If India is to realise the vision of its Prime Minister and President (echoing the feeling of its populace) that the country should become a developed nation by 2020, the need is for a bottom-up revolution, which does not stop at Indias villages, but starts with them. The need is to consider people not as our biggest problem, but our greatest strength. What has been missing so far has been a framework in which the mix of villages, people and technology can be magically combined to build a New India an India which is transformed from a democracy into an Emergent Democracy.
An Emergent Democracy is one in which people across the chain, from the villages to the cities, are empowered and have a say in governance not just through their vote, but by active participation in discussion and execution. By leveraging the power of the people in a bottom-up manner where the whole mass is much greater than the sum of the individuals. It is a nation which truly makes governance of the people, by the people and for the people.
The ideas that we have discussed here a network of TeleInfoCentres in every village connected together into a Village InfoGrid, and complemented by Intelligent, Real-Time Governance will lead to reduced information asymmetry between administration and the citizens. It will provide for real-time feedback on schemes and problems, with solutions also being provided by people themselves.
It will also increase efficiency, transparency and accountability and reduce corruption. In addition, it creates a local technology ecosystem that is not just beneficial as India seeks to deepen and widen its technology base and build out a knowledge-driven society, but also self-sustaining, replicable and viable.
Writing in his book The Elephant Paradigm: India Wrestles with Change, Gurcharan Das has a section on The Ambiguous Village. There are two diametrically opposite views on Indias villages. He writes:
Mahatma Gandhi was a man of the city but he had the most romantic view of the countryside. He dreamt of building a modern India around self-governing village republics: My idea of village swaraj is that is a complete republic independent of its neighbours for its own vital wants and yet inter-dependent for many others.
Jawaharlal Nehru disagreed with Gandhi, saying that a village, normally speaking, is backward intellectually and culturally and no progress can be made from a backward environment.
Urban India wants this century to belong to India. No nation can progress leaving behind more than two-thirds of its populace. The tools of technology in the form of TeleInfoCentres, the Village InfoGrid and Intelligent, Real-Time eGovernance are at hand. The choice of transforming or ignoring Rural India is in our hands.
Transforming Rural India+T