Reframing the ‘rural’

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The world is moving into a convergence mode because of the incredible potential of the ICT. It must be accepted that planned development and use of ICT hold the key to faster growth and give any nation a competitive edge in the globalised economy. But some areas are bound to be in the darker side of the development process, those are the rural areas. Rural areas face a vicious cycle of lack of infrastructure, lack of development, lack of policy implementation and above all, lack of interest to serve the ‘rural’ community with numerous infrastructural limitations.

Rural areas have a common identity in respect of one of the biggest limitation i.e. the lack of communication infrastructure. The diffusion of ICT into the rural life has changed the scenario to a great extent. But lots are yet to be done to make the rural community self sufficient and confident enough to lead their life with proper knowledge and awareness.

Connectivity is always a big issue in rural development. Therefore, increase in teledensity and expansion of networks are always main aspects in rural development. Apart from these, nowadays it is usually said that the countries without a broadband vision and a commitment to implement it, run a serious risk of trailing behind others and have to play a perpetual catch up game. Bringing broadband to all citizens should be the national priority for every modern country. But how much feasible it is to provide broadband to all citizens, especially in the developing countries? If at all it is made possible, how will it be provided to the rural areas? Above all, how can this broadband service be beneficial to the rural community?

The initiative can be taken with the help of direct government investment, through public-private partnership, or by adopting a multifaceted approach. Another issue that needs to be examined now is how to encourage the rural content provider. The rural content provider would provide content and other facilities, which must be of interest and relevance to the rural population. Content creation would be a specialised area requiring thorough understanding of the local requirements and language which can only be done through local entrepreneurs. Here arises the need of emphasizing more on ICT research and development programme which may invent new ways to implement ICTs in the rural areas for the welfare of the community associated. Research and development initiatives have already been taken up in many countries for innovating and bringing emerging technologies to the service of the common man. So we need to concentrate more on it to make the process more effective and fruitful, not to be confined to a paper, but to be implemented in practice in near future. This issue will provide you many thought provoking ideas towards that direction.

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