:
All the e-governance projects initially initiated used English as the medium of communication. But in rural areas where the people are not at all educated and cannot read and write their native language dealing in English is definitely a problem. This is also a cause of failure of many e-governance projects. A very good initiative has been taken by consortium of seven institutions (IIT-M, IIT-K, IIT-B, IIT-G, IIIT-Hyd, TIFR & CDAC-Kol) and coordinated by IIT Madras. A speech based automated commodity prices helpline for AGMARKNET has been introduced in six different Indian languages. In this they have developed an automated system from which the farmers can inquire about the latest price of agricultural commodities in their own native language.

PERSON MALE FEMALE
2001 58.74 70.7 46.13
2011 67.77 77.15 57.93
SOURCE- CENSUS (INDIA)
From table we can infer that literacy rate among rural males above 7 years of age has increased by 6.8% from 2001 to 2011 and among rural females has increased by 11.8%. So it is a supportive element for the implementation of various e-governance initiatives and Digital India campaign as it aims at providing internet access to people residing in rural areas for which more literates will be required.

RECENT SCHEMES, PROGRAMS and POLICIES in INDIA
DIGITAL INDIA CAMPAIGN

Communicating with the citizens has been a big challenge for the government of India with extensive geography, immense population, and vast linguistic & cultural diversity. The most efficient way for communicating with all the people of world’s largest democracy is through connectivity at a Digital platform. Government of India has aimed at effectively using the improvements in ICT to reduce the digital divide in the country. Digital India is centered on three vision area.

DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE AS A UTILITY TO EVERY CITIZEN
7048503295650The government is planning to provide high-speed internet connectivity to 250,000 Gram Panchayats, which will be a core utility for digital inclusion. The citizens will be provided with a digital identity which will be unique, lifelong, online, and valid. There will be easy access to Common Service Centers and a shareable private space for every citizen on a public cloud.
COMPUTERIZED RURAL INFORMATION SYSTEM PROJECT CRISP

CRISP aimed at assisting the District Rural Development Agency DRDA in observing the exercise of poverty alleviation programmes through Computer based Information System. So far four versions of CRISP application software packages have been developed. Rural Soft was the fourth version. Rural Information endeavors marked the beginning of e-Governance in India. One such initial effort was Rural soft 2000. Through Rural soft 2000 common man can access all information on government portals and it also enabled government to monitor workings of various agencies. The latest in the series is Rural Soft, which is a scalable solution that helps in web based monitoring of the poverty alleviation schemes. It has been implemented in 15 districts of the country, which have been wired using state-of-the-art VSAT (satellite based) network by the ministry.

E-CHOUPAL
India has witnessed massive industrialization in past decade but still agriculture is a dominant occupation in India. The farmers are often exploited by unreasonable intermediaries at every stage involved in the process of selling their produce to the final consumer. Such intermediaries or agents add their profit margin, try to hinder the market information. In order to cater to such problems, the International Business Division of Indian Tobacco Company (ITC-IBD) initiated a step called e-Choupal (which means a village meeting place). Under this initiative various e-Choupals were set up in around 6500 villages by 2012 and each e-Choupal was equipped with a PC, internet connection, printer and Uninterrupted Power Supplies (UPS). Through this the managers at ICT-IBD could fetch cheapest raw materials directly from the farmers and farmers were also able to benefit out of this as there was no intermediary involved. Indian Tobacco Company Ltd. has added 7 new E-Choupals a day and plans to scale up to 20,000 E-Choupals covering 100,000 villages in 15 states, servicing 15 million farmers by 2020.

GYANDOOT
Civil servants consulted various Gram Panchayats in Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh. The project was started in January,2000 and named as Gyandoot. Gyandoot is very beneficial as it is economical and is owned by rural intranet system that is Soochnalaya, as it helps to fulfill the needs of villagers in the district. Rural youth manage 35 such centres which were established since January, 2000. The unemployed educated youth were trained and they ran the Soochnalaya and are known as Soochaks. They provide various types of services information related to agriculture, education, health, issues related to women, information about market and user fee is charged for all this. They further serve in making application for the services provided by the district headquarter for ownership of land. Soochnalaya are connected with dial-up lines through internet. Above 600 villages and approximately 50% of the total population of a district are covered by the network of 31 such Kiosks.

TABLE III: Bottlenecks in E-Choupal and Gyandoot Projects
Project Operational Bottlenecks Economic Bottlenecks Personnel Bottlenecks
E-Choupal Infrastructure provided to “sanchalak” was outdated. Lack of financial resources to procure infrastructure Challenges with regard to provision of technical education to freshers in rural areas
Gyandoot Power breakdown interrupts working and network gets disconnected High operation costs due to multiple services rendered. Difficulty in getting technically skilled youth in remote areas
KISSAN CALL CENTRES
There is change in the language after every 50 km in India. These call centres are specially made to respond to the issues raised by the farmers in the vernacular language continuously. This scheme was started during April 2002 by the Department of Agriculture ; Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture. the scheme was launched to deliver the farming villagers about the telecom infrastructure. As most of the villagers are not aware of the latest technological development in the country, these centres are specially designed to serve the purpose of creating awareness among the farmers. Toll free numbers are being provided to the farmers, as the services are to be cost free to all the needy ones. So the agriculture department and line departments, SAUs, ICAR organizations are being instructed by the ministry of Agriculture to do the publicity of toll free numbers of KCC. Publicity material includes posters, charts, training and demonstration Programme etc.

FIGURE 3 : E-GOVERNANCE PROJECTS IN
JAGRITI E-SEWA
In the developing nation like India Jagriti E-Sewa is suitable, applicable, reasonable, accessible and sustainable technology. Sometimes old computers are used. this project is used with the help of Dial up telephone lines. Minimum time period is required to change the whole system in any language. These kiosks are located at the center point of village or at the most renowned places of village so that one kiosk can serve minimum 25,000–30,000 villagers. Each kiosk is on franchise basis where the franchisee is an educated young man or ex- serviceman. Sufficient revenue is to be generated by the franchisee to meet the cost.

AKASHGANGA
ICT is being used by Akashganga to help the milk producers of rural areas by making cooperative societies and procuring milk and assists in maintaining accounts. In Gujarat first model of Dairy Information System Kiosk (DISK) was implemented at Uttarsanda Dairy Cooperative Society. In this society every farmer is having an individual identification card (plastic card). Their identification is updated in PC when farmers come at Raw Milk Receiving Dock (RMRD) counter. As the milk is emptied in the steel drum the weight of milk can be measured and at the same tie it is recorded in the PC. However, one operator is required for filling the cans and a separator operator for measuring fat content. The new technological development includes weighing balance, microprocessor, printer, milk analyzers and a display to carry out these operations.

TATA KISAN KENDRA (TKK)
In Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, TATA Chemical Limited launched Tata Kisan Kendra (TKK). Geographic Information Systems (GIS) helps TKK to tracks basic areas related to farming like soil, ground water and weather. The new software named GIS informs about the roads, buildings and rivers. The data is the form of digital maps and provides information regarding socio-economic, administrative and physical set up. With the help of satellite, images are being processed which further helps to detect insect attacks throughout the state and get estimates of crop. Satellite further helps in upgradation of maps and detecting unproductive farming. 48000 villages are to be served by about 800 franchisees and 40 more kiosks.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WAY AHEAD
Clear communication about human resource needs at local media outlets can help ensure that enough staff are available on the ground–and that they’re able to devote time to learning (and managing) mobile software components.

The greater the number of partners on a project, the more often all partners should communicate. Especially when stakeholders are in multiple countries, regular updates–either through teleconferences, online chats, or basic email summaries–can ensure that all parties are on the same page
Every ICT tool needs to be seen as an integral part of the already existing Information Ecosystem. A tool does not lie in a vacuum; it has effects on–and is affected by–where it is implemented, how it is used, and who is using it. It’s also influenced by the infrastructure, the culture of users, and the entire project it is inserted into. A holistic approach to applications and uses of mobile technology helps in making projects sustainable, scalable and robust.

When it comes to the use of specific technologies in specific context, it does not matter how “easy” the technology is. User interfaces, technology capacity, familiarity with tools and systems have a huge impact on the use of tools. In this context training is never enough, and longer one-on-one mentoring is necessary to make sure that a tool will be used in the long term efficiently.

A user centered design approach to ICT4D projects should always be used when possible, both in the design of the technology and in the design of the overall project. The involvement of the beneficiaries and users of the project into the design may cost more in terms of time and money in the beginning, but it becomes a long-term investment that is worth the effort and the cost.

CONCLUSION
Information technology has impacted the rural economy indirectly. Analyses have showed that effective applications and channels have been used to benefit the rural economy. However, it is essential that the government should take more initiative to increase the use of this technology in its development programmes and educate people in order to use ICT effectively and efficiently. In order to have a stronger relationship between ICT and Rural economy in future:-
Substantial development of IT application could be done with a broader strategy at village level as large population of Indian Territory lives in rural areas.

ICT can be used in such a way that it can give more opportunities for employment creation in rural areas. This can improve the quality of life of rural people.

ICT applications can also be used to bring transparency and accountability in various economical and social programs of government.
There is a need to assess the needs of the rural people with regard to information technology i.e. linkage between demand and purpose of these services and product.

Electronic government (e-Government) is one of the most important ways to bridge the digital divide in developing nations like India. Different initiatives by government through the developments in ICT have helped E-governance to take off since the beginning of millennium. Different building blocks like increasing literacy rate in rural areas, the initiatives like Digital India campaign will help in making the rural people more tech savvy encouraging them to get in contact with Indian government through just a click of button. So in a nutshell it can be concluded that increasing digital literacy with the help of technical advancements are leading and will lead to rural development in India.

BIBILOGRAPHY
Annual reports of Ministry of Rural Development, GOI, New Delhi.

http://agricoop.nic.in/policyincentives/kisancalldetail.htm
http://www.akashganga.in/
http://www.tatakisansansar.com/Kanu Raheja., 2015, “Rural Development in Haryana” ,International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Vol.5, Issue 6, ISSN 2250-3153.
Parveen Sharma., 2011, “Impact Of Information Technology On The Development Of Rural Economy Of India” International Journal of Information Technology and Knowledge Management, Volume 4, No. 1, pp. 187-190.

Sangita Agrawal.,2016, “Role Of ICT In Rural Development of India”, EPRA International Journal of Economic and Business Review, Vol – 4, Issue- 5.

Santhanamuthu, D. and Manickam S., 2012, “The Impact of Digitalization in Rural India ” IJMTP, Vol. 4, No.1, January-June, pp. 91-99.

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