As some modern technology like the internet and other western influences have enveloped even the remotest of villages in India, there are still many where people struggle to make ends meet. One such place was Harisal in Maharashtra, which has now been adopted by Microsoft to empower the population with Wi-Fi and e-commerce facilities.
Located in Dharni Tehsil of Amravati district in Maharashtra, Harisal village has been adopted by the American multinational technology company, Microsoft Corporation, to be developed as India’s first ideal digital village.
The area was notably low in almost all Human Development Index (HDI) parameters including education, employment and income levels, but has now due to public health initiatives of the state government become a strong contender for the Prime Minister’s award for excellence in public administration.
Upon meeting Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, discussed with him the digital solutions for chronic problems in Indian villages.
Thus, furnishing a practical remedy, Microsoft used its ‘white space’ technology, the unused spectrum between two television channels, to provide free internet connectivity in Harisal and neighbouring villages, along with deploying its officials to find different technological solutions for Harisal. Moreover, the corporation may soon provide a replicable public-service delivery model for the whole state.
“Microsoft decided to partner us in digitally connecting the village. Our goal was to make the villagers self reliant, increase employment, boost their incomes, and provide medical services. We chose Harisal because it had one of the worst HDI parameters and if it is successful here, then we could replicate it anywhere in the state,” said Praveen Pardeshi, additional chief secretary to Fadnavis.
Paving the way for e-commerce
Over the years, people in Harisal have acquired expertise in crafting bamboo into door mats, vases, bowls, baskets, etc. However, their incomes remained significantly low due to the middlemen in the state.
Nevertheless, with the advent of internet facilities in the area, the situation has changed for the better. The state has laid an optical fibre network, installed Wi-Fi, taught the residents to use internet and also provided a platform to sell their works online.
Furthermore, solar power panels have been installed to provide renewable power; and to train students further, ICT (Information and Communication Technology) classes are being conducted in the area.
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