Atanu Dey has a detailed note on RISC (Rural Infrastructure and Services Commons). Atanu will be returning to India soon, and we will be working together to build on the model, and create a few prototype centres in the coming year. This is a great opportunity to do good and do well.
Without rural economic development, India has little chance of achieving growth rates required to become a developed nation. Furthermore, economic development is both a cause and a consequence of urbanization. Clearly, in the Indian context, urbanization through further rural to urban migration is both unsustainable and socially disruptive. Therefore urbanization of the rural population will have to be achieved in the rural areas.
Rural India is caught in what is called a development trap. Because of lack of economic opportunities, incomes are low. Therefore they are unable to pay for goods and services that would enable them to increase their incomes. This leads to low demand for goods and services. Consequently, firms don’t find it profitable to do business in rural India. This leads to the inadequate provision of infrastructure, which in turn leads to lack of economic opportunities, and so on.
The model called Rural Infrastructure & Services Commons (RISC) has the potential for achieving the multi-faceted goals of sustainable development. It uses limited resources efficiently by focusing them in specific locations that are accessible to a sufficiently large rural population, such as that of 100 villages.
RISC provides the benefits of urbanization by making available to rural populations the full set of services and amenities that are normally available in urban areas. It brings the benefits of ICT and the increased access to global markets that globalization promises. The model recognizes that rural populations face a number of inter-related gaps, not just the celebrated digital divide. Bridging them simultaneously with a holistic solution is more likely to succeed than any partial intervention can.