Improving Rural Life Through ICTs: GKI Chairman Sam Pitroda Honored for Humanitarian Work

May 19, 2011
GKI Chairman Sam Pitroda has dedicated his life to improving livelihoods through ICTs
GKI Chairman Sam Pitroda has dedicated his life to improving livelihoods through ICTs

The Global Knowledge Initiative (GKI) congratulates its Chairman Sam Pitroda, Advisor to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations, on receiving the 2011 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Telecommunication and Information Society Award. He was bestowed this honor on May 17, 2011, in recognition of his work with information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the promotion of humanitarian work and sustainable development. This award in particular recognizes his dedication connecting rural communities to resources necessary for improving education, health, and agriculture. Pitroda’s leadership in India and around the world in the use of ICTs for development is internationally recognized.

The Geneva-based ITU headquarters served as the backdrop for the award festivities that coincided with World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which celebrates the important role ICTs play in economic and sustainable development throughout the world. This year’s theme, “Better Life in Rural Communities with ICTs,” recognized the particular challenges that rural communities face. According to the World Bank, in 2009, over 3.35 billion people, or about half of the world’s population, live in rural areas. People in rural areas too often suffer from inaccessibility to important resources more readily available to their urban counterparts. The result: a rural-urban divide the renders rural populations less educated and poorer. ICTs go where roads and cars do not, and play an important role in these communities by helping them immediately connect to previously inaccessible resources—including market data, health information, urgent warnings, and national news.

Fellow award winners in 2011 include President Tarja Halonen of Finland, who works to improve education and maternal health through ICTs, and Inveneo Chief Executive Officer Kristen Peterson, whose work provides computers and internet access to rural communities in an effort to increase economic development.

Pitroda is not the only GKI board member making news, Romain Murenzi, the executive director of The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), was recently featured by the Science and Development Network. The interview including his thoughts on the future of TWAS and science in the developing world can be found at scidev.net.

More information on the ITU can be found here.

More information on the 2011 ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Award can be found here.