Improving India

Improving technology in India can improve the life of many of her people. New types of technology which will be released this year will greatly help all.

In a village 100 miles from any cities in Andhra Pradesh, a young woman, three months pregnant, is getting her first and only medical check-up. This is happening on board a visiting medical van that now comes to the village every month. The paramedic gives her basic vitamins and enters various vital parameters into an online data base. Two weeks later, when she feels a little unwell, she calls a toll-free number from her familys mobile phone, connects a $1 monitor to it, and talks to a doctor. He studies her vital signs through the monitor and reassures her that everything is fine this time. Five months and five such virtual check-ups later, it is time for her to go to the hospital. The online doctor sends her an ambulance, which drops her 90 miles away at the nearest hospital, for a safe delivery.

Thousands of mothers in Andhra Pradesh and around India are benefiting from the frugal technologies of wireless connectivity, sensors, software, and having a safer childbirth.

The combination of cheaper devices, easy connectivity and the high aspirations of the population could help India leapfrog development in several areas. Broadband internet can transform primary and secondary schooling by bringing the best teachers and techniques into every classroom. In Reimagining India: Unlocking the Potential of Asia’s Next Superpower, edited by McKinsey & Company, digital educators Salman Khan and Shantanu Sinha argue that replicating for hundreds of millions of aspiring learners what a few thousand previously experienced in the lecture halls of Harvard, MIT or Stanford would require an absurdly large investment. But now, this information is available to anyone with a cheap laptop and a broadband connection. Indeed, today, Indian students are the largest users of massive open online courses from MIT and Harvard.

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