Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


Information & Communication Technologies For Development of Rural Areas

Dt:  23/9/22


Information & Communication  Technologies

For Development of Rural Areas


Dr T H Chowdary*


Even after 75 years of independent, India’s rural  population  is about 65% or 85 cr. This is  more than twice the whole of India’s population in  1951.  The area of rural India has not increased. It  therefore follows that the availability of land  per capita  which is the source of income in  rural areas has shrunk seriously.  This is the reason for rural poverty . 75% of the rural population  is getting  food items  free under the  Public Distribution System (PDS).  This is the  largest population  which is  taken  care of by any government in the world to help the poor.  Literacy  is also lower among the rural population . How can  ICTs  help the rural population  is a  matter for serious consideration.


2. Information  is power. How do people communicate to get the information ? Telecoms  -telephony, TV/ video , graphics….  help to get information.   The greatest step in making  affordable tele-communication even to the poor was taken  by Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao  who in 1992  allowed private  companies  to introduce cellular mobile radio telephony in the country  on a competitive and regulated  basis.  The process  of  the cellular radio telephony  spreading  all over the country in an affordable manner was  launched by  Prime Minister, Sri Atal Behari Vajpai through the National Telecom  Policy  1999 (NTP ’99) . The licensing and regulatory  regime  facilitated the rapid  extension of mobile  radio telephony all over the country. Competition  brought improved  technologies  designated  by successive generations as 2G, 4G, 5G….  In 1994  when the first NTP was promulgated an year’s telephone service costed  Rs. 10,000


which was equivalent to  or 100% of  the then annual  per capita income . Today the average annual mobile  telephone revenue  is less than Rs. 2,400 which is 1.7%   of the  per capital income of  Rs. 1.40,000 . This is the reason why  telephony  of the latest generation  is available  even in the  rural areas for the poor. Almost  all families have a  mobile telephone,  some of them smart ones.


3.  The Carona pandemic brought out    how  rural India has benefitted  through   affordable ICTs  in the form of 3G and  4G mobile telephony.  People are  able  to work from home   . If  this is intensively  practised,  rural  young  need not migrate to cities .   Lessons  were delivered  by teachers from their   homes  wherever they are, to children  in their homes.  Even as  young  as eight  -year olds could take the lessons in their  homes.


4. ICTs have helped  all types of  transactions even by the rural people.  They are able to transfer money without  going to any bank and get money into their bank accounts ; also over the    telecom network.  Medical    consultation is now   available over the  telecom network .   Merchandise  is be ordered  over telephones  and  received in the homes. 


5. In short, people ae  communicating  for every type of work . They  need to travel only for pleasure. In the mid 1960s the Chairman of the world famous  American  Telegraph & Telephone  Corporation   AT&T envisaged that persons need not be given  names but only telephone numbers.  If a number  is called and  if  there is no answer it means the person is dead.   Different types of  communications  on earth as well as satellite based are enabling   every person  to communicate with any other person on the  globe at any time 


6.  Imagine a village where  fifty ICT graduates work for IT companies; each getting Rs. 500,000 per year.  The village economy gets Rs. 2,50,00,000.  It can then afford all the  amenities and pleasures that  towns and cities have – good roads, restaurants, excellent schools and library .  Today about 50 lakh I.T professionals are  working in India’s cities , for US and European multinational corporations and their number is increasing. If even a fraction in their  growing numbers work from villages over the   5G/ 6G telecom networks, rural India will prosper immensely. 


7. Just as air and  water are essential for life and  so should  not  be  auctioned  or priced highly  to generate revenues for government, radio-spectrum is essential for digital India, for information society in which  people communicate  for work and  commute for pleasure should not be auctioned and so  priced highly to make it less affordable. Radio spectrum is  inexhaustible; it can be  regenerated and like air and  water  should be for use by all at least cost.


8. In the program of  aathma nirbhar bharat we are going to have indigenously developed  technologies and  devices so that   they  are available  to  the relatively poor rural people thus enabling   the reduction of  inequalities between urban and rural people  in every aspect of life and  endeavour. (774 words)