Archive for January 1st, 2008

Dr. Jhunjhunwala’s Scorecard for IT in rural India

January 1, 2008

a take away from this IIT-Madras analysis is that Internet access infrastructure and basic apps are *not* the biggest problem in rural India today — the real gap is in apps for creating higher paying jobs, connecting buyers to sellers, and enabling financial transactions for rural economic growth. that’s where we need the heavy lifting.

for decades Professor Jhunjhunwala (IIT-Madras) has been leading a R&D center focused on rural access for wireless voice + Internet and economic development in India. his slide deck which gives an overview of rural information and communications technology (ICT) including cell phones, fiber backbones, Internet kiosks, voice technologies — with examples of rural apps like financial services, remote teaching, telemedicine, e-choupal, weather, etc. his “dream” is to double the GDP of $140 billion for 700 million rural Indians from $200 to $400 per person annually. on slide 21 he asks “where are we?” and he rates today’s services in the rural areas on a scale of 0-5.

Jhunjhunwala’s Scorecard:

Infrastructure for ICT

  • 4 — rural fiber backbone
  • 3+ — broadband access (> 100 kbps)
  • 3+ PCs/Software/Power

Capacity Building for ICT

  • 2+ — selection/training of operators, marketing of services

End to End Services using ICT

  • 4 — Basic Services (email, browsing, games, DTP, astrology, matrimonial, photography)
  • 3 — Communication Services (3 VoIP, 2+ Mobile)
  • 3+ — Education
  • 2+ — Micro-franchise
  • 2+ — ITeS
  • 2+ — Telemedicine
  • 2- — Agriculture
  • 2- — Financial Services
  • 0 — Jobs
  • 1- — Buying and Selling
  • 1+ — E-governance
  • 0+ — Micro-enterprise
  • 0 — Online Games

the slides are from (2005)

here is a more recent video Q&A with him (2007)

there are some interesting perspectives at Microsoft’s site “Unlimited Potential” site, but the ideas are mostly PC/net centric. i didn’t find much in terms of actually connecting rural villagers to higher paying economic local opportunities

also see interview with CK Prahalad “bottom of the pyramid”