Examining Linkages between Smart Villages and Smart Cities: learning from Rural Youth accessing the Internet in India

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Kaur, Prabhjot 
Jhunjhunwala, Ashok 
Narayanan, Deapika 
Loyola, Charles 

The literature on Smart Cities has not as yet paid adequate attention to the rural sector, and the potential in villages for creating smart and sustainable solutions for the 21st century. This paper focuses on linking proposed smart city strategies to smart village policies to ensure that rural youth have improved opportunities for employment through ICT initiatives to ensure digital inclusion, using primary surveys undertaken in India. The motivation was to understand how mobile telephony could be a catalyst to create Smart Villages in India, where young people can chart out new pathways to realize their aspirations with regard to tertiary education and new avenues for diversifying into rural non-agricultural employment. We use data obtained from a household survey in villages in the states of Punjab and Tamil Nadu to examine the mobile phone usage preferences of rural educated youth to identify the way forward in improving the accessibility of services on the supply side. We make the case that where youth are using mobile phone access to increase their social information base it is indeed possible that the new social media groups formed by rural youth become a powerful conduit for generating new employment opportunities. The key to accessing this solution is to use a demand driven model for mobile services that would permit a bottom of governance model to generate sustainable growth of enterprises and improved human development of these villages.

accessibility, digital inclusion, connectivity, youth aspirations, smart cities, smart villages, India, Punjab, Tamil Nadu
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Telecommunications Policy
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This research was made possible by funds provided by a UGC-UKIERI research grant.