The benefits of net have not reached all the people so far!
Computer is a complex machine!
Computer is a very complex machine and each day newer and newer versions are added by inventions. Hence a program and hardware becomes obsolete in six months period. It is our everyday experience higher versions are introduced in every new gadget. When desktop computers were manufactured, the speed and memory was in the range of 286, 386 and so on. Nowadays even tablets come with one gigahertz speed. Memory comes with minimum one GB capacity. Gone are the days of kilobyte and megabyte memories. Similarly data is transmitted at 4G speeds. Wi Fi is given prominence and many new routers which can share with nine gadgets are normal today. Mobile communication has reached more than 80% of populations. Even a street hawker or servant maid flaunts a feature phone which has become a very convenient tool to attend customers.
Rural mobile access
Benefits to common man through computer technology!
The next question is “whether common man has benefited from these communication gadgets? The answer will be “No” and “Yes”. We have to judge the benefits not in the urban point of view where people are conversant with the gadgets and internet and there is many ways to access the net. We need to count the benefits, rural folks derive from this. First problem is accessibility in remote corners or villages. We are aware that copper cables are one way to connect land lines. Unless there is a reliable network of cables, it is not possible to connect. This was the scenario in olden days. After the invention of mobile communications, mobile towers were erected throughout the length and breadth of the country, barring some hilly areas! Engineers have evolved newer technological platforms like microwaves, satellite communication and wireless modes to connect the last mile where there is no possibility to run cables etc. due to difficult terrains. Also cables need constant maintenance. Even in mobile communications, apart from the spread of towers, there need some base stations to process the signals which requires space with infrastructures. Like electric supply, communication infrastructure has become large and costly. If the government is keen to offer net facilities in rural areas, then there should be in place, trained personnel, computer hardware and software and a dedicated infrastructure.
Rural folks access laptops.
Rural population must have access to information!
We cannot expect everyone to become computer savvy. Hence the government should engage agencies at each taluk level to train the youth of the villages to operate and run computer and offer the facilities provided by the government for common man to access the facilities. Villagers need not travel to great distances to obtain certificates for essential necessities. At least, the villagers must know what are the facilities offered at those computer centers by the government agencies? There are many certificates like birth and death certificate, land holding or patta details; housing facilities in their name, community certificate to avail the various schemes provided by the State! Even the complaints and requests of the villagers could be transmitted to the higher authorities. Many online facilities could be introduced like payment of bills for the local panchayat, various taxes etc. Rural banking facilities could be extended to the villages, once communication network facilities are provided in the taluk or village level. Education, health, animal husbandry and agriculture are the main theme in villages. People can obtain required information through such computer centers. Though radio and TV offer most of the essential inputs as above, there are thousands of villages which lack the infrastructure. Also government needs to fund the infrastructures which need operators and periodical maintenance.
Whether people are more happy with the invention of gadgets?
The vital question is ‘whether people are more comfortable after the introduction of computers and internet? This is a complex question. No doubt, computers are useful and essential in many areas like banking, hospitals, travel and education. Prior to the introduction of computers, people used to venture out to pay their bills, taxes etc. standing in long ques. For senior citizens, this was an exacting task every month. Also shopping is a cumbersome task. Nowadays, most of the senior citizens who know basic computer operations and internet pay their bills, taxes and other essentials online. Also they use e commerce platforms to purchase their essential needs. Communication is mostly through e mail programs. I myself have felt the ease of transacting online. But not everyone possesses a computer with net facilities. But this problem is greatly solved by owning a smartphone where all online transactions could be carried out with little practice. Travel has become comfortable. We need not approach even the agents. We can directly book bus and train tickets and also tickets for air travel. Most of the countries have provided e governance facilities and this has enhanced the life. But these facilities are available in all urban areas and districts. But the conditions in the villages are still backward due to illiteracy and poverty. There are billions of people in the world who lack even a cheap feature phone! Hence the government should empower rural population by providing subsidized gadgets and connections. But the priorities of each country are different. In several African countries, the government is unable to feed them. This is the barest necessity. Only if the people are properly fed and taken care of, these inventions will help. Otherwise it will be a great burden!