Web-Based Information Storage and Retrieval System in Agriculture and Rural Development Banking in India

By Ahuja, J. P. S.; Rawtani, M. R. | Information Outlook, December 2004 | Go to article overview

Web-Based Information Storage and Retrieval System in Agriculture and Rural Development Banking in India


Ahuja, J. P. S., Rawtani, M. R., Information Outlook


Abstract

This article describes the concept of rural development and the role of information in the overall development of the rural populace. It attempts to explore the information needs of rural development practitioners and lists sources of information from various organizations engaged in the task of rural development. Various e-governance initiatives of state governments and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) for making day-to-day information available to the rural masses are explained in detail. The article emphasizes the need for an Internet-based information storage and retrieval system for rural development. Web addresses of some of the organizations engaged in rural development are also provided.

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Introduction

The term "rural development" is a subset of the broader term "development." Development is a subjective and value-based term; thus, there cannot be a consensus as to its meaning. At best, development in the context of society could be conceptualized as a set of desirable societal objectives that a country seeks to achieve. Rural development connotes overall development of rural areas with a view to improve the quality of life of rural people. (1) It is a comprehensive and multidimensional concept and encompasses the development of agriculture and allied activities, village and cottage industries and crafts, socioeconomic infrastructure, community services and facilities, and, above all, the human resources in rural areas. As a phenomenon, rural development is the end result of interactions among various physical, technological, economic, sociocultural, and institutional factors. As a strategy, it is designed to improve the economic and social well-being of a specific group of people--the rural poor. As a discipline, it is multidisciplinary in nature, representing an intersection of agricultural, social, behavioral, engineering, and management sciences.

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In the words of Robert Chambers, "Rural development is a strategy to enable a specific group of people, poor rural women and men, to gain for themselves and their children more of what they want and need. It involves helping the poorest among those who seek a livelihood in the rural areas to demand and control more of the benefits of rural development. The group includes small-scale farmers, tenants, and the landless." (2)

We shall define rural development here as a process leading to sustainable improvement in the quality of life of rural people, especially the poor.

The World Bank, in a Discussion Paper (1996), has emphasized that information is an important production factor, along with land, labor, capital, and energy. Timely access to information is crucial for development. (3)

"Information poverty" hinders economic development, as government agencies working at the field level lack access to policies and programs of the central and state governments. Even the ultimate beneficiary does not know what the planners sitting in capital cities are doing for them. Thus, building a grassroots-level information storage and retrieval system for economic development is crucial for the success of any government policy.

Organizations Engaged in Rural Development

A large number of organizations in government and non-government sectors are engaged in the gigantic task of rural development. The information needs and the information generated by them differ from organization to organization.

Government Organizations

The government has been, still is, and will continue in the near future to be an important organization in the field of agricultural and rural development in developing countries, including India. The main functions of government organizations/institutions are on the following six levels:

1. Facilitating policy formulation.

2. Harmonizing the actions of various economic agents and coordinating program implementation. …

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Web-Based Information Storage and Retrieval System in Agriculture and Rural Development Banking in India
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