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Cloud Computing for Rural India – L S Subramanian, NISE

by tapangarg on January 13, 2011

Rural India

The real India lives in its villages and smaller towns and therein lies the future of India.

Some key facets of rural India are:

  • Rural India constitutes 69% of India’s population
  • 86% of the rural population earns less than $2 per day

Here are some more highlights from the IMRB/I-Cube report (as of March 2008):

India’s rural population: 568m; rural literate population: 368m; rural English-speaking population: 63m; rural computer literates: 15.1m; rural (claimed) Internet users: 5.5m; active Internet users: 3.3m.

Finally, there are more phones than radio sets in rural India (100 million is the existing subscriber base).

Rural India has been ignored for more than 60 years and the Cloud will bring the change that is required to bridge the divide between rural India and urban India; and will improve the Indian rural economy.

The Government of India provides broadband connectivity up to the Taluk level today, which makes data connectivity a reality for rural India. This allows rural India to log on to the Cloud.

Cloud is Gandhi Engineering

The term “Gandhi Engineering” was used by NY Times in an article on the Tata’s Nano and it defines Gandhi Engineering as “a mantra that combines irreverence towards established ways, with a scarcity mentality that spurns superfluities.”

The Cloud computing is a marvel of Gandhi Engineering and encompasses low cost; high operational efficiency; elasticity and scalability.

Advantages of Cloud Computing for rural India

  • Low start-up cost makes Cloud computing especially attractive for rural India.
  • Ease of management – no concerns about procuring licenses, or for that matter, power and air-conditioning
  • to run the data centers, or purchasing additional hardware.
  • Scalability makes rapid rural penetration a reality; one can easily expand the number of users and locations at a modest cost.
  • Device and location independence. The way you access a Cloud, could be your desktop. It could be someone else’s computer. It could be a smart phone. It could be a solar powered touch pad.
  • Lastly, the BSNL broadband project for rural India provides the data connectivity, which will be the game changer.

What can be done for Rural India using the Cloud

The Cloud allows information technology to be infused into the smallest hamlet of India and makes access to information available to the poorest of the poor to give them a better life, by empowering them with knowledge
derived through the laptop or mobile phone connected to the Cloud. The Cloud makes the following services affordable and accessible at a low cost:

  • Banks
  • E-learning
  • Tele-medicine
  • Commodity/stock exchanges
  • KYC and credit bureaus
  • Agricultural information
  • Citizen interface portals

India will benefit by taking the Cloud to Rural India because:

  • The Cloud has potential to drive down costs of e-Governance, education, medical care and other Government computerization initiatives.
  • The Cloud bridges the great divide between rich urban India and poor rural India, and gives the same level-playing field to all Indians.
  • Lastly, the Cloud enables non English speaking literate Indians to join the information revolution and participate in governance and the future of the country by allowing them to transact on the web in the Indian language of their choice.
L S Subramanian
NISE – Celebrating 10 Years of
Nurturing Innovation and Sustaining

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