Internet In South Asian Development
- a weapon to
Heritage & Travel
the-south-asian.com February 2001
Page 3 of 4
Technology – a weapon to fight poverty South Asian Success Stories
Technology – a weapon to fight poverty
South Asian Success Stories
(Excerpts from TARAhaat publications)
Development Alternatives is launching a new service that will bring the world right into the villages of India: TARAhaat.com.
Started 1st June 2000, TARAhaat goes into its beta phase in a dozen villages around Jhansi in the rugged Bundelkhand area of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. TARAhaat is the first major mother portal designed right from the ground up for the needs of village users. It connects the user to information services, government agencies and, above all, to all kinds of markets.
The operation of TARAhaat is very simple. Even small children, village housewives and illiterate people can use it from day one. The computer displays information in the local language, in pictures and with self-explanatory animated icons. If you can't read, it speaks to you. Soon, it will be able to receive simple instructions by voice too.
The fact that there are no computers in most village homes today is no handicap for TARAhaat. Local businesses will be able to set up a TARA kiosk (locally called "TARAdhaba") where everyone in the village can come and get connected - just like a PCO, the telephone booth one can now find throughout India.
Information is not all that you can get at the TARAdhaba. You can also get access to education and entertainment. Press "IGNOU", and you will get connected to the Indira Gandhi National Open University. Press the button labeled "Doctor" and you will get advice on the best medical facility available in the neighboring region for your child's sickness. Press "Music" and it will play the latest musical hits.
Above all, TARAhaat is the ultimate super bazaar, providing immediate access to all kinds of products and services needed by rural households, farmers and industries. Rural producers and manufacturers can also sell to far away clients through the hyper linked sister portal, TARAbazaar.com.
The goods you order will be delivered by a TARAvan ("TARArath"). The products you wish to send to clients in other villages or in the city will be picked up at the same time. So will the TARAmail ("TARAdak"), which you send to your daughter in the city or your son posted on the front in Ladakh.
TARAvans, like TARAdhabas, will be independent franchises, providing jobs for local business people and numerous employees. TARAcards will be issued to regular customers, enabling them to order goods and services through TARAhaat on credit, without paying in advance. This photo ID will also be a valuable identification for many other purposes.
TARAhaat will create jobs - lakhs of jobs - for people working in TARAdhabas, TARAvans and the TARAvendors (TARAdukan). It will also create new jobs and purchasing power for people to buy the goods they need through the TARAhaat system. Most important, it will open the windows of the village homes to the large world outside, bringing in news - on politics, business, sports and development. Every citizen in India can become an enlightened voter, a shareholder, and a participant in the nation-building process.
Villages that have no phone lines will be able to connect to the Internet through the TARAdish satellite connections. If they have no electricity, a solar or DESI Power facility will supply the power needed. If they have no road, the TARAporter will deliver by foot. The motto of TARAhaat is "Every village is our Market". Within five years, it will reach 250,000 communities, covering half the villages of India.
Revenues to TARAhaat come from payments received for services, commissions on sales, fees for advertising and entertainment, royalties and other sources of earnings. All these are structured to maximize the incentives for each participant in the TARAhaat network: the user, the TARAdhaba, the TARAvan, the TARAscout, the TARAguru and, of course, TARAhaat.com and its shareholders. Overseas franchises and consultancies in other developing countries will provide additional revenues in the future.
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