Day 6: conclusions

  1. Six days with the Akshaya project: day 1: overview
  2. Day 2: technology
  3. Day 3: entrepreneurs
  4. Day 4: promotion
  5. Day 5: training
  6. Day 6: conclusions

In the past 5 days, I have tried to describe the project, mostly from a tactical level: how did they do things? I didn’t speak much with the strategic people, and I hardly spoke to any users. Today, I’ll talk a little bit about possible conclusions and lessons.

I discussed this with Mr. Hermon, from the National Institute of Rural Development, who was doing some research into the project at the same time I was. They are looking into hundreds of programs of rural development, there is a LOT of experimenting going on in India. The governement is collecting lots of data on those, but apparently doing little analysis.

First of all, India is big. And complex. Try culture times language times religion times politics for complexity. There are many languages, social groups and whatnot, and projects like this need a strong, local focus in order to succeed. Copying and pasting a successful project from one state to another isn’t guaranteed to work. For example, the fact that this is a mostly muslim state (most of India isn’t Muslim) with a high literacy and many men working in Gulf states had a big influence on how the program was rolled out. Even the simple fact that it’s a hilly state had an effect on the technology used.

In my opinion, starting with “100% e-literacy” as a rallying cry was a brilliant move. They defined their success from the start, and then achieved it. The rallying cry got the project going, it got the project respect, it’s easy to explain and fits well in the Indian public discourse, and it is achievable so the project can claim to be successful.

After the initial success, the project is now in a stage where they focus on getting cashflow for the entrepreneurs. The good thing is, many companies want access to this market and are willing to create programs and work with the project. The challenge is to create business models that are effective and will last. Governement involvement is not always a plus there. Only time will tell.

In any case, I was impressed with the Akshaya team I met. They were mostly young MBA’s and techies, who were doing fantastic work in a complex environment, and I thank them for taking out the time to show me around and discuss the project.

More reading:

  1. Akshaya.net, the official project website.
  2. Kerala state IT mission department: they started the project
  3. News.com: Indian state rolls out wireless broadband

0 thoughts on “Day 6: conclusions

  1. Happened to stumble upon your blog while looking for something else. Interesting observations. However, being a native of Kerala state, I need to point out a factual error in your assertion: “For example, the fact that this is a mostly muslim state (most of India isn’t Muslim) with a high literacy and many men working in Gulf states had a big influence on how the program was rolled out”. Kerala is not a “mostly muslim” state. Muslims constitute only about 20% of the population; 60% are Hindus and 20% Christians (mostly Syrian Christians who trace their conversion to the arrival of St. Thomas the apostle in A.D 52, pre-dating European Christianity).

    However, it is true that the district of Malappuram is the only muslim-majority district, out of the 14 districts of the state.

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