Friday, May 20, 2011

Internet Reaches Rural India

India is home to more than 600,000 remote villages, cut off from the urban populace. Increasingly the government is looking for a way to reach these areas which account for more than half of the population. The government has taken the course of technology to provide a solution. "It is time for our IT roots to go further inland and make sure those areas which are tribal, rural and far-off geographically are brought ambit of the IT revolution" stated Sachin Pilot, the minister of state for communications and information technology.

India is presently home to a sharp digital divide. While the coast has the world's second fastest growing mobile market, it is lagging in internet connectivity. The IT revolution that India has experienced has predominantly reached the better off urban areas and bypassed the remote rural ones. However, with the urban markets mostly saturated at this point, telecom industries have now taken interest in Indian villages.

By 2014, India wants to connect 160 million Indians to high speed internet in rural towns. The country is hoping to bridge the digital divide since farmers benefit greatly from the internet services. By having internet connectivity they are able to access agricultural data and negotiate better prices, thus saving money. But, it is not just the farmers who have witnessed the lifting impact of the internet. Experts have long argued that technology, and in this case the internet, is known to help provide public services such as education, health and agriculture to the most remote places. If it is implemented correctly, it could open up markets and connect businesses benefiting India's rural societies.

-Gabrielle Gurian