India Taps Communication Tools to Transform Villages
Friday, August 26, 2011
Several Indian companies are relying on a host of communication technologies to bridge the digital divide by offering sustainable solutions for rural India.
Some 70 percent of India’s population, or nearly 750 million people, live in villages but contribute just 30 percent of country’s GDP. This is likely why rural consumers have long been ignored by marketers.
However, this is gradually changing, especially since the rural share of consumer goods today is between 30 and 60 percent and growing steadily. Road connectivity in rural India also increased from less than 40 percent in 2004 to nearly 70 percent in 2008.
Moreover, several communication technologies are making inroads into rural India, including mobile phones, telemedicine, mobile banking and mobile apps built for fishermen, farmers and community radios.
New Delhi-based domestic worker Dinesh, for instance, is keen to locate a 3G public kiosk after a friend from his village in Bihar informed him about the Aamne Saamne (which means “face-to-face” in Hindi) project, where phonebooth operators in Delhi and Bihar offer services that will allow Dinesh to communicate with his family through a video call using a 3G-enabled phone. Initiated by Ericsson India, the project will allow Dinesh, who owns a low-cost, 2G phone that does not support video calls, to communicate with his wife and son, both whom he has not seen in months.
“Communications have made a huge difference to the lives of people in rural India,” Ashish Khanna, Accenture India’s managing director of communications, media and technology, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail. “Mobile phones, high-speed data networks enabled by satellite-based communication networks, and Internet kiosks are some of the technologies that have helped the rural population connect with the cities.”