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Notes on tech

Notes on technology, business, enterpreneurship, economy, markets along with interesting general tidbits.

Connecting rural areas - Project e-Bharat

5/08/2006 09:35:00 AM, posted by anand

In the sunday edition of the TOI, there was some news on how the Gujarat goverment is planning to bridge the digital divide. Here are some excerpts, with my commentary in italics:

The Gujarat government has taken the lead to bridge the digital divide. As many as 750 villages out of 14,000 provide online services for farm and agriculture related information. Thats about a 5% coverage

Another 6000 villages offer offline computer based services like issuing birth and death certificates and farmer caste certificate. This offline service is being converted to an online service and would soon be available in 9000 villages.

At the end of the day what matters is efficiency and transparency. I bet, the farmers dont care whether the service is online or offline, performed with a typewriter or a computer. Almost none of the farmers would own a PC as such.

The Government of India is going to spend Rs. 6000 crore to provide 100,000 multi-purpose kiosks in villages by 2007. These kiosks will serve has a single point contacts for a variety of community services like e-learning, e-training, e-health etc etc.

My questions are:
  • Will all villagers have access to the kiosk technology or will the upper caste villagers restrict access to themselves? Who ensures equality of access?
  • How will people access the kiosk? A 101-key keyboard is almost useless in the villages. The access has to be thru touch-screen and voice technology.
  • Will they provide just one kiosk per village? Will people queue up to use that terminal?
  • Will this work in villages that suffer frequent power outages and extreme temperatures?
Maybe the government has good answers to the above questions. I am just not aware of the answers.
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