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Diffusion and Adoption of an E-Society: The Myths and Politics of ICT for the Poor in India

  • Ravindra Kumar Vemula
Living reference work entry

Abstract

The label “ICT for the poor” has been widely used in India whenever ICT moves out of urban settings. There have been many debates on the “digital divide” and reluctance on the part of the masses to adopt the “remarkable changes” being brought out by the ICT boom. In the last 15 years, many initiatives have been undertaken in the form of “information kiosks” to diffuse ICT on the pretext of making the poor e-literate and build an e-society ultimately. Most of these projects have been funded by international multilateral and bilateral organizations and have also got awarded by various reputed international and national bodies for “reaching out” to the masses. It has been observed that most of these projects start with lots of fanfare promising a “leap frogging” to an information society, but they falter somewhere down the line for various reasons. Though, masses approach the kiosks for land records, birth or death certificate, or any document that needs to be obtained from the Government. As a result of which, the information kiosks, after a while, are no more used by the masses, because their “temporary need” for an e-service has been fulfilled. Ultimately, all these information kiosks which have been put up by the Government, nongovernment organizations, and other philanthropic bodies end up as training centers on software/hardware for the local village youth at a price. Later on, the kiosk sustainability is solely based on the revenue that is generated by the e-courses that it offers and on the other allied services like printouts, serving as a public phone booth or may be as a cool drink center. This paper attempts to understand whether ICT is a boon or bane for India It also tries to understand how the poor is defined by the information kiosks, or are they being only catered to a particular class of people who have proximity to the kiosk operator keeping in view the access of gender and how comfortable they are in utilizing the services of the kiosk. It also argues that in the pretext of creating an “information society,” the state has somewhere missed out on other needs of the poor, which are required for a holistic development of the society and an e-society ultimately. This article aims to understand if the information and communications technologies (ICTs) really empower poor communities and does it actually bring in the change that is anticipated of it. This article investigates this question, focusing on the role of information and communications technologies in diffusion and adoption of e-society in Rural India through the ICT for the poor programs in the last few decades. The framework attempts to contrast with the global discourse around the “digital divide” and the holistic human development of the poor brought in by the ICT revolution.

Keywords

ICT for the poor Diffusion Kiosks Village information center Digital divide 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deptartment of Journalism and Mass CommunicationThe English and Foreign Languages UniversityShillongIndia

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