Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 90

Role of Information & Communication

Technology in Rural Development in


India
Report of Dissertation Thesis submitted towards Partial Fulfilment
of the Requirements for the Award of the Degree of

Master of Arts in Rural Development (MARD)

By
Shashank Tiwari
Enrolment Number: 180777963
Under the supervision of
Prof. (Dr.) Ajit Singh

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)


December 2018
PROFORMA FOR SUBMISSION OF M.A. (RD) PROPOSAL FOR A PPROVAL
Signature : .....................................................................................................
Name : .....................................................................................................
Address of Guide : .....................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................
Name & Address of the student : .....................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................
Enrolment No. : .....................................................................................................
Date of Submission : .....................................................................................................
Name of Study Centre : .....................................................................................................
Name of Guide : .....................................................................................................
Title of the Project : .....................................................................................................
Signature of the Student : .....................................................................................................

Approved/Not Approved
Date:
DECLARATION

I hereby declare that the Dissertation entitled .....................................................................


..................................................................................................................................................................
submitted by me for the partial fulfilment of the M.A. in Rural Development to Indira Gandhi
National Open University, (IGNOU) New Delhi is my own original work and has not been submitted
earlier either to IGNOU or to any other institution for the fulfilment of the requirement for any course
of study. I also declare that no chapter of this manuscript in whole or in part is lifted and
incorporated in this report from any earlier work done by me or others.

Place: Signature
Date: Enrolment No.:
Name:
Address:
CERTIFICATE
This is to certify that Mr......................................................................................... student of M.A. (RD)
from Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi was working under my supervision and
guidance for his Project Work for the Course MRDP-001. His/Her Project Work entitled
..................................................................................................................................................................
.................................................................................................................................................. which
he/she is submitting, is his/her genuine and original work.

Place: Signature
Date: Name:
Address of the Supervisor:
Dedicated to My Motherland
That taught me the wisest of all learning:
“You don’t get anything that you don’t work hard for”
Acknowledgement
The first few pages of the dissertation are known to be penned down in the last
minutes, and here I am, standing on the shore of my destination. Caressed by the
pleasures and pains of the journey, the entity has been metamorphosed for sure.
I am highly indebted to my Guide Prof. Ajit Singh in particular so as to give me
an opportunity to study such a profound subject with a high degree of
independence to my thoughts and desires. He has been constantly educating with
his experiences and immense knowledge in the field.
I thank Sh. Kamal ji who has been a guiding figure for me. It would have been
only a sketchy project without the necessary information you provided. I thank my
parents for constantly intimating me about my shortcomings and time ultimatums. I
can’t forget you for your discipline and belief in me as I progressed through my years
at IIT.
I would like to express my gratitude towards all other friends for their constant
support and faith in me.

SHASHANK TIWARI
November 25, 2018
Role of ICT in Rural Development
Contents
List of Figures ............................................................................................................................................ 4
List of Tables ............................................................................................................................................. 4
Information & Communication Technology ............................................................................................. 5
Primary Benefit of ICT: Monitoring by & Participation of Rural Communities ..................................... 6
Development......................................................................................................................................... 6
Rural Development ............................................................................................................................... 7
Statement of the Problem ........................................................................................................................ 8
Objectives Of Present Study ................................................................................................................. 8
Coverage (Universe).................................................................................................................................. 8
Research Methodology ............................................................................................................................. 8
Relevance in Real World ........................................................................................................................... 9
ICT and Agriculture.............................................................................................................................. 11
ICT and Health ..................................................................................................................................... 11
ICT for Education ................................................................................................................................. 11
ICT for Economic Development .......................................................................................................... 11
Employment Opportunities ................................................................................................................ 11
ICT in e-Governance ............................................................................................................................ 11
ICT in Capacity-building and Empowerment....................................................................................... 11
ICT and Service Delivery Mechanisms ................................................................................................ 12
Role of ICT under Climate Change ...................................................................................................... 12
Challenges of ICTs in Rural Development ........................................................................................... 13
Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................... 14
Chapterization......................................................................................................................................... 14
Indian Agriculture: The Waning Side ...................................................................................................... 17
Problems Faced By Indian Farmers ..................................................................................................... 18
Secret of Success: Farmer – Scientist Partnership .............................................................................. 18
Indian Agriculture – The Next Wave: IT as the Game Changer........................................................... 19
Characteristics of Indian Agriculture................................................................................................... 19

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 1


Transforming rural India with the help of digital technologies .......................................................... 20
A.T.I.C. [Agricultural Technology Information Centre] ....................................................................... 21
Strategic Framework of A.T.I.C ........................................................................................................... 23
Technology Dissemination In ATIC...................................................................................................... 25
Publications ......................................................................................................................................... 25
Problems & Solutions for Farmers ...................................................................................................... 26
Government steps to provide e-aid to farmers .................................................................................. 27
Village Knowledge Centre (VKC) ......................................................................................................... 30
Village resource centres (VRC) ............................................................................................................ 30
Portals ................................................................................................................................................. 30
Call Centres ......................................................................................................................................... 30
Linking Farmers to E-NAM ...................................................................................................................... 31
Constraints in implementation of e-NAM........................................................................................... 31
Budget Initiatives for Farmers related to ICT ...................................................................................... 31
More advanced use of ICT in farming ................................................................................................. 32
Benefits of e-aid to farmers ................................................................................................................ 32
Problems in effective use of Technology ............................................................................................ 33
Mass Communication and Educating Farmers ................................................................................... 34
Agrowon-world’s first ever daily on Agriculture ................................................................................. 34
Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................... 36
Evolution of Public Health Care in India.................................................................................................. 37
Health Management Information System (HMIS) .................................................................................. 38
ICT for Primary Health Care – Telemedicine/ Telehealth ....................................................................... 39
Strengthening of Healthcare Infrastructure ........................................................................................... 40
CATCH: Ensuring quality healthcare for all in Sikkim .............................................................................. 41
Impact ................................................................................................................................................. 42
Adult Literacy .......................................................................................................................................... 44
Women Education .................................................................................................................................. 44
ICT and teachers Training: Internet-enabled computer centres (kiosks/ knowledge centres/ service
centres/ telecentres)........................................................................................................................... 45
Village Knowledge Centres of MSSRF ................................................................................................. 45
Mobile ................................................................................................................................................. 47

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 2


Market information for fruits and vegetables .................................................................................... 47
Cell phone operated mobile audio communication and conferencing system (COMBACCS) ............ 48
Community Radio................................................................................................................................ 48
Henvalvani Community Radio, Chamba, Uttarakhand ....................................................................... 49
Video ................................................................................................................................................... 49
Model for ICT Education ..................................................................................................................... 51
Migration Card and Migration Monitoring Software: Tracking and educating migrant children in
Gujarat ................................................................................................................................................ 51
Implementation Strategy .................................................................................................................... 52
ICT and employment: HarVa BPO, Teekli, Gurgaon, Haryana ............................................................ 54
Kudumbasree ...................................................................................................................................... 55
Pratibha Parv: Strengthening quality of education in government schools of Madhya Pradesh....... 57
Implementation Strategy .................................................................................................................... 58
Socio-cultural factors governing women’s access and use of ICTs ..................................................... 61
Kalyani - A success story ......................................................................................................................... 62
Targeted PDS ........................................................................................................................................... 66
A role for Aadhaar within the PDS .......................................................................................................... 66
Incentives for implementing Aadhaar across the PDS infrastructure ................................................ 68
Objectives & Goals .................................................................................................................................. 71
Common Service Centres (CSC’s) ............................................................................................................ 72
Prospective Key Government (G2C) Services ..................................................................................... 72
Enhancing Connectivity, Knowledge flows and Access to Government Service: Recent Initiatives by
the Government of India..................................................................................................................... 73
e-Choupal, rural Madhya Pradesh – commenced in 2000...................................................................... 74
Gyandoot, Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh – commenced in 2000 ......................................................... 74
India’s Digital Divide............................................................................................................................ 75
Sustainability ....................................................................................................................................... 76
Costs .................................................................................................................................................... 77
Stand alone Vs Integrated ICT projects ............................................................................................... 77
Resistance to change .......................................................................................................................... 77
Privacy and Security ............................................................................................................................ 78
Women Empowerment through ICT................................................................................................... 79

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 3


List of Figures
Figure 1: (Left) Percentage of Population (58%) (Right) Contribution to GDP of India (27%) .................... 17
Figure 2: Rice Production and Yield of India vis-à-vis Other Countries ....................................................... 18
Figure 3: Farmers' acceptance of Different Services and Technologies ..................................................... 20
Figure 4: Functional Components of ATIC .................................................................................................. 22
Figure 5: ICT in Agriculture.......................................................................................................................... 27
Figure 6: Health Management Information Systems (HMIS)...................................................................... 39
Figure 7: Stakeholders in CATCH................................................................................................................. 41
Figure 8: Structure of Migration Card & Migration Software ..................................................................... 52
Figure 9: Dropout Rate in Gujarat on Decline............................................................................................. 53
Figure 10: Stakeholders in Pratibha Parv .................................................................................................... 58
Figure 11: Aadhaar Supply Chain ................................................................................................................ 67
Figure 12: Benefits of E-Governance .......................................................................................................... 70

List of Tables
Table 1: Rice Production and Yield of India vis-a-vis Other Countries......................................................... 17
Table 2: Problems and Solutions in ATIC .................................................................................................... 23
Table 3: ICTs and Rural women empowerment.......................................................................................... 65

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 4


Proposal for Project
Much concern has been shown in recent years with regard to Information & Communication
Technology, E-Governance and its impact on hitherto unthinkable avenues like rural development and
related areas. The concepts of Digital India and E-Kranti have become catch-words both in the
developed and developing countries all over the world. Despite vast literature on the subject, there is
hardly any consensus on precise definition and indictors for the measurement of 'development'. For
instance, those who, give priority to economic needs equate development with economic growth and
those who attach importance to social and human needs talk in terms of human-oriented social
development. The concept of ICT in rural development is not new in India, but has been present in forms
like Radio, Television, Nukkad-Natak, etc. The main purpose of this study is to focus on the role which
latest development in ICT has played and can play further in maximising people's participation in rural
development. The main attempt, therefore, is to identify domains, stakeholders and challenges to
acceptance and spread of ICT. To begin with, it is appropriate to discuss in brief the meaning and
process of ICT, Rural Development and role of ICT in rural development.

Information & Communication Technology


The world in which we live is in 21st century. The European countries like France, Germany, England, etc.
are known as developed countries. India, historically known as “Sone ki chidiya”, is still a developing
country. 70% of the Indian population lives in rural areas which are widespread, having low connectivity
– physical as well as digital, encompassing of citizens with lower levels of literacy. Hence, ICT can be
used as a unique tool to bypass this vast array of challenges like distanced and diffused target location.

e-Governance is in essence, the application of Information and communications Technology to


government functioning in order to create ‘Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent’
(SMART) governance. In this Project, the author has tried to analyse the successes and failures of e-
Governance initiatives in rural India, in order to extrapolate the best practices, key reform principles and
recommendations that can help the government to implement a new paradigm of governance in the
country. This new paradigm would focus on the use of information technology to bring public services to
the doorsteps of our citizens and businesses on the basis of revolutionary changes in our institutional
structures, procedures and practices that would transform the relationships between our three levels of
government, our businesses and our citizens.

The revolution in Information and communications Technology (ICT) has brought a whole new agenda
for governance into the realm of possibility. E-Governance comprises decisional processes and the use
of ICT for wider participation of citizens in public affairs. Citizens are participants in e-Governance. The
purpose of implementing e-Governance is to improve governance processes and outcomes with a view
to improving the delivery of public services to citizens. Some authors have defined e-Governance as the
e-business of the State. Although there are many definitions of e-Governance, the objectives of
governments are indisputable: maintaining collective security, administering justice, providing the
institutional infrastructure of the economy and ensuring that vital social capital is enhanced through

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 5


improvements in health and education and through strong families and communities (Dawes et al.
1999). A more comprehensive definition of e-Governance proposes changes of government in two
related aspects: 1) transformation of business of governance i.e. reducing costs, improving service
delivery and renewing processes; 2) re-examination of the functions and processes of democracy itself
(Aicholzer and Schmutzer 2000). The resulting impacts are reduced costs, lesser corruption, increased
transparency, revenue growth and convenience for the citizenry. India, being the largest democracy in
the world, has much to gain from e-Governance, especially when citizen participation in governance is
one of the features of the fully evolved stage of e-government. The goals of e-Governance are:

a. Better service delivery to citizens


b. Ushering in transparency and accountability
c. Empowering people through information
d. Improved efficiency within Governments
e. Improve interface with business and industry.

Information Technology presents many avenues for improving governance. It has opened up new
opportunities for governments to manage things differently and in a more efficient manner by utilizing
information effectively and re-engineering processes. ICT tools are emerging as important instruments
towards the goal of “good governance”. ICT has facilitated a conscious attempt to bring the citizen to
the centre-stage. citizens are being perceived as customers and clients rather than beneficiaries. The
internet revolution coupled with rapid advances in communication have proved to be a powerful tool
for citizen-centric governance. An important dimension of the Internet potential is the possibility of
providing public services anytime, anywhere.

Primary Benefit of ICT: Monitoring by & Participation of Rural Communities


The kinds of participation which generally draw our attention as far as the rural development
programmes are concerned are: (i) participation in decision-making, (ii) participation in implementation,
(iii) participation in sharing the benefits, and (iv) participation in monitoring and evaluation. Monitoring
and evaluative participation occurs much less frequently and as such it deserves increased attention, if
development efforts are to be progressively improved. ICT empowers the rural inhabitants to monitor
and regulate the services such as School Education, Canal Irrigation, climatic analysis and favourable
crop plantation. The villagers can oversee the functioning and implementation of Government services
like MGNREGA, Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana, etc.

Development
Development is a process of gradual change of people and society from the existing state to a better
one. It aims at releasing the broken, restoring the marginalized and transforming the present
exploitative and oppressive economic, political, social and cultural structures into a just society. In this
vision of a just society, exploitation of man by man, and the domination of man over man, and men over
women, must be stopped. Pit has defined development in more general terms in perceived increased
effectiveness of social and economic activities and functions of the society and situations and in the
range of options open to people. In this sense, development is perceived as improvement in the quality
of life even when this means fewer goods and services. Defined in these terms development inevitably

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 6


becomes a normative concept. It connotes the direction that development has to follow. In the modern
context, development has been referred to as overall process of transforming men and societies in to a
social order in which every human being can achieve moral and material well being. In a broader sense,
the concept of development has been referred to as a whole, integral, value-loaded cultural process
encompassing the natural environment, social relations, education, production, consumption and well-
being. Development has been described as a generic term meaning growth, evolution, stage of
improvement or progress. The concept of 'development' gained currency after World War II and has
been defined by most economists, in the operational sense, as growth of the per capita gross national
product (GNP) or a similar national accounts figure. In view of large number of developing countries
failing to achieve, on an average, a satisfactory rate of growth of per capita GNP, there has been
considerable criticism of this approach to development. A number of observers have concluded that this
has been basically due to the insufficient attention given to social and political factors in planning.

Rural Development
Rural is differentiated from urban in terms of its geo-physical location, spatial distribution of households
based on kinship-family ties and close interaction between individuals and families. The growth and
development of urban areas has been at the expense of rural areas. With the emergence of city centers,
the rural areas continue to be neglected.

Rural Development is an old theme, but has been evolving to incorporate new contents and fresh
concerns. The earlier definitions of rural development assumed the village to be a homogeneous entity
but this myth was exploded under the impact of the first set of programmes undertaken for rural
development. The benefits of these schemes and plans generally accrued to those with large land
holdings, and the lot of those possessing meagre or no land did not improve and, in many cases, even
worsened. Copp has defined rural development as a process aimed at improving the well being and self-
realization of people living outside the urbanized area, through collective efforts. He further contends
that the ultimate target of rural development is people and not infrastructure. According to him, one of
the objectives of rural development should be to 'widen people's range of choices'.

Generally in the Third World Countries, rural development demands an increase in agriculture
production. In fact, the very concept of rural development was born in the context of agriculture, and it
remained so for a long time. The Royal Commission on Agriculture (1928), for instance, provides this
kind of interpretation to 'rural development'. It reported: We cannot too strongly state our conviction
that the directorship of agriculture is one of the key posts in rural development and that agricultural
advance must in a very great degree depend upon the suitability of the officer appointed. Almost five
decades later, the Planning Commission's Task Force on Integrated Rural Development (IRDP) observed
in 1972: "After careful consideration, we have belatedly decided to take what might be considered a
rather restricted view of the expression 'rural development'. We have chosen to equate it with
agricultural development in the widest sense so as so embrace, beside crop husbandry, all the allied
activities.

The World Bank defines rural development as a strategy designed to improve the economic and social
life of a specific group of people, the rural poor. It involves extending the benefits of development to the

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 7


poorest among those who seek a livelihood in rural areas. The group includes small-scale farmers,
tenants and the landless. The objectives of rural development, according to the World Bank, are not
restricted to any single department, but spread over several, and the resultant mix serves to raise
agricultural output, create new employment, improve health and education, expand communications,
provide housing and the like. Thus, the World Bank defines rural development in terms of an
improvement of the economic and social life of the poor.

Statement of the Problem


These isolated experiments need to be studied in the larger interest of the country. An in-depth analysis
of the domains and impact areas of ICT in maximizing rural development will help us to explore the
nature and signification of digital technology. The study is to find out the extent of impact of E-
Governance in rural development, the attitudes of people towards ICT’s in rural development, factors
influencing various stakeholders’ participation and their role in promoting rural development. Therefore
it is all the more appropriate for us to make a study to fill up the gap left untouched by social scientists
for a long period.

Objectives Of Present Study


This study aims at making a descriptive study of the approaches of different agencies in promoting ICT in
rural development. In this exploratory attempt, the study seeks to investigate certain aspects of rural
scenario like sectors in rural areas, vulnerable sections in rural areas, attitudes and other factors that
influence the ordinary villagers to accept the technological advancement in the efforts to improve the
village life. The specific objectives are as follows:

1) To study the areas of ICT penetration in rural development, especially agriculture


2) To study impact of ICT upon different sections of people in rural areas
3) To study the factors influencing acceptance of E-Governance in rural India

Coverage (Universe)
The study shall be limited to Case Studies in India. In all, sectoral approach (primary, secondary and
tertiary sectors) and stakeholder approach (Women, Children, Youth) in rural areas shall be taken for
the study. In the analysis of these cases certain important features would be taken into consideration.

Research Methodology
Project spotlights the main problems and issues which are responsible for obstacles in rural progress
and how ICT can be used in the development of rural areas. Two approaches have been followed to
analyze the impact of e-Governance on Rural Development:

1. Sectoral Approach
2. Vulnerable Sections Approach
3. Local Governance
a. Climate Change & Disaster Management

Sectoral Approach: Sectors has been further delineated into following heads:

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 8


1. Primary: Agriculture, Fishing
2. Secondary: Rural Industries, Cottage Industries
3. Tertiary: Health, Education

Vulnerable Sections Approach: Vulnerable Sections have been distinguished as:

a) Children
b) Women
c) Below Poverty Line: Targeted PDS

Relevance in Real World


ICT can be interpreted broadly as “technologies that facilitate communication and the processing and
transmission of information by electronic means.” ICT promises a fundamental change in all aspects of
our lives, including knowledge dissemination, social interaction, economic and business practices,
political engagement, media, education, health, leisure and entertainment.

In India ICT applications such as Warana, Dristee, Sari, Sks, E-Chaupal, Cybermohalla, Bhoomi, E-Mitra,
Deesha, Star, Setu, Friends, E-Seva, Lokmitra, E-Post, Gramdoot, Gyandoot, Tarahaat, Dhan, Akshaya,
Honeybee, Praja are in functioning for rural development.

ICTs can play a significant role in combating rural and urban poverty and fostering sustainable
development through creating information rich societies and supporting livelihoods. If ICTs are
appropriately deployed and realize the differential needs of urban and rural people, they can become
powerful tools of economic, social and political empowerment.

Rural Development forms an important agenda of the Government. However, the application of ICT in
the Rural Development sector has been relatively slow. The main reasons for this are poor ICT
infrastructure in rural areas, poor ICT awareness among agency officials working in rural areas and local
language issues. Agriculture is an important sector with more than 70% of the Indian population living in
rural areas and earns its live hood by agriculture and allied means of income. The sector faces major
challenges of enhancing production in a situation of dwindling natural resources necessary for
production.

The growing demand for agricultural products, however, also offers opportunities for producers to
sustain and improve their livelihoods. Information and communication technologies (ICT) play an
important role in addressing these challenges and uplifting the livelihoods of the rural poor. ICT offers
an opportunity to introduce new activities, new services and applications into rural areas or to enhance
existing services.

The agricultural sector is confronted with the major challenge of increasing production to feed a growing
and increasingly prosperous population in a situation of decreasing availability of natural resources.
Factors of particular concern are water shortages, declining soil fertility, effects of climate change and
rapid decrease of fertile agricultural lands due to urbanization. However, the growing demand, including
for higher quality products, also offers opportunities for improving the livelihoods of rural communities.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 9


Realizing these opportunities requires compliance with more stringent quality standards and regulations
for the production and handling of agricultural produce. New approaches and technical innovations are
required to cope with these challenges and to enhance the livelihoods of the rural population. The role
of ICT to enhance food security and support rural livelihoods is increasingly being recognized all over the
world. This includes the use of computers, internet, geographical information systems, mobile phones,
as well as traditional media such as radio or TV. Although it is a relatively new phenomenon, evidence of
the contribution of ICT to agricultural development and poverty alleviation is becoming increasingly
available. Information and Communication technologies (ICT) have a potential for economic growth and
social empowerment. Direct or indirect application of ICT, in rural development sector has also been
referred to as “Rural Informatics”. Rural economies can be benefited from ICT by focusing on social
production, social consumption and social services in the rural areas. ICT offers huge scope for rural
development:

 Through ICT’s people in rural areas can connect with the local, regional and national economy and
access markets, banking/financial services and employment opportunities.
 ICTs also serve as a instrument of awareness creation and feedback giving rural people a voice in the
nation’s socio-political life.
 ICT can act as a channel of delivery of e-Government services including health and education.Thus
bridging the digital divide also bridges the overall infrastructural gap and addresses other
constraints faced by rural areas.
 ICT has great potential to bring in the desired social transformations by enhancing access to people,
services, information and other technologies.
 ICT applications can enhance poor people’s opportunities by improving their access to markets,
health, and education. Furthermore, ICT can empower the poor by expanding the use of
government services, and reduce risks by widening access to micro finance.
 ICT initiatives in rural development emphasise adoption of a more systematic approach for
integrating Traditional Knowledge Systems(TKS) and ICT inputs to ensure sustainability of rural e-
governance.
 Recent related initiatives with regards to rural development :
 SECURE (Software for Estimate Calculation Using Rural rates for Employment): ICT based solution for
estimate preparation
 Panchayat Enterprise Suite (PES) – E-Panchayat To transform functioning of Panchayati Raj
Institutions (PRIs)
 Plan Plus: Helps in preparation of participatory Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP)
 Action Soft: Provides interface for Financial & Physical progress reporting of all works
 carried out from approved plan
 PRIA Soft: Basically accounting software to capture receipts/exp. details thru voucher entries
 National Panchayat Portal (NPP): Provides dynamic web site for each local body
 Service Plus: Portal to provide electronic delivery of basic services to citizens

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 10


ICT and Agriculture
 The vast majority of poor people lives in rural areas and derives their livelihoods directly or
indirectly from agriculture. Increasing the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of small-scale
farms is an area where ICT can make a significant contribution. Farming involves risks and
uncertainties, with farmers facing many threats from poor soils, drought, erosion and pests. ICTs can
deliver useful information to farmers about agriculture like crop care and animal husbandry,
fertilizer and feedstock inputs, pest control, seed sourcing and market prices.

ICT and Health


 Health care is one of the most promising areas for poverty alleviation. ICTs are being used in India to
facilitate remote consultation, diagnosis and treatment. Delivering health care with ICTs enables
health care professionals and institutions to address the critical medical needs of rural communities,
especially those in remote locations and those that lack qualified medical personnel and services.

ICT for Education


 Moreover, appropriate use of ICTs in the classroom fosters critical, integrative and contextual
teaching and learning; develops information literacy (the ability to locate, evaluate and use
information). Thus, it improves the overall efficiency of the delivery of education in schools and
educational management institutions at the national, state/provincial and community level. The use
of ICTs in education aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning as well as democratize the
access to education.

ICT for Economic Development


 Information and Communication Technology has a vital role in connecting the rural community to
outside world for exchange of information, a basic necessity for economic development. Effective
use of ICT can demolish geographical boundaries and can bring rural communities closer to global
economic systems and be of meaningful help to the under privileged.

Employment Opportunities
 Poor people in rural localities have lack of opportunities for employment because they often do not
have access to information about them. One use of ICTs is to provide online services for job
placement through electronic labor exchanges in public employment service or other placement
agencies.

ICT in e-Governance
 The poverty can be adequately addressed by effective use of e-governance and ICT application in
environmental management. Improved governance by using ICT can have direct impact in reducing
poverty and improving the environment. ICT can contribute in a large way in making government
processes more efficient and transparent by encouraging communication and information sharing
among rural and marginalized people.

ICT in Capacity-building and Empowerment


 Communities and farmer organizations can be helped through the use of ICTs to strengthen their
own capacities and better represent their constituencies when negotiating input and output prices,

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 11


land claims, resource rights and infrastructure projects. ICT enables rural communities to interact
with other stakeholders, thus reducing social isolation. It widens the perspective of local
communities in terms of national or global developments, opens up new business opportunities and
allows easier contact with friends and relatives. A role is also played by ICT in making processes
more efficient and transparent. It helps in making laws and land titles more accessible. Global
Positioning Systems (GPS) linked to Geographical Information Systems (GIS), digital cameras and
internet, help rural communities to document and communicate their situation. Rural communities
benefit from better access to credit and rural banking facilities. Recent mobile banking initiatives
offer further scope to reduce costs and stimulate local trade. The Indian AMUL programme
automates milk collection and payments for its 500,000 members, thereby enhancing transparency
of the milk volume and quality collected and ensuring fair payments to farmers.

ICT and Service Delivery Mechanisms


There is a huge gap between information residing in agricultural knowledge centres and rural
communities. At local level, multi-stakeholder mechanisms are important to make relevant information
accessible to end users. Intermediary organizations have to connect rural communities to available
knowledge. Users will increasingly want tailor-made, quality answers to their questions. In the
Agricultural Clinics in India customers get answers within one to two days. Mobile Q&A services are
being piloted in India. At national level, mechanisms need to be in place to ensure learning and
information sharing. The type of ICT used by local communities is subject to rapid change. However,
broadband internet access is seen as central for societal innovation because storing of large datasets
and live communication requires good connectivity. Until recently, connectivity in rural areas was
limited to slow dial-up lines. Satellite connections now make broadband access possible in remote areas.
Use of mobile phones has seen an enormous increase in recent years. Nevertheless, big differences still
exist in broadband access between developed and developing countries. New wireless technologies
such as MESH and WiMAX, and new-generation mobile phone networks, will provide high speed
internet services at sharply reduced costs, thereby dramatically increasing internet coverage in rural
areas.

Role of ICT under Climate Change


 The role of ICTs under climate change situation can be explored based on the linkages that exist
between ICTs as a system component and its ability to withstand & its ability to recover and to
change under changing climatic conditions.
 ICTs can help strengthen the physical preparedness of livelihood systems for climate change related
events through applications such as geographic information systems (GIS), and positioning and
modeling applications. ICTs can also strengthen institutions and organizations needed for the system
to withstand the occurrence of climatic events, including the support of social networks and the
facilitation of coordinated action. For example, ICTs can strengthen social networks through
enhanced communication within those networks~ communication that increases the network bonds
by building trust and a sharing of norms and values.
 ICTs can help increase the breadth and depth of assets to which households, communities, etc have
access. ICT can facilitate access to a broader set of capital assets, fostering the ability of livelihood

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 12


systems to recover from climate related events. Illustrating this potential, ICTs available in Village
Resource Centres in rural India have enabled end users to interact with scientists, doctors,
professors and government officials located in urban locations. This has increased the information
assets available (e.g. oceanic weather forecasts), and human capital (e.g. via tele-health and e-
learning), all of which help when climate related events occur.
 ICTs can increase the scale of available assets by combining the distant and the proximate. Mobile
applications have improved the breadth of structural access by enabling integration of local
producers – small entrepreneurs and farmers – into regional and global supply chains, which also
broadens the scale of asset availability, typically in terms of financial and physical capital.
 ICTs can enable swift access and mobilization of financial assets, particularly through applications for
mobile banking and mobile finance. By enabling rapid access to financial capital and transactions,
ICTs have the potential not only to strengthen local livelihoods but also to improve the speed and
efficiency with which local communities are able to cope with and adapt to climate change related
hazards and events.
 ICTs can also speed up access to information. This is particularly important when an acute climate
related shock such as landslide or flood occurs. Mobile based telecommunications networks allow
rapid communication of information, thus improving the speed of disaster warning, response and
recovery.
 ICTs can enable access to the set of resources in the event of climate change related shocks or
disturbances. ICTs provide access to relevant data and information that is first processed at an
individual level, then facilitate communication and interaction between a wide range of
stakeholders, and ultimately enable cooperation, which can translate into adaptive actions being
implemented with the participation of a wide range of stakeholders.
 In the Philippines SMS is being used for citizen engagement campaigns that seek to reduce air
pollution while encouraging citizen participation, suggesting the potential of these tools to foster
environmental action and raise policy awareness. In cases such as this, ICTs can play a role from
accessing relevant data and awareness on environmental issues at the individual level, to enabling
communication and interaction using mobile telephony, to fostering cooperation with wider
networks of stakeholders towards action, through social networking tools and the strengthening of
participatory processes.

Challenges of ICTs in Rural Development


 Continuous Supply of Electricity
 Low level of Digital Literacy:-
 Rural India faces a severe technology deficit. The role of technology in solving problems is barely
acknowledged, and the actual availability of technology in rural areas is, at best, marginal.
 Shortage of ICTs Personnel
 Lack of Access of Telecommunications & Internet Services:-
 Many farmers remain unaware of these advances. Insufficient connectivity in rural areas along with
a lack of basic computer knowledge and literacy hinder development.
 Unavailability of Web Content in Local Language
 Unethical Use of ICTs
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 13
 Geographical application of new technologies is still limited in rural areas.
 Substantial investment is needed in physical infrastructure, power, broadband, transportation and
education, particularly in rural regions and among the poorest populations in order to truly reap the
benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The earlier initiatives like e-NAM, digital India, DBT etc have had significant impact in the rural areas. So
investing further in ICT in rural areas is necessary for good governance.

Conclusion
The use of ICT tools help in strengthening social networks, empowerment and participation, as well as
fostering productive processes at the local level through the provision of employment and skills, as well
as support services for micro-enterprise activities. In rural communities of developing countries, with
limited capacities and resources to respond to the effects of extreme natural hazards, drought,
landslides, floods, and to the impacts of these events on local social systems (e.g. health, infrastructure,
transportation, migration), ICT tools (the potential of telecentres for disaster preparedness and
response) are emerging as an area of increasing interest.

Chapterization
The chapterization of the thesis is proposed to be made, keeping in mind the objectives and hypotheses.

1. The first chapter shall be about impact of ICT in the field of Agriculture. It explores various
dimensions such as E-NAM, Agricultural Technology Information Centre (ATIC), Market Information
via Mobiles, etc. In this chapter, an attempt shall be made to describe the concept of farmers'
participation in rural development. A brief discussion on the role of ATIC in rural development and
the review of earlier endeavours in Agriculture shall also be included in this chapter.
2. Second chapter shall deal with the impact of ICT in Healthcare. A review of CATCH-a scheme in
Sikkim with objective to universalize the healthcare system has been undertaken. Prospective areas
for future penetration of ICT shall also be included in this chapter.
3. Third chapter shall explain the impact of ICT in Education development – a critical sector for the
future growth of the nation.
4. The fourth chapter concerns with leveraging ICT in the betterment of Youth
5. The fifth and sixth chapter shall be on the extent of impact of ICT on Children and Women – the
most vulnerable sections in rural Indian society cutting across caste and religion.
6. In the seventh chapter, the impact of ICT on BPL has been explored. Various projects like Targeted
PDS and MNREGA have been studied.
7. In the eighth chapter, the impact of ICT in Local Governance has been explored. Various projects like
Digital Panchayats and Computerisation of Land Records have been studied. The hypothesis, that,
"People's participation is indispensable in activities through which they can gain some material
goods" is put to test.
8. The ninth chapter shall give in detail the Case Studies related to impact of ICT in rural development.
9. The tenth chapter ruminates on challenges in implementation of ICT in rural development. It shall
deal with the role of grassroot-level leaders in promoting ICT in rural development.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 14


10. The last chapter shall give the major recommendation concluding the present study and some
workable suggestions for maximizing welfare of people leveraging ICT leading to faster, inclusive and
sustainable rural development.

The appendix shall include the extended bibliography.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 15


ICT & Agriculture
ICT is becoming the facilitator of socio-economic development in rural India with its obvious facilities by
way of health, education, financial services and employment avenues, etc. It can help the bridge gaps by
providing ‘e’ and ‘m’ services. ICT offering meant for rural sector can be classified into three categories:

a. Those solutions which aim are aimed at empowerment


b. Those which would do enablement.
c. Those for market expansion.

With respect to empowerment- e-choupal comes up as fine example. This is example of efficient supply
chain system empowering the farmers with timely and relevant information enabling them to get better
returns for their produce. And due to its community centric approach, it gives other offerings also to the
farmers’ like- insurance and farm management practise, etc.

The practice of e-governance, which creates transparency and governance through IT has enabled the
citizens. Successful implementation of e-governance in the areas like- maintain land records is a great
step in removing the malpractices and creating assurance of rightful ownership. Aadhar is another such
tool, which has empowered the masses by confirming their identities and is good example of ICT
solution attempting to provide access to monetary benefits by establishing the correct identity and this
way rural economy is also expanding.

Market expansion with the help of ICT can be seen through various examples, such as – In recent years
the village and heritage tourism in remote areas of the country has picked up a huge momentum and
this has been done on account of awareness being created by the online portals, attracting more visitors
compared to past. Direct connect through e-commerce has facilitated large number of artisans agro-
based small enterprises in rural areas. Women’s livelihood is being facilitated amongst the weavers’
community in the north eastern states by marketing their product through the internet medium. Indian
rural market is going under transformation with better access to information. With the help of IT,
farmers can use the services of FMC and can get better value for their product.

As we know development is a process which takes couple of years to change the rural life. Thus
information technology will definitely be in a position to change the scenario of rural life and create a
better path for rural development. Among the major States, Maharashtra was on top with the 104 out
of 1,000 families had Internet in cities, followed by Kerala and Himachal Pradesh at 95 each and Haryana
at 81.5

Farming and Information Technology seems to be the most distantly placed knowledge sets in the
world. Farming being the most primitive and most basic of the jobs and IT related being the most
advanced and most modern. However we know the importance of farming as it is essential for life
maintenance on the surface of mother earth and it is important for the developments in IT to aid for the
betterment of farming to produce better.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 16


Indian Agriculture: The Waning Side
Indian Agriculture sector is the backbone of Indian Economy which employs more than 50% of the total
workforce. The percentage contribution of Agriculture sector in India’s GDP is around 14%, which is
growing by just merely 2.8% for the period of 2011-12. The growth of Agriculture sector is extremely
important for India to ensure food availability and sustaining rural livelihood.

The farmer of India is suffering from many adversities which has led to low income and high inflation in
food-prices. The Project focuses mainly on strengthening the farmer’s access to modern technologies
and equipments, and negate the different inefficiencies in the agriculture value-chain of India focusing
on farm-laboratory linkages. This project attempts to provide architectural solutions and presents the
different reasons of these inefficiencies in the present value chain and possible remedies for the same.

Case I1

Figure 1: (Left) Percentage of Population (58%) (Right) Contribution to GDP of India (27%)

Case II

Country Rice area, million ha Yield, Mt/ha Rice production, Crore Mt

India 44.1 2.98 13.1274

China 29.932292 6.59 19.7257175


Indonesia 12.883576 5 6.439889
Bangladesh 11.5 3.92 4.5075
Thailand 10.963126 2.87 3.1462886
Vietnam 7.4401 5.23 3.88955
2
Table 1: Rice Production and Yield of India vis-a-vis Other Countries

1
Source: Census of India 2011 Report
2
Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 17
Rice area, million ha

Yield, Mt/ha

Rice production, Crore Mt

Figure 2:: Rice Production and Yield of India vis-à-vis Other Countries

Problems Faced By Indian Farmers


 Lack of Awareness & Education
 Rudimentary Instruments & Techniques still in use
 Research limited to Nurseries with no feedback from the Farmers
 No Produce Storage facility
 Lack of Transportation facilities
 Unavailability of Market to sell their produce
 Inadequate Price of produce
 Overdependence on Nature

Secret of Success: Farmer – Scientist Partnership

“Brimming with enthusiasm, hard-working,


hard working, skilled and determined, the Punjab farmer has been the
backbone of the revolution. Farmers, young and old, educated and uneducated,
uneducated, have easily taken to
the new agronomy. It has been heart-warming
heart warming to see young college graduates, retired officials, ex
ex-
armymen, illiterate peasants and small farmers queuing up to get the new seeds. At least in the
Punjab, the divorce between intellect
ntellect and labour, which has been the bane of our agriculture is
vanishing”

M S Swaminathan, The Punjab Miracle


(The
The Illustrated Weekly of India , May 11, 1969)

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 18


Indian Agriculture – The Next Wave: IT as the Game Changer
The Economic Times, Nov 14, 2003

“India could play a leading role in shaping the IT Revolution in the world as the Indian farmers
were open to positive and beneficial scientific development”
US Agency for International Development (USAID)

Characteristics of Indian Agriculture


1. Uneven distribution of land
2. Fragmentation of holding
3. Existence of small and marginal farmers
4. Regional variation
5. Dependence of seasonal rainfall
6. Production of different kind of crops
7. Low productivity of land
8. Increasing of disguised unemployment
9. Disorder in marketing of Agricultural products
10. Weak land reformation

E-Agriculture is a new area of knowledge emerging out of convergence of IT and farming techniques. It
enhances the agricultural value chain through the application of Internet and related technologies.
Basically IT helps farmers to have better access to information which increases the productivity. It also
enables him to get better prices through information of change in price in different markets.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 19


Figure 3: Farmers' acceptance of Different Services and Technologies

Transforming rural India with the help of digital technologies


In India, there have been several initiatives by State and Central Governments to meet the various
challenges facing the agriculture sector in the country. The E-Agriculture is part of Mission Mode Project,
which has been included in NeGP (under National E-governance Plan) in an effort to consolidate the
various learnings from the past, integrate all the diverse and disparate efforts currently underway, and
upscale them to cover the entire country.

The MMP is to be operationalized by Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC), and aims to
provide services, such as:

a. Information to farmers on seeds, fertilizers, pesticides


b. Information to farmers on Govt. Schemes
c. Information to farmers on Soil recommendations
d. Information on crop management
e. Information on weather and marketing of agriculture produce

Whereas, a large share of agricultural land remains rainfed, a little less than half of agriculture is now
being practised in irrigated conditions. This is being further refined through applying straightforward
mechanisms like micro-irrigation, fertigation and protected cultivation systems. The next stage of
interventions use sensors to assess soil moisture and composition, which send signals to actuators that
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 20
control sluices or pumps, to initiate a controlled flow of water and nutrients and this can all be done
without immediate human interface. This is another drastic change that will be imparted to past
irrigation practices. The technology optimises on water resource use and reduces current drudgery
which requires the farmer to wake up predawn to water the fields.

In protected cultivation, sensor based systems are also in use to monitor internal humidity and light
conditions and trigger lighting adjustments and fan-pad systems, etc. Such activities are also digitally
transmitted for record keeping and for remote controlling the operations by human interface. In fact,
such technology adoption will warrant and kick in new skills and practices in farming, such as checking
and managing pumps, valves and irrigation lines, calibrating soil sensors and measuring, mixing and
testing of nutrient mixtures, etc. It is going to usher in a positive disruption.

The availability of satellite imagery, infrared imagery, and a myriad of remote inputs allow for more
accurate weather forecasts, advance warnings on pest infestation and similar, and more. These are well
known examples of how digital technologies and systems have found extensive use in agriculture, and
they have made a lasting impact on how agriculture is accomplished. Instead of traditional homilies
about temperature and rainfall events, the farmers now consult and share the advisories and forecasts
of the same.

Geo-tagging of a land, bio-tagging of livestock, bar-coding of planting material, and such others are all
methods of identifying and managing assets through use of digital technologies. Similarly, the use of
Aadhar to identify uniquely an individual and manage the delivery of support, directly to farmers is
another transformation intervention in farming. Digitalisation of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to farmers
is an important step, along with building a database of farmers.

The above examples are indicative and not comprehensive, and the technologies continue to improve.
Every new technological development, sets off new and innovative utilities at they are rolled out and
users apply them in their activities. The role played by digital technologies keeps getting upgraded and
scaled up. There is need to continuously monitor and identify new developments and prioritise
applications for the purpose of enhancing farmers income.

The digital technologies, allows for some basic rethinks on how a farmer uses mechanical tools, reduces
drudgery, and how they record, access and use information. A drone, spray machine, tractor, water
pump, etc. are physical machines, the use of which is made more relevant and precise when the
machine systems are able to signal each other digitally. Digital technologies allow machine systems to
interact and coordinate their activities in a logical fashion. Digital technologies also allow for large
amount of historic and real-time information to be recorded, sifted and correlated and this in turn
optimises how information is used.

Both individually and cumulatively, these technologies possess the power of ushering in a constructive
disruption, a phrase widely popular by now.

A.T.I.C. [Agricultural Technology Information Centre]


 Under National E-Governance Programme on Agriculture (NEGP)

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 21


 By Department of Agriculture & Cooperation under Ministry of Agriculture

Chief Objective:

Develop co-ordination and intensive interaction between the researchers and technology users; Develop
linkage between research institution and farmers

 To provide a ‘single window delivery’ system for technology and products for accelerating the rate
of adoption and for easy accessibility to end-users.
 To facilitate easy access to the farmers to the Institutional resources available in terms of
technology, products like different strains of livestock, poultry and fodder seeds, planting materials,
animal clinic and other diagnostic services
 Providing mechanism of feedback for the technologies disseminated and to serve as a link between
the research institute and the end users
 To facilitate direct access for the visitors of the institutional resources available in terms of
technology, advice, products etc. for reducing technology dissemination losses
 To help farmers and entrepreneurs in problem solving and decision-making
 To create a strong linkage between different research divisions / units and users of the technology
 To provide an elaborative views of improved technologies through published literature and other
communication materials such as audio and video facility

Figure 4: Functional Components of ATIC

Problems Faced by Indian Farmers Possible Solutions

Lack of Awareness & Education Counselling Centre

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 22


Nursery dedicated to Experiential learning
Rudimentary Instruments & Techniques still Information dissemination through exhibitions and
in use manufacturers meet
Information dissemination of new Agricultural
Equipments
Research limited to Nurseries with no Query-Feedback Center under direct supervision of
feedback from the Farmers Scientists
Storage facility Cold Store in Farmers’ Market
Transportation facilities Appropriate Site Selection
Unavailability of Market to sell their produce Farmers’ Market
Inadequate Price of produce AGMARKNET Section for Current Agri-Product Price at
All India Level Price Range
Overdependence on Nature Irrigation Facilities [Government Schemes]
Table 2: Problems and Solutions in ATIC

Strategic Framework of A.T.I.C

Goal Approach Performance measure


Natural Resources Integrated assessment of the Land resources assessment
Monitoring state of natural resources reports and digital resource
(climate, landform, soils, maps at district/tehsil level
vegetation, surface and
groundwater, land uses and
land degradation) at semi-
detailed scale
Quantification of plant Database on status and
biomass, soil carbon and establishing techniques for
carbon sequestration for improved availability under
technological options to different uses
improve nutrient availability

Quantitative analysis of Time series maps on major


regional patterns of land use land uses and their
systems and changes therein interpretations

Analysis of soil biological Database on status and


activities for their efficient availability under different
utilization in production land uses and agro-climatic
systems situations; technologies for
improved availability

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 23


Simulation of the impacts of Development of research
future climate change on and strategies; simulation results
resources and crops

Monitoring of Desertification assessment and Time series maps on regional


Desertification mapping at periodic intervals patterns of desertification
Soil fertility assessment and Regional database and maps
monitoring under different on the major and micro-
land uses nutrients under different land
uses
Quantification of land surface Analytical results from ground-
processes under different based instrumentation of
terrain conditions for soil and sediment flow and terrain
water conservation deformation
Monitoring of Weather Continuous monitoring of Digital database of daily
Variability weather parameters weather parameters from
CAZRI stations, other
networks, and their
interpretation
Assessment of droughts and Analysis of the monitored
floods, their effects on crop regional patterns and their
plants impacts on agriculture
Agro-advisory based on short Weekly agro-advisory
and medium range weather bulletins
predictions
Development of agricultural Reports on contingency
contingency plans for adverse plans during drought, cold
weather conditions wave, etc.
Integrated Farming Diversified farming system Alternate land use options
Systems having multiple productivity of comprising suitable
livestock, crop, horticultural, combinations of plant species
medicinal and livestock for different sizes
of land holdings in different
agro-climates
Soil and Water In situ moisture conservation, Optimized production systems
Management rain water harvesting for with multiple water
khadi-based and other pond- productivity
based production systems
Integrated watershed Improved livelihood with
management for livelihood sustainable resource
generation and ground water conservation
recharge
Management of Degraded Grazing land management of Productive grazing lands with
Lands common property resources in enhanced carrying capacity on

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 24


participatory mode long term basis

Innovative sand dune Sand dunes as production


stabilization studies using systems in both privately
vegetative, mechanical and owned and public sand dunes
chemical means
Rehabilitation technologies for Sustainable and productive
lands degraded due to mining, land use options along with
water logging and salinization their rehabilitation
Precision Farming Management of hydro-climatic Optimized water use and
extremes through pressurized canopy management for
irrigation, organic farming and maximum productivity
other means for enhancing
water and nutrient use
efficiency
Agri –business Involvement of different Policy input for better returns
Development stakeholders in agricultural to farmers
trade and export
Market linkages and value
chain of agricultural produce
Technology Dissemination Developing appropriate tools Adoption status at farmers’
and methods for effective field
dissemination of technologies
Capacity building of Updating knowledge
stakeholders
Integrated rural resource Solution to various farm level
management through satellite problems
links of village resource centre
Improve Production of Production and multiplication Quantity of quality seeds
Quality seeds/Planting of quality seeds (breeder and produced. Contribution of
Material TFL seeds) and planting quality seeds/planting
material of arid materials in the improvement
crops/trees/shrubs of socioeconomic status of the
farmers
Technology development to Easy accessibility of the quality
produce quality seeds/planting seeds/technologies at
material different clientele level

Technology Dissemination In ATIC

Publications
The information on livestock farming, agriculture and fisheries required by the farmers/ entrepreneurs
were made available by the centre through the sale of University published books, ICAR published
books, pamphlets/leaflets/folders, etc., produced by the ATIC and other units of the University.
Information-Facility

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 25


This centre also has a library facility in which farm magazines, journals, books and News letters of
various Universities are made available for the reference by the farmers, entrepreneurs and other stake
holders.
Video lessons on various aspects of livestock farming, fisheries and product preparation were screened
for the benefit of the farmers visiting ATIC.
Touch Screen Information Kiosk

A state of the art technology has been utilized to provide information on livestock farming practices to
the farmers visiting ATIC by the touch of their finger on computer

Information on clean milk production, feeding of dairy cattle, mastitis in dairy cattle, breeding of cattle,
housing management of dairy cattle, Japanese quail farming, Broiler farming, Goat farming, Dog care
and management and address catalogue of colleges, research and extension units of TANUVAs were
prepared and posted in touch screen both Tamil and English.

The information related to policies and programs of government, schemes for farmers, institutions
through which these schemes are implemented, new innovations in agriculture, Good Agricultural
Practices (GAPs), Institutions providing new agricultural inputs(high yielding seeds, new fertilizers etc)
and training in new techniques are disseminated to farmers through use of Information technology to
ensure inclusiveness and to avoid digital divide.

Access to price information, access to agriculture information, access to national and international
markets, increasing production efficiency and creating a ‘conducive policy environment’ are the
beneficial outcomes of e-Agriculture which enhance quality of life of farmers.

Soil Management, Water Management, Seed Management, Fertilizer Management, Pest Management,
Harvest Management and Post-Harvest Management are the important components of e-Agriculture
where technology aids farmers with better information and alternatives. It uses a host of technologies
like Remote Sensing, Computer Simulation, Assessment of speed and direction of Wind, Soil quality
assays, Crop Yield predictions and Marketing using IT.

Problems & Solutions for Farmers


Agricultural practices and advancements differ globally—since plants have their own differences and the
location plays a role on their development as well. But through the exchange of knowledge from
different agriculturally-involved individuals from all over the world, improvement of techniques can be
experienced as well. It has made an impact on how information is shared, and being able to use this
information for the advancement of the agricultural sector gives a great positive impact that is beneficial
for everyone. IT has become a bridge for people from all over the world.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 26


Figure 5: ICT in Agriculture

Agriculture in India is the core sector for food security, nutritional security, and sustainable
development & for poverty alleviation. It contributes approx. 14 % of GDP. Milestones in agriculture
development in India includes: Green revolution, Evergreen revolution, Blue revolution, White
revolution, yellow revolution, Bio technology revolution and the most recent one is Information and
communication technology revolution.

IT supports new methods for precision agriculture like computerized farm machinery that applies for
fertilizers and pesticides. Farm animals are fed and monitored by electronic sensors and identification
systems. Selling or buying online began to become popular in the world. However, it’s most important
role remains communication, and the Internet has provided us with an ideal opportunity to do so.

Central, state governments and private organisations have taken ICT measures for agriculture extension
which include ITC- e-choupal, Kisan Kerala, Aaqua, Rice knowledge management portal , e-krishi,
Mahindra Kisan Mitra, IFFCO Agri-portal, Village knowledge centers (VKCs)- M.S Swaminathan research
foundation (MSSRF), village resource centres (VRCs)- Indian Space research organisation, etc.

Government steps to provide e-aid to farmers


The Government had constituted National Commission on Farmers in 2004 under the chairmanship of
Dr. M.S. Swaminathan. Based on the recommendations made by the Commission in its Revised Draft
National Policy for Farmers and the comments/suggestions received from various Central Ministries and
Departments and State Governments, the “National Policy for Farmers, 2007” has been formulated and
approved by the Government of India

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 27


It has important provision for use of Technology: New technologies which can help enhance productivity
per unit of land and water are needed. Biotechnology, information and communication technology (ICT),
renewable energy technology, space applications and nano-technology to provide opportunities for
launching an “Evergreen Revolution” capable of improving productivity in perpetuity without harming
the ecology.

Under National Telecom policy, 2012 major focus is being given at improving the broadband
penetration. It mentions mobiles as an instrument of socio-economic empowerment for citizens

National mission on agricultural extension and Technology: The aim of the Mission is to restructure and
strengthen agricultural extension to enable delivery of appropriate technology and improved agronomic
practices to farmers. This is envisaged to be achieved by a judicious mix of extensive physical outreach
and interactive methods of information dissemination, use of ICT, popularisation of modern and
appropriate technologies, capacity building and institution strengthening to promote mechanisation,
availability of quality seeds, plant protection etc. and encourage aggregation of Farmers into Interest
Groups (FIGs) to form Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs).

Under Bharat Nirman, has registered the increased tele-density in rural areas. And it is this base which is
being used to provide ‘m’ service to farmers, giving them right information at right time.

Universal service obligation fund (USOF) already launched wireless broadband Scheme in 2009. USOF is
also funding the National Optical fibre network (NOFN), which is being managed by Bharat Broadband
Network Limited. Bandwidth from NOFN will be eligible to give wide range of services to rural India.

Pilot project scheme for Mobile values added services (m-VAS) for rural women’s Self-help group (SHG)
is also part of USOF’s Sanchar Shakti programme. In this the SHG on the basis of their activities are
provided with information in local languages through SMS, outbound dialers (OBDs) and Integrated
Voice response system (IVRS).

Bharat Nirman Kendra, shall be a single window for providing the information on the NREGS and shall
provide feedback on the quality of implementation of the program. The idea is to slowly move on the
wage employment to self-employment by providing skill development facilities to the rural people and
in the process give a fillip to the rural economy. In future it can also become centre for e-enabled study
or e-learning centre.

For farm credit, service of ICT is being harnessed like Smart Cards, Internet Kiosks and cell phone
messaging. And also disbursement of all social security benefits through electronic benefit transfer to all
rural areas. Mobile-enabled kisan card system to help the agricultural community engage in cashless
transactions,

Kisan credit card: It uses the ICT to provide affordable credit for farmers in India. It was started by the
Government of India, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural
Development (NABARD) in 1998-99 to help farmers access timely and adequate credit.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 28


The Kisan Credit Card allows farmers to have cash credit facilities without going through time-consuming
bank credit screening processes repeatedly. Repayment can be rescheduled if there is a bad crop
season, and extensions are offered for up to four years. The card is valid for three years and subject to
annual renewals. Withdrawals are made using slips, cards, and a passbook

Kisan Choupal in collaboration with Krishi vigan Kendra is a successful model in Bihar. It is being
conducted in identified village on the basis of need assessment of the farmers by the scientists on
agriculture and allied enterprises.

At Kisan chouapl, the dialogue/. Discussion /.problems solving is facilitated with help of Information
technologies, showing technical videos to farmers, movies, etc. at the beginning of the choupal. This has
increased the awareness of farmers on cropping practises and new techniques. This has also facilitated
better and wider reach of the technologies in the farmer community.

Kisan Call centre: An expert advisory system and the farmers needs to call the toll free number 1800-
180-1551 to seek expert advice on different matters related to agriculture and allied sectors.

Kisan SMS Portal: Here farmer keeps getting SMS messages providing information or delivering service
or giving advisories on his mobile from experts, scientists and officers at various level after once opting
for messages on agricultural practises / crops of his interest. In short, messages are customized based on
farmer’s preferences in the language chosen by them

Existing databases of the farmers available with central and state government are being integrated with
the portal. Those who are not registered, they need to register themselves with the system. They can
register themselves by calling the Kisan call centre on the toll free number or through web portal or
even SMS based registration is also available.

The services of the portal include crop production, including horticulture, animal husbandry, dairying
and fisheries. It sends messages relating not only production aspect but also marketing of produce,
weather forecast, soil testing, etc.

The Sandesh Pathak application, developed jointly by C-DAC Mumbai, IIT-Madras, IIIT Hyderabad, IIT
Kharagpur, and C-DAC Thiruvananthapuram will enable SMS messages to be read out loud, for the
benefit of farmers who may have difficulty in reading. It is usable by people who cannot read. A large
population of farmers belongs to this category. So when they receive an SMS message either containing
agriculture-related advice or some other thing, this app will read aloud the content.

The app which is available for download from the Appstore of the Mobile Seva Project of government of
India, is an Indian language SMS Reader.

The app is part of the project launched by the Indian Government to help farmers read messages which
may be of the following types: advice to solve farming problems — insect, disease, fertilizer or weed
management; information on weather — such as forecasts; and updates on latest technology — for
improving yield and much more.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 29


Village Knowledge Centre (VKC)
Village Knowledge Centre (VKC) serves as information dissemination centre providing instant access to
farmers to latest information/ knowledge available in the field of agriculture, starting from crop
production to marketing. A “VKC In-charge” who looks after the operations of the VKC mans every VKC.

Village resource centres (VRC)


The VRCs are connected to Knowledge/Expert Centres like Agricultural Universities, Skill Development
Institutes and Hospitals. Over 6500 programmes have been conducted by the VRCs in the areas of,
Agriculture/horticulture, Fisheries, Live stock, Water resources, Tele health care, Awareness
programmes, Women empowerment, Supplementary education, Computer literacy, Micro credit, Micro
finance, Skill development / vocational training for livelihood support etc. So far, over five Lakh people
have availed VRC services.

VRCs are connected to Knowledge/Expert Centres like Agricultural Universities, Skill Development
Institutes and Hospitals. Over 6500 programmes have been conducted by the VRCs in the areas of,
Agriculture/horticulture, Fisheries, Live stock, Water resources, Tele health care, Awareness
programmes, Women empowerment, Supplementary education, Computer literacy, Micro credit, Micro
finance, Skill development / vocational training for livelihood support etc. So far, over five Lakh people
have availed VRC services.

Portals
There are a large number of portals providing information related to agriculture and other rural
development initiatives. Under NICNET Based Agricultural Informatics & Communication (AGRISNET),
implemented by Department of Agriculture & Cooperation (DAC), MoA, each State Government has
established websites that provide information on crop management, crop protection, soil and market
prices etc. Under another initiative, DACNET, an e-governance project of DAC, MoA, is networking
different directorates and field units of the DAC and is providing a wide range of agricultural related
information online. India Development Gateway (InDG) is another initiative of the Government of India
implemented by C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) to provide a wide range of
agricultural information in local language. I-kisan, the agricultural information portal initiated by
Nagarjuna Group also provides information on a wide range of crops.

Call Centres
MoA initiated the “Kisan Call Centre” (KCC) scheme in January 2004 to provide information to farmers
seeking information on telephone, by the local agricultural specialists in their local language. Farmers
could call the nation-wide toll free number of 1800-180-1551 and the calls are picked up in 25 KCCs
located across the country by agricultural graduates at Level-I, with provision of escalation to Level II
and Level III. Until July 2010, 49.32 lakh calls have been received from the farmers in the KCCs. And
when the agents are not able to handle the query, the calls are diverted to Level Two, comprising
experts identified by the Department.

In Tamil Nadu, the Director of Extension Education, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) is the
nodal officer for Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry (Box 7). The level I is managed by a private company
“Caretel”, which has employed agricultural graduates to manage the operations. In level 2, the Subject
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 30
Matter Specialists panel constitutes an officer of the DoA, an officer of Department of Horticulture, an
expert from the Veterinary University and a scientist from the Banana Research Station, Trichy and
TNAU Staff. They will be in their respective centres. The call centre staff tries to connect the caller with
the expert in the teleconferencing mode. At level III, the experts are the Dean, Agricultural Engineering,
Director of Centre for Plant Protection Studies and Director of Research.

In addition to KCCs, some of the state governments have established their own call centres for farmers.
For instance, Andhra Pradesh Government has established a call centre called Parishkaram under the
control of Commissioner, EDS, IT & C (Electronically Deliverable Services, Information Technology and
Communications) with the main objective of addressing the grievances of the citizens in the state 24X7
by calling the toll free number 1100 or 1800-425-1110.

Linking Farmers to E-NAM


 National Agriculture Market (NAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the
existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.
 The NAM Portal provides a single window service for all APMC related information and services.
 This includes commodity arrivals & prices, buy & sell trade offers, provision to respond to trade
offers, among other services.
 While material flow (agriculture produce) continue to happen through mandis, an online market
reduces transaction costs and information asymmetry.
 It promotes uniformity, streamlining of procedures across the integrated markets, removes
information asymmetry between buyers and sellers and promotes real time price discovery, based
on actual demand and supply and promotes transparency in auction process.

Constraints in implementation of e-NAM


 Harmonization of quality standards of agricultural produce and provision for assaying infrastructure
in every market to enable informed bidding by buyers is required.
 A wide correlation between value chains of the producer of the producer, market chains, retailer
and consumer is required.
 There is a need for synergy of network organization and market agencies like warehousing and
collateral management agencies, financial institutions, logistic providers training and extension
organizations as markets are turning towards the digital phase.
 Farmers have to have the free access towards the information and the pricing mechanisms.
 As many farmers are digitally illiterate, again they will be at the mercy of someone to depend upon
the rates and information.
 There is a possibility of self exclusion from this scheme by farmers due to the lack of access towards
the technology.

Budget Initiatives for Farmers related to ICT


 Proposal for Kisan T Channel: Dedicated to the interests of the agriculture and allied sector has been
proposed to launch in financial year 2014-15. This will provide real time information to famer
regarding new farming techniques, water conservation, organic farming, etc.
 Fund for National Agricultural technology infrastructure.
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 31
 Fund for Agricultural extension program to disseminate frontline technologies

More advanced use of ICT in farming


Irrigate via smart phone: Mobile is playing a big role in monitoring and controlling crop irrigation
systems. With the right equipment a faremer can control his irrigation systems from a phone or
computer instead of driving to each field. Moisture sensors in the ground are able to communicate
information about the level of the moisture present at the certain depth of the soil. This gives more
precise control of water and other inputs like fertilizer that are applied by irrigation pivot.

GPS mapping for an input to the field using variable rate technology, which helps farmer in accessing the
need i.e. where they need to put more fertilizer or less, according to the requirement of the soil. GPS
enabled services are also helping in field documentation about yield, moisture, maps for field drainage,
etc.

Various farmer friendly applications (apps) are being launched by companies, which helps farmers in
discovering prices for their products, delivering their product, getting soil report, etc.

One of the best use of IT in farming is being done by one vegetable farmer outside Hyderabad using
webcams to monitor the crops and to take the scientists’ expertise to address problems without taking
them to the field.

Benefits of e-aid to farmers


IT has made its way into the agricultural sector, and with positive results. To name a few, here are some
of its effects:

Improved decision making – By having the necessary information, farmers—big and small can make
better and more informed decision concerning their agricultural activities. May it be about who to get
their grains from or perhaps who to sell it to, the communication channels that information technology
brings makes production up to distribution easier for the farmers. The exchange of knowledge from
various countries and organization also helps farmers be more aware of factors to consider before
making their decisions.

Better planning – IT has paved the way to come up with farming software which can keep better track of
crops, predict yields, when to best plant and what to plant, to intercrop or focus on just one product, or
determine the current need of the crops—just about everything needed to improve production and
income. By adjusting to the modern farming methodologies, farmers can have better control of their
crops. Gaining information from their farm is essential in sustaining its success and fuelling further
growth.

Community involvement – There are several programs which are made possible by IT applications, and
community involvement in agriculture can be increased as well. When a community adopts modern
methods for agriculture, the production of local goods can be increased. There are some places where
people greatly benefit from the land and their resources for agriculture, and with IT, there can be
improved union in local farmers which can lead to their community’s overall improved production that
may lead to better income for everyone involved.
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 32
Agricultural breakthroughs – IT makes the spread of information concerning the latest agricultural
breakthroughs more possible. When scientists develop new and improved grains or find techniques to
help winter crops become stronger against the cold, farmers from all over the world may benefit from
the same breakthroughs simply by being connected to the rest of the agricultural world. Sharing
information to help everyone progress is made much easier through resources made available and
accessible by IT.

Agriculture for everyone – Farmers have in-depth knowledge when it comes to their trade. However,
interested individuals who may be called backyard farmers may also benefit from how modern
technology has changed how agriculture is seen. Growing your own sustainable garden of herbs, fruit
trees, and other agricultural produce can be possible in a smaller scale. Planting is beneficial in more
ways than one, and having your own produce even helps assure the freshness and quality of the food
your family eats.

Precision agriculture (PA) or satellite farming or site specific crop management (SSCM) is a farming
management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability
in crops.

This technique focuses on utilising resources optimally to improve the quality and quantity of crops
while lowering the cost of production. It reduces fertiliser and pesticide use, prevents soil degradation,
utilises water optimally and raises productivity. Globally, this is done with the aid of modern, eco-
friendly farming practices and technology, including satellite imagery and information technology. “This
innovation can go a long way in tackling many of our country’s farm ills, including excessive use of water
and other inputs, which has hurt soil quality apart from making farming unprofitable as a profession

Problems in effective use of Technology


 Though lots of problems like technical feasibility of connectivity in rural areas, cost involved in
ensuring services, need for basic computer literacy and literacy hinders the fast development of e-
Agriculture, it will definitely be an engine of growth in Rural India once the initial hiccups are
overcome. Some of those problems are:
 The reach of the technology is still very poor and large chunk of farmers are still ignorant about such
advancements. The distribution of technologies is not uniform throughout the country. Farmers of
prosperous states are at the receiving end like- Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and the farmers of
backward states still practise their age old techniques and knowledge.
 The use of technology is being used by the already rich farmers and utilising these services they are
further prospering. The small and marginal farmers are again being left out in the process of
development.
 Due to low literacy rate among farmers and digital divide, there is a rise of new class of middle man,
who provide ICT services to farmers. They are also believed to distort the information for their own
benefit.
 The rural infrastructure for the use of ICT is also not uniform and lot of regional disparity persists.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 33


Mass Communication and Educating Farmers
Ministry of Rural Development has recently decided to have a dedicated TV channel, which would focus
on programmes relating to agriculture, water, and sanitation issues, amongst others. The ministry is
currently working out the modalities in close co-ordination with the ministry of information and
broadcasting for launch of the dedicated TV channel Some of the private television channels have also
entered into special telecast on agriculture. For instance, Eenadu TV in Andhra Pradesh has two
programmes on agriculture. “Jai- Kisan” is telecasted daily in the evening (6.30-7.00 PM) on ETV-2. Since
1996, E-TV telugu has been telecasting “Annadata”, a programme on farming every day in the morning
(6.30-7.00 AM) and this has been one of the most popular farm programmes in Andhra Pradesh. Most of
the private TV channels in Kerala telecast 30- minute agricultural programme in Malayalam every week.
Kissan Krishideepam produced by the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management,
Kerala (IIITM-K) for the Department of Agriculture (DoA), Kerala, is telecasted in Asianet channel thrice a
week (including two repeat telecast). The project has launched the country’s first online video channel
in Agriculture. More than 150 full length selected videos (telecast quality) were made available through
the channel (www.youtube.com/kissankerala). Bhoomigeetham (Kairali TV); Harithabharatam (Amruta
TV); and Harithakeralam (Jeevan TV) are the other weekly agricultural programmes telecasted in
malayalam. Television channels in Tamil Nadu also telecast agricultural programmes. For instance
Podhigai TV has a weekly programme called Pon Vilayum Bhoomi and Makkal TV has a similar
programme called Malarum Bhoomi.

Agrowon-world’s first ever daily on Agriculture


Agrowon, the Marathi daily on agriculture was launched in 2005 by Pune based Sakal Media. The
objective of this daily was equipping farmers with factual information and the latest technology to make
them globally competitive, and help them increase their income levels. This 16 page daily has now eight
editions which cater to eight different agro-climatic zones. Each zone has a different mix of crops, which
also changes the way people live and the kind of information they seek. Though Agrowon uses the Sakal
network for distribution, it is an independently priced daily, currently priced at Rs 2. With a current
circulation of 100,000 copies, Agrowon has managed to create a bank of advertisers separate from the
mainstream, 80 percent of the revenue coming from core agricultural products. Apart from news on
prices in different markets (within the state and outside) and schemes of various government
departments for farmers; the paper covers cultivation practices in different crops; better management
practices in dairy, poultry and fisheries; success stories; and answers to farmers questions. The paper
has now gone online with an e-edition that focuses on second- generation farmers.

I-Kisan, is an ICT initiative of the Nagarjuna group of companies. In addition to the I-Kisan portal which it
started in 2000, it has set up information kiosks. It was involved in Mini Mission III under the Cotton
Technology Mission for software development, hardware supply, systems integration and operation and
maintenance of Farmer Information Centres (FICs) at various market yards in India. I-Kisan is a partner in
the NAIP Project on sustainable rural livelihoods led by CRIDA and the project is currently establishing
eight Knowledge Share Centres (KSC), similar to information kiosks. Each KSC has an internetenabled
PCs, touch screen kiosks, Interactive Voice Responsive System (IVRS), and a display announcement

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 34


package. The kiosk allows users to navigate for information on crop cultivation practices, crop diagnostic
kit and market information.

Under the virtual academy for semi-arid tropics (VASAT), the International Crops Research Institute for
the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has established one knowledge hub at Adakkal mandal, Mahboobnagar
District, Andhra Pradesh in 2001 in association with Adarsha Mahila Samikhya (AMS), a federation of all-
women micro credit groups representing 8160 women covering 37 villages in the locality. The AMS hosts
the hub infrastructure with PCs and the Internet connection. In December 2005, Indian Space Research
Organization (ISRO) provided the facility for a satellite based video conferencing facility and this is used
for video-conferencing to connect to ICRISAT experts to seek advice on crop production, disease and
pest management, measures to cope with drought etc. This hub is connected to eight rural access points
(village information centres) located in the neighbouring villages. Every season ICRISAT takes up studies
on climatic conditions and its changes and prepare weather maps/drought maps. These maps can help
communities in knowing the drought condition and thus can reduce the impact of drought by choosing
alternative cropping patterns or by taking up other employment opportunities. The videoconferencing
facility is used to follow-up on recommendations and to foster drought preparedness by giving advisory
on cropping, water and soil management.

The Agriwatch portal is the largest agri-business portal in India and it provides a large amount of agri-
business related information on agriculture and food industry. The Agricultural Marketing Research &
Information Network (AGMARKNET) links together all the important agricultural produce markets in the
country and provides information on arrivals and prices of produce traded in more than 2800 wholesale
markets all over India. Karshaka Information Systems Services and Networking (KISSAN) is another
innovative IT facilitated project in Kerala. The project has been conceived, developed and implemented
by IIITM-K. It provides information on 55 major crops in Kerala, daily agricultural information market
information from major markets and also has an on-line query management system.

The Directorate of Rice Research (DRR) is currently developing a Rice Knowledge Management Portal
(with NAIP funding) that would enable rice workers to create, manage and share scientific, technical and
market related information. Most of the technical institutions (research organizations, agricultural
universities, commodity boards, DoAs etc) have websites that provide a wide range of information on
commodities/crops each one is dealing with. A recent evaluation of websites for contents on coconut
farming revealed some of the limitations of websites on agriculture. “Easiness in accessing the
information varies widely across sites and most of the sites under analysis did not have adequate
visuals. In most case, the information provided is very generic with no specific recommendations to
different agri-climatic zones or districts within the state”.

There is an on-going initiative called “agropedia” that aspires to manage and organize the widespread
knowledge in the Indian agricultural domain through building up an agricultural e-community and
strengthening the networks among the different members of the community. It is a platform where
both specialists in the agricultural research and education domain and any other interested in
agriculture can make lasting contributions to vast knowledge base. This initiative under NAIP is led by
the IIT, Kanpur in consultation with a consortium of partners. Today it has over 1800 registered users

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 35


with over a thousand documents (Sarkar et al, 2010). Another interesting initiative is aAQUA (almost all
Questions Answered), which is a multi-lingual online question and answer forum- which provides online
answers to questions asked by farmers and agri-professionals over the internet.

Conclusion
Now days the penetration of market forces in rural India is increasing and is potential market. With the
diverse cultures and languages in India, ICT provides a good platform here. Thus in future there would
be substantial upliftment and sustainable development in rural areas.

ICTs are changing all the spheres of human lives and agriculture cannot be an exception. ICTs now may
act as an agent for changing agrarian and farmer’s life by improving access of information and sharing
knowledge. The ICT tools can change the ideas, activities and knowledge of the farmers. Farmers feel
empowered and can adopt appropriate measures at the time of need.

With the new extension of ITC initiatives like Krishivihar, i-Kisan,e-kutir, e-Sagoo, ICT models- AGROWEB,
Agropedia, AgrInnovate, etc. Indian agriculture has come to a long way and established several records
in terms of production and productivity. IT has the potential to transform agriculture into a better
prospect in the wake of climate change and decrease in the cultivable land.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 36


ICT & Healthcare
Evolution of Public Health Care in India
India being the largest democracy in the world presents a unique case in terms of sheer size of its
population characterized by heterogeneity in respect of physical, economic, social and cultural
conditions. India's population rose from 361.1 million in 1951 to present billion plus (2001 census). On
2.4% of the land area, India supports more than 16% of the population of the world. 74.2% of India's
populations live in villages. After independence, in 1951, India initiated the process of planned
development to raise the living standards of its people and to open up for them new opportunities for a
richer and more varied life. In this context health was perceived to be an important determinant of
development.

Though the idea of Primary health centers date back to the recommendations of the Bhore Committee
report in 1946 the actual programme of establishing Primary Health Centers in each Community
Development Block, having a population of 60,000-80,000 was launched as an integral part of the
Community Development Programme only on October 2, 1952. Each Primary Health Centre complex
thus established consisted of main centre with 6 beds located at the Block Headquarters and 4 Sub-
Centres. The staff comprised of one Medical Officer, one Sanitary Inspector and four Mid wives (ANM’s)
and two Ancillary personnel. The Centre was to be supported by district organization for referral
consultation, laboratory, medical, surgical, nursing and administrative services.

Primary Health Care is essential health care made universally accessible to individuals and acceptable to
them through their full participation and at a cost the community and country can afford. (WHO-Alma
Ata 1978)

In rural areas, presently the services are provided through a network of integrated health and family
welfare delivery system. Health Care Programmes have been restructured and reoriented from time to
time for attaining the objectives of "Health for All” by 2000 A.D. as envisaged in National Health Policy.
Priority has been accorded to extension, expansion and consolidation of rural health infrastructure
namely; SubCentres, Primary Health Centres and Community Health Centres. Primary Health Care pays
particular attention to the point of initial contact between the members of community and the health
services. Sophisticated and specialized needs are referred to secondary and tertiary levels. Despite this
seemingly complex structure for delivery of health care in India, the distribution is largely
heterogeneous and some parts of the country lacking even the basic services.

Rural Health care in India needs lots of improvement. Proportionate to the growing India population,
there is an acute shortage of qualified doctors and well-equipped hospitals. The three tier rural
healthcare structure comprising of Sub-Centre, Primary Health Centre (PHC) & Community Health
Centre (CHC) lack basic infrastructure and there is an acute shortage of trained manpower. In such a
situation distance healthcare through ICT intervention can be the most optimal solution. Internet based
applications, Telemedicine, teleconsulting, tele-counselling can present expert advice/details which ca
be accessed as and when required either through telephone or internet. But this requires PHCs to be
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 37
equipped with diagnostic equipment that can be operated by paramedical staff with doctors providing
expert interventions from a distance. Additionally computer based diagnostic applications can be used
to handle common-ailments while only complex cases can be referred for secondary care. These
activities can be taken up by village entrepreneurs running internet centres(CSCs), providing job
opportunities to technically competent local young men and women at the same time. Interconnectivity
and monitoring of hospitals (e-Hospital software has been launched by govt.) can reduce ques,
registration problems and provide on-line appointment with the doctors. Tele-preventive medicine, still
in its infancy in India, can help in preventing outbreak of epidemics (bird-flu, AIDS, swine-flu, dengue
etc.). Some of pilot ICT projects in medical world have delivered successful results in India, too, but their
progress can be accelerated by gearing up the administrative machinery of the our government for a
PPP model implementation and making arrangement of funds for equipment purchase and manpower-
hiring.

Health Management Information System (HMIS)


Health management requires the monitoring of the health status of the population, the provision of
services as to the coverage and utility, drugs stocks and consumption patterns, equipment status and
availability, Finances, personnel on a regular basis. This requires timely and accurate information from
various sources. Accurate, relevant and up-todate information is essential to health service managers if
they are to recognize weakness in health service provision and take actions that will improve service
delivery. Accordingly, the development of effective information systems is a necessary precursor to
managerial improvement.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 38


Figure 6: Health Management Information Systems (HMIS)

A health information system (HIS) is a process whereby health data (input) are recorded, stored,
retrieved and processed for decision-making (output). Decision making broadly includes managerial
aspects such as the planning, organizing and control of health care facilities at the national, state and
institution levels and clinical aspects which can be subdivided into (I) providing optimal patient care, (ii)
training of medical personnel to generate appropriate human resources, and (iii) facilitate research and
development activities in various fields of medicine.

ICT for Primary Health Care – Telemedicine/ Telehealth


The requirements of the rural health care infrastructure at the Primary level are both unique and
complex, with its inherent set of strengths and weakness. Presently there is a vast nationwide public
healthcare infrastructure already established in our country. This infrastructure can be fortified by
augmenting them with ICT technologies and services to address primary healthcare more effectively.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 39


Apart from the public sector we have a large and diverse Private/NGO sector addressing healthcare
delivery considerably. It is pertinent and important to take this into consideration in identifying the ICT
requirements for strengthening primary healthcare such that the same may be suitably adapted in
different settings with minimal changes.

Presently the focus on healthcare is mainly on curative medicine. It is important to take a holistic view
and address promotional, preventive and curative healthcare. This needs to be further emphasized,
especially in the private sector to ensure that the private/NGO sector participates more effectively in
preventive and promotive healthcare for the healthcare programme to be effective. The healthcare
delivery models could be different in different regions of the country based on the local factors. It is
necessary to take cognizance of this factor in designing solutions.

Major elements of opportunities for ICT and other advanced technologies in the primary health care are:

 Telemedicine and Tele-health services


 Healthcare data management
 Information systems
 Appropriate data collection devices and analysis tools
 Appropriate and affordable biomedical equipment for grass root deployment
 Video/multi-modal conferencing and e-connectivity
 Appropriate legal and administrative framework

In this context ICT provides an excellent tool for enhanced public – private partnership in healthcare
delivery and optimal utilization of the skills and infrastructure.

Strengthening of Healthcare Infrastructure


 It is possible to establish health care information systems linking all levels of health care centers for
quick data collection, compilation and access for decision support.
 Telemedicine is establishing itself strongly as an augumented or supplementary method of
healthcare delivery. Given the fact that India has large healthcare infrastructure but expert doctors
are not available at rural locations, telemedicine techniques needs to be used effectively to provide
better healthcare in rural locations.
 India is progressing fast in telecommunications including fiber, wireless and satellite sectors which
can be fruitfully leveraged for healthcare information systems and delivery through telemedicine.
 Inventory management including the stock position, operational status of the equipment are
important parameters for facilities management.
 Availability of this information would facilitate optimal utilization of resources.
 The availability of networks, connectivity and telemedicine framework would foster public-private
partnership in very effective manner for healthcare delivery through telemedicine and improved
access to the resources in the network.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 40


CATCH: Ensuring quality healthcare for all in Sikkim
The Comprehensive Annual and Total Health Check-up for Healthy Sikkim (CATCH) is a flagship
programme, which was launched by the Government of Sikkim to provide basic healthcare services at
the doorstep of the state’s rural population and push up Sikkim above all other Indian states in terms of
health indicators by 2015. The programme focuses on community-based comprehensive healthcare by
conducting annual and periodic health check-ups free of cost for all the citizens of Sikkim and providing
referrals as required. Since its launch in 2010, CATCH has benefited 5,52,767 people in the state,
conducted 3,685 health camps, and distributed 1,30723 health cards to citizens.

Launched by the Government of Sikkim, CATCH seeks to address the acute need for health promotion
and disease prevention in the state. This unique programme aims to provide the state’s rural population
with both preventive care (access to basic healthcare) and curative care (access to diagnostics, doctors
and modern health services). It is an effort to make comprehensive and affordable healthcare accessible
across the state.

Figure 7: Stakeholders in CATCH

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 41


CATCH uses proprietary software to create a universal database containing the medical history of the
State’s citizens. This database is updated after each annual health check-up, and the citizens included in
it are graded as per their health status. Information is recorded in family folders, and individual case
sheets and data entry into CATCH software is done to develop each individual’s health card, which is a
bar-coded smart card that provides the detailed health profile of the card holder. This realtime CATCH
database provides an overview of the health situation in the state and helps the state Government in
allocating resources to the sector. The available records indicate that the major causes of death in
Sikkim are heart and blood vessel diseases, alcohol-related complications, respiratory diseases, cancer
and tuberculosis. Beneficiaries, who are now aware of the free service, are increasingly using the
healthcare services provided to them under CATCH.

Impact
Improved health and access to healthcare: CATCH has improved the health status of people in Sikkim
and provided them with better access to healthcare services. The number of patients who come to PHCs
and health camps organised by CATCH has increased several times since the programme’s inception.
Regular conduct of the CATCH programme has resulted in an increase in health coverage, with
preventive interventions focusing on pregnant women, children, elderly and adolescents and an
increase in awareness about the important determinants of health such as nutrition and sanitation. The
CATCH programme has been particularly beneficial to the people of remote and hilly regions in Sikkim,
enabling timely delivery of services in remote villages where bad roads often discourage villagers from
getting to a hospital. Since its launch in 2010, CATCH has benefited 5,52,767 people in the state;
conducted 3685 health camps, and distributed 1,30,723 health cards to citizens. By providing the
underserved rural and urban communities with greater access to high-quality healthcare, CATCH has
demonstrated its ability to create direct social impact in the form of better health and wellbeing and has
enhanced the productivity of people as they don’t fall illas often as before.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 42


ICT & Education
In rural India, the dearth of adequate infrastructure & qualified teachers combined with low attendance
of students (in spite of providing scholarships and free primary education in government schools)
continues to be a prime concern. In this context, ICT tools like audio and video conferencing (e-
Learning), teleconferencing, TV etc. can be extensively used. Concept of Open Universities and distance
learning can work very well in areas with sparsely populated educational institutes &absence of good
teachers. Internet can be used as a great source of knowledge for students of any age group. Similarly
wikis/tutors can be used as learning tools by students and teachers to update themselves, if purchase of
books/study-material is unaffordable. Issues pertaining to Adult Literacy, Female Literacy, lack of
infrastructure and improved quality of Higher Education can also be overcome by the effective use of
ICT’s.

Right to Education is the fundamental right of every citizen of India, whether a child resides in a high
profile society or in a far away not so developed secluded village. According to the Article 21A of Indian
Constitution the basic elementary education must be provided to all children up to the age of fourteen
years. Even after 64 years of independence some States in India are still struggling to achieve Universal
enrolment, retention and quality education. There are about 1303996 or more than one million rural
schools among 6,38,000 villages in India. Schools in rural areas are promoted to raise the level of
education and literacy in rural India.

The development of a country primarily depends on its education system. Literacy is another proper
indicator of economic development. In case of India, it is still developing nation since its education
system lacks behind than many other developed nations. It is important that we must understand the
need of education and its role in carving future of Indian youths.

Problems Faced By Students In Rural Areas

There are many barriers faced by village students however there are some common barriers which if
solved providing education would be much more relevant and easier to implement.

Faculty: Adequate teachers are not present to deliver education; the main reason behind this is low
wages. Since low income is paid to the village school teachers, people are not willing to teach in rural
schools and this leads to poor quality education and teachers may pay less attention to the students.
Many times a single teacher teaches all the offered subjects to a particular class.

Infrastructure: Village schools do not have proper infrastructure, adequate classrooms are not available
and most of the time the KG students study in open grounds or beneath some old big tree in village.
Sometimes students of different class have to share a single class. Also absence of toilets is a big issue.
Girls and boys need to share a single toilet which is used even by the teaching staff in some cases.

Lack of transport facilities and study material: Extremely backward villages do not have their own
schools and hence they need to educate their children in nearby villages or cities but due to lack of

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 43


transport facilities children cannot travel far to come to school. Also children don’t have proper
textbooks of their current course.

Adult Literacy
India has a total literacy rate of 74.64% according to “Census of India 2011, Office of Registrar General of
India‟, male literacy rate of 82.14% and female literacy rate of 65.46%. According to the UNESCO’s
Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report 2011, India was home to 283,105,000 illiterates (aged
15 and over) in 2008. Thus India accounts for 35.57 % of the global adult illiterate population (aged 15
and over), making it home to the largest population of illiterates. Hence if we only concentrate towards
children education, the problem of illiteracy will still prevail among the adults of our country. Since the
adult population has to rely on work for their living it is impossible for them to attain classes hence
information technology provides a great means to solve this problem. This problem can be solved by
proposed tablet based educational system, called EduPad. It can considerably reduce the literacy
problem in an interactive way than the conventional class room system. Internet can be a great source
of education for adults; through the video tutorials they can learn many things, internet is a mine of
many things. We can extract data in any form from internet whether as text, images, audio or videos.

Schools in rural areas are inadequate and often equivalent to being non-existent. Thus, government’s
initiative to set up schools in rural areas came into picture. The conditions of rural education in India is
improving steadily and the government is also providing full support and providing with many initiatives.
Both Central and State Governments and NGOs are allocating huge amount for the development of ICTs
in rural education.

Women Education
Our population is growing day by day which is a serious issue but this problem can be solved by adult
literacy especially education among women. Women's studies should be promoted as a part of various
courses and educational institutions should encourage taking up active programs implemented using
information technology to further women's development. Social awareness programs related to female
education are always launched at different places but despite of that literacy rate of females in India
always lag behind than men. In 1995, 62.3% of the female population in India was illiterate as compared
to the 34.5% of males (UNESCO, 1995); In rural areas, the illiteracy rate is at least 67% for women aged
15 and above, and ranges from 80% to 90% for women aged 25 to 59 years [6]. Incomplete education is
same as being not educated at all, maximum females in rural India are school dropouts because of
various reasons such as:

 Early marriage of girls


 Financial inconvenience in a family where parents don’t want to spend money on their daughter’s
education.
 Male dominated families which do not allow females to study as they think that the only purpose of
girls is to cook and look after household chores and children.
 Possessiveness of parents towards girl child, who think that it’s not safe to enroll their daughters in
schools and colleges, etc.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 44


 In order to attain total literacy in India it is necessary to overcome all these barriers and apply
special concern towards women education especially in rural areas.

ICT tools are efficiently used for imparting knowledge, tools such as Television, Mobile phone, Laptops,
Tablets, Radio, Internet, Computer and PCs are effectively used for this purpose. Certain ICT tools like
laptops, PCs, mobile phones, and PDAs have their own implication in Education. These devices can be
used in imparting education and training for teachers and students. IGNOU still uses radio for
pedagogical practices in India. ICT is not for developing a educator‟s skill instead it is useful in creating a
suitable learning environment for students. ICTs include fixed-line telephony, mobile telephony,
newspapers, radio, television, radio trunking, very small aperture terminal (VSAT), computer, and
internet must be accessible to rural public as per their demand.

ICT and teachers Training: Internet-enabled computer centres (kiosks/ knowledge centres/
service centres/ telecentres)
Warna Wired Village project initiated in 1988 to provide connectivity to 70 villages in the sugarcane belt
of Kolhapur and Sangli districts of Maharashtra perhaps could be the first ICT initiative in India that used
an internet enabled PC, to support farmers with information on crops, prices and government schemes
in local language. However the most discussed and documented initiative of this nature has been the
knowledge centre initiative of M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), which started in 1998 at
Pondicherry as part of its Information Village Research Project. Over the past decade or so, this initiative
has extended beyond Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu to other states such as Orissa and Maharashtra.

Village Knowledge Centres of MSSRF


Each village knowledge centre (VKC) has one or more computers with CD-ROM drives, printers and
scanners. These are networked to a hub centre (Village Resource Centre). The hub provides links to
external information sources and they manage the database of the local intranet. In response to
villager’s specific requests for information, the hub staff will find the appropriate information and if
needed, translate it and reformat it to make it accessible to the villagers. Where connectivity is suitable,
video-conferencing links have been set up so that villagers can ask questions directly and verbally to the
experts back in MSSRF. Each VKC is managed by one or two knowledge workers, who are village
volunteers, mostly women, trained by MSSRF in operating the computer and the Internet. The VKCs also
use other media, notice boards, public address systems, community newspapers, cable TV, telephone
meetings, mobile phone and the Internet website for dissemination of locally relevant information in
local language.

The two core components of the VKC model are locally relevant content and appropriate network
connectivity. About 25-30 people visit VKCs on an average. Information provided in the VKCs is locale
specific. For instance at Pondicherry, information provided include prices of agricultural inputs (such as
seeds, fertilisers, pesticides), outputs (rice, vegetables, sugarcane), market entitlement (the multitude of
schemes of the government), health care (availability of doctors and paramedics in nearby hospitals,
women’s diseases), cattle diseases, transport (road conditions, cancellation of bus trips) and weather
(appropriate time for sowing, areas of abundant fish catch, wave heights in the sea). Most of the
information is collected and fed into the system by volunteers from the local community itself.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 45


Later several such initiatives (in the genre of info kiosks) sprung up in different parts of the country. Not
all of them followed the same model. Some were government supported, and others adopted a business
model (users pay) right from the beginning. n-Louge, an IT company has a franchise model, where it
provides an info kiosk (PC with internet and video conferencing facility, scanner and photocopier, etc) at
a low cost and train the kiosk owner, and the owner provides different services and tries to earn a
reasonable income. Drishtee is another such private initiatives that operate on franchise and
partnership model. These kiosks are operated by small rural entrepreneurs.

Another major internet-enabled computer initiative is the “e-Choupal” of ITC which was initiated in June
2000. The PC and the Internet access provided by ITC at the sanchalak’s (a trained farmer working for
ITC and facilitating procurement for ITC) location enable farmer to obtain information on mandi prices
and information on good agricultural practices. The farmers do not pay anything for the services and
there is also no government investment in eChoupal. For ITC, its investment in e-Choupal is part of its
business investment where it benefits from the lower net cost of procurement (despite offering better
prices to the farmer) having eliminated costs in the supply chain that do not add value.

The Akshaya project being implemented by the Government of Kerala in a public-private partnership
mode is also of the information kiosk type. The entrepreneur makes the investment for setting up the
centre (five to ten computers, printer, scanner, webcam, and necessary software) and the Government
(State IT Mission) provides all the facilitation required to sustain the project (e-literacy programme,
training fund, e-governance services etc). Akshaya has been a much celebrated ICT initiative and it
began with an e-literacy campaign. “More than half a million people have been provided with basic
computer skills and around 65% of the beneficiaries under this programme are women” (Gurumurthy et
al, 2005). However, the Akshaya kiosks are finding it difficult to be both financially and socially
sustainable (Kuriyan et al 2006) and nearly 40% of these centres that began in May 2003 have closed
down weighed down by debt and financial loss (Naha, 2005). The e-Krishi programme, initiated by the
Kerala State IT mission to facilitate and enable farmers to sell the produce using ICT network of Akshaya
has not been faring as expected. Lack of engagement of the state DoA by the IT mission has also
contributed to the poor performance of the ekrishi programme.

The CSCs of the Government currently being rolled out all over the country is envisaged as the front-end
delivery points for the Government. The PPP model of the CSC scheme envisage a 3-tier structure
consisting of the CSC operator (called Village Level Entrepreneur or VLE); the Service Centre Agency
(SCA) that will be responsible for a division of 500- 1000 CSCs; and a state designated agency (SDA)
identified by the state government responsible for managing the implementation over the entire state.
As of December 2010, 87,594 CSCs have been rolled out. The CSCs will offer web enabled e-governance
services in rural area, including application forms, certificates and utility payments such as electricity,
telephone and water bills. These centres have to generate revenues to sustain these and they are now
offering a large number of services such as train bookings, insurance, photography, courier service, e-
learning etc to raise enough revenues. As of today there is no mechanism or vision to use CSCs as
knowledge centres.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 46


Mobile
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that there are 4.6 billion mobile subscribers
and forecasts that by end of 2010, there will be 5 billion mobile subscribers, making mobile phones the
most rapidly adopted technology in history and the only sector that hasn’t suffered from recent
economic downturn (Samii, 2010). Several studies have indicated the importance of mobile phones in
providing information related to market prices, input availability and weather to rural producers.

As per the TRAI statistics ending September 2010, the mobile subscriber base in India stood at 687.71
million. The rural mobile subscriber base is 227.08 million (33.02 % of the total mobile subscribers). With
mobile phones becoming cheaper, easier to procure and the network charges becoming more
affordable, an increasing number of rural audience adopted the technology (Sharma, 2009). This has
provided greater opportunities for using mobiles for addressing some of the information needs of
farmers.

The recent study of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) on
socio-economic impact of mobile phones on Indian agriculture concluded that the mobile phones are
contributing to agricultural productivity enhancements. The benefits emerge mainly from the
characteristics of mobility, customized content delivery and convenience (Mittal et al, 2010). In the case
of fishermen, in addition to economic benefits, there were other benefits like safety and enhanced
quality of life from decreased isolation and vulnerability. In India, IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL),
Reuters Market Light (RML) and Tata m-Krishi are the three successful examples of mobile information
service for the farmers.

IKSL is a joint venture between Bharti Airtel and the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO).
Farmers who purchase a Bharti Airtel “Green SIM” have access to value added services which include
daily agri-voice messages (weather, crop/animal husbandry advice, market prices, government schemes
etc) and an agri-helpline (costs Rs. 1 per minute). Through mKrishi offered by the Tata Consultancy
Services, farmers get answers to queries related to agriculture, such as advice on use of fertilizers,
pesticides and growth hormones. It also provides up-to-date weather and market information through
text messages on cell phones.

Market information for fruits and vegetables


Dynamic Market Information through mobiles (DMI) is a project implemented by InDG and C-DAC,
Hyderabad in association with the TNAU, Coimbatore. The service provides wholesale and retail prices
for nearly 130 crops – mainly vegetables, fruits, flowers, spices and plantation crops on a daily basis.
DMI provides market price information for the selected commodities via Short Message Service (SMS)
through mobile phones on a daily basis to almost ten thousand subscribers in Tamil Nadu for the past
two years. The markets covered under this project are Cochin, Coimbatore (MGR market),
Ottanchatram, Chennai (Koyambedu), Trichy (Gandhi Market), Bangalore (K.R. Market), Hosur
(Vegetable Vendors Association Market), Kumbakonam, Madurai, Mettupalayam, Panruti, Thalaivasal
and Tirunelveli.

Representatives posted at different markets collect market prices and reports it daily at dawn when
arrivals begin and pass them on to TNAU from where, after appropriate formatting, data are uploaded
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 47
on to a website. By noon every day, prices are available online, both in Tamil and English and the same
information will be transmitted through mobile phones. Only the farmers who have registered with DMI
to receive market information are provided with the SMS service. The DMI message is composed of
market price for one commodity in two markets as preferred by the receiving farmer. The DMI
application was developed in such a manner that this application will be used in future also for adding
more markets and more commodities. The data base structure provides flexibility to scale up with
minimal effort. Right now farmers are receiving the SMS free of cost. It has been decided to introduce
minimal charges like seasonal packages to farmers to meet the recurring costs. Advertisement spaces
are introduced in the DMI page for trader associations and agri-input dealers. This model can very well
replicate in other states also where there is no support for perishable markets. Already C-DAC,
Hyderabad is in negotiation with other State Governments and agricultural universities to replicate this
initiative.

Women often find it difficult to attend formal trainings organized at training centres for several reasons.
These include, lack of other responsible adults with whom they can leave the small kids, loss of daily
wage, no one else to care for cattle at home, etc. For such women, mobile phones could be effectively
used as a communication and conferencing system for organizing training programmes within their
homes or near to their home, where they get together for self-help groups (SHG) meetings. The project
on developing “training tools for use among the women self help groups” led by the Rajiv Gandhi
College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Puducherry has identified such an application, which has
been tested for its effectiveness.

Cell phone operated mobile audio communication and conferencing system (COMBACCS)
This method is similar to use of mobile phone dialogue between two individuals, in which on one side a
larger number of audience/group can hear through a loudspeaker. It needs a mobile connection and an
active SIM card between the expert resource persons and the group. The system at the group’s end has
mobile phone connected to a loud speaker. The phone will be dialled to the destination number. The
response and the reply will be heard by the group members through the loud speaker in the
COMBACCS. The group members can speak through the cordless mike which will be transmitted using
mobile phone to the expert connected at the other end. The reply will be amplified and heard through
the speaker boxes.

This is found to be ideal for training whenever the resource person is far off from the groups. It could
also be used during group meeting. This application was designed by the Kerala Agricultural University
and was tested at Puducherry with a large number of women groups involved in dairying. Some of the
important advantages mentioned were as follows:

1. Scope for better interaction and clarification of personal doubts from home/neighbourhood
2. Saving money and time both for group members and resource persons
3. More people trained in less time and promoters can directly interact with group members

Community Radio
Community-based media, as per definition, is media, of, for and by the community. Its lack of reach is
compensated by its depth, interaction and participative character. A community radio (CR) station can
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 48
be roughly defined as a short range radio station that caters to the information needs of communities
living in surrounding areas. CR stations often involve local community members in program production,
centred around topics including discussions on civic amenities in the area, health and hygiene, advice on
common economic activities such as agriculture, and even local folk songs and cultural events. Though
the importance of community radio has been well known in India (thanks to few well known
experiments by NGOs), until 2006, only educational institutions were allowed to set up community radio
stations. The scope was expanded in late 2006 to also include non-profit agencies, agricultural research
institutes, and schools, to set up community radio stations that would involve local communities in the
content production process.

Organisations such as Voices, Drishti Media, Himalaya Trust, Deccan Development Society (DDS),
Myrada, and Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan have been involved with experiments on using radio for
production and broadcasting of locally relevant information even before, but they have been using
narrowcasting (audio programmes played over loud speakers at community meeting points or within
listener groups of women) and cable casting (through cable TV run by local operators). In Uttarakhand, a
number of CR initiatives started in 2001 after Himalaya Trust organized training and these include:
Henvalvani CR Mandakini ki Awaz, Pradeep Samudayik radio Kasauni, Shristi Samudayik Radio,
Bageshwar, Bal Ganga CR, Tehri Garhwal in Uttarakhand.

Henvalvani Community Radio, Chamba, Uttarakhand


The programs are similar to the magazine format. These follow an anecdotal style of presentation and
use folklore and jokes to make these topics more interesting to the listeners. The feedback from the
listeners is taken at the end of each narrowcast & is aired in the next narrowcast as listener interviews.

The listeners are mostly women (about 75%). There is a high rate of migration of men from this area.
The listener groups comprise mainly small farmers (some have orchards as well). On the basis of
community suggestions, they prepared programmes on locally relevant issues such as forest fires,
electricity, water woes, monkey menace, problems created by pigs in the farms, etc. Sometimes they get
the local specialists to discuss on these problems and they visit the specialists to interview them. They
also interviews some of the block level functionaries if some of the schemes are not working well. Since
the people running the CR are from the community itself so they are more aware of the needs of the
community and respond accordingly.

Video
Use of videos for disseminating new information and knowledge is not new. Several agricultural
extension projects including the Training and Visit (T & V) used videos to bring about awareness on
certain agricultural practices. The cost of production as well as screening of videos has fallen
dramatically during the last one decade. The video based approach, especially following a participatory
content generation has several advantages over other media. Apart from the audio and visual elements
that make videos attractive, participatory production ensure that they are customized to the local
situations.

Its immense potential for women’s empowerment was first spotted in India by Self Employed Women’s
Association (SEWA). Video SEWA (VS) was established as a means to provide training to the members of
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 49
SEWA and to motivate, mobilize and strengthen the existing membership of SEWA through the use of
video recordings and tapes. Since 1984, Video SEWA has produced countless tapes and more than a
hundred programmes of organizing, training and advocacy.

SEWA is currently working in 15 districts of Gujarat, nine states in India and three other countries.
However, VS is so far confined to Gujarat as they are trying to make themselves self-sustainable.
However, the videos produced by VS are used for capacity building and demonstration purposes across
the SEWA network.

In 2002, Video SEWA got itself registered as a co-operative "Shri Gujarat Mahila Video SEWA Mahiti
Communication Sahakari Mandali Limited." Its objectives are as follows:

 To spread information about themselves, their work among themselves and other interested
 To use video as a tool for training and teaching new skills or ideas or designs or methods of doing
things to its members
 To raise awareness among members about the social or economic issues that are central to poor
and working women and using video as a tool to articulate their problems and demands and
formulating strategies
 To inform members about government policies and programmes for the self employed, including
national development plans and programmes
 To create visibility and initiating policy changes for the issues related to the women by addressing
decision makers and policy makers
 To forge fresh connections and wider sharing of information with the SEWA members and with the
world outside thus bridging the gap between various groups, women and technology

They use mobile van twice a week for showing videos to the communities. There is portable TV in the
van which they use for telecasting programmes. They also conduct skill development trainings to
enhance income generation for women like photography trainings.

The strengths of VS is their advanced training crew, digitally equipped studio, cadres of spearhead team
and a co-operative structure of organization. The technology used by them has upgraded with time from
U-matic to beta to high 8 and finally digital. They are aiming at achieving self-sufficiency by conducting
trainings, selling footage to organizations like BBC, giving equipment on hire, producing films for other
agencies, selling documentaries, giving the studio on hire, etc.

So far they have been able to meet 70% of their costs through raising funds from all the above
mentioned activities. However marketing is an issue and they are struggling to do it in a more
commercial manner. They do not have accreditation card that is used by all other media organizations.
Despite continuous efforts for the same they are unable to obtain it. Without this they are unable to
make video programmes for government departments or any other reputed institutions.

E-learning centers: An E-learning centre is a place where the people are taught how to read and write by
using visual and audio content, the ICT based E-Learning system play a vital role in enhancing on line

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 50


education for social and economic change in rural society [16]. Such way of issuing education can be
delivered anywhere and anytime possible and hence it is a flexible way of learning.

Open universities and distance learning: Students are many times unable to attain schools due to social
or physical barriers. Social barriers include early marriage of females, in our society girls are generally
not allowed to study after marriage which leads to illiteracy while physical barriers include unavailability
of school nearby and due to poor transport facilities, one cannot attain schools. The concept of open
universities and distance learning solve this problem. The flexibility and innovativeness of the open
learning system are particularly suited to the diverse requirements of the citizens of our country,
including those who had joined the vocational stream.

Increased use of mobile technology: The increasing trend of using androids and smart phones is
increasing rapidly, various mobile applications are available that promote education like e-books which
can be maintained in our mobile and one can read it anytime, anywhere. Some mobile initiatives enable
English learning also but due to small screen size it is many times not feasible to use mobile technology
also there is a limit on storage space for data, these problems limit the use of mobile technologies for
implementing education.

Model for ICT Education


In the proposed model we have considered all these points and for technical connection we are using
RKM (Rural Kiosk Machine) which will provide physical communication between the ICT - RDD (Rural
Development Department) and Rural Community. Then these RKM’s will be connected to Different
Departments, by using area wise wireless connection according to local needs. Initially people will be
trained by ICT – RDD in the Community Training Centres, i.e., ICT-TC and then people itself will be able
to use RKM for getting the information

Migration Card and Migration Monitoring Software: Tracking and educating migrant children in
Gujarat
Migration for seasonal employment is one of the factors known to contribute to the dropout rate of
children from schools. Migration due to seasonal employment is caused by many industries including
brick kiln factories, construction industry, sugar factories, shipyards, agricultural labour and salt pan
units. While the academic year is from June-April, migration for seasonal employment usually occurs in
the months of September-November up to May-June. Therefore, children of parents who seek
employment opportunities away from their domicile – within the same state or in others – are often
uprooted in the middle of the academic year. They also face trouble rejoining schools and drop out of
schools altogether.

Migration Card initiative was introduced in Gujarat in 2001 to track students who were migrating along
with their parents within the state or from other states. The main objective was to avoid dropout and
ensure the continued education of children during the period of migration. Under the Migration Card
Initiative, intra-state children are covered in seasonal hostels at their domiciles while inter-state-
children are covered under Tent Special Training Programmes (Tent STPs) in temporary schools set up at
the worksites of their parents. Three cards were printed at the state level and distributed to the schools.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 51


The cards would indicate the education level of the student and his/her grades. The student would then
continue his schooling at the migrated place and would be permitted to give the examination at the
school – either at the migrated place or at the original destination. While the introduction of migration
cards was useful in facilitating the education of migrant children, it had some limitations. In 2009, the
Migration Monitoring Software was introduced to overcome these limitations and streamline the
process of tracking in real time.

Key Stakeholders This initiative is run under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) Mission of the Department
of Education, Government of Gujarat. Officials from various sub-departments of the SSA, such as, the
Out-of-School Department and Girls’ Education Department have been assigned as nodal officers-in-
charge of districts under this initiative. The implementing entities at state, district, block, cluster and
school levels have been given in Figure

Figure 8: Structure of Migration Card & Migration Software

Implementation Strategy
Under the Migration Card initiative, three different cards were maintained for facilitating school
admissions – Pink Card: Block Resource Centre (BRC) Coordinator; Yellow Card: Headmaster, and White
Card: Migrating student. The details of the students used to be manually entered into ward education
registers and village education registers, as per the format given by the Ministry of Human Resources
Development. However, this manual system faced issues such as lack of accuracy and specificity in
records, improper maintenance of the card and loss of card in transit. Hence, in 2010, it was decided to
migrate to an online platform – the Migration Monitoring Software (MMS). A committee was formed for
deliberating upon the standardised format to be used online and inputs were taken from the Tribal
Department, Child Labour Department, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Gujarat Council of
Educational Research and Training (GCERT), other states and members of the project staff hired for the
initiative. Based on these inputs, the MMS was created and launched in May 2010 on a pilot basis in 12
districts and then upscaled to all 26 districts after a successful run. It was recognised that crucial
implementation work was required to be done at the cluster level and, hence, it was ensured that
internet and computer facilities were provided up to Cluster Resource Centres. As a result, for the first

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 52


time in Gujarat, 8,000 inter-state migrant students and 16,000 intra-state migrant students began to be
tracked.

Impact: Educational rehabilitation and reduced dropout rates of migrant children: The Migration Card
and Monitoring Software have helped improve time efficiency by reducing the duration of time in
tracking migrant children since the progress can be tracked in real time and on a daily basis as opposed
to monthly checks. CRC coordinators are able to inform the headmaster of the school in advance, so the
needful educational rehabilitation can be undertaken without delay.

Figure 9: Dropout Rate in Gujarat on Decline

Number of children covered under the programme has substantially increased over the years. Also,
there is a significant reduction in the drop-out rates of boys and girls till class VII

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 53


Youth: ICT for Rural Employment
Rapid growth of the Indian IT and ITeS sectors has created a lot of new jobs in the country. Over the last
decade, the IT and ITeS industry in India has grown from 8.7 billion US dollars to 64 billion US dollars.
Currently 20% of India’s export earnings come from this sector. About half of all incremental
employment created in India comes from this sector. Women account for 30% employment in this
sector, though a vast majority of them are relegated to call centre jobs and other lower ends of the BPO
sector. Though much of this employment has been created in the cities and this has been the forte of
urban educated women, recent developments in this sector are throwing up new opportunities for rural
women.

More and more IT and BPO companies are moving to rural areas to beat the global competition, cut
costs and ride out the recession. Low cost of operations and lower employee’s attrition levels are the
key benefits these companies derive from their rural operations. Call centre and medical transcription
companies are slowly moving to tier-III areas where they can cut costs. “According to Nasscom, there
are currently about 50 rural BPOs, employing about 5,000 staff. The 2015 projections being put out by
11 rural BPOs are staggering: about 1,000 centres and 150,000 employees. While the numbers might be
an optimistic appraisal, there’s a mass of anecdotal evidence — from clients, rural BPOs and related
constituencies — that points to a definite build-up”.

Desi Crew Solutions is a rural BPO company that started operations in February 2007, after two years of
testing at the Rural Technology & Business Incubator, of IIT Madras. It operates on a decentralized BPO
model that provides competitive outsourcing solutions to clients, while thriving as a profit making social
enterprise giving employment opportunities to the educated villagers. This 120 people company runs 6
village centres in Tamil Nadu and 70% of its staff is women. A 12th pass and basic knowledge on
computers is the minimum requirement for consideration for employment at DesiCrew.

ICT and employment: HarVa BPO, Teekli, Gurgaon, Haryana


HarVa stands for “Harnessing Value” of rural India. HarVa is an outsourcing company with a rural focus
that primarily focuses on skill development, BPO, community based farming and microfinance. HarVa set
up its rural BPO in Teekli village in March 2010. HarVa trained two hundred women in Teekli for free, put
them through rigorous training for three months on English and computer skills learning programme.
Out of the trained women, the present batch of employees has been drawn. It was an uphill task to
convince villagers to allow their women to attend training. Women who had studied till standard 8th
were considered for this training. They believe that one does not have to be a graduate to be a BPO
employee. It is currently planning to expand to Uttarakhand and Bihar and replicate the model.

HarVa currently employs twenty women at the Teekli center. The rural women employed with HarVa
earn in the range of Rs 2500-4000 a month. They are mostly involved in data entry operations for
various clients- insurance companies, legal firms etc. One of HarVa’s clients is the Department of Animal
Husbandry, Government of Haryana. The animal-census data of the Department of Animal Husbandry

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 54


are entered from the handwritten forms to Microsoft Excel sheets on the computer by these trained
rural women

Women feel blessed to have such an opportunity at their doorsteps to supplement their household
incomes and be independent. It has not only provided them with employment but also empowered the
rural women of Teekli by enhanced learning and motivation. Women work together irrespective of their
caste at the center and eat the packed lunch together like any other office environment. They are
mostly young married women who take off their ‘Ghungats’ (head cover) when they approach the
center. Since it provides women work within their village and that too options to work at convenient
timings [flexi hours] and earn money, it is a heaven sent opportunity for the women who had no means
of going out in search of work mainly due to the social barriers existing in the community.

Kudumbasree
Kudumbasree (which means prosperity for the family) is a poverty eradication project of the
Government of Kerala, being implemented in the state through the local bodies since 1998. The project
gives importance to women and children from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families and is being
implemented through neighbourhood groups, which are formed by 15 to 40 members. Kudumbasree
encouraged and trained the poor educated women from the neighbourhood groups to form enterprise
groups to set up micro-enterprises based on ICT applications. Each group was motivated to set up micro-
enterprises for data entry, data processing, and IT education. As on 2006, two hundred and thirty six
such units exists, which are spread over the 14 districts (Box 17). Based on their activities, these units
can be divided into three categories, data processing units (80), IT@ School units (151) and 5 hardware
units

The most important and positive factor favouring women’s entry into IT industry has been the support
from Kudumbasree officials in the form of financial, technical and managerial help. The major help came
in the form of training both in hardware and software. This gender focused, interventionist ICT initiative
involving significant state intervention brought about positive changes to livelihood outcomes and
empowerment of economically poor women (Arun et al, 2004). However, there have been some
limitations too. For instance, “while the agency has concentrated on the supply side, the demand side
aspects such as output demand, market research, customer service etc have been largely ignored. Poor
women through this programme have entered the lowest of IT enabled jobs. If this good beginning has
to be sustained and poor women have to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the IT
revolution, they should be helped to move to higher levels of activities with more intense training
(continuous up-gradation of skills) and organisational support”.

Under the rural e-Seva centres, initiated by the Government of Andhra Pradesh in West Godavari
District, web-enabled rural kiosks were established to provide a large number of citizen services. Initially
the project started in all 46 mandal (block) headquarters in the district, with the first women's e-Seva
centre opening in June 2002. Out of the 46 bigger e-Seva Centres at mandal headquarters, 20 are
managed by women. Women from SHGs took loan to set up this initiative (computer, printer, digital
camera, scanner, photocopy machine) and all these centres are running profitably. Establishment of
CSCs is also opening up employment opportunities for women in rural villages. For instance, Srei-Sahaj,

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 55


the company partnering with the Government of India for setting up and operating 27,000 CSCs in seven
states of India, has 1200 women entrepreneurs today. They are mostly housewives, who had no
previous experience of running a business. Till date Srei-Sahaj has rolled out 12000 plus CSCs across the
6 states (West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Assam) and these centres offer a number
of services including photography, government form submission, electricity and telephone bill payment,
mobile top-ups, railway reservation, LIC premium collection etc.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 56


ICT & Children
Pratibha Parv: Strengthening quality of education in government schools of Madhya Pradesh
Launched across all government schools in Madhya Pradesh in 2011 by the School Education
Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Pratibha Parv, literally a festival of excellence, is a
comprehensive initiative for the assessment of teaching and learning, and evaluation of educational
facilities and activities. This initiative has successfully contributed to raising the attendance of primary
school students from 71 to 78% (2011-2013), raised middle school attendance from 79.1 to 84% (2011-
2013) and reduced the fear of conventional classroom examinations among students. This initiative has
covered approximately 1,00,00,000 students in 1,12,788 schools.

The objective of Pratibha Parv is to assess the academic performance of students and ensure
improvement in quality of education in primary and upper primary schools. It endeavours to assess the
academic performance of students and track it at regular intervals at the elementary education level. It
also works to create awareness in teachers and among the general public regarding the quality of
education.

Apart from assessing the overall infrastructure, the initiative looks into the provision of additional hours
of tuition classes for low achievers. Pratibha Parv is instrumental in verifying the availability and usage of
school facilities, and strives to provide social audit opportunities and develop a sense of ownership of
the community in the educational process and institutions.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 57


Figure 10: Stakeholders in Pratibha Parv

Implementation Strategy
The Pratibha Parv initiative seeks to evaluate students’ capabilities while at the same time doing away
with the fear of the formal examination system. It also involves assessment of teaching arrangements
and facilities in the schools, other school activities such the Mid-Day Meal scheme, as well as progress
on the syllabus. Attendance of students is also assessed along with the maintenance of school records.
Additionally, the general knowledge of students and their personal hygiene are also assessed, their
homework is monitored, and identification of students suitable for different grade categories is
undertaken.

The Pratibha Parva assessment is carried out in two phases spread over two days. The first phase is a
selfappraisal based evaluation involving primary and middle school students. This is undertaken in the
presence of officials from a number of government departments at the district level. The second phase
of Pratibha Parva relates to the evaluation of various aspects including the schools’ academic
achievements and teaching arrangements, school management and amenities as well as community
participation. This phase takes place in the presence of Class I and Class II officers from all departments
in the district.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 58


The inititive is monitored at the state level from the RSK, which is the implementing agency. Guidelines
are circulated to all relevant officers at the district level and all stakeholders are sensitised about the
details and requirements for the initiative, to encourage their participation and support. The initiative is
organised in a campaign mode with attention to its advocacy, conducting meetings with the panchayats,
teachers and other staff and through the use of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) tools.
RSK is responsible for preparing and designing questionnaires. A district officers’ training is organised at
the state level, where these officers are trained on conducting, preparing and designing the evaluations,
so that they can monitor and supervise implementation. District Collectors are the nodal officers in each
district.

The results of the Pratibha Parv create the foundation for developing school improvement plans
attending to areas of academic and curriculum activities that require special attention. The initiative
provides feedback on different aspects such as school infrastructure, teaching and learning processes,
achievement levels of students in different subjects, identification of weak students, teacher training
and meeting other needs and requirements.

Information on weak schools, blocks, districts, state-wide rankings and identified areas of school
improvement (specific to each school) are made available to decision makers to further enhance the
process for improving the performance of schools and students, by looking into factors that are
negatively impacting performance. Information generated by the evaluation is online and is available for
public access, thereby enhancing transparency. Pratibha Parv is regarded as a unique model of system
reengineering in schools.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 59


ICT & Women
ICTs and Women Empowerment: Empowerment is a multi-dimensional social process that helps people
gain control over their own lives. Women empowerment generally refers to the process by which
women enhances their power to take control over decisions that shape their lives, including in relation
to access to resources, participation in decision making and control over distribution of benefits.
Women's empowerment has five components: women's sense of self-worth; their right to have and to
determine choices; their right to have access to opportunities and resources; their right to have the
power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home; and their ability to influence the
direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order, nationally and
internationally.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of women empowerment:

1. Economic empowerment: Women are economically empowered when they are supported to
engage in a productive activity that allows them some degree of autonomy. This type of
empowerment is also concerned with the quality of their economic involvement, beyond their
presence as poorly paid workers.
2. Social empowerment: This is a process of acquiring information, knowledge and skills; and
supporting participation of women in social organizations without any gender discrimination in day-
to-day activities. It is also concerned with inculcating a feeling of equality instead of subordination
among women.
3. Political Empowerment: It is concerned with enhancing the power of voice and collective action by
women. Besides, it ensures equitable representation of women in decision-making structures, both
formal and informal, and strengthen their voice in the formulation of policies affecting their
societies.

As gender inequality is embedded in a series of systemic inequalities, there is a need to employ different
types of empowerment. Economic, social and political empowerments are all inter-related and all these
are critical for women empowerment, though the emphasis vary during different stages in the
empowerment process. The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in 2003 in Geneva,
saw ICTs as vital tools for women’s empowerment: “We are committed to ensuring that the Information
Society enables women’s empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all
spheres of society and in all decision-making processes. To this end, we should mainstream a gender
equality perspective and use ICTs as a tool to that end”.

Globally, there is an increasing body of evidence that shows how the rapid proliferation of ICTs is
contributing positively to women’s socio-economic empowerment. A range of ICT models have been
used to support the empowerment of women all over the world and there is evidence to show that ICTs
have improved women’s access to information, provided new employment, created new class of women
entrepreneurs and improved their access to government. The specific uses of ICTs for gender
agricultural development include the following: (a) empowering women to access knowledge and

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 60


information; (b) offering better decision support; (c) improved access to market information and
services, creation of new employment; (d) facing HIV/AIDS crisis; (e) and developing entrepreneurship.
While there is recognition of the potential of ICT as a tool for the promotion of gender equality and the
empowerment of women, a “gender divide” has also been identified, reflected in the lower numbers of
women accessing and using ICT compared with men.

Though telecentres, especially those managed by women or establishment of similar facilities within
community based organizations provide potential solution to this problem, in reality, this hasn’t helped
much. Among the factors that constrain women’s use of telecentres are the following: heavy workloads
and multiple roles that limit the time available to use a telecentre; male attitudes towards women’s use
of technology and to women visiting a mixed-sex public facility; the lower educational levels of women
compared with those of men; and lack of disposable income to spend at fee-paying centres. Experience
from across the world also indicate that women are not using computer based facilities at telecentres,
but rather concentrate on using the telephone, fax and photocopiers. Rapid spread of mobile phones in
developing countries have contributed substantially to the reduction of digital divide, something other
ICTs such as computers have not yet managed to do. However, a detailed global study on women mobile
subscribers in low and middle income countries such as Kenya and India revealed the existence of
gender gap in mobile usage. The study shows that a woman in low and or middle income countries is
21% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man.

Socio-cultural factors governing women’s access and use of ICTs


• Cultural attitudes discriminate against women’s access to technology and technology education:
what would a woman farmer want with a computer?
• Compared to men, rural women are less likely to own communication assets, such as a radio or
mobile phone.
• Rural women are less likely to allocate their income to use in public communication facilities, except
when they need to communicate with family or to arrange for income transfers.
• Rural women are often reluctant to visit “cyber cafes” or public internet centres, which are often
owned by men and visited by men. The café culture often excludes girls and women from
frequenting them.
• Rural women’s multiple roles and heavy domestic responsibilities limit the time they can allocate to
learning and using ICTs until and unless they realize the potential information benefits and time-
saving elements of using these technologies.

Source: FAO, IFAD, World Bank, 2008

What is increasingly clear is the existence of a gender digital divide, which can only be addressed
through enacting and enforcing gender sensitive ICT policies. However it is also pertinent to mention
here that ICT is not an answer to all the constraints being faced by women. “If however, the gender
dimensions of ICT -- in terms of access and use, capacity building opportunities, employment and
potential for empowerment -- are explicitly identified and addressed, ICT can be a powerful catalyst for
political and social empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality”.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 61


Kalyani - A success story
Kalyani, a programme on health communication in India, is telecast over Doordarshan in nine of the
most backward and populous states of India in 3 languages and 14 dialects, targeting approximately 50%
of India’s population. The programme over the last nine years has been significantly advocating
behavioural change on health related issues by generating awareness on particular diseases, creating
avenues to question and debate traditional norms and practices through discussions in the programme.
This 30-minute programme is telecasted twice a week. Research has shown that “61.2% of Kalyani
viewers are females and 38.17% of them don’t own a TV set. The programme has made tangible impact,
both in the cognitive (knowledge) and affective (attitude) domains. Exposure to Kalyani resulted in
knowledge gains on the diseases covered, their prevalence, symptoms, precautions to be taken and,
cure” (GFK Mode, 2009). Kalyani clubs (viewer groups) – a key component of the media strategy – have
village-level members, who take the messages further by organizing local activities, such as cleaning up
ponds and streets, or organizing eye and blood donation camps. Currently, there are nearly 80,000
Kalyani club volunteers. It is estimated that Kalyani reaches almost 500 million viewers across the
country

Khabar Lahariya, a weekly newspaper based in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh managed by all women staff
from marginalised communities and printed in Bundeli, the local language has a readership of 35,000 in
400 villages. Kerala has several magazines for women. Vanitha, Mahilarathnam and Gruhalakshmi are
some of the most popular women magazines in malayalam and these magazines cover several issues
related to women such as education, employment, career planning, health and nutrition and child care

Contribution to Rural Women Strengths Limitations


Empowerment
Radio: Improved knowledge on The most important medium for Mostly generic information
agriculture, health, nutrition, information dissemination in • Generally treat listeners as
childcare and subjects learnt India (widely available and passive receivers of information.
through distance education for accessed in rural areas) • Rural women need access to
increasing productivity, New formats providing other sources of support and
achieving better health and interactivity (phone-in- services to effectively use this
nutrition and acquiring better programmes) information
employment Can listen while doing work
Very useful in generating
demand for new information
and technology
Support distance education
TV: Improved knowledge on More effective and better Mostly generic information
agriculture, health, nutrition, retention of disseminated Rural women need access to
childcare and subjects learnt information due to visual appeal other sources of support and
through distance education for New formats providing services to effectively use this
increasing productivity, interactivity (phone-in- information
achieving better health and programmes) Predominantly treated as a
nutrition and acquiring better Very useful in generating medium for entertainment
employment demand for new information
and technology

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 62


Support distance education
Print media: Disseminates a wide The information from the print Low levels of rural female
range of potentially useful media can be easily stored and literacy and so is accessed
information on agriculture, retrieved at home mainly by literate women and
health, nutrition, employment, knowledge workers working with
environment rural women
Internet enabled computer Provide a wide range of Most of the information
centres: Dissemination of information (farm technology, available in the net is in English
information on agriculture, weather and prices, health and and is very generic
health etc(online and offline nutrition, government schemes Need human intermediation for
content) etc generating locally relevant
Training in computer skills Enable rural women to access content and supporting women
In few cases, as a forum for computer skills in access the information
interactive learning and social When organized as part of a Effectiveness depends on quality
empowerment women’s collective, it of the intermediary
contributes to social With increasing emphasis on
empowerment financial sustainability. the focus
is shifting towards revenue
generating services
Women have less disposable
income to pay for information
Portals: Knowledge and Very useful for knowledge Mostly generic information and
information gain by ways of workers involved in rural in English (Portals in vernacular
accessing by range of useful development and rural women languages are limited, but are
information relevant for women empowerment increasingly available).
(agriculture, health etc) Portals vary widely in their user
Increasingly e-commerce and friendliness. Considering the low
online question and answer rural female literacy levels,
service human intermediation critical for
rural women to make fuller use
of this information
Rural communities need access
to other sources of support and
services to effectively use this
information
Call Centres: Information and Recent years have witnessed The quality of information and
advisory support especially on increasing use of this facility advice provided through
agriculture and health mainly due to increasing rural agricultural call centres, is poor
Increasingly distress help-lines telephone density and wide as the calls are mostly dealt by
for women publicity of these services those with limited field
Information and advisory experience (often fresh
support to callers by experts graduates)
Women callers are less than 15
% in agricultural call centres in
most of the states. The
proportion is almost the same in
the case of health.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 63


Quick access to timely and Very useful for disseminating To make use of the value added
relevant information as voice or dynamic and locally generated information, communities need
text by a large number of information on weather, prices, access to a wide range of
subscribers. crop tips, government schemes. support and services and
Increasingly being adopted by therefore only the relatively
mobile companies as a value better of farmers are able to use
added service to mobiles on a the information, especially
subscription basis (as a information related to market
commercial business venture) prices (own transport and
storage facility), weather (labour
availability) etc.
Little evidence of women
subscribing to the value added
services
Community Radio: Generate and Wide range of information on Community ownership and
disseminate locally relevant rural life disseminated. Content therefore community
information with community defined by rural communities participation in generating
participation especially if the station is under content is limited in most the
Contribution to development of community control and community radio stations
rural women networks in few management High cost of setting up CRs and
cases leading to social Better reception as local dialect the excessive regulation
empowerment is used for communication currently constrain many CBO
Potentially useful for raising from setting up CRs.
awareness and also for advocacy
communication at the local level
Video: Better information and Can potentially support training The success would depend on
knowledge gain through using communities in good farming the quality of intermediation
videos as part of training rural practices required while screening the
communities Potentially useful for raising videos as well as its use in
Creative use of video has awareness on issues of women’s training programmes
contributed to social and concern and mobilizing women The usefulness is also dependent
political empowerment in few around common issues on the relevance of the content
cases and therefore the need to
Also as source of employment develop content locally.
Digital photography: Better Reduced time lag in While better off farmers with
knowledge on managing crops identification of a problem and mobile cameras and access to
through expert advice on crop availability of expert advice internet can better make use of
protection/management this information, the rest would
need the help of a service
provider to take pictures, mail it
and obtain advice
No mechanism to ensure that
the recommended inputs for
taking corrective measure are
available with the input dealers
Little evidence of women
accessing this service
ICT- based enterprises: Economic New source of employment in Can only be used by women with
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 64
empowerment as new source of rural areas for providing several at least secondary education
rural employment web-enabled services, training Need reliable hand holding
rural communities in computer support (technical, managerial
skills and as employees in rural and financial) during the
BPOs establishment stage
ICTs in support of existing Several opportunities exists to Need organizations and
enterprises: Economic improve the efficiency of rural programmes that can provide
empowerment by way of women enterprises this support
accessing new markets, increase
in efficiency, and access to new
production knowledge
Table 3: ICTs and Rural women empowerment

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 65


ICT & BPL (Below Poverty Line) Citizens
Targeted PDS
The Indian government and the Department of Food and Public Distribution have pinpointed critical
aspects of the PDS that need reform, for the program to function more effectively. These include:

 Beneficiary identification, and addressing inclusion/exclusion errors


 Addressing diversions and leakages
 Managing foodgrain storage and ensuring timely distribution
 Effective accountability and monitoring, and enabling community monitoring
 Mechanisms for grievance redressal
 Ensuring food security

A role for Aadhaar within the PDS


Aadhaar can be a potent tool for the government, in making the PDS more effective across these
identified areas. The following features of the number would be instrumental for delivering food
entitlements to the beneficiary:

One Aadhaar = one beneficiary: Aadhaar is a unique number, and no resident can have a duplicate
number since it is linked to their individual biometrics. Using Aadhaar to identify beneficiaries in PDS
databases will eliminate duplicate and fake beneficiaries from the rolls, and make identification for
entitlements far more effective.

1. Portability in identification: Aadhaar is a universal number, and agencies and services can contact
the central Unique Identification database from anywhere in the country to confirm a beneficiary’s
identity. The number thus gives individuals a universal, portable form of identification.
2. Aadhaar-based authentication to confirm entitlement delivered to the beneficiary: Aadhaar
enables remote, online biometric and demographic authentication of identity. Such Aadhaar-based
authentication can take place in realtime, and can even be performed through a mobile phone.
Using Aadhaar for real-time identity verification at the FPS, when beneficiaries collect their
entitlements, will help governments verify that the benefits reached the person they were meant
for.

One challenge here is ensuring that such authentication is carried out at the FPS. Governments can
ensure that Aadhaar-based authentication is implemented by the FPS owner by linking future FPS
allocations to authenticated offtake by beneficiaries. The fewer Aadhaar-based authentications happen
at the outlet, the less grain the FPS receives from the government. This will give the FPS owner a strong
incentive to ensure that Aadhaar-based authentication is carried out, and that authentication devices
are working.

3. Implementing such authentication while leveraging the portability of Aadhaar can bring significant
benefits. Today, beneficiaries in a particular block or district can collect their rations only from their

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 66


allotted ration shop. However, since the Aadhaar would be recognized across ration outlets, the
number would help residents collect entitlements from any FPS within the state. Governments
would then replenish FPS stocks based on authentication-linked offtake, which would give them
real-time information on how many beneficiaries collected their entitlements from which outlet.
These two aspects of the Aadhaar-enabled system – linking grain allocation to authenticated
offtake, and choice of FPS for the beneficiary – would enable a significant shift from the present
approach, where foodgrain allocations within the PDS are static, supply-led and divorced from
beneficiary demand and choice. The Aadhaar-enabled approach would instead help create a
demand-led, dynamic system, one which gives power and choice to the beneficiary.
4. Aadhaar-based authentication to track foodgrain movement: Aadhaar-based authentication can be
implemented across the supply chain, which will enable governments to track foodgrain as it is
exchanged between PDS intermediaries. This would curb diversions, and help identify bottlenecks in
delivery.
5. Aadhaar-enabled cloud-computing infrastructure: The use of Aadhaar-based authentication across
the supply chain gives governments the opportunity to link such authentication to a cloud-based
management information system (MIS) within the PDS.
6. An Aadhaar-linked MIS would enable the PDS to address broader procurement, storage and
monitoring challenges. Registration and procurement orders could be managed online, enabling
decentralized, and more local procurement Inventory management could be streamlined and
handled online in real-time. This would also enable the PDS to implement state wide information
systems that link all ration shops in a state, and give beneficiaries more flexibility in how they collect
their entitlements, and from which ration shop.
7. Electronic benefit transfers: Aadhaar authentication at the delivery point – the FPS – would enable
governments to transfer entitlements to residents through an electronic system. Beneficiaries could
have an online food account on the PDS system, which would enable governments to directly
communicate details of food entitlements to residents.

Figure 11: Aadhaar Supply Chain

These Aadhaar features give governments the opportunity to substantially empower PDS beneficiaries.
The use of the portable Aadhaar number, and Aadhaar-based authentication give beneficiaries choice in
collecting their rations from any FPS in the state. Tracking the offtake of entitlements through
authentication and an Aadhaar-linked MIS would enable governments to make entitlement collection
flexible – beneficiaries would be able to collect their entitlements on a weekly and monthly basis, and
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 67
also claim entitlements left over from previous months. And finally, electronic benefit transfers linked to
Aadhaar would give beneficiaries flexibility in the kind of foodgrains they have access to, particularly in
times of shortage; it would also enable governments to tailor food entitlements to pregnant women,
infants and young children.

Incentives for implementing Aadhaar across the PDS infrastructure


1. Incentives for residents
a. Ease in identity verification: With Aadhaar, residents can easily establish their identity,
wherever they are in the country. Identity verification will be simpler while obtaining a
ration card
b. Expanded coverage: Ease in identity verification will allow poor residents who have so far
been shut out of food subsidies, to access food entitlements.
c. Address exclusion of eligible poor: A centralized, Aadhaar-enabled registration system for
PDS applicants would encourage governments to respond more quickly to applications, and
limit the exclusion of eligible individuals
d. Portability and choice in accessing benefits: A universal identification number gives
governments the chance to offer portable food entitlements, which beneficiaries can claim
wherever they are in the state
e. Improved services through increased transparency: Clear accountability and transparent
monitoring would significantly improve access and quality of entitlements to beneficiaries.
f. Better grievance redressal: Transparent, centralized system of grievances would encourage
rapid responses from governments on complaints.
2. Incentives for distributors and FPS owners
a. Focus in food entitlements shifts to commercial viability: As leakages decrease, the focus
will shift to making FPS outlets more viable. This would follow the current trend in reformist
states – states that implemented reforms to curb PDS leakages also increased commissions
to FPS outlets, to ensure that these shops weren’t forced to close. ii) Growth based on
monthly offtake: The portability enabled by Aadhaar, and choice for beneficiaries will give
FPS outlets opportunities to expand the number of beneficiaries they cover, and the amount
of foodgrain they sell. iii) Fewer delays and efficient allocations: The implementation of
Aadhaar-based authentication and an Aadhaar-enabled MIS will create more efficiencies
within the system, and lower delays for FPS owners in receiving supplies.
3. Incentives for governments
a. Elimination of ghosts/duplicates/fakes: Aadhaar-linked identification would help address
long-standing problems of duplicates, ghosts and fakes in the PDS system
b. Effective targeting: Aadhaar can enable individual entitlement, and tailoring of benefits to
beneficiaries
c. Lower costs in procurement and storage: Use of an Aadhaar-enabled MIS in farmer
registration, foodgrain movement, delivery and payment can ease costs and complexity
within the PDS infrastructure

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 68


d. Ease in capacity additions: By easing registration of suppliers as well as distributors, an
Aadhaar-enabled MIS can make capacity additions and changes more convenient for the
government to implement
e. Effective monitoring: Aadhaar would greatly improve the power of vigilance committees
and overall monitoring, as it would enable the government and public to track delays and
diversions
f. Expansion to other schemes: In India, a variety of programs, including the ICDS and the
MDMS, offer food entitlements to the poor. These multiple benefits can eventually be
delivered to beneficiaries through online food accounts

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 69


ICT & Local Governance
Why Digital Panchayat (DP)?

In India, 70% of the population resides in rural areas and villages. There has been a large
large digital gap
between the urban-centric
centric part and the rural part of India. So, it becomes more necessary to utilise ICT
tools for social, economic, administrative and governance regeneration. Recognising the ee-Governance,
the Government of India has introduced
oduced various reforms and initiated many interventions under policy
level like the IT Act of 2000, the 2004 National Broadband policy and so on and at an institutional level
like the MCA 21 initiative (Ministry of Company Affairs), National E-Governance
E Plan
lan (NeGP) are fine
examples.

Figure 12: Benefits of E-Governance

However, the government has been able to connect urban-centric


urban centric regions of the nation, but still has left
with a major national-gap
gap as far as using ICT for the nation
nation building is concerned. Effective and viable
usage of ICT tools at panchayat, which represents the first level of government interaction for over 60%
of the Indian populace, is largely missing. More than 6, 35,000 villages represented by 2, 50,000
Panchayats
ayats and more than 3, 00,000 Panchayat functionaries lack governance for development and
information sharing platform to reach out to its maximum citizens whom the panchayats are
accountable to. With this background, the National Internet Exchange of IndiaIndia (NiXI) and the Digital
Empowerment Foundation (DEF) initiated and rolled forward the concept of ‘Digital Panchayat (DP)’
programme across the nation. The objective of the project was to set an example to the government

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 70


and other stakeholders how web-presence of panchayats can create enormous enthusiasm for ICT &
Internet and it would break the barrier of digital divide. Basically, the concept of DP webs around a web
based dynamic digital interface created for each and every Panchayat in India, giving information about
particular panchayat in a two-way flow of content. The objective is to facilitate and improve panchayat
functioning on day-to-day basis, through two way flow of information and content.

Objectives & Goals


• Villages to be part of the global citizenship and link with non-resident individuals to connect with
their land of domicile.
• Encourage village panchayat level data centre and e-democracy.
• Creation of fully fledged rural governance, two way information channel.
• Capacity building of Panchayat functionaries in ICT & digital media.
• Increase ICT and internet awareness at panchayat level.
• Village level digital content collection, collation and aggregation.
• Firsthand experience of panchayat people to be part of digital world and virtual identity of each
panchayat on World Wide Web.
• Giving an experience of transparent panchayat level programme
• Chance for citizens to directly and publicly lodge complaints.
• Chance and hope for district, state and central level administration and governance to see what is
happening at ground.
• Facilitate e-Gov platform with Government to Citizens (G2C), Business to Consumer (B2C) services
etc.

The Commissioner Panchayati Raj and Rural Development has initiated Digital Panchayat ,a Flagship G2C
project, for Computerization and online issuance of citizen centric certificates. After a detailed system
study by NIC, the department prioritized the applications to be automated for gram Panchayats. The
application areas are Birth & Death Registrations, House Tax Demand Collections, Trade Licenses,
Property valuation, mutations, water tap connection, NOC, Building permission, Layout permissions and
MNREGA. These applications provide an end to end solution for all the gram panchayats in the state.
The software facilitates generation of certificates, payment gateway for citizens, eSign facility for
panchayat functionaries, SMS and email alerts. The Computerisation of all the 3-tiers of PRIs i.e Zilla
Praja Parishad, Mandal Praja Parishad(Block) and Gram Panchayats is also in place. The citizen centric
functional areas are:

• Marriage Registration
• Property Valuation Certificate
• Mutation
• Water Tap Connection
• NOC for Small, Medium and Large Scale Industries
• Building Permission
• Layout Permission
• Birth & Death Registration
• House Tax
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 71
• Trade License
• MNREGA Job Card

Common Service Centres (CSC’s)


The network of Common Service Centres (CSCs), which act as access points for delivery of various
electronic services to villages in India, are set to be expanded to 2.50 lakh gram panchayats by the end
of 2018. Positioned as strategic cornerstones of Digital India programme, the CSC model has adopted six
villages in the country in the pilot phase.DigiGaon or Digital Village is conceptualised as a connected
village where citizens can avail various e-Services of the Central Government, state Governments and
private players in a rural and remote villages in the country.These DigiGaons are projected to be change
agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods through
community participation and collective action. The digital villages have been equipped with solar lighting
facility in their community center, LED assembly unit, sanitary napkin unit (with active participation on
Asha and Anganwadi workers) and Wi-fi choupal (rural Wi-Fi infrastructure and a slew of suitable
applications).

Common Service Centres (CSC’s) need to be monitored by the local governments, especially during the
first four years of operation when they are receiving revenue support for provision of G2c services. The
Gram Panchayats should also make the people aware about the services made available by the CSC’s
and encourage them to utilize these services. State Governments should also see to it that an ever
expanding bouquet of G2c services is made available through the CSC’s. CSC’s are not a substitute for
enabling the Panchayats in providing e-Governance solutions to rural population. The last mile
connectivity achieved in case of CSC’s should also be utilized to establish panchayat based kiosks.

Jan Seva Kendra would o er a multitude of services ranging in the areas of e-Governance, education,
health, agriculture, commercial, retail, etc. The delivery of government services would be mandatory for
the Jan Seva Kendra. Some of the possible service areas are listed as follows:

Prospective Key Government (G2C) Services


• Land Records
• Registration of Vehicles
• Issue of Certifcates / Government Schemes
• Employment Exchange

Land Records: This is one of the projects pertaining to pre-NeGP phase which covers computerisation of
Land Records. In the pre-NeGP phase, two schemes of the Ministry of Rural Development –
computerisation of Land Records (CLR) and Strengthening of Revenue Administration and Updation of
Land Records (SRA & ULR) – were being implemented. These are fully operational in 13 States. These
two schemes – CLR and SRA&ULR – have been merged into a new scheme called the National Land
Records Modernisation Programme (NLRMP). This scheme aims at providing integrated land related
information and services to citizens.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 72


Enhancing Connectivity, Knowledge flows and Access to Government Service: Recent Initiatives
by the Government of India
National Informatics Centre (NIC) has set up a country-wide communication network ‘NICNET’ as the
backbone network infrastructure for Government informatics, providing linkages to 611 districts
covering 35 States and Union Territories. The National Knowledge Network (NKN) initiative that provides
multi-gigabit connectivity to all knowledge institutions in the country is also being implemented by NIC.

Activities related to Human Resource Development have been undertaken to ensure availability of
trained human resource for the IT sector. Government has announced the National Skill Development
Policy which has set a target of skilling 500 million by 2022. Department of Information Technology (DIT)
has been identified as one of the agencies to implement skill development initiative in IT sector.

A network of over 100,000 Common Service Centres (CSCs) is being established, which will link more
than 600,000 villages across the country. The CSCs have been conceived as the front-end delivery points
for public, private and social sector services. A highlight of the CSCs is that they can offer web-enabled
public services such as application form download, certificates, payments of electricity, telephone, water
and other utility bills in rural areas.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 73


Case Studies of ICT in Rural Development
e-Choupal, rural Madhya Pradesh – commenced in 2000
This is India’s largest commercial ICT project launched by India Tobacco Company Ltd. This company
primarily procures and exports agricultural commodities in raw or processed form and is India’s largest
overall agricultural exporter. Traditionally, the lack of basic physical infrastructure and the geographic
dispersion of farmers in rural India have meant that traders played an important role in acting as
middlemen to ensure the quality of produce, and to act as brokers of financial capital for seeds and
other inputs. With the opening up of Indian agricultural markets in 1996–7 under the World Trade
Organization’s rules, Indian Tobacco Company (ITC) faced increasing competition from large, low-cost
suppliers of agricultural products in the US, Brazil and other countries. Whilst traders have information
on price fluctuations through their contact with larger markets and export companies, farmers have not
been able to predict such changes. ITC introduced eChoupals as village internet kiosks run by a local
farmer entrepreneur providing price information to other local farmers enabling them to sell their
produce directly to ITC thereby bypassing the middlemen. Despite the fact that the project has already
proved to be profitable and self-sustaining, Kumar (2004) found that caste affiliations, political
alignments and even the size of farm holdings were important factors influencing access to the
eChoupals by small and marginal farmers and agricultural labourers. Also, the eChoupals had only been
established in the larger and more prosperous villages rather than in the poorer and remoter parts of
rural India.

Gyandoot, Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh – commenced in 2000


Gyandoot – a project initiated in a drought-prone rural district of Madhya Pradesh – aimed to provide
immediate, transparent access to local government data and to reduce the amount of time and money
people spend trying to communicate with government officials through the establishment of
telecentres. These centres are either entrepreneur-owned or panchayat-owned and offer information
and services to the local community for a nominal fee. Information includes a listing of people below the
poverty line and prices of several agricultural products beyond the local market while services include a
public complaint line for reporting government problems and applications for various certificates. In
their study, Cecchini and Raina (2005) found that usage of Gyandoot was low because of poor
accessibility of the centres to many villagers, lack of awareness about the project among the poor and
marginalised within the community, lack of ownership of the project among the local community and
lack of support given by local administrators and political representatives. Sreekumar’s (2007) study
identifies that despite the claims made that Gyandoot achieved success in active networking of villages
in Dhar district, the project has only been able to reach particular segments of the community. Existing
power relations in the village constitute an important influence on issues of inclusion. While the active
support and collaboration of the village elites is solicited for the project to survive, Sreekumar observes
that this only serves to reproduce traditional lines of social inequalities and reinforce rural power
hierarchies rather than eliminating them.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 74


Challenges in Implementation of ICT in
Rural Development
Are ICTs really contributing to all round development? The jury seems to be still out. In the 1990s, at the
height of the technology boom, rural ICTs were heralded as catalysts for ‘leapfrog development’,
‘information societies’ and a host of other digital-age panaceas for poverty. Now they have largely fallen
out of favour” (Economist, 2005). World Bank was estimated to have funded between $1 to $2 billion on
“ICT for development” projects, while InfoDev (the Information for Development programme hosted by
the World Bank) has a budget of $10 to $15 million per year. It was felt that access to information (be it
health, agriculture, education or government schemes) would at some level lead to individuals being
able to act on that information and empowering themselves. The impact of ICT-based projects has
generally fallen well below the optimistic expectations generated by their protagonists, and
consequently they developed a bad name in development circles. Though there has been a rapid
expansion in mobile penetration and internet access globally, the digital divide still exists. “While in
developing countries 72.4% of households have a TV, only 22.5% have a computer and only 15.8% have
internet access (compared to 98%, 71% and 65.6% respectively in developed countries). The same is the
case with fixed broadband subscriptions. While developed countries have 24.6 subscriptions per 100
people, the corresponding figure for developing countries is only 4.4” (ITU, 2010). The digital divide is
significant between rural and urban India (Box 18). While the major metropolises are at par with some
of the developed countries, the rural area in states such as eastern Bihar and Orissa are worse off that
several of the least developed countries

India’s Digital Divide


Despite several policy initiatives to promote rural penetration, the total tele-density (the number of
telephones (both landline and wireless put together) in use for every 100 individuals living within an
area) in India is only 60.99. While in urban areas, the total tele-density is 137.25, it is only 28.42 in rural
areas (TRAI, 2011).

Though the mobile subscriber base use has increased rapidly in the past few years, the rural mobile tele-
density is only 27.32 (The corresponding figure for urban areas is 129.8). The rural mobile teledensity in
states such as Assam, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand
are less than the national rural mobile tele-density (TRAI, 2011).

There are 46.49 million internet users in India as on January 2009, of this 39.0 million or 84% of online
Indian come from the urban areas and 7.49 million or 16% comes from the rural areas (Juxt, 2009). The
same study noted that the Internet use has “slowed down” in India. Lack of meaningful local language
content and interfaces, the affordability factors, lack of confidence on transacting and buying online and
the failure of cybercafés to mass mobilize its adoption and usage have all contributed to this slow down.
As per 2001 Census, the rural female literacy rate in India is only 46.70%, and this also constrains women
from accessing print media as well as portals.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 75


The digital divide is also present in the case of traditional ICTs such as radio and television. As per Census
2001, 81 percent of rural households in our country do not own a television set and 68% of the rural
households do not own a radio or transistor set. The percentage of households owning a radio or
television is lower in rural areas as compared to urban areas. In rural television ownership there are
glaring regional variations. In Southern and Northern India nearly a quarter of rural households have a
television set and in Western India one in five households own a television set. However in Eastern India
not even one in ten households possess a television set. A series of village surveys conducted by the
Foundation for Agrarian Studies (FAS), found that the ownership of TV, radio, mobile phones, telephone
and mobiles vary significantly across social groups. Inequality in the ownership and access to basic goods
and services tends to mirror the inequality in the distribution of income-generating assets, particularly
land. TV ownership was obviously low in villages where access to the electricity was low.

A significant number of villages in India are yet to be electrified. These are concentrated in a few states.
As of 31 March 2010, 68.9% of villages in Jharkhand and 38.7% villages in Bihar are not electrified. 37.4%
villages in Orissa, 28.5% villages in Rajasthan and 21.4% villages in Assam are also yet to be electrified
(Ministry of Power, 2010). The concept of digital divide has changed over time. Initially it was considered
as connectivity problems but during the last few years, its understanding has broadened to include
capacities and skills required to use ICTs (Singh, 2010). The digital divide currently represents the
following four kinds of gaps:

1. Gap in access to use ICT


2. Gap in the ability to use ICT’s
3. Gap in actual use
4. Gap in the impact of use

Sustainability
More and more people are now questioning the sustainability, scalability and impact of ICT pilots and
experiments. Only a few organizations in the country have taken up ICT initiatives in any comprehensive
manner and have tried to build services which can be scaled and have a long term sustainable impact on
the society. Most others have, at best, set up demonstration projects rather than sustainable ones.
Reluctance to commercialize and scale these projects has led to their collapse as soon as the intervening
agencies move out.

E-choupal of ITC is perhaps the only one project that has proved to be financially sustainable. However,
the e-choupals are distinct from other telecentre projects in that the value added is not in providing ICT
infrastructure alone, but rather, in enabling efficiencies in the agricultural sector through greater
information exchange and creation of an alternative market structure (Kumar, 2004). The common
service centres (CSCs) currently being rolled out in India are expected to generate revenues through
providing a wide range of services. While echoupals are not targeting women, it is not clear, how far the
rural poor are going to pay and avail the services of the CSCs. The village knowledge centres of MSSRF
have been successful in localizing content and involving the poorest of the poor, women and members
of the backward groups. But as the project neither aspired for nor attained financial sustainability, it
would be listed as a failure, if financial sustainability is a criterion for success.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 76


Many of the pilot ICT initiatives experimented in India were driven initially by ample donor funding and
in recent years by government and business houses. Though many of the donor funded pilot initiatives
provided new insights on application of ICTs and contributed positively to those who accessed these
tools, (mostly in the immediate neighbourhood), a strong relationship between ICT and development on
a wider scale are yet to be witnessed.

Costs
Investments related to establishment of ICT applications especially internet-enabled computers has
been a matter of great concern. However, advent of cheaper mobiles, its new applications (Mobile 2.0)
and cheaper network charges, have addressed this concern to some extent. Many believe that future of
ICTs lies on applications through mobiles. “Access to mobile networks is now available to 90% of the
world population and 80% of the population living in rural areas. Fixed (wired) broadband prices
dropped by 42% between 2008 and 2009 but there are huge difference among countries when it comes
to the affordability of broadband.

There is a lot of hype around provision of a range of information, especially market information through
mobiles these days. But the links between availability of market price information and better price
realization are not that direct. “While ICTs and specifically Mobile 2.0 based agricultural applications do
have a role to play in reducing transaction costs, for small farmers to engage more effectively in
agricultural markets, other constraints such as access to credit and relevant infrastructure (from
transport to storage) need to be met”.

Stand alone Vs Integrated ICT projects


A common criticism of ICT for development projects is that they fail to build on existing systems of work
in a participatory manner and therefore do not achieve local input and local ownership. There is often a
gap between the design of an ICT project and the reality of what can unfold on the ground and the long-
term implications for women. A broad range of ICTs exist, each having its strengths and weaknesses with
respect to the context in which it has to be used. It is the context, that should determine the range of
tools that are relevant and the context is dynamic and the opportunities for converging different tools
exist. In other words, there is no ideal ICT that fits all situations. There has been a tendency among well-
wishing government officials, international agencies and NGOs to assume that ICT implementation is
focused on a “computer in every village”, scattering of “information kiosks’ throughout the nation and
“universal computer-based education”. If the potential of ICTs have to be fully realized, this mindset has
to be challenged. Based on the study of e-choupal, ICT projects can be financially sustainable when they
are viewed not as an end in themselves but as tools to facilitate information exchange whereby, use of
the technology enables higher efficiencies in another existing or new business setting, which provides
the source of revenue to recover the initial investment.

Resistance to change
The innovation diffusion theory states that over time an innovation will diffuse through a population,
and the rate of adoption will vary between those who adopt early, referred to as early adopters and to
those who adopt the innova on much later, referred to as ―laggards.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 77


The resistant to change phenomenon can explain much of the hesitation that occurs on the part of
constituents in moving from a paper based to a Web-based system for interacting with government.

Citizens, employees and businesses can all have their biases with respect to how transactions should be
processed. However, government entities and public policy administrators cannot ignore the changes
that occur as a result of the implementation of information and communication technology (ICT

Education about the value of the new systems is one step toward reducing some of the existing
resistance. It can also be particularly useful for a leader or manager, to buy into the new system at an
early stage in the adoption process

Privacy and Security


There will be three basic levels of access exists for e-government stakeholders: no access to a Web
service; limited access to a Web-service or full-access to a Web service, however when personal
sensitive data exists the formation of the security access policy is a much more complex process with
legal consideration. With the implementation of e-government projects, effective measures must be
taken to protect sensitive personal information. A lack of clear security standards and protocols can limit
the development of projects that contain sensitive information such as income, medical history.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 78


Conclusion
e-Governance is not about ‘e’ but about ‘government’; it is not about computers and websites, but
about services to citizens and businesses. e- Governance is also not about translating processes; it is
about transforming them. e- Governance is concerned with the transformation of government,
modernisation of government processes and functions and better public service delivery mechanisms
through technology so that government can be put on an auto-pilot mode. The challenges in e-
Governance have been described as centred around four key areas viz people, process, technology and
resources.

To compete successfully in a network based global economy, governments need to be both leaders and
facilitators comprising the following elements:

Developing a national e-strategy, making ICT adoption and network readiness a national priority;

Undertaking innovative projects that make a difference, to lead by example, adopting best practices;

Reforming government processes covering areas such as revenues, expenditures, procurement, service
delivery, customer grievances etc;

Tracking, storing and managing information, promoting production of national content online and
through electronic media; and documenting “successes” and “failures”;

According high priority to protection of individual rights, intellectual property, privacy, security,
consumer protection etc. and mobilising the civil society; and

Developing a supportive framework for early adoption of ICT and creating a regulatory framework for
IcT-related activities.

Creating the macro-economic environment for growth and innovation in IcT, including fiscal policies
(cost, innovation, investment, and venture capital), legal and regulatory environment (competition,
independent regulator, rule of law, intellectual property protection) and channelizing and mobilization
of resources for IcT is an important corollary to e-Governance as is implementing an education policy for
the right quantum and quality of manpower resources for a network-ready economy-curricula, IcT
training facilities and wiring/networking of educational institutions. Addressing the ‘digital divide’
domestically and internationally, giving signals to markets - articulating a national vision of IcT,
according national priority to IcT, undertaking large projects, promoting innovation and risk taking
through fiscal concessions and availability of venture capital; creating an investment climate for
domestic and foreign investment in IcT sector; championing national interests in international forums
etc. are equally important.

Women Empowerment through ICT


Most of the ICT applications are disseminating new knowledge and information to rural communities
including women. However many women don’t have the required support (human networks and
M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 79
financial support) and access to complementary set of knowledge and services to make use of this
information. New information is necessary but not sufficient to bring about women empowerment. It is
also interesting to note that those women who are part of other women focused initiatives were able to
make use of the power of ICTs better. Wherever, women are part of initiatives that are empowering
rural women, they are able to benefit from these tools better.

Rural women are increasingly gaining in terms of employment in ICT-based enterprises. There is also
clear evidence on women gaining by use of ICTs in their enterprises. ICTs do contribute to women
empowerment, though its contributions vary significantly based on the tool used, for what purpose it is
applied and by which agency. There is evidence, though limited, to reasonably conclude that ICTs have
the potential to contribute towards economic, social and political empowerment of women.

Economic Empowerment: In the case of SEWA, application of ICTs especially use of computers and
internet based communication and marketing applications have contributed to enhancing the efficiency
of the enterprises (reduction in wastage, better planning of production inputs and use of external high
value markets) thereby contributing to the profitability of the enterprise and better income for women.
Application of ICTs in dairy cooperative societies has resulted in transparency in milk procurement,
pricing, less waiting time and quick payment for milk and needless to say women manage the dairy
enterprise in Gujarat and traditionally women control/manage the income from dairying. Women have
benefited financially through ICT-based enterprises promoted by Kudumbasree and from Rural BPO
operations such as Desi Crew and HarVa. More women are also becoming entrepreneurs setting up and
managing the CSCs (e.g., Srei Sahaj).

Social Empowerment: The village knowledge centres of MSSRF is a good example of an ICT initiative
that is providing an opportunity or space for rural women to communicate with other women who are
seeking similar relevant information and need similar kinds of trainings. Knowledge Share Centres of I-
Kisan/CRIDA and AMS/ICRISAT are also providing such opportunities where ICTs are providing
information and opportunities for interaction, thereby addressing the isolation of rural women and
contributing to social empowerments. Listener groups and community media production groups
organized under the CR is another case where ICTs are contributing to social empowerment.

Political Empowerment: ICTs are contributing to political empowerment, in areas where it has been
applied as agents of change. Video Sewa is one such case, where videos are used to bring attention of
the public and the community on the need for change and action. DDS has also been using the video and
the radio to bring about attitudinal and operational changes to the kinds of crops grown and
technologies to be adopted. Women who are part of the CR in Uttarakhand felt that after giving several
interviews on the radio, their confidence has also been boosted as they had never been given any
opportunities to make their opinions known in public places. They were initially scared to even utter a
single word in front of a mike.

Most of the ICTs are disseminating new information and knowledge on agriculture, health and nutrition
among rural women. However, due to the continuing digital divide between urban and rural areas and
also between men and women, many rural women are yet to fully benefit from the potential of ICTs.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 80


While new information and knowledge is necessary, it is not sufficient to bring about women
empowerment. To make use of the information, women would need access to other sources of support
and services. Women who are part of other development initiatives or groups and those who have
access to other sources of service and support were able to better use the information and knowledge
disseminated through ICTs.

The potential of ICT tools varied widely in reaching rural women. There is no ideal ICT that fits all
situations. Among the varied tools, the knowledge centres and the community radio were found to have
the greatest potential in reaching women with locally relevant content. In both cases, there is an explicit
intention to target rural women.

Radio and television would still remain critical for disseminating a wide range of information to rural
communities in India in the years to come. Increasing interactivity and more imaginative programming
through interfacing with communities and listeners/viewer clubs/groups would enhance its contribution
significantly. Radio and television also support distance education programmes to a very large extent.

There is a lot of potential for ICTs to create new employment opportunities for women in rural areas.
Rural women however need financial, technical and managerial support to effectively utilize this
opportunity. ICTs can also contribute significant gains in efficiency and effectiveness in rural women
enterprises.

From the cases reviewed, it is clear that it is not the ICT per se, but the vision of the organization
applying the ICT and its working relationship with rural communities that is contributing to women’s
access and use of ICTs.

If women have to benefit from application of ICTs, special focus needs to be given in its application,
otherwise like any other development interventions, women get sidelined. Enacting and enforcing
gender-sensitive ICT policies makes lot of sense.

Efforts are also needed to bridge the different types of digital divide (rural-urban; men-women)
currently witnessed in India. Apart from strengthening infrastructure (electricity, connectivity, common
access points), there is a need to invest resources in generating locally relevant content in local language
and dialects, through employing participatory content generation methods.

More efforts are also needed for enhancing the capacities of rural communities, especially rural women
to access ICTs. Human intermediation is critical and the success of ICTs in empowering rural women
would essentially depend on the quality of human intermediation.

Most of the available evidence on ICTs and women empowerment is anecdotal. To fully understand the
developmental and empowerment implications of ICTs, further research is required.

National Commission on Farmers (2007) recommended that “the Government should review its policy
towards CR, since a combination of the Internet / cell phone and CR will help to take timely information
to farmers even in the remotest parts of the country and judiciously harness ‘air waves or frequencies

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 81


which are public property.’ It also suggested that the provision of CR licenses should be streamlined. We
hope that the Government will look into this advice and act accordingly.

Different States in India are at different levels of e-readiness: while implementing e-Governance reforms
in different parts of the country, this aspect has to be kept in mind. This makes implementation of
national e-Governance projects in a uniform way difficult. Therefore, it is necessary to bring all States at
the same or comparable levels of IT readiness. Today, there are a number of successful projects of e-
Governance running in the country. but there are very few which are on a nation-wide basis. The
challenge is to replicate and upscale the successful models.

A large number of e-Governance projects can be implemented in the public-private partnership mode. It
is a challenge to integrate the professional approach of the private sector with the social concerns of the
Government. It is necessary to evolve some norms for such partnerships. It is also very important to
provide all services to citizen at one common counter/platform, preferably close to where the citizen
lives. This is possible through e-Governance. but this requires all the individual services to be brought to
the same levels of computerization which poses a serious challenge. The next step thereafter is to use
mobile technology and India’s increasing mobile telephony penetration rates to allow citizens to
transact many services on the move without even needing to come to a common counter let alone
queue up for the services.

Development of any society depends on its access to information and the same is applicable to rural
India too. ICT has worked wonders in this direction and helped the socially marginalized community to
attain their entitlements. Launch of Digital India Programme is a welcome step in this direction. It is
anticipated that with dedicated leadership, willpower and control and an integrated framework
comprising of the government, technology industry and society, ICT interventions in the rural areas will
undoubtedly pave way towards sustainable growth.

M.A.R.D. | Role of ICT in Rural Development of India | 180777963 | Shashank Tiwari 82


Bibliography
Sources from Internet
• “E-Governance”. Insights on India. 29 November 2018.
http://www.insightsonindia.com/2014/11/23/e-governance-india-concept-initiatives-issues/

• “Digital India”. Market Concepts. 29 November 2018.


https://marketconcepts.co.in/blog/digital-india/

• “Women in India”. Women Empowerment. 29 November 2018.


https://www.empowerwomen.org/en/resources/documents/2013/11/ict-and-
empowerment-of-indian-rural-women?lang=en

• “Delivery of Benefits”. Live Mint. 29 November 2018.


https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/FO5sx2Aqd8merencoCecTN/Delivering-benefits-to-the-
poor.html

• “Digital Rural India”. The Hindu. 29 November 2018. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-


paper/tp-national/In-digital-push-telecom-regulator-moots-free-data-for-rural-
users/article16908575.ece

• “A.T.I.C”. Ministry of Agriculture. 2 November 2018. http://icarzcu3.gov.in/atic.htm

• “A.T.I.C”. Indian Council of Agricultural Research. 2 November 2018.


http://www.icar.org.in/agricultural-extension.htm

• “A.T.I.C”. Ministry of Agriculture. 3 November 2018. http://www.cazri.res.in/atic.php

• “Marketing in India”. 11 November 2018. http://agmarknet.nic.in/

• National Informatics Centre, www.nic.in.

Books/Reports
• Nilekani, Nandan. Imagining India

• NITI Ayog Resource Book on Good Practices

• Madon, Shirin, E-Governance for Development: A Focus on Rural India

• Second Administrative Reforms Commission Report on Promoting E-Governance

• Report of the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income

• Mukerji, Maitrayee, ICT’s and Development: A Study of Telecentres in Rural India

• World Bank Report: ICT in Agriculture: Connecting Smallholders to Knowledge, Networks


and Institutions

• The World Bank Report:Rural Development: From Vision to Action – A Sector Strategy
• Swaminathan, M.S. Looking Back at Green Revolution

• Annual Reports, Ministry of Information, Govt. of India

• Annual Reports of Ministry of Rural Development , GOI

Magazines, Articles & Journals


• Dr. Saroj Kumar Singh: ICT for Rural Development: An Inclusive Framework for e-Governance

• Dr. Sangita Agrawal: ICT & Rural India

• R. Saravanan: ICTs for Agricultural Extension in India: Policy Implications for Developing
Countries

• Suhasini Srivastava: Role of ICT in E-governance and Rural Development : An Indian Scenario

• Abhay Kumar and K. M. Singh: Role of ICT’s in Rural Development with reference to
Changing Climatic Conditions

• Nirvikar Singh: ICTs and Rural Development in India

• Ankita Gupta and Dr. S.S. Gautam: ICT for Rural Development: Opportunities and Challenges

• Kuldeep Singh, Arnab Gantait, Goldi Puri, G. Anjaneya Swamy: Rural Tourism: Need, Scope
and Challenges in Indian Context

• Kurukshetra September 2017 Issue

• Kurukshetra February 2018 Issue

• Kurukshetra April 2018 Issue

• Kurukshetra May 2018 Issue

• Yojana May 2018 Issue

• Yojana July 2018 Issue