By Anonna Dutt:
Technologies have touched India and made it possible for the country to think of becoming a world power. But the same technology has been inaccessible to the rural India since its advent. Here, what we need to look at is that, it is only 30% of India’s population which is reaping benefits from such technologies. The rest 70% live in oblivion. This amounts to a huge difference in the rural India; economically as well as socially.
This difference seemed to be leveled down a bit after the introduction of mobile phones in villages. The cheap rates of cell phone services helped it to penetrate rural India, thus making the Indian market of cell phones the second largest in the world. This technology helped the rural people to be better connected to the urban dwellers. Now, the 3G technology is all set to transform rural India completely.
The question that arises here is — how would 3G be accessible to the people living in villages, when essentially most of the technologies never knock at their doorsteps? Actually, the government was well aware of such a problem and thus had thought of a solution even before 3G licenses were put on bid for the service providers.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had set very high prices for the 3G licenses which compelled the service providers to reach out to the millions of potential customers in villages to recover these costs. The government, under its National e-Governance Programme (NeGP), is also trying to make sureÂ about the necessary infrastructure in villages to attract the private players to get involved in rural marketing. Apart from that, even the providers have realised that the urban market has become saturated and so it would be extremely profitable for them to move on to the virgin market of rural India.
This was from the perspective of the government and the corporates as to how and why should 3G be made available in rural India. But would the rural population actually benefit from this? The answer would undoubtedly be yes.
The best part about 3G is that it would solve a very basic problem — the problem of language barriers. More than half of the ‘educated population’ in villages do not know English and whatever we might say, it is a fact that there isn’t a lot written in regional languages on the web. With 3G people can now communicate with the world by using videos and other such visual aids. And the best part is that they can do this on their cell phones, which again helps to overcome the problem of power cuts in villages. There are many other benefits of 3G in rural India which would help them to progress in various fields.
For example, if we look at the health care system in rural India, it is pretty much in a mess. Firstly, primary health care centres are not accessible to all villages, many people have to travel a lot to reach one and even when they reach there the centres are not properly equipped. Due to such carelessness, we see deaths every now and then. With 3G coming in, long distance real-time treatment would be possible and would thus benefit them greatly.
Similarly, it could help in the field of education too. The government schools now have a problem of teachers coming in. Also, the schools lack basic facilities. This too could be solved if the teachers taking classes in urban schools can be connected to the rural children and they too could take the classes with their urban counterparts. This would dramatically increase the literacy rate of India.
Also, we know there are not many banks operating in rural India, which creates a problem for the village dwellers as it is very difficult for them to manage their funds or get loans. This problem too could be solved with the help of e-banking.
And the last and major benefit: benefit in the field of agriculture. More than 70% of our population is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture and it would really be unfair if such a wonderful technology does not even touch the major occupation of the country. In the first place it would give farmers the information about the new products available and their prices so that they are not duped by the middlemen. It might actually remove the middleman from the transaction process. Farmers can confirm deals online even before they start producing a particular crop and hence would not face a loss, also, fisherman can share the pictures of their catch even before they head for the shore.
With all these benefits, 3G seems to be a very promising technology. After we are aware of all the benefits, what we need to look into is that, all these plans should not just stay on paper and should be implemented immediately.