In this paper, we focused on the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) for providing a two-pronged approach to the problem of poverty: education and access to markets. The former addresses an important component of non-income poverty, while the latter is concerned with income poverty. Primary education is widely recognized as one of the most significant factors that promote economic growth and social well-being. Lack of basic education is an impediment for economic growth. Access to markets directly affects the realized money incomes of populations. Both, education and access to markets, are necessary for economic growth and consequently for the elimination of poverty. Both depend on the use of knowledge goods and services to a large extent. While the use of ICT tools for addressing them is natural and obvious, there are important issues that need to be considered in this context.
To provide the ICT solution, we presented two models TIC and RISC. The TIC depends on four building blocks: thin clients, server-centric computing, open-source software, and WiFi. Using these blocks we can build low cost computing solution around the 5KPC. A TIC is then a cluster of 3 to 10 such 5KPCs located in schools in villages to provide education and other computing related services.
We also presented RISC which serves the needs of a large population say that of a 100 villages, or 100,000 people. Market access is one of the main functions (but not the sole function) of a RISC. Vocational education can also be delivered through a RISC. (There is need for demonstration of the concepts outlined here. It is our intention to create prototype RISC centers and TIC centers in multiple Indian states over the next 12-15 months. This will hopefully then work as the trigger for various Indian infrastructure and service organizations to participate in the rapid development and consequent transformation of rural India.)
ICT deployed through RISC and TIC can help transform rural India by providing education and access to markets. The two applications should be considered as a major part of a complete program for poverty alleviation. Our discussion was centred on India but the applications are broadly relevant to any developing country.
TECH TALK Transforming Rural India+T