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July 10, 2011, 5:00 am UTC
Farming back on TV after a gap of over two decades, thanks to Airtel Digital TV, with the launch of iKisaan interactive services
In India's pre-cable days, TV watchers, i.e. those who watched TV before 1990, remember with fondness a particular TV program, that aired every evening, for half an hour, called Krishi Darshan, that was one of the longest running programs on TV anywhere and gave the large farming community in the country tips on their trade. ‘Krishi Darshan’ is back, in a different avatar, thanks to Airtel that has launched iKisaan, purportedly the world’s first interactive service for the farming community in India.
It has to be noted that though India has globalised and industrialized, farming is still India’s number one employment provider, with over 50% of its population employment. That may not be seemingly good for the economy, as farming does not contribute as much to the GDP numbers of the nation as industry, what needs to be remembered is that farming provides the survival on which industrial growth rests, something that India with such a growing population should neither forget, not neglect.
However, the neglect of the farming sector has been rampant with policy after policy concentrating on industrializing the nation, at the cost of farming. Evidence of it is clear from the fact that besides Krishi Darshan that began in 1967 as part of the government mandate on the national TV Doordarshan and ran till the 90s in the last two decades it has had no one to succeed it despite the large farming population in the country.
iKisaan will thus fill a huge black hole in Indian television programming, by targeting this much ignored, but important sector for the nation. The programs created in Hindi, will target the Hindi speaking farming community in Rajasthan, Haryana, UP, MP, Uttaranchal, MP Chattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand. It will obviously also serve major pockets of other states like Gujarat and Maharashtra, where a large population are aware of Hindi languages owing to their similarities with the language.
The channels with be powered by Handygo, that aggregates rural information and who in April had tied up with Tata Indicom to provide similar services to rural areas. The service will aggregate information from authentic sources providing localized information on weather, crop, agricultural input prices etc. According to Airtel, customers in the said states would get real time access to this information as well as on prices of seeds, pesticides, local farming advice etc.
Speaking on the launch of the service, Ajai Puri, CEO for DTH Business, Bharti Airtel Ltd., said, “Airtel has always been at the forefront in understanding the customer needs and using technology to deliver offerings that enable their lifestyles. iKisaan is a pioneering initiative for rural India, which reiterates our commitment to offering innovative services that cuts across different customer preferences. With over 60% of our customers coming in from rural areas, applications like these will create a stronger connect with our customers.”
The service will be available to existing Airtel Digital TV customers at no extra cost for the first month. iKisaan rides on some interesting interactive service offering from Airtel including iDarshan that enables viewers to watch live aarti from four religious shrines, iGoodlife with content on cooking, health, lifestyle and family and iAstro giving astrological forcasts. Airtel Digital TV also has iLearn, iNews in their interactive services taking the tally to 6.
Airtel DTH has shown great initiative with iKisaan, and its other services targeted at rural India. As they have realized, perhaps others will too that with over 70% of the nation still living in the rural areas and urban markets having been saturated, the rural market offers new and profitable avenues for growth. That this, like iKisaan, will also end up helping the community, is incidental to their profits.
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