IT for Change Case Study
e-Choupal – An Initiative of ITC
IT for Change
This case study is part of a research project that sought to analyse how different telecentre models approach
development on the ground, proceeding to elaborate a typology based on the cornerstones of participation
and equity. To conduct this assessment, four telecentre projects were examined: the Gujarat government’s
E-gram project, the corporate-led venture by ITC called e-Choupal, the private enterprise model of Drishtee,
and the community-owned telecentres of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF). Two main
criteria were used in selecting the case studies – the diversity of ownership models, and the requirement of
a sufficient scale of the intervention. In addition to the field research conducted in 2008 using qualitative
methods, the research also built on secondary sources.
A review of the literature in the field of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICTD)
showed that while telecentres are viewed as contributing positively to development in general, they are largely
not really seen as a space for catalysing transformative social change. Instead, there remains in the notion
of telecentres for development a perpetuation of market-led approaches, wherein telecentres are viewed
as a strategic means for expanding markets in rural areas, especially for corporates. In this approach, poor
communities are repositioned as an opportunity for business, with ICTs as the most effective way of connecting
them to the global market system. This espouses a version of inclusion that instumentalises disadvantaged
sections, overlooking the potential of telecentres to serve as a tool for equitable and participatory development.
Such subjugation of local development and the local community to the neo-liberal ideology can be seen as the
‘Walmartisation’ or ‘marketisation’ of development (Gurstein, 2007:6).1
A critical question for telecentre related...