Playing Drake While Ploughing Dirt: Tech Giants Are Bringing The Internet To Rural India, But Is Data The Price?
By Gopal Sathe
After Drake’s “Kiki Challenge” went viral around the world, a video of two villagers in Telangana racked up millions of views on YouTube and Facebook. The clip, which showed two farmers grooving to the Canadian rapper’s hit song even as their oxen ploughed a paddy field, epitomises how far Internet culture has penetrated Indian society, just not in the way most people sharing the video assume.
The video was staged by Sriram Srikanth, a young electrical engineer who runs a YouTube channel called My Village Show; one of the dancers is an aspiring actor.
The Internet is coming to rural India, but at this point it is more top-down than bottom-up, more astro-turf than grassroots. And who’s behind this rural push? The same giant technology companies who want to collect information on the millions of Indians who are still offline.
HuffPost India met with villagers living near Dholpur, a small town in Rajasthan, where Tata Trusts and Google India have been running a project called ‘Internet Saathi’ to train rural Indians to use a smartphone to access the Internet.
Photo courtesy of Meena Kadri.