eGovernance in India

Improving eGovernance in INDIA

“Connectivity, the key to empowering rural India”

Posted by egovindia on July 29, 2006

“Connectivity, the key to empowering rural India”

Special Correspondent

Infrastructure had to be enhanced for information revolution to reach villages: Modi





IN DISCUSSION: (From left to right) Union Minister for Panchayati Raj, Mani Shankar Aiyer; M.S. Swaminathan, chairman, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at the Third Convention of the National Alliance for Mission 2007, inaugurated in Chennai on Friday.


CHENNAI: Digital inclusion of the rural population and connectivity were the key to empowering rural India, speakers at the inauguration of the Third Convention of the National Alliance for Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre, said on Friday. The convention was organised by a consortium of stakeholders with representation from government, corporate, academic and NGO institutions.

Rural infrastructure had to be enhanced for the information revolution to reach villages, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, said. While horizontal connectivity was needed between villages to harness and share local resources and best practices, vertical connectivity was needed at the administrative level. The Gujarat Government had announced a financial reward of Rs. one crore for small IT companies that set up ventures for rural development, he added.

An effective village knowledge centre network had to involve panchayati raj representatives and should be located in gram panchayats, Union Panchayati Raj Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, said. The country had a total of two and half lakh local bodies with 32 lakh elected representatives. Links had to be created between them and the information and communication technology (ICT) revolution, he added.

The convention would examine how to take connectivity from the block/taluk level downwards to strengthen rural employment and the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan movement, Professor M.S. Swaminathan, chairman of Mission 2007, said.

Support group

An international support group had been formed to help the mission in its rural connectivity project, Ravi Venkatesan, chairman, Microsoft India, said.

One of the hurdles faced was the lack of locally relevant, affordable content. At present, four concepts were emerging for such projects, viz, the government, corporate, private entrepreneurship and public-private partnership models, he said.

Tamil Nadu was in the forefront in taking ICT to the villages, C. Chandramouli, Secretary, Information Technology department, Government of Tamil Nadu, said. Around 6,500 panchayats in the State had already been given the necessary hardware and self-help groups were being trained in computer operations. A `connectivity backbone’ at the taluk/block level would be ready by December this year. Government services would be offered through rural IT kiosks to make them sustainable. A special purpose vehicle was in the offing to enable cross-subsidy of the operations by offering commercial applications, he added.

Three important things that could be delivered through ICT were education, health services and livelihood options, Ashok Jhunjhunwala, professor, IIT, Chennai, said. Problems still existed in inadequate power supply and lacking of entrepreneurial training, he added.

Francoise Binder, country head, Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation and Jocelyne Josiah, advisor to UNESCO, also participated. A technology pavilion showcasing village-oriented technology innovations was also launched.

Microsoft India and International Development Research Centre, Canada, have jointly launched a rural innovation fund to enable vendors in small towns to create software solutions for the needs of rural communities, Mr. Venkatesan later told reporters.

A seed capital of $2,00,000 had been put up and a committee will be formed to formulate guidelines. The fund will also include scholarships and awards.

Protest against Modi

A minor commotion ensued during the convention was on when a woman member in the audience, who was later identified as a member of the IIT faculty, protested against Mr. Modi’s presence. “We oppose Mr. Modi speaking on knowledge for villages,” she said walking up to the dais, holding a placard and staging a walk-out.

Subsequently, police personnel tightened the security cordon around the venue, leading to several reporters and invitees being denied entry into the hall until Mr. Modi left.


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