the-south-asian.com August 2003
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Government to citizen (G2C) SERVICE DELIVERY MODELS
- An Indian Experience
Selected Case Studies and Lessons for Future Developments
M J Xavier & M P Gupta
AMUL's Dairy Portal
AMUL's Dairy Portal
Dairy Information System Kiosk (DISK) project by AMUL was conceived with two components;
1) an application running at the society level that could be provided Internet connectivity and,
2) a Dairy Portal at the district level serving transactional and information needs of all members and staff in the district co- operative structure. The software used at the society level was developed to provide:
- Data analysis and decision support to help a rural milk collection society in improving its performance i.e. increasing milk collection.
- Data analysis to improve productivity and yield of milch cattle.
- Farmers with facilities to place orders for goods and services offered by different agencies in the co-operative sector and seek information on subjects of interest.
The services to be offered at these centres would include;
1) Delivery of information related to dairying, including best practices in breeding and rearing milch cattle, scheduling of government and other private sector agency services, and collecting feedback on the quality of service provided to the catchment area;
2) Access to a multimedia database on innovations captured by SRISHTI (an NGO working with IIMA) from hundreds of villages, covering agricultural practices, medicinal plants, home remedies, tools and implements, etc., and a multimedia format that has captured the description of the innovations provided by innovators and a visual presentation of the innovations;
3) use as a communication centre offering services like email, fax and Internet telephony (if Internet telephony is permitted);
4) Internet Banking Services and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), which will enable the milk societies to credit payments directly to sellers' bank accounts. (The sellers already have plastic card identifiers. The card identifier may have to be upgraded to smart cards carrying biometric identification. The cards can be used to withdraw cash from ATMs);
5) a way for farmers to download Government Forms, receive documents (from a Government site) and order supplies and agricultural inputs from manufacturers; and 6) a means of communicating with farmers via the automatic printing process of daily payment slips.
Implementation of the project requires computerization of its more than 70,000 village societies and automation of milk collection process. In nearly 600 centres the automation has been completed and 2500 societies are computerized. Each farmer is given a plastic card as ID. At the counter he drops the card into a box that reads it electronically and transmits the identification number to the PC. The milk is emptied into a steel trough kept over a weighbridge. Instantly the weight of the milk is displayed to the farmers and communicated to a PC. The trough is connected by a pipe to a can, which transports milk to the dairy. One operator is required to fill the cans. Another operator sitting next to the trough takes a 5-ml. sample of milk and holds it up to a tube of an Electronic milko-tester (a fat testing machine, which is a local adaptation of an expensive and sophisticated tester made by M/s.A/SN Foss Electric, Denmark.) The fat content is displayed to the farmer and communicated to the PC, which calculates the amount due the farmer based on the fat content of the milk. The total value of the milk is printed on a payment slip and given to the farmer who collects the price from the adjoining window.
Technology and Action for Rural Advancement (TARA), have launched a new service, TARAhaat.com, that brings relevant information, products, and services via the Internet to the underserved rural market. Starting October 2000, in the districts of Bundelkhand surrounding the historical city of Jhansi (a region widely known for its poverty and harsh living conditions), TARAhaat became the first major "portal" designed from the ground up for the needs of village users. TARAhaat is a gateway that connects the village user to information services, government agencies, and, above all, to all kinds of markets. (A "haat" is the color-ful, festive weekly village market common throughout India.)
TARAhaat works quite simply. Even small children, village housewives, and illiterate people can use it from day one. The computer displays information in the local language of each region. For those who cannot read, it uses animated pictures, self-explanatory diagrams and voice-over. The villager talks to the computer by clicking a mouse or, soon, by a simple voice command.
TARAhaat.com is a primarily horizontal portal, but several domains, such as medical services, commodity trade, and distance education, will feature strong vertical elements. TARAhaat's central core is built around B2C links, but it is expected quickly to generate growing B2B and C2C traffic. For example, the subsidiary portal TARAbazaar.com will provide urban and overseas consumers with direct access to village craftspeople, opening opportunities for marketing products by millions of individual rural workers without their having to leave the village. Large food processing companies will be able to negotiate and monitor direct agreements with individual farmers for the purchase of tomatoes, peanuts, or sugar cane. Value addition from timely delivery and savings from by-passing some intermediaries can generate large revenues for seller, buyer, and TARAhaat.
TARAhaat is also a superbazaar, providing instant access to all kinds of products and services needed by rural households, farmers, and industries. For a few rupees worth of connect-time on the Net, the villager can obtain information about commodity prices, health facilities, land records, local development programs, jobs, and matrimonials. Users can shop for farm inputs such as seeds, machinery, and spare parts, and for household items, from bicycles to refrigerators, now becoming popular in rural markets. The goods ordered are delivered by franchised courier services, the TARAvans, which will also pick up packages meant for clients in other locations. TV entertainment, public telephones and other off-line services will be available in the larger TARAdhabas to attract customers and eyeballs and to generate a wider range of revenue streams.
The Warana "Wired Village" project was set up not only to increase the efficiency and productivity of the sugar cane cooperative, but also to provide a wide range of information and services to 70 villages around Warana. Warana is a well-developed rural area located 30 kilometers northwest of the city of Kolhapur, in one of the richest states of India, Maharashtra. The main economic activity there is sugar cane growing and processing. About 50,000 farmers live in 100 villages spread in the 25,000 sq. kilometer area covered by the cooperative. The WGC is formed by 25 cooperative societies with a total turnover of US$130 million. The National Informatics Centre (NIC), the State Government, and the Warana group have set up a village information kiosk.
SARI project in Melur near Madurai in Tamilnadu is a joint effort of the TeNeT Group at IIT Madras; Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University Law School; Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Media Labs Asia; I-Gyan, New Delhi. The project funding is from ICICI. The aim of the project is to show that viable markets exist for information and communication services in rural, poor areas. This can be tapped by inventing and deploying innovative technologies and business models. "The ultimate aim is to link these activities to sustainable human development objectives." The pilot project was implemented to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas, establish rural connectivity, ensure that the benefits of developments in information technology reach the people in rural areas, and facilitate dissemination of information in all fronts of social development to the rural public at a location closest to them and at a substantially low cost. The project is being expanded to the districts of Madurai, Cuddalore, Coimbatore, Kancheepuram, Theni, Tirunelveli, Salem, Nagapattinam, Erode and Tiruvallur and renamed as "RASI'' (Rural Access to Services through Internet).
Cyber Grameen, a rural broadband venture has been launched at Venkatachalam village in the Nellore district on the 17th of January 2003. The Cyber Grameen Centre' provides both applications and services to villagers. The services to be provided include telephony, telemedicine, distance learning, high speed Internet/e-mail, retail store, agriculture/ horticulture, banking, insurance, video conferencing, digital entertainment and e- Governance encompassing delivery of Government services and information.
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