One set of institutions which need to be part of the Village InfoGrid are engineering colleges, which can play an important role in both developing software applications relevant for the rural segment, as well as providing technical support to nearby villages. By stimulating the creativity of the young human mind, we can create a win-win situation for students looking for interesting and practical projects to do in their final year of college, and the needs of the villages looking for technology talent to create content and software for the TeleInfoCentres and the InfoGrid.
An interesting idea to make villages attractive by clustering them together is outlined by Indias President APJ Kalam. It is a scheme called PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas), and aims to to make rural areas as attractive to investors as cities are. Then, rural areas too will generate urban-style employment to halt (if not reverse) rural-urban migration. The scheme envisages:
Linking a loop of villages by a ring road about 30 km in circumference with frequent bus services. That will integrate the population of all connected villages into one market. Then, those villages become a virtual city with a potential to expand and accommodate 3-5 lakhs population. Compensating farmers for the land acquired from them NOT by a lump sum but by an annual fee equal to twice the price of the produce they grow. That gives farmers a perpetual inflation protected income. Sub-leasing the land to employers both for business and for employee residences within walking distance of each other. That will virtually eliminate daily commuting to work, an unavoidable evil in city living.
The President wrote recently in India Today on PURA: The model envisages a habitat designed to improve the quality of life in rural places and makes special suggestions to improve urban congestion too. As against a conventional city, say rectangular in shape and measuring approximately 10 km by 6 km, this model considers a ring-shaped town integrating a minimum of 8 to 10 villages in the same area. This model provides easy access to villages, saves transportation time, cuts costs substantially and is more convenient for the general people. Such a model of establishing a circular connectivity model of rural village complexes will accelerate rural development process by empowerment.
On this idea, overlay technology with TeleInfoCentres connected as part of the Village InfoGrid, and we have an architecture that now fully integrates the village into the networked world, both physically and virtually.
By building a technology centre in the villages and connecting these together, we are leapfrogging a whole set of people from an era where they could interact with only a handful of people to one where they can peer with many more like them irrespective of distance. It is much like how the Internet connected diverse and isolated networks in its early days. The Village InfoGrid is the first step towards making the global village a reality.
Tomorrow: Intelligent, Real-Time Governance
Transforming Rural India+T