Coverage by Bhat @ Variance.AI on rural innovation session by Pradeep Lokhande

Moderator: Amit from Intel

Local, region and nation à In this sequence.

2nd season of “Let’s talk innovation”.  Innovate for digital India challenge 2.0 is to encourage creation of intuitive solutions (Big data, Open data, Analytics and IOT based on Intel architecture). Fields of agri, healthcare, sustainability and smart cities. This program is anchored by THUB.

Talk by Pradeep Lokhande

Reach out to rural India and contribute to villages. He reached 10% of the Indian villages himself. He began to install huge computers in rural schools. He has been instrumental in installing 20,000 pCs in rural india. It is called non-resident villager movement. He established 3500 knowledge libraries. Village wiki is one of the biggest platforms with goal of connecting 85000 villages in 100 days.

I have taken a less travelled path. There is lot of negativity about rural India. It is changing now. I am dangerously optimistic person. I am zero in academics. I have seen 5800 villages out of 49000 villages’ database. We are opening 3 libraries a day every day. All 85000 villages cater to 6,50,000 total villages in India. We are the largest elementary education system in the world with 15 crore students. 10.5 crores get mid-school meal. Wherever there is education, there is consumerism or market for it. Whole Europe got 29 crores population.

Whatever happening is happening in 6500 districts. Education plays important rule. Second big change is communication. Doordarshan is reaching to 92% population. Entertainment is important. They also see bold & beautiful. With Rs.8000, they get entertainment for the whole family for 10 years. All in real time.

Education & Communication = Consumerism

Third change is comparatively controversial. We call it MSP (Minimum Support Price). We only have only 52 major commodities. If the money reaching to the farmer, he is spending it. In the last 10-15 years, he got more disposable income. We got 65 lakh outlets in rural India. We find 5 brands in any of these places. Parle G, Colgate, Parachut, Tata Tea, Lifeboy. Anything in blue bottle in rural world is Parachut. Push by these brands is generating pull.

Government is spending huge here. We are not developed country. In 1991 when globalization started, things started to change. We are only 25 year old. NAREGA makes anyone to get 100 days worth of work. If two people of the family work, they save means they can spend.

Fifth biggest change is Panchayat Raj. Decentralization. You go to any gram panchayat, we have women council members there (8.5 lakhs women). Spirit is awesome. Out of 600 districts, 470 districts are doing well. India is changing.

Stories that you faced in these places?

We have done one study on how much they spend on value added services. They spend Rs.30 to Rs.100 per month. This to get update on cricket, or horoscope or music. They are spending money in consumer products. Mobile is the in thing. It changes this country big way. In Maharashtra,  in one village I saw a board that says “Mobile repair happens here” though the signal itself is poor.

Is rural getting bandh with Modi’s decision of demonetization?

Culture in villages is “come and eat and go”. They don’t ask for money. We don’t have barter system. There is credit system on trust basis. Impact of demonetization is not there.

Anything in red and white in rural is Colgate. Don’t think villagers don’t understand the brand. They understand the value for money. Each brand is available in sachets.

You have already started about village wiki? What is it?

I am not a technical one. We have a database of 49,000 villages. This is the trust and belief of the villagers we got. We make this data available to the world. We started with a Wikipedia base. This data shall help crores of villagers of this country. It is to do with mass consumable segment. We have demography, echography, and sociography and so on. 150 fields of data on each village. First two years data will be endorsed by us. After third year, it will be open source. You think of anything about a village, you find it in these 150 fields.

You name a small business owner, shop or institute, name is there.

Old computers?

We have asked people not to through old computers. We can install it in a school and teach students about computers. We installed more than 28000 PCs in 20000 schools. This is only for touch feel of the gadget. Then they collected Rs.5 per person and then bought a computer. Success is that they touched the gadget and hence they buy new ones. We go to big IT computers and ask them to give their comparatively better computers to these schools.

Any specific impact?

Once we installed one computer in the village, 9th standard girl took initiative. She took 6-7 minutes to type her name. Next year, they reached out to Rajashree again. The first sentence she told them “what do you want to know about computer?”. We gave the girl the confidence. I will literate the village with computer. Computer as a tool is huge attraction for a village.

How open is rural India for digital change?

Very open. Fashion statement of urban youth: Mobile, Motor cycle and girlfriend. Irrespective of caste and religion, youth is inspired. Make youth of rural world your distributors. Rural ones got cheated royally for past 65 years. Don’t cheat them, treat them like urbal consumers.

What is important for rural India in next 5 years?

Water and health. We are losing 300 crores of man-hours every day because of poor health. Just 3% land and 6% of water of the world, we got 17% of the population of world in India. 60% of this population lives in India

Biggest opinion leader is secondary school student. Take any product or service, he takes the call. His family thinks he is school going (11-16 years) and hence his family backs him. He is exposed to communication. He is best WOM communicator. They are the biggest opinion leaders, educate, reach out to them and empower them. They are potential Indian consumers.

What roles does design play?

Village youth can talk about current affairs now. Understand from their point of view. When villagers sell thrice a year, why does he need SMS every day? Don’t give the youth knowledge on what they do.  

Most of the people are going by the demand. Don’t do it. Understand the need. There is demand for brand but your outreach must be on need base, not demand based. They started understanding value for money. There are two districts: Mathinda and Kolhapur districts buy more Mercedes than anyone else.

Are there any schools that help rural youth?

Now this is a subject. Computer is a subject in every school from 5th standard. Most of the students in rural world are aware. Don’t go by the 30% who are BPL class (Bottom of the pyramid). Market share of rural India is more than urban India in any sector in India.

What exactly he wants, when he wants and how much money he spends? Go do dip test. Find demand. Here in India, every 1200 kilometres, dialect and attitude are different. There is a product called Garib detergent. They customized the product based on the hardness of water in specific region.

Deep rooted problem?

Do big band Baja of success stories. I am doing good in my own well is not enough. It has to reach all the corners. For example, there are 1,10,000 villages in UP. There are only 4 countries in the world that have more population than UP. If you are strong in UP and Maharashtra, you are strong in one third of the country.

Q) ICHR (Child health record)

All android users (We never created application for android.) Poor and local daily wage labourers, don’t worry about child health now. They want Hindi and local languages on SMS. Ensure the message goes there and we get vaccinations happen. IIM Ahmedabad, GOI Health Secretary. Build public health as a mind-set. Government says health is state topic. They say tender and process. Running from post to pillar is painful. Give solution to those people who need?

A) Do pilot on Gorakhpur. There is a farmer and two sons. Average land holding is 2.5 acres and entire family can’t survive on it. Many family members are eager to earn. Give them path. They want to earn.

5th revelation is Sachet. Villager gets value for money and uses international brand. Just because it is rural, don’t create inferior product for them. They are educated consumers. Language barrier is not there. Cater to the language.

E-Chowpal: Farmers sells his soya bean and gets price based on the grade. Through this platform farmer gets information on fertilisers and more.

One district got 10 blocks and one block got 100 villages. Out of 600 districts, we got 6 lakhs villages. First think of 600 districts, 6000 blocks and then 6 lakh villages. 47000 villages have weekly bazaars. Turnover of these bazaars is more than that of Walmart.

Startup success stories?

Nano-Ganesha is one app. App to monitor water tanks. Another startup provides data on grains.

Print media got lots of value today. Youth of this country don’t like print media. Youth pays for father’s printed newspaper. Don’t count on it. Local industrialists manage the newspaper. They push the product.

Acceptability of a latest product?

If it is need based, new products are acceptable. Mobile service product is another idea. We are poor on service after sale.

Rural healthcare?

It is a huge problem. Water is one problem and the other is health.

Distribution of rural dispensaries?

It is a big mafia.

In 2020, entire India gets literate. They can be your distributor or partner. Patience is the game in India. Impact can’t be measured overnight. Girls are going to school. They are going to be big opinion leaders. In 2032, entire India says “I am staying in a great country”.

Need based technology || Quality is key || Value for money is key (Sachet) || Top down approach rather than BOP first approach



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