Economic development yes, but not enough social development. Hopes lie in new technologies.
The UN Human Development Report 2005 puts India in the 127th rank out of some nearly 200 countries and credits India a success story in the globalising world. Poverty fallen to somewhere between 25 and 30 per cent from the early 36 per cent syndrome. The exact figures still disputed. The consensus is that in spite of our good economic performance our poverty decline is not yet a success story! The point for us here is that the UN Report says still in India, progress in child and infant mortality are slowing down! Yes, we have the IT revolution and our pride in being the Software Super.
This status is put to shame by the UN report by the stark fact that one in eleven Indian children dies in the first five years of life. Why? Because we don’t come up with any new low-technology, low-cost interventions. Malnutrition has bared improved over the past decade. About “one in 4 girls and more than one in 10 boys don’t attend primary school”. The Indian poverty belt is now in the Northern states of Bihar, MP, UP and W.Bengal.
The social issues are well-known. Even in such high priority areas like immunisation we learn that only 42 per cent of the children immunised. Public health spending is a poor 0.9 per cent of national income. How to raise it to 2.3 per cent with the new National Rural Health Mission of the special 1.5 billion dollars spend? Where is the low cost technology? Where is the low-cost intervention measures?
Urban-rural divide & the digital divide! Rural India: poised for a transformation? Yes, while we have to lament a great deal over our poor governance, there are also countervailing initiatives. Wherever states are taking steps to intervene be it governance or new policy interventions we have to welcome and highlight the same. The states are also not sitting idle, we know. Then, there is not much interaction with the ministries, ministers or the officials in helping the media or other NGOs know what they are doing so that we can bring some cheer to the otherwise listless performance of most of the ministers ,at the Centre as well in the states.
There are 6,07,491 villages in India! More than 85,000 villages do not have telephone facility. As on July 2005, India’s urban tele-density (number of telephones per 100) was about 30%. While rural tele-density was only 1.74% only. So, the much talked about telecom revolution is strictly for the urban Indians, the rural Indians are left behind in this unequal race. But there is no reason to cry or shout. There are now new revolutionary technologies that are coming up with solutions to bridge the rural urban divide and thereby the digital divide too.
Rural India’s communication needs are being addressed, though the progress is slow. A new revolutionary technology is WiMAX, a new wireless technology that promises to put broadband connection over long distances. We needn’t to go into the technical finer details but it is enough to know that the technology would transform rural telephones says J.S.Sarma, secretary, DOT and chairman of Telecom Commission. An Indian professor at Stanford university in the USA has come out with a company, Beceem Communications and the government and the C-DOT and Alcatel are developing this new revolutionary tech and it will be put to commercial application very soon. Even otherwise, already rural India is now being swamped by the mobile phone culture and it is just a question of waiting for some more time before we see a new rural India and a new rural India who would proudly use a mobile handset for many more purposes, besides just chatting!
The much talked about e- commerce is bringing in the e-cultivation! How? Mango farmers in UP villages don’t worry to much these days when they can use interactive computer and talk. A voice-file saves their ideas and adds it to the common pool of interactive exercise that any other farmers/expert in India can access. (We at Vadamalai already do these things)