My Thoughts on – Smartphone’s / Mobile technology in Rural Indian Community
India particularly knows for its reach cultures, different religious systems, rural and agriculture industry based economy (70 % rural population). In past 2 decades, particularly after globalization, we have been harnessing benefits as well hindrance of revolutionary growth of Information Technology (IT) sector. The penetration of mobile technology to the grassroots’ is one of the major added advantages IT revolution in country. IT & mobile technology has already proven its advantageous role plays in education, medical, banking, public transport etc area of development. With the rolling out of “Digital India” (http://deity.gov.in/sites/upload_files/dit/files/Digital%20India.pdf ) and Make In India like Initiatives we are now all set move further to ride on this technology transformation. The transformation is bringing many opportunities and challenges ranging for financial, human resource to socio-political changes in coming days.
It seems that, the smartphone based mobile technologies has already penetrating rural markets in India with annual increase of 70- 80% (http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/info-tech/rural-india-logs-into-mobile-internet/article4769674.ece). The development of low cost hardware platform like “AAKASH tablet” (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/Govt-to-provide-tablets-to-Gram-Panchayats-under-MGNREGA/articleshow/45987435.cms ) and competitive internet (3G / 4G) connectivity will further enhance IT revolution speed.
But to percolate benefits IT particularly to the rural and under privileges section of society, a real need is to develop, adopt these IT application as per local or real time needs community. And the question arises that – For what kind of applications community is adopting this technology (with such speed)? Are communities real using mobile applications for personal / societal / mutual benefits in rural area? (Actual this question could be equally applicable to urban area even in developed countries). For service providers (Mobile phone manufactures, operators etc) these questions, doesn’t it real matter as far as their business is concern! But for us as developmental sector this matters lot as we can see lot of opportunities in it!
Been representative of rural society, in past 2-3 years, I have been experiencing same of the positive applications of mobile based internet service (apart from entertainment and fun based social networking). Few examples are –
• Farmers groups on social networking applications like Whatups / facebook etc.
• Use of e-commerce and e-governance by rural community ( particularly by banking , postal and local village level administration)
• Some of the educational applications in rural schools like e-learning and distance learning.
Instate of just criticizing or questioning this transformation, need is to be a part of it with positive attitude and better manage available resource toward desire change we want to be! Facebook has already planed up reach Indian villages and connect them to global world with as Community Information Resource Centres (http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/FBePf7xWFjQ3rxyQ3UDTBI/Zuckerberg-Facebook-Internetorg-and-Indian-villages.html).
We need to teach community to better use of IT applications, by involving them in transformation. Need is also to develop and adopt real time and local need based IT application for rural community and keep research / scientific approach while disseminating them !
We at Vigyan ashram, are experimenting with use of AAKSH tablet based mobile applications for rural application particularly for skill training in rural Schools, farmers community etc (more details are on – www.vigyanashram.wordpress.com )
I don’t want to claim OR prove anything from this article, but idea is to just put my views and start thought process.