Technology in governance reaches out to rural masses
Sarthak Ray | January 26, 2010
Shailendra Singh grows flowers on his land in Naya Khera village in Niwari, Uttar Pradesh. With each call he has made in the last two years to the LifeLines helpline, he has also helped grow a knowledge bank that farmers like him use to reap never-before profits.
One World South Asia's Lifelines agricultural extension service uses simple, easy to use technology to connect rural farmers with agricultural experts. Farmers from 2,011 villages in four states – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana – call up on the helpline number with queries on pest management, weather information, inter-cropping, handling drought, irrigation methods, crop diseases and cycle.
One World South Asia's director Naimur Rahman says, “There is a near-total absence of agri-extension services in the country, mostly because of the remoteness of the farming locations from the experts' workplace. We have tried to bridge this gap using both mobile phone technology and the internet.”
Over 1,00,000 farmers are already using the fast-growing LifeLines services. One of the reasons for LifeLines' success is the ease with which it overcomes what Rahman calls the 'triangle of barriers' – that of language, literacy and connectivity. The farmer using the service makes a call on the helpline number and an 'integrated voice response system (IVRS)' records his/her query. An unique query id number is then generated by the call centre which records the call. The farmer can then call for advice on his specific query 24 hours later using this number. The recorded query in the meantime is translated, transcribed and mailed to one or more of the experts on service. These experts then mail back a reply which is then recorded at the call centre and delivered by IVRS when the farmer calls back for the response.
A seamless connectivity between rural telephone networks and peri-urban and urban internet enable call centres ensures a response within 24 hours.
“I don't have to go all the way to a agri-extension clinic or have a field officer come and record particulars of my problem. I just make a call and the solution is delivered at my doorstep,” Singh says.
“My profits are looking up as I can now make timely interventions,” he adds.
With 400 callers a day, LifeLines has queries that are bound to be similar or at the least, overlap. The ingenuity of the project lies in the fact that queries are tagged with keywords and run through databases in case a similar query has been answered earlier. LifeLines today has a knowledge-bank of 2,80,000 frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Despite the success of the project, Rahman refuses to call it a governance support tool – whether it be e or m. “This is a service. Governance is not. Our e-governance set-up is still so nascent,” he says.
Google Assistant, Rekognition and Tay. All these, often seen in news, have a common thread – they are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Only difference is that while some have been in news for right reasons, some others have made it to the headlines for all the wrong reasons. For instance, Goo
1.33 billion. Let that large number sink in. That number is nearly 18 percent of the total global population, and almost the number of people estimated to currently reside in the republic of India, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies. These 1.33 billion people are spread across a
Kerala is limping back to normal after the devastating floods that wreaked havoc in the state prompting red alert in all 14 of its districts. While the rescue activities and immediate relief are now a thing of the past, the state is struggling to turn a new page and the focus is on reconstruction an
On August 16, when the country lost its beloved former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a nondescript village, 70 km from Agra, came into the limelight. Bateshwar, the ancestral village of Vajpayee, is situated along the notorious Chambal ravines on the banks of the Yamuna. Vajpayee&rsq
Love Sonia is not a film you would want to watch if you knew its subject: sex trafficking. Without even a scene experienced, the subject induces visceral revulsion. However optimistic the screenplay, it can only deal in ugly dregs and bring up retching bile. Even so, Love Sonia, gritty an
On the first day of his August 19-20 visit to India, when Japanese defence minister Itsunori Onodera held talks with his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman, several defence and strategic-related issues had cropped up in their annual talks. But a big smile flashed on Sithraman’s face when Onodera,