The use of information technology in rural settings is receiving increasing attention because of the immense potential it brings for improving the quality of life and reducing the digital divide. However, high costs coupled with infrastructure and context-related factors tend to dilute the advantages that are often taken as a set of givens. In this paper, we present a case study of a pioneering experience of IT use in a set of villages in southern India. The project was conceptualized and implemented by the M. S. Swaminathan Research Founda- tion (MSSRF) to assess the impact of modern information and communication technologies on sustainable rural development in the Pondicherry region of India. The essence of the challenge in this project lay in ìreaching the unreachedî by attempting to deliver the benefits of new technologies to the economically and socially disadvantaged sections of the rural population. This was conceptualized as a prerequisite for promoting a new paradigm of rural development based on concurrent and integrated attention to the imperatives of ecology, economics, employment, and equity. The system is called the knowledge system for sustainable food security. The long-term experiment is in progress and results presented are intermediate yet useful. Results of the study indicate that information technology when used in concert with an array of initiatives does indeed lead to manifest benefits. Moreover, many of the issues that are relevant to IT use in the corporate world are applicableóbut need a different treatment. In essence this paper is an invitation to expand the horizons of mainstream IS research to include rural settings.
Kanungo, Shivraj, "On the Sustainability of Rural Information Systems: Analysis of Preliminary Experimental Evidence" (2001). ICIS 2001 Proceedings. 45.