Contingency Factors Impacting the Rural Information and Communication Technology Hubs

Contingency Factors Impacting the Rural Information and Communication Technology Hubs

P Govindaraju, M Maani Mabel
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8598-7.ch022
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A thorough glance of the ICT and development researches reveal that the qualitative studies reasonably depend on the grounded theory as it is obtained from the phenomenon unlike the study begins with the theory and proves it. Most of the researches concentrated on the adoption of technology, receptiveness of the target audience, organizational structure of the project agencies and of course, the impact of intervention. Fewer researches have been done to gauge the factors affecting the positive or negative impact of the technology. None of the above stated theories were relevant except meta-theoretical perspectives of ICT and society. The authors propose a chapter discusses the contingency factors which affect the positive or negative impact of the rural Information and Communication Technology hubs in India by analyzing the researches which were published after the year 2000. It shall be specifically dealing with the researches which are based on primary data. Thus it could reflect the challenges the Indian rural ICT initiatives face.
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Being evident from the history, any technology would not be deployed unless it is within the community, controlled and used by the community. The Information Kiosk emerged as new revolutionary change and reaches the rural locations in developing environments to use ICTs and to bring new access to content and services to rural consumers. Such installations have generally been termed as Telecenters, Knowledge Centers, Community Information Centers, Information Centers and Information Kiosks. Information Kiosks/ Knowledge Centers are becoming the window of the world of knowledge for villages and to reap the benefits of e-governance, tele-education, tele-medicine, e-commerce and e-judiciary initiatives need to be strengthened on a war footing.

The interventions have a measurable impact on commerce, marketing, public services, governance and education. Information and Communication Technologies enable the technological, social, cultural and economical change through participation, opportunity and accountability. Remote villages are witnesses of change effected by the new technology.

There are a number of success stories like how agriculturists interacted with professionals to save their crops from seasonal diseases, school drop outs and women have completed school education through e-educational services, fishermen who lost were considered at sea have found their way back using the services of Geo Positioning Satellites, poor farmers and fishermen have eliminated middlemen in their buying and selling of products, children have become familiar with teaching of computer applications, narrowing down of gender and caste discriminations, the list goes on.

Before a decade, there was Pro-ICT wave with the Indian budget assuring huge amount to enable the ICT to diffuse among the rural masses. Within a short span of time then, the first ICT for development initiative in Tamilnadu envisaged and run by the eminent IIT-Madras has agreed its failure and came off the screen. On the other hand the Government of India has announced Rs. 23000/- crores towards National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). These two instances contradicted and placed some serious questions and the researcher has stepped out to study the other initiatives in Tamilnadu.

Though various studies have identified the issues of sustainability, misconception of the role of ICTs, lack of awareness among rural folks on the usefulness of ICT, lack of community ownership and participation, the rural masses considerably have shown signs of interest towards these initiatives being geared up to break up the conservative bounding and acknowledged the need of technology for future development of the individual and the community as a whole. At various occurrences, it is abruptly known that the issues are around the improper planning and approach. Hence the researcher has focused to find the issues pertaining the effect of rural ICT initiatives.

ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and development researches have widely adopted and done on almost theories of all social science disciplines focusing more on Technological Acceptance Model, Diffusion of Innovation and Social Learning Theory. It is also noted that various researchers have inculcated the concepts and built their research framework instead of evolving from theories in ICT research as against other researches. The following paragraphs attempt to give a synopsis of theories predominantly and significantly used in ICT and development research. This would later exemplify why the researchers have endeavored to look on the contingency factors.

A thorough glance on the ICT and development researches reveal that the qualitative studies reasonably depend on the grounded theory as it is obtained from the phenomenon unlike the study begins with the theory and proves it. Strauss and Corbin point out, “it is discovered, developed, and provisionally verified through systematic data collection and analysis of data pertaining to that phenomenon. Therefore, data collection, analysis and theory stand in reciprocal relationship with each other” (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).

Evusa has adopted the social construction of technology theory while studying the Huruma Community Telecentre of Kenya. Social construction of technology theory has evolved as the criticism to diffusion of innovation and more specifically technological determinism. This theory helped to outline the perception of diffusion of innovation and technological determinism and their relation between ICT and socioeconomic development altering the traditional approach of looking at the relation between communication and development either in mainstream (dominant) or alternative (critical) perspectives (Evusa, 2005).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Access: Approach or entrance to a place.

Financial Sustainability: The assessment that a project will have sufficient funds to meet all its resource and financial obligations, whether the fund continues or not.

Community Mobilization: A capacity building process, through which individuals, groups and families as well as organizations plan, carryout and evaluate activities on a participatory and sustained basis to achieve an agreed goal.

Information: One or more statements or facts that are received by a human and that have some form of worth to the recipient.

Participation: A social process whereby specific groups with shared needs living in a defined geographic area actively pursue identification of their needs, take decisions and establish mechanisms to meet these needs (Chamala, 1995 AU77: The in-text citation "Chamala, 1995" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Development: A process which enables human beings to realize their potential, build self-confidence, and lead lives of dignity and fulfillment. It is a process which frees people from fear of want and exploitation. It is a movement away from political, social or economic oppression. Through development, political independence acquires true significance. A change towards betterment.

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