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More than 80 per cent of Indian villages have no telephone connection, and few villagers can afford computers where connections do exist.

Furthermore, low levels of literacy prevent many from using any machines they may have access to.

But India’s problems are prompting Indian solutions. Engineers at one of the country’s top research institutes are using radio links to get villages online. Others have developed an affordable computer that operates in three of India’s most widely spoken languages.

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Reference: Nature 415, 358 (2002)