Imagine a day in our lives in the city, without any sort of technology - No micro-oven, refrigerator,
washing machine or any of the other appliances, transportation, electricity and obviously no internet!
And that defines the state of affairs at work where automation is the order of the day.
It almost seems like life would come to a stand-still without our smartphones & computers.
Now, apply this to all the major inventions and discoveries. Perhaps, the world would have not
progressed beyond the dark ages.
The transition from industrial age to information age has surpassed
our imagination. One can trace the evolution of every invention in different spheres such as
communication, data, transport, manufacturing, power etc., where growth has been rapidly progressing
towards Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality,
Analytics, 3D Printing etc.
But how much of all of the technology and innovations been beneficial to Rural India where
development occurs at a relatively slower pace than the urban areas? Which of the technological
developments could be applied to villages which is solely an agrarian economy? The green revolution
of the 1970’s is a good example that transformed Indian Agriculture. Contemporary India has adapted to
the information age with 1 billion out of 1.2 billion of the population with access to mobile connections.
Emphasizing on agriculture, technology can be applied at different stages of agricultural production and
distribution. Farmers can receive accurate information about the weather, various techniques of
farming, subsidized prices, and support prices offered by the government with only a smartphone and data
connection. They could enroll themselves to receive grants and subsidies online. With the development of
the banking systems, openings of bank accounts and online transaction is not a faraway dream.
Purchase of agricultural implements or other transactions such as trading, receiving payments or
subsidies through bank transfers can also be done online.
Technology is used to manage irrigational activities such as the distribution of water through remote
sensing for dams and bunds to regulate the inflow and outflow of water and to manage the overall
demand for water by mapping the aquifers. Apps have been developed to control the irrigation pumps
through smartphones. Power is an important aspect in agricultural activities. Technology can be
employed for effective low-cost production of power (renewable and non-polluting), transmission for
uninterrupted supply of electricity, and reduction of transmission & distribution losses. Power utilization
can also be minimized at the pumping stage.
Finally, once the produce is harvested, technology can be adopted through cold storage units and cold
chains that help in the preservation of the product to be transported for sale at later stages. Even the
transportation of goods can be tracked through GPS systems and digitization of ration cards and linkage
to universal ID card – Aadhar and electronic point-of-sale at fair price shops have helped avoid pilferage
and tracking of a sale of food grains on a real-time basis. Online markets such as eNAM (National
Agricultural Market) provides information about APMC, commodity arrivals, and prices and enable
farmers to bid for best prices across several markets.
With the government of India taking up several initiatives such as Digital India, which aims to cover 2.5
million-gram panchayats with high-speed internet and several other state government departments,
other than private entities developing applications and schemes, technology has been adopted in many
other areas other than agriculture. Common Service Centers have also been established to act a point
of contact for the provision of several electronic services. Updation of land records, providing title
guarantees and increasing security of land tenure is also being done through programmes such as Digital
India Land Records Modernization Programme. People have access to information with the government
mandating mobile phones to support 22 Indian languages other than English and Hindi.
Communication technology that helps in transmitting information from one person to another through
phones, computers, and the internet has indeed made the world a smaller place. Anybody can have access
to any information if they have access to broadband connection and the knowledge to use it. This has
opened up the world of education with online learning from any university across the globe. Skills can be
accumulated online. Businesses can use various platforms like websites, social media to market their
products and even have online payments set up with mobile wallets. Social media has played the biggest
role in the dissemination of information. Entertainment technology is being consumed like never before –
access to movie, music, videos, games and much more.
Technology has created marvels in the field of medicine. Mobile applications are being used for online
enrollment of expectant mothers and newborn babies to benefit from several schemes and for
vaccination by health workers; Tablets are being utilized to also educate and create awareness about
preventive measures for diseases through various images and animated videos; Locating the nearest
blood bank or primary medical centers is now possible through mobile apps and on government
websites. Online access for doctor’s consultation has been provided by governments to ensure
minimum healthcare to its citizens. At the district headquarters level, more technology is being adapted to
diagnose infections, treat diseases using the most modern equipment available etc. Availability of pure
drinking water through solar-powered filtration and replacement of traditional cooking stove by solar-
cookers that prevent respiratory diseases have been introduced.
An example of information technology being adopted in rural areas is through the banking systems.
Money transfers are one of the biggest advantages. With the opening of banks and accounts, money transfer
at any time has become a reality without depending on money orders. It is easier to receive subsidies
which are often swindled by financial intermediaries. Private entities have facilitated access to loans and
processing, especially microfinance that is processed in less than 3 days due to digital storage of
documents and no paperwork.
Thus, there exists a great potential for technology to pervade all areas of rural life. With more
investments in the coming years through increased physical infrastructure such as power, transport, and
broadband connectivity; education and training – especially computer literacy, development and
sustainable livelihood through technology can be attained to the maximum extent.