Rural India: pressing need and an exciting challenge

Former NASSCOM president Kiran Karnik writes in Economic Times:

...cost-efficient technologies that fit the socio-cultural milieu are yet awaited.

These examples point to a pressing need and an exciting challenge, representing a unique three dimensional convergence of technological capability, economic opportunity and societal need. The time is now ripe for this convergence: the growth of India's technology base has resulted in far greater capability to meet the needs. At the same time, economic growth -- though skewed and iniquitous -- has created an economically attractive market in rural India. There is, however, yet a gap in the third dimension. Understanding societal need from a socio-cultural standpoint is not easy, especially as the necessity for doing so is generally not appreciated.

Many decades ago, India's vibrant programme of applications of space technology had a large team of social scientists, dedicated to understanding the true needs of rural India and acting as a bridge between villagers and technologists. Today, we need an equivalent effort to devise user-friendly technology solutions for the problems of rural India. This will link booming, bits-and-bytes India with suffering, stagnating Bharat, so that the knowledge-driven sector serves as an engine of growth that pulls along the rural economy. This could be the next big thing for techno-entrepreneurs and enterprising corporates.

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