(STAR) EVERYONE KNOWS By Kathy Arceo, YAPSTER e-LEARNING INC. - A billion people live in India; half of them are illiterate. One out of four has access to satisfactory hygiene. Some 350 million Indians live on less than a dollar a day. Yet India is also home to some of the world’s most sophisticated technology firms, and is now considered the next "Silicon Valley."

A glimpse of the Indian economy:

• Even after independence from British rule, large-scale poverty remains the most shameful blot on the face of India.

• India still has the world’s largest number of poor people in a single country. Of its nearly one billion inhabitants, an estimated 350-400 million are below the poverty line, 75 percent of them in the rural areas.

• More than 40 percent of the population is illiterate, with women, tribal and scheduled castes particularly affected.

• It would be incorrect to say that all poverty reduction programs have failed. The growth of the middle class (which was virtually non-existent when India became a free nation in August 1947) indicates that economic prosperity has indeed been very impressive in India, but the distribution of wealth has been very uneven.

• The main causes of poverty are illiteracy, a population growth rate by far exceeding the economic growth rate for the better part of the past 50 years, and protectionist policies pursued from 1947 to 1991 which prevented large amounts of foreign investment in the country.

• Poverty alleviation is expected to make better progress in the next 50 years. Increasing stress on education, allotment of seats in government jobs, and the increasing empowerment of women and the economically weaker sections of society are also expected to contribute to the alleviation of poverty.

If it has to really take off in India, the demand has to come from the government, as it is in China. The private sector alone cannot act as the engine.

"Every single problem you can think of, poverty, peace, the environment, is solved with education or including education. So when we make this available, it is an education project, not a laptop project. The digital divide is a learning divide – digital is the means through which children learn leaning. This is, we believe, the way to do it." – Nicholas Negroponte

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Kathy Arceo is a senior sales consultant of Yapster e-Learning Inc., which has been providing e-learning and classroom training services for five years to more than 80,000 learners around the world. With more than 1,500 subject titles, Yapster e-Learning is accredited by local and international institutions. For more information, visit For comments, e-mail at

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