Amidst kilometre upon kilometre of parched, barren land lies the tribal village of Amagara—a verdant oasis of crops and vegetables—the result of the efforts of the farmers, who dared to risk and experiment with new ideas, methods and technology.
I ndia has an estimated population of 1.15 billion, of which more than 70 per cent reside in rural areas. The mainstay of the rural economy is agriculture but this sector has been growing at less than half the pace of overall GDP. According to one estimate, the average income of an urban dweller is four times higher than that of a rural dweller. Even in the social development sector, there is huge disparity between the urban and rural areas. Most striking is the disparity that exists in urban and rural literacy numbers. In 2001, the urban literacy rate was 80.06 per cent whereas the rural literacy rate was just 59.21 percent.
The disparity in rural and urban living is not unusual for a post-colonial country like India. Policy makers, in recent times, are sincerely trying to bridge these disparities through the improvement of infrastructure and the introduction of technology in rural areas. The Indian government is investing over $35 billion in its flagship Bharat Nirman programme, the largest rural infrastructure development programme of its kind. However, access to infrastructure and services may still be limited not due to lack of capacity to pay for the services but due to lack of trained personnel to man the services. The governmental efforts to bridge the infrastructure gap, especially the digital divide, are discussed in Section II.