Case study: E-governance

Essay by tirath5uUniversity, Bachelor'sA, March 2005

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'Akshaya' for rural India

The Akshaya project, the country's largest rural wireless network,

helps bring the benefits of e-governance and utility services like basic

connectivity to individual households in Kerala. A look at how it was

managed in stages. by Akhtar Pasha

The state government of Kerala, not only content with administering the

most literate state in India, wanted to extend literacy efforts to the

Web, through e-literacy. And it fulfilled this desire through the

project 'Akshaya', which is now driven by the gram panchayats. Akshaya is

the country's largest rural wireless network.

Delivery of Internet services to rural communities was one of the

biggest challenges in bringing IT to the masses. Project Akshaya accepted

this challenge head-on, and brought Internet services to the rural

residents of Kerala.

Infrastructure related to Akshaya has already been deployed in the

Malappuram district where 250 centers are on the network. Each Akshaya

center caters to between 1,000 and 1,500 households.

By the end of March

2004, all 630 Akshaya centers will be online to help citizens guide and

support e-governance initiatives; intervene in community development;

buy and sell online; and to get relevant information. This will make it

the largest rural wireless network in India.

Linking difficult terrain

Early attempts at using dial-ups between locations had failed, because

bad quality connections allowed less than 10 percent of the centers to

go online. Always-on connectivity was the need of the hour.

Wiring up the entire district spread across 3,550 square km would have

been a daunting task. The geography comprised the Nilgiris in the east,

the Arabian Sea in the west, evergreen forests, ravines, hills, rivers,

and palm fringed coasts. The state government decided that rolling out

a wired infrastructure in the vast state would be impractical and

expensive. Wireless solution providers were...