Aren't There More Important Things Than A Website For A Poor Rural Village?

from the it-takes-a-village... dept

Technology clearly has a place in helping poorer areas of the world lift themselves up — but too often it seems like technology isn’t used in any strategic fashion, but simply because it’s there. That’s why it was nice to see India at least recognize that there may be more important things to focus on instead of just handing everyone a $100 laptop. However, one village in rural India seems awfully excited that they’ve now got their very own website, despite the fact that almost no one in the village has surfed the internet. The website was built by a former villager who left the village to become a web designer. There’s nothing wrong with building the village a website, and perhaps opening up new avenues for commerce and communication within the village — but it seems like some villagers are expecting this one website to do a lot more than it’s likely to do. One farmer announces that the website “will be a revolution.” Others believe that the website will force the government not to ignore the village any more. They almost sound like companies when they first put up websites a decade ago and simply assumed the world would beat a mouse-driven path to their door. Having a website is nice, but it is not the solution to all of the village’s problems — and having people in the village think so may simply add to the problems the village faces.

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Comments on “Aren't There More Important Things Than A Website For A Poor Rural Village?”

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Just Me says:

small step, lead to bigger steps

Perhaps you are right in a sense that having a website doesn’t automatically change things for the better or for the worse.

However, it seems that a lot of interest has been generated from those who live the village. Of course, they may not understand what a website does, or can do to help them gain some interest from the outside world. At the least, it seems to give them “hope” that their goverment will listen to their needs.

Who knows, the website might inspire the young in the village to take up IT and educate themselves. At the end of the day, we all have to start from somewhere. So good for them, I hope that get the interest they need.

Rick Ash (user link) says:

Re: small step, lead to bigger steps

Ah, Thank Goodness. Another fatally optimistic person like me. Why can’t there be some good in it?

They make fun pf people like us you know but, let them. How awful it must be to wake up every day with an “Oh my God, it’s another morning!” whereas I wake up with a “Thank god, it’s another morning!”

Better be nice to even the small villages in India. They are already outbidding us ( along with China ) for goods and services that only a few years ago, we assumed were ours, and ours alone.

Peter Schmalfeldt says:

Proof is in the pudding...

The fact that techdirt has written an article about this site seems to imply the exact opposite of what this article writes about when it states that this village has “assumed the world would beat a mouse-driven path to their door.” Isn’t that exactly what you just did?

– Peter

Solomon Movva says:

Re: Proof is in the pudding...

I agree. This may not solve even one of this village’s current problems. But typically, people get new ideas and they can start using this site for various pertinent things, that improve commerce in the village. As long as people recognize that and go about it, the sky may be the limit for future development.

Anonymous Coward says:

I agree with commenter #1 . It probably wont solve all of their problems, and my guess is most of the villagers probably dont even know what a website does.

But being connected does give the villagers an opportunity to explore the rest of the world. Maybe someone will find a job. Maybe somr farmer will find a way to increase crop yield. Maybe some mother will find a doctor for her sick child. You never know. Also, not all villages in India are poor. Many villages I’ve been to have sattellite tv and MTV, so seeing a website isnt all that surprising.

Like already stated, it won’t solve all their problems, but its a start, hopefully for the better.

Topher3105 (profile) says:

I agree

I have heard of times when a rual village was able to build a well because they sold crafts and wares on eBay and having Internet access allows them a better quality of life.

But, these tend ot be rare and special occurences, and at the heart of it, there tends to be someone entrepeneur from a G8 country pulling the strings and turning these situations into a business model using cheap labour to turn a tidy profit off of those struggling to live.

In reality, Intenet is a luxury and once a country has the necessary infrastructure to provide safe water, food clothing and shelter, as well as political stability, then you can start to focus on education and infromation services. Education DOES NOT improve a childs life if they can’t survive long enough to finish school. Most people assume that once a child gets a good enough education, they can solve their countries problems, but if those problems prevent the child from being healthy, then school/education/Internet is not the immediate solution.

I have been largely dismayed by the assumption that all a poor country needs is $100 laptops and Internet access and they will be fine. Its like saying, here is a bandaid, cure world hunger, cure AIDS, cure drought with it, but don’t bug us once we give you access.

Anonymous Coward says:

Try umm, maybe buying them like Farm equipment, or perhaps upgrade their water/sewage systems. Or perhaps another novel idea would be to use this money to somehow further the village’s overall infrastructure.

I’m not opposed to them getting laptops, but the priorities should be straight. Although – there’s a good chance if they can get to the web they may learn some new farming techniques. They may also learn the true depths of human stupidity, lol.

You know – seriously – some stuff to improve daily living and perhaps one computer the community could use might just do the trick.

Jonathan (user link) says:

what about internet access?

A substantial part of this article focuses not on the website for this village, but on the need for internet access for the villagers. Having your own web site is great, and sure, the Reuters article helps publicize it, but unless people in India actually see the site, not too much may come of it. It sounds, though, like what these people really need is internet access themselves. That’s where the opportunities actually will come from.

Lay Person says:


As in Shawshank, hope can be a dangerous thing. It passifies while there may be other more viable avenues.

Instead of filling these peoples heads with grandiose websites, why don’t they develop/generate real revenue (i.e. farm equipment, schools, utilities, etc).

Perhaps training the villagers in some sort of skill that they can really utilize.

So they have a website…big deal. I know lots of village websites…all they do is sit there or act as a communication among the villagers. It hardly changes anything other than knowing when the town meetings are.

I wonder what the web designer charged the government for developing the site?

Sanguine Dream says:

Mixed feelings...

Yes the site could open up new venues of communication which could lead to someone contacting them to offer assistance with their farming methods, a grant to upgrade the sewage system, or increase the local budget for education.

At the same time it could be argued that the money could have just gone straight to the things I just listed. Maybe the site was created under the “Give a man a fish…” notion.

Rabid Woverine says:

Website for rural village

It is not a bad idea. Website’s bring education and education is a two way street. Education is also the single most important element in escaping poverty, without it you can’t even start the race, let alone run it.

I think it’s a good idea and I also think it’s a wonderful gift from their prodigal son.

It’s too bad that some of you out there can’t see the forest for the tiny bits of dirt on the bark…

Lay Person says:

Re: Website for rural village

To #7.

Clearly there is a cultural bias to your argument.

What does this town need a website or $100 laptops?

Answer: neither.

They need infrastructure, sewage, clean water, electricity, revenue, etc.

No one cares about the website but the site developer and that guy who thinks a revolution is around the corner.

Shelter, eating, shiting, domesticating…these are the things that are important to the poverty stricken. Not porn, Ebay, and Techdirt.

Rabid Woverine says:

Website for rural village

It is not a bad idea. Website’s bring education and education is a two way street. Education is also the single most important element in escaping poverty, without it you can’t even start the race, let alone run it.

I think it’s a good idea and I also think it’s a wonderful gift from their prodigal son.

It’s too bad that some of you out there can’t see the forest for the tiny bits of dirt on the bark…

Spencer Roads says:

A website?

Extraordinary. “It will open new avenues of communication and commerce within the village”. Really? When most of the villagers probably can’t even read?

“Website’s (sic) bring education…” By what mechanism, precisely, do they do that? Don’t you have to see a website (and be able to read it) to be educated by it?

Maybe the prodigal son should go back and teach them not to put waste in their water supply, teach them how to manage their land to be more productive and maybe teach them how to make something that others may want to buy. Then they can pass those skills onto their children, and perhaps give them some real hope, not the false, cargo-cult hope brought by something they probably don’t even really understand.

jsnbase says:

Again with the unfounded assumptions

‘Poor rural village’ does not automatically mean ‘destitute and starving.’

“When most of the villagers probably can’t even read?”

You have no evidence for that and, according to the article, are probably wrong. Even if ‘most’ couldn’t read, there’s clearly a young and aware segment of the community. Yes, they want more reliable electricity and cleaner water, but I live in Los Angeles and I want the same things.

Spencer Roads says:

Re: Again with the unfounded assumptions

I don’t know if you’ve been to India. “Poor rural village” probably does mean destitute.

With average male and female literacy rates in Haryana (where the village of Hansdehar is located) less than 80% and 57% respectively, perhaps some of them could read a website (probably not in English, though), if their average income of 10,000 to 13,000 rupees (1 rupee is about $0.02, so these people make $260 per year) supported their buying a computer of any sort.

Nope, a website isn’t the way to prosperity for the villagers of Hansdehar. They need a blog! Maybe even one of the 2.0 variety.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Again with the unfounded assumptions

“Nope, a website isn’t the way to prosperity for the villagers of Hansdehar. They need a blog!”

OOOh, and RFID, it solves all problems. Just think, the residents could be tracked 24×7 by their RFID implants, and that data could be loaded into their blog (that they cant even read cause they dont actually have computers).

Now THAT would raise them from destitution.


Bernard says:

websites for villages - rural or not

Why do people have web sites? Few individuals conduct any commerce on their personal web sites anyway. May be the village does not have any problems. They just want a site to state their presence.

A village web site can hint to a future social-economic-business model where a nation (a concept relatively new) will one day disappear … a village (town, city) is all you need … we’re back to the nation-city (1400s) economic model …

John Q Public says:

missing the point

did you ever stop to think that these rural villages don’t know what they need because they don’t know what’s out there to improve their lives?

give them the chance to exchange information with the rest of the world and they will start to want the things that will improve their lives.

instead of us telling them what they need, they will figure it out for themselves and demand what is needed among themselves.

what would happen to North Korea if we could drop a million laptops with internet access all over the country? they would figure out that they’ve been lied to for generations and overthrow their government.

oppresive governments remain oppresive because they control information. unleash the truth, stand back, and watch the bullets fly. who is more likely to succeed? the person who needed help to get out of the hole, or the person who figured out how to get out on thier own?

Anonymous Coward says:


Just what the world needs another website about a poor village in some god-forsaken location.

I haven’t seen it but let me guess the contents:

– Text of life in a poor village.

– Pictures of a poor village.

– Pictures of poor people swatting flys in a poor village.

Gee, now what. They’ll still be poor and they’ll still have a very bad fly problem.

Is it just me, cuz I find no value at all in any of this.

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