Rediff Interview

The ‘affordable computing’ dream is the title of a story on me in Rediff by Priya Ganapati. Talks a little about my past (which I don’t like, but maybe that’s why I get heard now!), but focuses more on what I am doing and hope to get done in the coming years (the vision of “a connected computer accessible to every family and employee” in India and other emerging markets). A well-written story.

A TeleInfoCentre would be a computer-cum-communications centre. It would have 3-5 computers connected together in a LAN, in a single room. One of the computers would work as a ‘thick server’ and do the processing and storage. The others are low-cost, low-configuration ‘thin clients.’

“By locating them in the village, we ensure that people do not have to walk too much to use them: access to computing is just a few minutes, rather than a few kilometers, away. This will make them think of computing as part of their lives; a utility, available on-demand,” says Jain.

The TeleInfoCentre would largely work in the offline mode. The server should mirror key applications and relevant data, making it possible for the clients to work without the need for an Internet connection. Updates could be done via CDs or even Wi-Fi (wireless connectivity).

Such radical thinking is what is necessary to bring computing to rural India, says Jain.

How will the supply chain for these low cost computers be created? Who will make them? How will the applications to run on these computers be developed? Will other state governments be open to the plan? If the government cannot pay up completely, where will the funding for the TeleInfoCenters come from?

“I don’t have the answers to all the questions yet. I know we will do it in next 6-8 months. My approach is to try multiple things. Some may work, some may not. But the important thing is to try and I know we are heading in the right direction,” he says.

As I have said before in my paper on Transforming Rural India, it is up to us to bring about change in India “not between two generations, but between two elections”.

I wish Priya had given a link to this blog for people to get read more.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.