Will broadband help in achieving India’s Millennium Development Goals?

Broadband can definitely help us in achieving Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). MDG was laid by United Nations in 2000 and is planned to be achieved by 2015. India being a large country can definitely benefit from broadband. So, the earlier we connect all geographical areas with broadband, it will go a long way in achieving MDGs.

Broadband helps more people to get connected to economy through m-commerce or m-money which is not possible through traditional medium. Smartphones can help in linking health workers to the national health system and can also help in real-time disease surveillance, child and maternal health monitoring and supply chain management and resulting in the delivery of quality healthcare to under-served rural communities of India.

Internet and broadband can help in ending poverty and hunger, universal education, gender equality, child health, HIV/AIDS and environment in a significant way as data can be tracked online and accordingly corrective measures can be taken by any government whether state or central. Even remote locations can now be connected and government can focus on quick corrective measures.

End Poverty & Hunger: Growing evidence suggests that broadband can boost GDP, jobs and incomes, helping to combat poverty and hunger. For e.g. in India, broadband has already generated nearly 9 million direct and indirect jobs. It is predicted that 1 percent increase in broadband penetration could add $2.7 bn or 0.11 percent to Indian GDP in 2015.

Universal Education: Governments and NGOs are providing schools with PCs and Internet connectivity to foster primary education. The government is also focusing on National Knowledge Network for connecting colleges and universities to high speed Internet.

Gender Equality: Closing the mobile gender gap and bringing 600 million more women online could increase global GDP by $13-18 billion. Connect To Learn (CTL) has equipped 10,000 students (especially girls) in schools in Brazil, Chile, China, Djibouti, Ghana, India, Malawi, Kenya, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Child Health: Mobile applications are helping parents in monitoring information such as immunizations, height, weight, and other development milestones with respect to their children. Even government can collect data through public health applications to access child health and it can be used for taking informed decisions.

Maternal health: Ultrasound tests through tele-medicine can help in monitoring of maternal health via text, voice messaging and mobile apps. All this can help in taking care of expectant mother and also help in reducing infant mortality.

HIV/AIDS: Healthcare workers can use web-based applications for HIV information and capacity building. The use of mobile and computers can help patients share their experiences and manage their personal health records by receiving reminders for appointments/medication via mobile.

Environment: Internet and broadband can help in reducing emissions by 25 percent as people can use mobile, teleconferencing and telecommuting and e-commerce facilities. All these will help in saving lot of CO2 emissions.

The benefits of new technologies, especially ICTs, should be made available by government in cooperation with the private sector to meet the objectives of MDG in the country. India’s NOFN (national optical fiber network) is a step in the right direction to achieve MDG goals in the rural community if implemented in time by Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

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