Mass Communication and Tribal Awakening

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Wiring up an Information Revolution and Promoting Education and Youth Employment in Tribal India through Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)


Dr. Ramesh Menaria*,

Lecturer, Guru Govind Government College, Banswara

E mail:menaria_ramesh@yahoo.co.in

Key Words and Phrases


Mass communication, Information and Communication Technology, TV network, Simputer, Internet, STD, Telecentre, Cyber kiosk, Call centre, telemedicine services, Digital Economy, ‘e’ Boy, ‘e’ Bala or ‘e’ Bai as “information Intermediaries”, AISECT, Suchana Mitra, ‘e’ governance. Information Village Project (IVP), M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), IndiaShop.com, SEWA, TARAhaat.com, e-greenstar.com




This paper presents an   overview of use of ICT technology in tribal areas with special emphasis upon youth employment in tribal society of India. The paper aims:


        To discuss hurdles in wiring up a knowledge revolution and realizing benefits of Information Revolution in Tribal India

        To discuss major benefits of use of Information and Communication Technologies in tribal areas.

        To discuss and suggest in what way information and communication technologies (ICT) can promote youth employment in Tribal Society.

        To expose the myth that ICT business can be run only by high income individuals or groups.

        To describe some leading projects like Information Village Project (IVP) run by M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), IndiaShop.com, SEWA, TARAhaat.com and e-greenstar.com devoted to Rural/Tribal education and employment via use of ICT.

        To make recommendations so that so that millions tribal people can be lifted out of poverty and contribute to national economy and be part of global economy.


"Information is critical to the social and economic activities that comprise the development process. Telecommunications, as a means of sharing information, is not simply a connection between people, but a link in the chain of the development process itself." [Hudson 1995]


                  With the advent of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the world has changed into a "Global Village".  In present times, when we talk about mass communication revolution in India , we generally mean  that TV, mobile, internet, and other means of information  communication  have exerted a considerable impact on social, cultural, political and  economic aspects of the society and soon, as a modern society,  we are going to cope up with advanced countries. But the real picture is quite different. India has important high-technology industries and technology hubs, but diffusion of technology is slow and incomplete as compared to five ILO member countries. We live in a diversified culture in which few sections celebrate huge benefits of ICT technology, on the other hand, other sections, very much underprivileged like tribal society  are struggling hard even for basic survival. A large portion of our tribal population is still illiterate, struggling for electricity, drinking water, and daily bread and butter. The disparity in rural-urban infrastructure, in terms of roads, power, transport and telecommunications is a severe bottleneck. It hinders private investment in rural/tribal areas and fails to provide rural/ tribal population with key ingredients required to modernise agriculture, and more importantly establish other economic enterprises (including non-farm based enterprises).  Poverty, illiteracy, inertia, traditional beliefs, poor infrastructure, technological constraints, defective administrative planning and strategy are few major causes that prevent and put tribal society far from witnessing a true revolution based on modern technology like ICT.  


               However, it cannot be denied that mass communication technology is gradually reaching tribal homes and little population has even realized its benefits as it is evident from few projects, described in this paper, that are already working on the present theme. Today, the tribal community in few areas is also on the way of advanced civil society. The focus of this paper is on the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) that can be employed in tribal areas to generate youth employment.  The initiatives are presented against a background that acknowledges that tribes are largely illiterate and belong to a very low income group.  The paper discusses, in more general terms, some common misconceptions about the use of ICT in tribal regions, the potential gains ICT offers in relation to youth employment and society more widely, and the obstacles tribal community in particular faces in trying to realize these benefits.

The initiatives also show the potential that the widespread use of mobile phones offer for young people both as an income generator in its own right and as an alternative to fixed line telephones to gain easier access to the Internet.  Some best practice examples show that other infrastructure constraints such as high cost of computers, and electricity supply can also be addressed.  Evidence is also presented to show that the use of the Internet is not limited to the literate or to English users.

The best projects like AISECT (All India Society for Electronics and Computer Technology), Information Village Project (IVP) run by M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), IndiaShop.com, SEWA, TARAhaat.com and  e-greenstar.com devoted to Rural/Tribal education and employment Via use of ICT show that ICT has vast potential to address education and employment problem in tribal areas in a effective manner. 


                  The final part of the paper offers few recommendations aimed at promoting ICT-related opportunities for young people. Tribal residents deserve an equal opportunity to participate in the national economy and determine their own destiny. Particular emphasis, as outlined in paper, should be given on ICT to provide employment to tribal youths so that they can integrate effectively in the Indian economy and the new Global Economy.  The final solution to providing service to tribal areas in India will require a delicate blend of appropriate technological choices in combination with management and financing mechanisms, initiated at the governmental level, to support the development of tribal areas. An integrated approach including participation of public sector, the entrepreneurs, the private sector, and the NGOs who consider themselves to be in the business of "doing good”, is required to catalyze information revolution in Tribal India so that millions can be lifted out of poverty and be engaged in productive employment not restricted to agricultural sector. Hence no time should be wasted in going ahead with the proposed plans.



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