Travel down the length and breadth of the nation and you will notice a stark reality staring down at you. The simple truth as you cross one milestone after another is that India is divided and this divide, between rural and urban India is being bridged today. The process is slow, but efforts are being made to restore livelihood one step at a time. Three key problems that have to be dealt with to help alleviate destitution and the evils of poverty amongst people in our hinterland are: Education, Healthcare and Employment. Infrastructure development also is a key factor that needs to be looked at, but government schemes like PURA are making efforts.
A number of private organizations as well as government schemes are mobilizing forces to bridge a gap that had been ignored for a very long time. Post independence emphasis was laid on urbanization and rural India received no attention. The agricultural sector stagnated while manufacturing and services excelled to bring India some glory. But people in the villages felt the heat, lack of infrastructure, healthcare, employment and education has kept them contained in an environment that has not been conducive to growth.
India was known as the bird of gold, and today, it is poised to achieve that status again. But the opportunity as CK Prahlad claims lies at the bottom of the pyramid. Yes, it is rural India that holds the key to this nation’s growth and progress. Organizations in India as well as all over the world have realised that the latent potential needs to be taped into. Technology is the answer. Companies like Cisco, Kyocera and Huawei are looking at India to make their bottom lines look good. The mutual benefit is something we look forward to. Let’s look at how technology is playing a key role in closing this gap.
Employment: Agriculture is the mainstay of people in rural India. However with the lack of resources more often than not they are unable to meet growing demands. Micro finance in rural India and the availability of cash in back of beyond areas have given way for growth. Kiosks that can dispense cash are being set up by some banks to furnish this need. This allows people to have access to cash and therefore be more productive.
Another initiative by ITC and various other retailers have allowed for backward integration with farmers across the country to give a spurt to supply by the set of various procurement centres in districts that have been ignored till now. e-chaupal, an initiative by ITC allows for farmers to stay up to date with costs for produce, market forecasts and various other information that can allow for a good produce. Representatives from panchayats are picked to run these kiosks thus allowing for employment opportunities as well.
Cisco and a number of other organizations have also set up similar centres in a number of villages across the nation and wish to make the network stronger with the help of partners in these areas who understand the needs of people in these areas. Cisco believes that ‘Technology is the answer to empower rural communities in the country”.
Education: Virtual classrooms are mushrooming in villages across the rural landscape of the nation. A small village in Madhya Pradesh is home to a small classroom that does not have a teacher present in it, but education is dispensed with the help of technology through a virtual medium. Cisco aims at setting up more virtual classrooms in rural India, by deploying teachers in the nearest towns and connecting them to people in villages by way of a virtual medium through the internet.
Healthcare: While people in urban India are worrying about dental implants, liposuction and botox, rural India is worrying about the lack of basic amenities to survive. Preventive healthcare is the need of the hour and technology is helping nip the problem in the bud. Entrepreneurs from various walks of life are helping people in rural India treat the problems of health before it’s too late. Providing hospitals and hospital beds is not enough, the problem is at the basic level. Clean drinking water and a clean environment to live in with the availability of good medical support before the problem escalates are being provided by Samaritans that care with the help of technology.
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