very significant instance of village dynamism that may not always follow social dictates. We could read this instance as a response to opportunities that developmental incursion interacting with particular social contexts offer and bring mobility among and between social units.
Upbeat about ICT, Charan has opened his second kiosk to a nearby industrial town having failed to generate business in his village. His profits from the new business will eventually feed the village kiosk into sustainability and will kick off new round off services.
Fig 3 Charan’s kiosk, through the front door!
He says ‘where there is a will there is a way’ and that ‘PC’s should entrench like FM radios and even a road side vendor must see value in using PC’s for his businesses’
Charan is a commerce graduate and took advantage of a state sponsored school in a nearby industrial town offering a course in IT for a small fee. Private schools charge a fortune for the same course pushed by the demand in newly industrializing towns for computing skills. His kiosk opened shop in March 2005 in the small farming village ringed by industrial towns. The village is showing dynamism in the diversity of allied occupations and a percentage of youth commuting or relocating to these belts for employment.
Charan put in plenty of efforts to entrench his new business but blames bad infrastructure and hardware issues killing business. He even tasted success battling with traditional mind sets when villagers began to express curiosity in his kiosk. But power cuts and bad hardware killed this too. The only money he makes is from offering telephone services. He is now trying his luck with web astrology and Photo studio applications.
Charan opened his new kiosk in the industrial town of Alandi, with 7 computers, networked and ready for training skills. He generates resources buying second hand hardware, sniffs out good deals for new ones with help from social contacts. He is looking at his kiosk in a conventional server-client setting, offering training, e-mail/browse/chat services. Probably this undue emphasis on a cyber café model and reaching out to an eager market for teaching computing skills as a major component of his business aspirations failed him in a more rural context requiring a different imagination to entrench the
Baba Sawant runs a prosperous computer institute that also houses his PC kiosk in the village of Uruli Kanchen, on the edge of Pune city displaying as many features of urbanity. He is an old computer professional of 18 years, (worked for the Indian government from the railway computerization days) and trains students across a spectrum of courses from C+ AutoCAD to MS office. He spent his first 8 years in Pune and reverted to his village to open the institute. He says ‘I could see the future in ICT 10 years ago in my village on the verge of urbanity’. He kiosk makes money from on line services, e mail, browsing that has a steady clientele. There are some who use search options for information. His village has a population of 50,000, and is an important railway junction. Many of its residents commute every day to work from the village to the city of Pune.
Baba has already built a data base of his village demography. He also has a voters list and spotted irregularities in these, ‘All this is possible because of the computer. But there are no takers for this information! Sometimes the semi-urbanity in my village is its bane. It has half baked knowledge of everything’. Baba is clearly mentioning, what to him precious information content, finding little value in his community thus far.
His futuristic vision of computers in emerging markets posits faith in creating community data bases, e government services and agri-information portals. He runs an agri-interest group updating farmers on evolving scenarios. He considers a matter of time when villages such as his will embrace digitization in all walks of life with aplomb! He envisions a plasma screen display in the middle of Uruli Kanchan that flashes various ‘day in the life of his village’ social scenes apart form providing relevant information about it.
Bharat by far is the most enterprising of KO’s who makes cool profits, around 10,000 INR per month, through creative use of the same inventory of computer applications and not tied with prior business set ups. He displays a very sharp sense of the rural market and has quickly expanded services to expose and meet veiled demands of ICT. A commerce graduate from the city of Pune, he began business in his village opening a photo studio attached to his home. Perhaps this initial affinity with a market for image reproduction clued him in with similar consumption patterns in his village when he went digital!
Hailing from the family of local priests in charge of the village temple prompts a curious kind of confidence in him to take creative risks in business. ‘We are the seventh generation of priests who came from Karnataka and served the religious needs of this village. We are in some sense the first family here’. His village is touted among the new crop of emerging villages with the opening of a hydro electric project near by. His services include Xerox, scanning, digital-pics, redone in photo shop, DTP and little else. His pictures of village folk are nothing short of transporting them photographically to Bollywood type scenarios (see Fig 4 and 5). He uses a pirated version of photo shop. While this kind of scene spotting has always existed in photo studios its digitization by Bharat to fit