public telephone booth and a small textile readymade shop.
The Shikrapur kiosk, another ‘fringe’ village with a busy highway splitting through, is attached to a medical pharmacy. The village of Kendur needs special mention since it emerges as some kind of a model for rural kiosks in the creative range of services it offers through sheer enterprise of Bharat, its KO.
Uruli Kanchan, Shikrapur and Kendur kiosks and their operators are profiled in our next section.
Those that opened more than a year ago, Kadus (pop: 14000) and Karegoan (pop: 8100) are profitable. However both rely on diversified sources of revenue. The Kadus kiosk offers MS-CIT courses but makes considerable money from Desk Top Publishing (DTP), mainly printing invitation cards! Having noticed the need and the lack of a printing press in his village, Pramod used his PC and the DTP software to meet the demand. He offers competitive rates to make more business the pull clients to his booth. He also mentioned wedding videography as his next venture. Interestingly his wife trained in computer programming, the motivation behind opening the kiosk, teaches the MS-CIT course. Her social networks in the village bring in women clients to enroll for courses.
Karegoan (pop: 8200) a village that transformed its socio-economic profile after agricultural lands were annexed by the government to develop an industrial belt. In the wake of new employment, in-migration and floating population, the Karegoan kiosk began making revenues from internet services, e mail and chat. However, the KO reports that an additional business -- the repair of mobile handsets – provides enough revenue to ensure the kiosk’s survival. Operator Ganesh belongs to a socially prominent family and his mother is the current head of the local governing body, the village panchayat. Enthused by the socio-economic boom in Karegoan, he is planning to develop real estate, a shopping mall cum movie multiplex, on the outskirts of his village that would most profitably serve the floating population.
New kiosks, less than a year old, at Kanerser, Kharpudi, Haji Takli and Vadgoan, are struggling. Here, KO’s have not yet been able to successfully ‘market’ a rural computer kiosk but are still trying without loosing heart. Kanerser (pop: 3500) is a small village, predominantly agrarian. It has a highest out-migration rate among the villages in our study with little job opportunities. Interestingly, its entire Brahmin/literate community has migrated in search of lucrative livelihoods. One of them went on to become the Chief Judge of India’s Supreme Court. The following section offers more details of the kiosk.
Haji Takli (pop: 3300) is a prosperous village with flourishing farms and allied occupations like animal husbandry, dairy farming and small retail and transport businesses. The village PC kiosk opened less than a year ago, run by a young entrepreneur and land owner, overseeing his family agri-input retail and a transport business. The KO, who has received an engineering diploma (somewhat akin to a two year associate degree) and computer training, is confident about generating enough business in his village for PC services. He is also keen
on using business software to replace traditional methods of accounting for his family- run business operations.
Kharpudi (pop: 2600) is a village with the least infrastructure facilities in our sample of 12 villages. It has no post office, bank or a primary health centre. However, the resource crunch did not prevent the opening of a PC kiosk. The KO, who is a small land owner, is keen to pull computing technology into his village. He is formally trained in software programming, hardware maintenance/ assembling and is currently employed with a computer training institute in Khed, a nearby town. Initially his kiosk was housed in the village square drawing a small number of villagers to enroll for computer courses. Ensuing power cuts closed down the kiosk that shifted to his home. There is still little business for the kiosk but the KO is keeping the faith and the kiosk functional in his post- work hours. He makes very little business with only friends dropping in to surf or chat. The KO is yet to embark on a business strategy to support kiosk services.
Vadgoan (pop: 2500) is another small village with a struggling kiosk. The operator made small money offering telephone services but precious little through PC based services. He mentions that his village, being agrarian and traditional, is seeing little value in services that make money in bigger towns/villages like computer education and internet surfing. The more enterprising persons in the village go to nearby towns for education and better job prospects. The KO is unable to market even services like digital photography and web based astrology. However, he is seriously thinking of a second kiosk in Allandi, a nearby town that holds good business prospects. He is hoping to siphon profits to keep his village kiosk afloat.
Elements of urbanity and porosity in village social contexts appreciably advance the reception and consumption of computing technologies available through kiosks. Many villages under ethnographic purview, living on the edge of industrial belts with a good deal of floating population and in- migration, absorb several consequential changes. KO’s in these villages manage to adapt kiosk business to new local demands for communication technologies. Karegoan village, predominantly agricultural, gave up its entire land to the state industrial belt, and have not turned the new land given in exchange to farming. With steady inflow of new employees absorbed into the belt new occupational structures crop up and impact socio-economic life. The most lucrative being rental and temporary lodging facilities and small to medium catering services. A cash based market economy has brought in its wake the demand for personal communication devices and mobile phones begin to make their entry. Ganesh the KO in Karegoan, estimates around 500 plus mobile hand sets in his village with a population of 8200. He makes his profits from handset repair and maintenance and not from kiosk business.
Incidentally, all 12 villages have at least one computer housed in one of their schools, some having up to 10! They are in various states of use or disuse as the case may be with some schools having trained teachers. We noted a co-relation