Target poverty with the power of Information-networks

Written by: Rajender Dichpally & Sachi Satapathy

With over 84 crores mobile users, of which one-fourth having access to internet on their devices, India must take forward it's long awaited administrative reform to address gaps in governance system and use the power of IT to government services, welfare schemes to improve both service delivery and quality of life in both urban-rural areas without any further delay.

The government's plan to connect its 2.5 lakh village panchayats with broad-band access and stick to earlier government's Aadhar initiatives can be a game changer in this direction.

Poverty in India (Representational Image)

The question is; when urban population is able to test the innovation in the field, why the rural population is still lag behind in accessing the power of information for their benefit.

If the information technology can be made available at the door step of the rural people and make it the way of life for them, many issues-challenges can get an instant answer and solution.

For example, a mother in most remote areas can save her new born child, a child in very remote area can gather lots of information and prepare himself/herself to reach his dream jobs, a small farmer, young entrepreneur can search how to get a better market price for his/her product, government can help poor through direct transfer of benefits without corruption.

However, it is a huge task before government to make use of IT talents and facilitate this process in the rural areas in a much faster pace than what is currently moving.

Government should think up, how farmers can use IT to share information on farming practices and marketing strategy and get good profit.

The assumption that rich, educated or privileged class can only use information in their favour is found to be wrong; as it is all classes of population, entrepreneurs can use the power of information-technology to their advantage.

One can see how a taxi driver or vendor can use cell phone to help his profession/business. There is nothing, which can match the requirement of a mobile phone and internet of this country's 800 million youth under the age of 35 years, who are hungry for information for their knowledge and career enhancement.

Government must work towards promoting digital literacy and make these tools accessible, affordable to bring revolutionary changes in Information, education, skills, healthcare, livelihood, financial inclusion, small and village enterprises and above all creating opportunities for women, conservation of natural resources, clean energy.

The Government must come forward with a detailed plan to provide expert assistance through the Information center's where the farmer can send a picture of his crop through his phone to the Information centers and the Information center can send other relevant data to the experts who will then determine the various factors and then advise the farmers on how to avoid drought or infestation or advise him on the course of action to work around the issue that he is facing.

The Information technology can be used by having the market yards equipped with the best practices and knowledge articles on the farming techniques/ crop protection and irrigation methods to be used in the specific areas.

These market yards/ centers can also have soft copies/ DVD's of issues that are commonly effect the farmers in the area by crop protection from various insects/ bugs etc and how to prevent them for enhance productivity.

These market centers can also distribute knowledge based articles on pamphlets/ leaflets by printing from the knowledge articles and distributing them to the people in the area.

As we forecast the prices of shares/commodities/ securities based on past performance, market conditions and other factors, similarly we can also fairly project an approximate value of the agricultural products based on past prices, market demand and other factors that may determine the price of the products.

This will help farmers to cultivate the correct produce that will give him maximum profits and help him also plan his next produce based on the advisory from the Information centers.

There are several BI software packages that can be used as a model to develop and give the projections for the farming sector.

Government must work aggressively to expand public Wi-Fi hotspots, set up common service centres in villages and towns and connect our farmers better to markets and makes them less vulnerable to the whims of weather.

In a country with 22 official languages, internet can also play a major role to help skilled laborer to know other language and geographical details, work opportunity through the mobile and work easily in other states without being cheated.

This is probably the only option, which can make rural India grow and reduce rural-urban gaps considerably.

About Authors:

Rajender Dichpally: Mr Dichpally is educated at New York Institute of Technology, USA and worked with Ernst & Young, KPMG, Standard & Poor's, JP Morgan Chase and currently with Bank of America as a lead Information technology professionals and programmer and based at NEW York, USA.

Sachi Satapathy: Mr Satapathy is a lead development and policy experts worked with multilateral and bilateral agencies and based in New Delhi, India.

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the authors. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Oneindia and Oneindia does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.]

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