Let us start by outlining our vision for the solution that we want to offer at the village-level from the viewpoints of the four stakeholders: the villagers, the village administration, the district administration and rural marketing organisations.
Today, the village is singularly isolated. It is not part of a larger community. Its interaction with the external world is quite limited. In a sense, it is an idyllic world, unspoilt by modernity. Yes, villages can now watch TV, talk on phones, and get newspapers and magazines. But by and large, the village voice is silent, except when it comes to the ballot box. What is needed is an interactive solution, with the villagers having a say in what they do and how they grow.
What is needed is for the village and its people to have greater access to new opportunities. Even as the nation moves ahead, the village for the most part has remained an island of its own. This is what has to change. The village needs to become a self-sustaining unit, and at the same time integrated with the rest of the ecosystem. The underlying idea is to use the solution to put more power and responsibility into the hands of the local community at the village, by providing them with the right technology and information they need to make decisions.
From a villagers point of view, this is what he would like to see:
A connected computer which provides access to computing resources and the Internet.
A programme to ensure that he and his family can be made literate and e-literate. At the minimum, there should be at least one person in the family who knows English and can use a computer.
An email ID, ensuring that he can be reached electronically.
Storage Space for keeping electronic copies of key official documents (eg. land records, certificates) and other information (eg. medical records).
Access to various eServices for government interactions from accessing information to doing transactions. This should be combined with service-level guarantees from the government departments.
Computer-enabled education for his children in schools, so they are comfortable with technology from an early age.
Access to electronic markets where he can sell his products directly without being dependent on middlemen who take away much of the profit.
Programmes to upgrade his and his familys skillsets, so they can become better at what they are doing and learn new skills.
Protection of data, so that unauthorised access does not happen.
All of this to be available for a monthly basic fee of no more than Rs 20 per family.
Tomorrow: Village Vision (continued)