The big white bus chugs into some of the small towns of the country. With the sun beaming on top, the snazzy white giant — like the famed wandering magicians and street side gymnasts who found their place in the annals of colonial travelogues of India — has cast a spell on the children, transporting them into a whole new world.
As evening sets in, it heads for the “city centre”. Enthralled kids trudge toward the bus, but this time with hesitant parents in tow. Hesitancy soon makes way for a variety of expressions, if not surprise. For some, if not most, it's their maiden foray online and their first steps into the World Wide Web.
The large bus — with drawings across its body — is the Google Internet Bus. It's a free mobile cyber café that represents the company's initiative to “spread awareness” about Internet usage across the country.
Welcoming the initiative, R.C. Bhatia, a retired professor in a government college in Gwalior, says, “It is very useful especially for the students. I am very impressed.”
From being on the other side of the digital divide, 33-year-old Samita Thakur has become a YouTube fan. This government school teacher in Lucknow (UP) now uses the Internet to get a flair of the different teaching videos uploaded by her counterparts across the globe.
Business Line : Features / Life : Driving Internet to rural India