Digital Technologies in Agricultural Productivity

Agricultural output per worker in India significantly lags developed and other ascendant economies of the world. As of 2017, the agricultural sector in India employed nearly 55% of India’s workforce but contributed to only 15% of the country’s GDP and 12% of the country’s total exports. Failure to increase labor productivity in agriculture constrains economic growth by raising the costs of shifting labor and other resources from the farm to the factory as development proceeds. Prior empirical research attributes differences in labor productivity in agriculture to one of: (a) resource endowments, (b) technology, and (c) human capital.


Previous research on technology-induced improvements in agricultural productivity has largely focused on the role of agricultural technologies such as advances in equipment, seed and fertilizer, better water management and transplanting, and new land management and intensification technologies. Our interest lies in focusing on the relatively unexamined role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in improving agricultural productivity.  

 

Digital Technologies for Digital literacy
DT acts as the very currency that drives a wider, more global access to knowledge. Whatever the paradigm, digital literacy carries with it the potential for far wider consequences on literacy, learning, employability, skilling and professional growth. The emphasis on developing skills in the workplace has predominantly been centered around or restricted to developing physical infrastructure or fine tuning specific skill sets. Developing information literacy and critical thinking skills through domain knowledge have often been poorly understood and not well recognized. Acknowledging this vacuum, multiple initiatives have been launched from academic institutions, corporate entities and government bodies to specifically address the digital divide that exists.  While the standard digital literacy curriculum is developed by Government of India, the implementation modalities, differences in the infrastructural conditions, technical and language capabilities (to explain across English, Hindi and other Indian vernacular languages) across training partners and volunteers across various regions are expected to contribute to systematic differences especially in the quality of training received by citizens across centers.

SRITNE has already submitted two proposals to assess the impact of digital literacy programs in the Pune City region and in the Telangana state. 
Digitization of Public Distribution Systems
With its first Aadhaar enrollment in September 2010, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has been instrumental in enrolling and creating unique Aadhaar numbers for Indian citizens at a significant pace and coverage across the country. By April 2017, more than 1.13 billion Indian citizens (nearly 90% of the country’s population) were issued Aadhar numbers! Among many other benefits, Aadhaar has been particularly impactful for Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes that provide social protection (LPG, food, kerosene and fertilizer subsidies, employment guarantees, pension schemes, scholarships, etc.) to India’s poor and deserving beneficiaries. It is estimated that more than INR. 2.4 lakh crore ($36 billion) of social protection expenditures uses Aadhaar in one or more ways. As of June 2017, 37 different schemes are leveraging Aadhaar Payment Bridge and Aadhaar enabled services touching nearly 342 Crore Indian beneficiaries. While there is enough evidence that Aadhaar is increasingly being used as the digital infrastructure through which social and financial transfers are being provisioned across India, its impact is not thoroughly studied, well-understood or documented in a cohesive and/or comprehensive way. In recent times, there is increased reporting that these two schemes have had success in leveraging Aadhaar ecosystem in protecting leakages of food grains and LPG cylinders by reducing bogus/duplicate ration cards and malpractices. There is a clear case to better understand how Aadhaar and its eco-system has been instrumental especially in ensuring accurate targeting of the beneficiaries, de-duplication and reduction of fraud for two of the major social protection and welfare schemes (PAHAL and PDS).

For each of two mentioned schemes, we aim to capture the impact of Aadhaar through rigorous quantitative data analysis and qualitative interviews with concerned key public officials to unearth and ascertain critical success factors and challenges in using Aadhaar ecosystem for DBT schemes.
TS Class
Telangana State Computer Literacy and Skills in Schools (TS-CLASS) aims to leverage technology to improve education outcomes in government schools, by providing computer literacy & skills to teachers and students. TS-CLASS initiative consists primarily of
Mana TV: Mana TV is an exclusive state channel that broadcasts grade specific academic content videos made by state accredited teachers teaching the content mostly in Telugu at scheduled times. Content is also available on YouTube for free though T-SAT
K-YAN: K-YAN is a multifunctional device that works as a projector, with a hard disk, and internet capability. It streams online content, as well as plays videos from hard disk.TS-CLASS initiative came to effect in November 2016 and Indian School of Business is conducting a study to assess the impacts of TS-CLASS initiative on Telangana government high schools
Research Papers
1Tanuk, Ghoshal  “Examining the Use of Mobile Apps and Social Media for Nutritional Information in India: the role of Motivation and Message Farming”  
2Arunachalam, S“Impact of Firm Initiated Technological Enablers on Engagement and Effectiveness of Village Level Entrepreneurs in Bottom of the Pyramid Markets” 
3Mani, Deepa; 
Banerjee, Shankhadeep 
“Smart City Maturity Model”2015