Internet has become the most common source for various businesses in India. Internet penetration in the urban areas of the country is much higher than that of rural areas. However, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) report of 2010 on Internet in rural India states that its penetration is increasing year on year in the rural areas with the help of Indian government schemes and support from private sectors. The report states that the government schemes are supposed to be the primary means for increasing the penetration rate.
Various Government Schemes
The Indian government schemes like CSC (Common Service Center) and SWAN (State Wide Area Network) are known to positively affect Internet growth in rural India. The IAMAI report states that as of February 2011, 90,018 CSC were rolled out. The roll out of CSCs in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Chattisgarh, Bihar and other North Eastern states has been particularly high. Total 11 states had 100% roll out of CSCs. Whereas in Andhra Pradesh the roll was observed to be between 20% – 50%..
However, the success of a CSC scheme is to be expected with both the physical infrastructure a well as the softer infrastructure. It has to be ensured that the center has educated people who are able to handle project management for the daily operations.
Apart from this, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), are the other government schemes that help in increasing the Internet penetration in rural India.
Investments by Private Organizations
Apart from the government schemes, organizations of private sector also have a role in promoting growth of Internet usage among rural Indians. The IAMAI report states that various initiatives are taken by the most popular organizations including ITC, Google, HUL, Microsoft, CISCO and so on. Project Shakti of HUL, e-Choupal of ITC, Internet bus of Google, and Project Shiksha of Microsoft are some of the initiatives set up to enhance Internet penetration among rural Indians.
In addition to the above two factors, mobile Internet is also found to increase in rural areas.