India Uncut

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Hansdehar, the Knowledge Village

This is stunning: Reuters tells us about Hansdehar, a village in Western Haryana, where one can "see the names, jobs and other details of its 1,753 residents, browse photographs of their shops and read detailed specifications about their drainage and electricity facilities."

Check out the site. It has a complete listing of all the residents, religious places and tourist attractions, details of the Panchayat, and, most importantly, contact details of government officials and a survey of the infrstructure in the village. Information empowers people, and if the website also begins to incorporate information dug out using the RTI Act, its mere presence will make the government take this village extremely seriously.

"It will be a revolution," a farmer named Ajaib Singh is quoted as saying in the Reuters story, and not just in terms of government accountability. As the story elaborates:
Now Hansdehar farmers hope they will be able to get better prices for their crops by trading online through the National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Ltd., cutting out middlemen.

Carpenters and masons will tout their services online. Others will upload their resumes to job hunting Web sites when the village's first Internet point is hooked up in Kanwal Singh's mother's house in the coming weeks.
Remarkable. I hope more villages follow Hansdehar's example.

(Link via email from Arjun Swarup.)

Update: Chenthil writes in
Most of the districts in Tamil Nadu have embraced IT for quite some time now. TN government is serious about e governance. For example, check the Cuddalore village site. You can check your name in electoral rolls, check the infrastructure projects and their budgets, download government forms, send an email to the collector. Almost all the districts in the state have embraced e governance.
Rockacious. I wonder if any studies have been done on the impact this has had on governance and the economy. That would be quite fascinating.

Update 2 (August 20): Ramya Kannan writes in to point out that Cuddalore is a district. Furthermore, she writes:
Whether all of them [the TN districts that are online] are truly functional and facilitate response is an issue that I would not want to get into, but yes, as far as districts go, we have websites for each one of them. Notable, certainly, yet not in the league of Hansedar, which is truly an instance where technology has been harnessed by the masses. Let us hope MS Swaminthan's Mission 2007 - Every village a knowledge centre - makes a true difference.
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