India lives in its villages” – Mahatma Gandhi.
Background
This is article espouses the need for building a “Bharat Badal” a national cloud computing infrastructure for India which will benefit the rural India and bring the information technology within its grasp.
Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal Management effort or service provider interaction.
Cloud computing transforms computer processing, data storage, and software applications, allowing them to be delivered as a utility. Just like people tap into existing infrastructure for water or power, companies can now tap into a variety of services – applications, platforms, raw computing power and storage – all via the Internet. 
Key Drivers of Cloud Computing
The key drivers of cloud computing are:
      Cloud is a Disruptive Technology.
      Citizens will benefit from faster, cheaper, better and reliable applications on the cloud.
      Economic Value Addition will be the  Driver for Cloud Adoption.
      New cloud service models will emerge to drive growth and reduce costs.
      Get educated first, educate government leaders second and then identify the cloud strategy for the citizen.
      The Cloud will mature into a commodity pushing down prices of services.
Rural India:
The real India lives in its villages and smaller towns and therein lies the future of India; some of drivers are : 
          Rural India constitutes 69% of India’s population.
          86% of Rural population earns less than Rs. 100 per day
Here are   some highlights from the IMRB/I-Cube report  (as of March 2008) ; India’s ‘Rural population: 568m; Rural Literate Population: 368m; Rural English-Speaking Population: 63m; Rural Computer Literates: 15.1m; Rural Claimed Internet Users: 5.5m; Active internet users: 3.3m The opportunity is that there  are more mobile phones than Radio in Rural India (100million subscriber base).
Rural India has been ignored for more than 60 years and the Cloud will bring the change that is required to bridge the divide between rural India and urban India and will improve the Indian rural economy.
The government of India through BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd)  is providing broadband connectivity up to the Taluk level which makes data connectivity a reality for rural India, this will allow rural India to log into the cloud.

Cloud is Gandhi Engineering
The term “Gandhi engineering” was used by NY Times in an article on the Tata’s Nano and it defines Gandhi Engineering as “a mantra that combines irreverence toward established ways with a scarcity mentality that spurns superfluities”
The cloud computing is a marvel of Gandhi engineering and encompasses  
Low cost ; High operational efficiency ;  Elasticity  and Scalability.

Advantages of Cloud Computing for Rural India
       Low start-up costs make cloud computing especially attractive for rural India.
       Ease of management. No worry about keeping licenses or for that matter power and air-conditioning to run the data centers or purchasing additional hardware.
        Scalability make rapid rural penetration a reality; one can easily expand the number of users and locations at a modest cost  .
       Device and location independence. The way you access a cloud could be your desktop. It could be someone else’s computer. It could be a mobile phone. It could be a solar powered touch pad.
       Lastly the BSNL broadband project for rural India will provide the data connectivity.
What can be done for Rural India using the Cloud
The cloud will allow information technology to be infused to the smallest hamlet of India and make access to information available to the poorest of the poor to give them a better life by empowering them with knowledge derived through the net book or mobile phone connected to the cloud.  The Cloud will make the following services affordable and accessible at a low cost:
      Citizen Government Interface
      Citizen Benefits
      Weather Forecast
      Banking & Money Transfer
      Tele Medicine
      Commodity /Stock Exchange Prices
      KYC and Credit Bureaus
      Agricultural Information
      Citizen Interface Portals
      Knowledge Sharing  & E learning
      Real Time communication
Bharat (the rural name for India)  will benefit by taking the Cloud to Rural India because:
       The cloud will drive down costs of e-Governance, Education, Medical Care & other Government computerization initiatives.
       The cloud will bridge the great divide between Rich Urban India and Poor Rural India and will give the same level playing field to all Indians.
       Lastly the cloud will enable non- English speaking literate Indians to join the information revolution and participate in governance and the future of the country by allowing them to transact on the web in the Indian language of their choice
 

Bharat Badal
India must work on a public private partnership to built of a National Cloud Infrastructure named as “Bharat Badal “ pan India with data centers in five cities, this can be subsequently expanded nationally by connecting to the cloud infrastructure built by the State Governments of India.
The cities where the cloud data centers could be located are  Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengalooru. 
The Bharat Cloud is the solution for empowering the non urban Indian citizens with the power of Information Technology.  
Bharat Cloud will ensure a prosperous and digitally connected India and will bring economic and knowledge growth across the nation and will also be instrumental in unifying India.
Note: This article was published by Information Week sometime ago.