TECH TALK: As India Develops: Information Access (Part 3)

Easier access to information can help simplify life and business. And yet, this is where we have to still struggle a lot in India. By using new technologies, it is possible to rethink how content is created and consumed. It is this base of information which will also help propel the use of computers across India, which is a must for building out the digital infrastructure across India.

The next-generation information platform can dramatically cut down the time and complexity for creating portals for various verticals in India. There are three key portals that are needed in the Indian context addressing the key constituencies of the neighbourhood, SME industry clusters and rural India.

LocalNews: Much of our life is centred around whats happening where we live and work. There are also various small businesses which need a platform to reach out to consumers cost-effectively. Yellow Pages do this job very effectively in the US. In India, the use of yellow pages has still been somewhat limited. By getting people to come together to build mirrors of their neighbourhood online, a marketing platform is also created for the local small businesses to reach out to their potential audience.

EnterpriseDigest: Just like Readers Digest aggregates the best content for the family, we need the equivalent of an EnterpriseDigest for every industry vertical. This provides a two-way flow of information. In India, while there are many magazines which do cater to verticals, the cost of publishing and distribution can still be a significant barrier. The Internet can cut both costs.

RuralWorld: Rural India has to be one of the engines for growth. And yet, it is one of the most affected by the information gaps. From inputs on farming techniques to the latest prices of goods and commodities to the weather, the RuralWorld portal can bridge these gaps, as also connect farmers with other farmers so they can share best practices and answer each others queries, much like users do on community forums in urban areas. As Paul Romer is quoted in the book Information Markets: Informations capacity for simultaneous use means that we can take all of the poor people in the world right now, let them use all of the knowledge, all of the discoveries that we already take advantage of – and we can raise the standard of living without reducing our own.

Indian entrepreneurs need to invest in building out the countrys information infrastructure, even as the telecom companies are busy laying the foundation for a broadband Bharat. The information highways will not be as useful without the digital worlds as destinations. Be it education or entertainment, food or fashion, business or barters, the Indian portals can serve as the energiser for the Indian Internet business and at the same time fulfill real needs in the daily lives of people and businesses in urban and rural India.

Tomorrow: Information Access (continued)

TECH TALK As India Develops+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.