Sunday, August 20, 2006

Internet is set to benefit the Rural Indian farmer

The most noticeable of the ICT projects in Rural India are e-Choupal, iShakti, and esagu. Today, they lead a silent revolution that empowers farmers with relevant information to make their lives better.

ITC e-Choupal web portal brings real-time information on weather forecasts and customized knowledge on better farming practices to the farmers' doorstep to improve his crop management. ITC e-Choupal supply chain brings good quality farm inputs at competitive prices to increase his farm yields.

iShakti provides information and services to the farmers through a portal, which has contents pertaining to a variety of rural issues. It enables farmers to have a solution for a pest problem.

Esagu has a three-tier system consists of farmers as end users, coordinators as intermediaries to obtain crop status through digital photographs and text and communicate the advice to the farmers. The agricultural scientists with knowledge system prepare farm advices.

Rural India plans to step up fight against AIDS

According to this news:
Political leaders from across rural India are to draw up an action plan to help stem the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in villages, where the majority of new infections are occuring, officials said. Representatives from 620 districts, as well and mayors and other community leaders, would come together for the first time at a convention to draw up a strategy on how India could strengthen its local response to the pandemic. At this convention, community leaders could talk out against discrimination against those infected with HIV/AIDS, help promote the use of condoms and in some cases decide to make HIV/AIDS a priority when allocating funds from local budgets.

ICICI shaping a business plan to solve Rural India Banking puzzle

ICICI's CEO Kamath says:
We believe that to break into the top league of global banks, ICICI will have to follow a course that few banks in the world have done -- and that is, leverage the rural economy. This is something that most banks don't do because it requires hard work. So our challenge is to invent a new business model where we can create a distribution base effectively in 600,000 villages in India, and to learn to do that at one-tenth the cost of urban India. Just to put that on a scale that someone could understand, we believe that to succeed in urban India, we need to do be able to do business at one-tenth the cost of the West. The challenge is to be able to work with partners because we believe that the branch-led model will not work in this context. For example, we might partner with a local financial institution, a micro-finance agency or a company -- someone who is already in the village for a business purpose. We might even partner with someone who is selling fertilizer or seed or tractors. How can we leverage these partnerships to do business? That question drives the need for a new business model to reach out to this market.

The biggest risk is the failure of the monsoon. Now can you lend to rural India without fixing this risk? What we did was to ask if this was an insurable risk. Could we get such insurance? The answer was yes. Could we then sell this insurance to the farmers? Again, the answer was yes. Finally, we asked if this insurance could be further reinsured outside India so that the risk was shared even more widely. Yet again, the answer was yes.

The typical approach to rural lending has been through micro-loans, and that has certainly had some degree of success. But a large-scale rural banking model where you are ultimately trying to reach a population of 600 million people has not been done. That is our challenge -- and also our opportunity.

Rural India set to get Soho-style homes

According to this news:
National Housing Bank in association with public sector banks, is all set to launch a new scheme called Productive Housing in Rural Areas. The scheme, aimed at providing housing in the rural areas, is likely to cost Rs 1,500 crore. Of this amount, NHB may fund about Rs 500 crore. About 25 to 30 districts had been identified for the project.

“We will provide the basic dwelling unit while banks will provide the work area in a house. Owners will need to present a proper business plan for repayment of loans,” Sridhar said (Chairman and managing director of NHB). NHB is also drawing up a plan for integrated townships to be set up next to small industrial clusters in semi-urban areas. “Depending on the area, the cost of the project could vary from Rs 500 crore to Rs 2,000 crore,” Sridhar said, adding that the plan was yet to be finalised. The townships would require independent schools, hospitals and shopping areas, he added.

Guest (tourist) is treated like God in Rural India

I am from a rural Indian village and I was taught by my parents: "Matru Devobhava, Pitru Devobhava, Acharya Devobhava, Atidhi Devobhava" which means "Regard the mother as God, the father as God, the preceptor as God and the guest as God". This is followed even now in rural villages. Recently Washinton Post carried an article about Rural India tourist visit. Editor writes: Here, in India's heartland, they really do treat guests like gods. Even sick ones.

On a different note, I wrote about 20-30 foreigners tourist visit experiences in India.

Rural India Primary Education challenge: Anyone there?

A worldbank's $12+ billion dollar bill cannot solve the primary education puzzle. The challenge of educational quality is a difficult one. Money is needed, but is not enough to solve the problems. Ideas, expertise and experience are equally important.

Rural India prefers branded products

India's 742 million strong rural population, outsizing the US and Europe, is moving towards branded products. Education for women is more than a politician's promise; it's a marketer's delight. Television, cable TV and FMCG products have penetrated the south far more than any other region in India. Ashok Das, MD, Hansa Research says, “Penetration driving strategy better for east and north, while for south the question is how to get value from consumer already using your product and brand.

Reliance to invest $5 billion in Rural India

Accroding to this news:
Reliance plans to invest $5 billion by 2011 to put both the farms and the stores on the road to modernity, connect them through a distribution system guided by the latest logistics technology, and create enough of a surplus to generate $20 billion in agricultural exports annually.

Rural India corners chunk of industries, jobs

Who says economic reforms are urban-centric? The countryside has outperformed urban India in the number of enterprises it houses. Over 61% of the enterprises engaged in economic activities other than crop production and plantation are in rural India compared to just 38.7% in urban areas, according to the figures of the Fifth Economic Census.

Low-cost ATMs for rural India : IIT Chennai invention

According to this news:
Grammteller, unlike other ATMs is meant to be a cash dispenser, which plugs into a kiosk PC, which acts as a tunnel between the dispenser and the bank server thus bypassing use of the 'switch' used by ATMs. The 'financial transaction switch' is an enterprise server that connects the ATM to information from various sources, which then dispenses with the switch, thus reducing the cost of the machine to about Rs. 50, 000. The server is encrypted and runs on a proprietary format developed at IIT-M.

Unlike the PIN numbers log-in access facility, Grammteller is equipped with biometric sensor so that once the customer's fingerprints are registered, PINs need not be used.

Aimed at the rural market, the low-cost ATM makes it more user-friendly for people in rural India who are more into 'finger impression' mindset for taking cash. The thumb-impressions are being registered at the TeNet Lab at IIT-M and are stored and authenticated by ICICI servers in Mumbai.

Good links on Rural India - 2

Please see the first set of links.

K-yan : An e-learning system developed by IIT Mumbai for Rural
WiMAX is good for rural India : Key players in the market are Alcatel, TI, Motorola
Idea launched Mobile PCO services for Rural India
Tarahaat: Network of franchised rural communities and business centres
Highest paid occupation for men in Rural India is Masonry
Telemedicine - Providing Rural India with Quality Healthcare
India innovators foundation to help grassroot innovators in finding investors
Hansdehar is the first village in India to have an official website along with complete its citizens details
Nowpos to offer voice mail services for rural
Tata-Teleservices and ZTE corporation to deploy CDMA2000 in Rural India
3G mobile services to Bridge Rural-Urban Digital Divide
Rural India skips the copper wire and heads straight for wireless networks
Stockholm Competition : IT solutions for the benifit of masses
NTPC lamps to light up rural India
Cellphones answer the call for computers in rural India

Rural schools helping students to get into IITs, Olympiad events

Past few days, this news from Bihar is in top headlines: Ramanujan School of Mathematics helping rural students to get into IITs. Bhaskaracharya Pratishthana in Pune also helps students to get into IITs and Mathematics Olympiad events. Similarly in Kolhapur in Maharashtra, some ignited minds do help rural students.

This should be an eye opener for the people who think reservations are necessary.

Low cost wireless mesh network to provide cheap, reliable data and telephony

A former Silicon Valley dot-commer and members of the underground security group Cult of the Dead Cow are working with local Tibetan exiles to change that using recycled hardware, solar power, open-source software and nerd ingenuity. The volunteers are building a low-cost wireless mesh network to provide cheap, reliable data and telephony to community organizations. A rural village 7,000 feet up in the Himalayas (Dharamsala Wireless Mesh) is an example of "light infrastructure," a concept gaining popularity among tech developers: decentralized, ad hoc networks that can deliver essential services faster than conventional means.

Can this be a solution for rural India?