Kali_ creator and destroyer Mobalising computers for rural

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					                        Vol. IV No. 1              January 2006           The first monthly magazine on ICT4D

                                                                  Kali, creator and destroyer
                                                                  A recollection on Media Lab Asia

                                                                  Mobalising computers for
                                   Information for development
                                        rural empowerment
                                                                  Computers on Wheels

                                                                  Technology prospect in
                                                                  farm sector
ICT and evolution process
     ISSN 0972 - 804X

                                 April 2004 |                                              1
                                                                                           knowledge for change
                                Telecentre                                                        25-28 April 2006
                                                                                            Rama Gardens Hotel
                                                                                                    and Resort
                                Forum                                                         Bangkok, Thailand

                                Telecentres are increasingly being looked at as an important interface for bringing social and
                                economic development in rural communities worldwide. They are known to the world as
                                information centres, knowledge centres, info-kiosks, community services centres, etc. aiming
                                to bridge the access and knowledge divides between the haves and the have-nots.

                                The increased interest in telecentres in many developing countries, at a stage when the world
                                is moving towards becoming a knowledge society, provides an opportunity for different
                                stakeholders to exchange knowledge and learn from success stories. In Asia, several models
                                of telecentres exist and have been tried and tested. They vary in their scope and reach, and
                                there are many success stories to share. Yet, the community is neither cohesive nor built as a
                                network of practitioners. They are also important tools for testing alternatives and solutions
                                in the new and emerging markets zone for software and information and communications
                                technologies (ICTs).

                                A two-day conference and workshop programme has been conceptualised to bring the Asian
                                practitioners in a platform for learning and sharing the experiences, and to address critical
                                issues of content, collaboration, sustainability and up-scaling. Further, issues relating to
                                monitoring projects that have been steered by external financial support, be it from the
                                international development agencies, or from governments in Asia, require close assessment.

                                We invite stakeholders from various sectors, viz., NGOs, Governments, Private sector,
                                Donors, and Development agencies, Academic researchers etc. to participate in this
                                workshop. Please provide a brief outline (abstract of not more than 500 words) of your work
                                and perspectives that you wish to share. You will have an opportunity to showcase your
                                work, share your experiences in presentation sessions and/or share case stories. The format
                                of the workshop will be participatory, and will be facilitated.

                                Last date for submission of abstracts:                  February 28, 2006
                                Confirmation of acceptance of participation:            March 05, 2006
                                Last date for receiving full presentations:             March 30, 2006

For more details log on to
                                For more details:
                                Contact: Anuradha Dhar,
Conference Secretariat
Centre for Science,
Development and Media Studies
                                Organisers                                               Media partners
G-4, Sector 39, Noida
U.P. 201 301, India
Tel: +91-120-2502180 to 87;                                                   ov
Fax: +91-120-2500060            knowledge for change                                                        w w w. i 4 d . c s d m s . i n
Contents                             Vol. IV No. 1                                                     January 2006


                                                           27 News
6        A personal recollection on
         Media Lab Asia
         Kali, creator and destroyer                       Columns
         Michael L. Best

10       ICT4D - An overview                               34       Interview
                                                                    Dr William D Dar
                                                                                                                       I have been receiving these magazines on
         ICT diffusion for socio-economic                                                                              a regular basis. I am impressed with the
         transformation                                                                                                contents. These are really informative.
         Ajitha Saravanan                                  39       History of Internet
                                                                    On the verge of 50 years
                                                                                                                                                    Daman Dev Sood
                                                                                                                                    Tata Consultancy Services Limited
                                                                    Saswati Paik
12       ICT in rural development
         Empowering rural people the

         e-Extension way                                                                                               Thanks for sending copies of I4d magazine
         F R Sheriff, S. Gnanalakshmi
                                                           41       Books received
                                                                                                                       to me regularly. I find the magazine very
                                                                                                                       illuminating. Definitely you are spreading
15       Computers on wheels (COW)
         Mobilising computers for rural
                                                           42       Bytes for All
                                                                                                                       the message of right to communication
                                                                                                                       and access.
         Edward Crompton
                                                           45       What’s on                                                                Dr.M.Ariz Ahammed IAS
                                                                                                                          Addl. Secretary to the Govt.of Assam & CEO

                                                           46       In Fact                                                                               Assam SFAC;

17       Voice over Internet protocol

         Access to VoIP in its urgency                                                                                 As for i4d, the December issue it pretty
         Gordon Feller
                                                           Rendezvous                                                  interesting. Its just wonderful to get to
                                                                                                                       know so many young people being
19       ICT in Education
         ICT makes a difference
                                                                                                                       involved in development and community
         Maithri Jansz                                     44       Tunis consensus for an infor-
                                                                    mation society
                                                                                                                       awareness projects. Also its great to see their
                                                                                                                       hard work getting some recognition
                                                                                                                       through i4d.
20       ICT in marketing
         Media for rural marketing
                                                                                                                       Have you ever thought of extending i4d
         S. Gopalakrishnan Iyer                            23 egov Asia and DL Asia 2006
                                                                    Preview                                            to other countries as well, i mean i4d being
                                                                                                                       publised from those countries like i4d
31       ASHA
         Technology prospect in farm sector                                                                            India, i4d Pakistan, i4d Bangladesh etc....
         Dr Saurabh Gupta, Diganta Barman                                                                                                   Farah Mehmood, Pakistan

                                                                                                                       I am writing to you from The London
                                                                                                                       School of Economics with a request
                                                                                                                       for permission to use the following pages
                                                                                                from a I4D article: ICTs and MDGs: On
                                                           News                                                        the Wrong track. The pages will be
                                                           Search ICT4D news by date in the sectors of governance,
                                                                                                                       reproduced 50 times for inclusion in a
    35 ICTD project                                        health, education, agriculture and so on.
                                                           Subscribe to daily, weekly, monthly newsletters online or
                                                                                                                       study pack for the course entitled: I.T and
                 newsletter                                send request to
                                                                                                                       Development, and taught by Dr. Shirin
                                                                                                                       Madon. The course is a Postgraduate
                                                           e-Learning projects from India.
                                                                                                                       course, and the pack will be used for the
                                                           Learn more about FLOSS
                                                                      lent term (beginning Jan 2006).
                                                           Print edition                                                                                Ben Showers
                                                           The past issues of the magazine are available online
Cover image credit: Maithri Jansz, ICT Agency, Sri Lanka
 Information for development
                                                                  (Re)solution in new year
M P Narayanan, Chairman, i4d                                                            With ICT, physical borders dissipate as information move
Amitabha Pande                                                                          freely through the digital medium that is less controlled as
Indian Administrative Service
Chin Saik Yoon                                                                          compared to other existing mass media. This is a stride towards
Southbound Publications, Malaysia
                                                                                        social advancement. This revolution goes under the name of
Ichiro Tambo
OECD, France                                                                            ‘Social Software’, and it is the element that elevates the Internet
Karl Harmsen
United Nations University
                                                                                        from a simple tool into an interpersonal phenomenon,
Kenneth Keniston                                                                        connecting people in a meaningful way. Importantly, social
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Mohammed Yunus
                                                                                        software encourages collaboration.
Grameen Bank, Bangladesh
Nagy Hanna
e-Leadership Academy, University of Maryland, USA                                        Today we experience that developments and applications of
Richard Fuchs                                                     ICT have stretched beyond imagination. Social, economic and technological systems
IDRC, Canada
S Ramani                                                          are highly interconnected. Together with the rapid development and innovation in
Research Director, H.P.Labs, India                                telecommunication technology and the Internet, this evolution has ushered in many
Walter Fust
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Switzerland         new business models and applications. And it is now well accepted that ICT is
Wijayananda Jayaweera
UNESCO, France
                                                                  robust, it can be harnessed in many ways, and its true potential is limited only to the
                                                                  human mind. The technology that began as a faster way to process data and compute
Akhtar Badshah, Frederick Noronha
                                                                  statistics has today become pervasive in almost all spheres of our life.
                                                                  Now, globalisation is said to accelerate and enabled by ICT, making markets bigger
Editor Ravi Gupta
Editorial Consultant Jayalakshmi Chittoor                         and more accessible by business with strong capital, management and technology.
Sr Assistant Editor Saswati Paik                                  Business or e-Commerce has started to be done virtually and transaction occurs at
Sr Research Associate Manjushree Reddy
Designer Bishwajeet Kumar Singh
                                                                  a click of a mouse anytime, anywhere. ICT is stated by service providers as a critical
Web Programmer Zia Salahuddin                                     source of new revenue; it is particularly important as the more traditional revenue
Group Directors Maneesh Prasad, Sanjay Kumar                      streams continue to decline.
G-4 Sector 39, NOIDA, UP, 201 301, India
Phone +91 120 250 2180-87 Fax +91 120 250 0060
                                                                  Scientific findings churn faster and newer discoveries and inventions as journals
Email                                          and reports are made available through ICT. This issue of i4d will highlight some of
                                                                  the major issues which are most relevant in terms of ICT implementation and socio-
Printed at Yashi Media Works Pvt. Ltd.
New Delhi, India
                                                                  economic development.
i4d is a monthly publication. It is intended for those
interested and involved in the use of Information and             The President of India, Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, while outlining a holistic model of
CommnicationTechnologies for development of underserved
communities. It is hoped that it will serve to foster a growing
                                                                  development, aimed at transforming India to a developed nation by 2020, stressed
network by keeping the community up to date on many               on bringing the ICT sector to rural areas. This applies not just to India, but to every
activities in this wide and exciting field.
                                                                  developing nation around.
i4d does not necessarily subscribe to the views expressed in
this publication. All views expressed in this magazine
are those of the contributors. i4d is not responsible or
accountable for any loss incurred directly or indirectly as a
                                                                  This year i4d will make a special attempt to explore how service providers can expand
result of the information provided.                               into the market and create value for their enterprise customers, it will focus on the
                                                                  next key-trends that will give a competitive advantage to an Enterprise in its chosen
                                                                  markets. At the same time, we will provide a platform to share different views from all
                                                                  corners of the globe about the potential of ICT that can provide support to all sorts
cc Centre for Science, Development and Media
Studies, 2005
                                                                  of developmental efforts. Here is the beginning for 2006.
i4d is supported by:

                                                                                                                                          Ravi Gupta

January 2006 |                                                                                                                          5
           ‘i’ Opener
    A P ERSONAL R ECOLLECTION                   ON   M EDIA L AB A SIA

Kali, creator and
    The author argues                                     From this year, i4d is introducing a new section named as ‘i opener’. The
                                                          critical views of the authors/readers regarding any particular aspect in the
    that lack of early                                                field of ICT application will be published in this setion
    attention to the
                                                       Media Lab Asia endeavored to be the world’s       ultimately fell victim to its inability to
    institutional and                                  largest university research laboratory for        establish political and institutional
                                                       ICT’s and international development. With         sustainability.
    political sustaina-                                it routinely described as a “billion dollar”
                                                                                                         Love at first demo
                                                       facility in pollyannish anticipation of huge
    bility of the project,                             fundraising successes – the optimism of the       The genesis of MLAsia came in a visit
                                                       Lab was staggering. And it certainly was the      to the MIT Media Lab, in 2000, by then
    along with funda-                                  highest profile, and perhaps most                 Indian IT Minister Pramod Mahajan. The
                                                       interesting, South/North university               Media Lab had recently launched a new
    mental flaws in the                                collaboration in the ICT for development          program focused on technologies for the
                                                       arena, bringing together two of the globe’s       developing world and had also been looking
    underlying structure                               biggest academic heavyweights: the                at opportunities for international expansion.
                                                       Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s           Driven by the leadership of Nicholas
    of the entity, led to                              Media Lab and the Indian Institutes of            Negroponte, founder and chair of the
                                                       Technology (IIT). The vision of the Lab was       Media Lab, and Alex (Sandy) Pentland, a
    its ultimate failure.                              for a unique public-private-academic              senior member of the faculty, the Media Lab
                                                       partnership focused on innovation and             worked to develop a program in India. A
    The author is                                      world class research; a sort of organization      joint task force was put in place to study the
                                                       never before seen.                                feasibility of such a lab but the committee’s
    currently Assistant                                    But after twelve months of operation          final report was a foregone conclusion –
                                                       under a formal relationship between MIT           strongly supporting its creation.
    Professor at the                                   and the Government of India (GoI), the                In June 2001, MIT and the GoI entered
                                                       connection to MIT was severed, the Lab’s          into a formal agreement to create the
    Georgia Institute of                               expectations were downsized, and now it           Laboratory with the GoI committing 13
                                                       continues on as a strictly GoI operation still    million dollars for the Lab’s first year of
    Technology.                                        struggling to define its mission.                 operation. Of this, l.2 million went to MIT
                                                           The inability to sustain the MIT/MLAsia       to support its activities related to the Lab
                                                       connection was due mainly to two critical         and the rest, a considerable research
                                                       failures. First, the Lab was structurally         allotment for the first year, was to be spent
                                                       unsound; it sowed seeds of failure in the         in country. A Board was created, with
                                                       contracts and framework of the Lab itself.        Mahajan at the helm, and CEO-like
                                                       Second, and most critically, the Lab went         authorities were vested in a Management
                                                       forward with a number of shotgun                  Committee comprised of Sandy Pentland;
    Michael L. Best                                    marriages; it relied on various self-interested   Sanjay Dhande, who was then a senior IIT
    Assistant Professor, Georgia Institute of          relationships that, lacking the trust that        Kanpur professor and is now head of that
    Technology                                         comes from time and effort, were never            institution; S. Ramakrishnan, a senior                                strong enough to maintain the                     bureaucrat from the Ministry of IT; and
                                                       collaboration. Said another way, MLAsia           this author.

6                                                                                                                                       i4d | January 2006
    The formal launch of MLAsia was a grand event hosted at             research integrity. One result was that MLAsia itself was not directly
Mumbai’s Oberoi Hotel on June 24, 2001, complete with laser             strengthened by these outsourced activities; instead, the collaborating
shows and dance numbers. In the front row of the ballroom was           institutions used the resources to further develop their own programs.
the future president of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, sitting next to         Moreover, in the rush toward immediate outputs MLAsia assembled
India’s godman of IT, Infosys primo Naryana Murthy. On the dais         what was, in the words of one senior Lab officer, “a motley collection
sat Pramod Mahajan and representing the MIT Media Lab, Sandy            of shitty-little projects.” While there were some high-quality
Pentland. The Lab’s future looked exciting indeed and the optimism      exceptions to this, especially in the work from the core IIT
jumped off of the page of the Lab’s initial prospectus: “Media Lab      collaborators at Kanpur and Chennai, too many of the projects
Asia is the world’s largest academic research program dedicated to      were weak. This dramatically eroded the substantive value
bringing the benefits of new technologies to everyone, with a special   that MIT could offer to this North/South collaboration:
focus on meeting the grand challenges in learning, health, and          namely, deliberative, robust, rigorous research direction. Instead,
economic development.”                                                  the Laboratory was running around managing (or neglecting to
                                                                        manage) mostly unimportant (at best) and specious (at worst)
Weak structure creates weak substance                                   projects.
Within days of the launch, however, it was clear that the Lab’s             The second structural flaw of MLAsia was that it failed to
institutional architecture put it at risk. The initial structure of the immediately systematize positive relationships outside of the GoI
Lab, including its relationship with MIT, was flawed and led to and MIT – and, indeed, outside of the specific personalities of
failures in substance as well as the                                                           Pramod Mahajan and the MIT Media Lab.
disenfranchisement of a number of                                                              This was reflected in the initial board and
stakeholder communities. First and foremost,                                                   management composition. The Board of
the Lab was launched on an initial trial year                                                  Directors was chaired by Pramod Mahajan
basis. MIT was the proponent of the trial                                                      himself and included the principal government
year structure, a twelve-month escape clause                                                   bureaucrat from Mahajan’s home state of
that was insisted upon by the MIT’s upper                                                      Maharashtra. From the MIT Media Lab side,
management and not by the Media Lab                                                            Nicholas Negroponte and Sandy Pentland sat
leadership.                                                                                    on the board with Negroponte as co-Chair.
    The idea of a one-year trial might have                                                    This lack of inclusive reach was also true of
been a good one if it had been properly                                                        most of the Lab’s immediate senior Indian
defined as a stepping stone to longer term                                                     management, some of whom were selected
sustainability. MIT and the GoI could have                                                     explicitly because it was thought that they
spent the year ensuring the Lab’s feasibility,                                                 could be easily controlled.
developing a shared vision and strategy,                                                           While a later attempt was made to expand
identifying strong management and research                                                     the Board to include private sector principals,
personnel, and most critically, cultivating the                                                including Naryana Murthy, it was already too
range of stakeholders that would be essential                                                  late. Even though the three major Indian IT
to success: the private sector, the Indian                                                     corporations were, ultimately, represented on
academic community, and relevant members Source                   the Board, not one of these companies ever
of civil society and the development                                                           became a true partner to the Laboratory or a
community. Instead, the Lab was mandated to realize immediate dues paying member. Further, there was no apparent attempt to
research successes. An evaluation committee was empanelled and broaden the political base of the Lab or its Board.
metrics were designed, including the number of patents applied
for and number of published papers. In other words, the structure Weak structure creates weak relationships
demanded mature research outputs from this initial year. This was As argued above, the initial structure of the Lab had left it
in addition to the nitty-gritty activities such as leasing office space systemically weak – politically over-reliant on Mahajan, with
and putting in place a basic administration.                            alienated stakeholders, supportive of a number of questionable
    Honestly realizing immediate quality research successes would projects, and undermined by weak and shotgun relationships.
be impossible for anyone, so alternative approaches had to be               But the presence of so many relationships of urgency was not
identified and exploited. One approach (which is fairly standard in wholly an outcome of the structure of the one-year trial period, but
the broader academic community and is not particularly also (perhaps primarily) due to the personalities and culture of the
reprehensible in my opinion) is to double-count existing activities. MIT Media Lab leadership. Indians will often question the speed
Anything that smelled remotely of a MLAsia project, and had some with which North Americans are willing to jump into a relationship.
loose connection to MIT or other related institutions, was co-opted The Indians, perhaps thanks to their ancient culture and practical
into the MLAsia family. Fair enough.                                    sense of caution, are slow to commit to partnerships. However, once
    The second approach, which was the source of a lot of the Lab’s the link is there it is something that can be relied on. In contrast, the
problems, was to outsource the majority of research activities to pre- MIT Media Lab team seemed willing to enter into a Memorandum
existing institutions often without sufficient regard to quality or of Understanding with an Indian party after a single positive

January 2006 |                                                                                                              7
meeting. And an MOU with MLAsia always came with some funds                 MLAsia’s annual budget, with the GoI putting in the remaining
flowing to the external party; in other words, there was plenty of          20%. As Shourie began his review, however, not a single rupee had
incentive, and few down sides, for others to line up for these              been raised from any source outside of the GoI. (We should recall
relationships.                                                              that this was the height of the telecom and bust and the
     MOU’s were signed with the Delhi, Kharagpur, and Mumbai                usual funding sources for this type of an endeavor were very limited.)
campuses of the Indian Institute of Technology, before adequate                 The original vision for MLAsia was that it would not operate as
connections with relevant researchers and administrators were               a government lab and would not be constrained by the government’s
established. These were in addition to two MOU’s with the IIT               rules and regulations. However, with 100% government financing
campuses in Chennai and Kanpur that were based on long-term                 it became difficult to consider it as anything but a government lab.
and trusted relationships. The result of these MOU’s, which included        An example of this tension was the thorny issue of the Lab’s salary
placing laboratory facilities on the IIT campuses themselves, created       structure: was it paying at international rates, at Indian private
an appearance, and often reality, that MLAsia was a research facility       sector rates, or at GoI rates. In point of fact, it was paying at all three
of the IIT’s and not an independent R&D program. That                       of these levels, depending on the hiring case. Sareen made an
notwithstanding, three (and later four) of these IIT’s had little           international salary while some GoI officials on secondment to the
appreciation for or tie to MLAsia or to the MIT Media Lab. In the           lab were getting government salaries. When Shourie reviewed these
end, when they were asked: “What has MIT done for you?” they                numbers he noted that some MLAsia employees were making ten
were quick to answer “Nothing”.                                             times or more that of a comparable or more senior employee at one
     Perhaps another example of a hasty relationship was represented        of the few prestigious government research laboratories.
in the appointment of the initial CEO, Bimal Sareen, who joined in              Moving on from salaries, he reviewed the various projects and
June 2002. Sareen was the first individual interviewed for the job          could not help but notice the fairly weak set of outputs from the
by the Media Lab leadership and was then hired to replace the               first year. This was the “motley collection of shitty-little projects”
Management Committee. To be fair, the Media Lab team interviewed            problem. But, while the research value or esthetic could easily be
other candidates and was quick to point out how unlikely it was             questioned, Shourie and his internal review team went so far as to
that they hired the first person they met. All that notwithstanding,        label some of the outsourced research expenditures as “actionable”.
it is hard to imagine a worse choice. Sareen had to be hired over the       The feeling was that money had flowed to parties who were not
objections of the private sector and Government of India Board              then held sufficiently accountable.
members who did not approve of his substantial salary base. The                 Shourie examined the research and management team that
concerns of the Board quickly became manifest as Sareen succeeded           MLAsia had put in place. Sareen was considered a liability and
to alienate or outright infuriate all of the existing members of MLAsia’s   there were very few positive research assets directly affiliated with
management and support team and most everyone from the                      the Lab since most of the real work had been outsourced.
Government of India. Indeed, fifty percent of the Mumbai                    Certainly all this was quite regrettable, but in my opinion all could
professional staff resigned within the first months of Sareen’s             have been forgiven. Mahajan, for his part, had told us explicitly
appointment. Sareen was such a failure that one has to wonder how           that he understood how the bust years were not the best
he sneaked past the due diligence process of the executive hiring           for fundraising and that twelve months were not enough time to
firm, Heidrick and Struggles, who was responsible for the search.           generate solid research outputs. And everyone was sympathetic to
Indeed, some of Sareen’s former colleagues posited that they must           the fact that, to speak candidly, institution (and relationship)
not have done a reference check with his past employers or they             building in a country as complex as India can be a very difficult and
never would have suggested him for the job.                                 slow process.
     So much hope and optimism had been placed in the new CEO;                  Sareen could have been sacked, salaries could have been
he was going to fix all the Lab’s problems. It was horribly                 harmonized, projects could have been rationalized, and the reported
demoralizing that he was so clearly wrong for the job.                      $5 million requested by MIT to sustain their end of the relationship
                                                                            could have been easily realized. But, in the end, the relationship
Mahajan leaves and so does MIT                                              with MIT was terminated. Recall that much of the outsourcing of
The full unraveling of the MIT / MLAsia collaboration began with            the Lab had been to the Indian Institutes of Technology. And in the
the ouster of Pramod Mahajan from his position as IT Minister. In           final analysis, it was the nature of these relationships that proved to
January 2003, soon after Sareen had joined MLAsia, Mahajan was              be the coup de grâce to the MIT / MLAsia partnership. By this time,
unceremoniously removed from the IT Ministry, and the cabinet as            four of the five IIT’s had either a neutral or an antagonistic position
a whole, by the most senior party and cabinet members. Replacing            towards MIT. When asked: “What has MIT done for you?” they
Mahajan was Arun Shourie, a man known for his no-nonsense                   answered “Nothing”.
approach to things. Early in Shourie’s tenure as minister he held a             Regrettably, the end of the MIT / MLAsia relationship was not
series of reviews of MLAsia. He focused his attention on a review of        pretty. Significant acrimony and vindictive statements were traded
expenditures, projects, team members, and on the relationship with          between Negroponte and Shourie. Nobody benefited from this
the IIT’s.                                                                  quite public argument. But, quickly, things quieted down and the
    Money was an important issue, though not as critical as the             President of MIT issued a private letter of apology to H’ble Minister.
deeper institutional problems. But from the outset there had been               At the time of this writing the BJP, the party of Mahajan and
a promise from the MIT Media Lab leadership to raise 80% of                 Shourie, is sitting in the opposition and Congress is back in control

8                                                                                                                                      i4d | January 2006
with a new set of politicians in charge. Media Lab Asia continues on
                                                                             ICT based programmes in India on HIV/AIDS
as a program of the Ministry fully supported by the Government of
India, primarily serving as a funding agency, and strongly linked to         TREAT Asia and the Ruby Hall Clinic in Pune, India, will launch
the IIT’s.                                                                   an online interactive instructional programme to train health-care
My role and vision                                                           professionals on the management of HIV/AIDS. The pilot training
                                                                             course, which will begin this autumn, is part of an ongoing effort
It must be said that I was complicit to many of these failures and           by TREAT Asia to help close the doctor gap in India and
responsible for some of them. Furthermore, I hasten to add that I            throughout the region. The pilot programme was funded in part
had and continue to have enormous respect and personal regard for            by a grant from Stichting AIDS Fonds of the Netherlands. If
many of the stakeholders in the MLAsia experiment including                  successful, the online program will further expand the capacity of
Negroponte, Pentland, many IIT colleagues, and the initial MLAsia            TREAT Asia to provide quality health-care training. The online
senior staff.                                                                training programme will combine computer-based self-study
    But my vision was far from what the current reality is – a               modules, participatory clinical case studies, e-assisted tutoring,
government research funding agency. My hopes, shared by                      on-site workshops, and the creation of peer consultation networks
many, were for a unique public-private-academic collaboration.               to provide an integrated clinical program. Source: http://
From MIT, I would have taken the extraordinary ambition and        
work ethic and the heavy resource levels; from the MIT Media Lab,                Arupa Mission Research Foundation (AMRF) in Orissa is
I would have taken the appreciation for high-risk research and the           building an ICT based awareness and solution networking
playful and experimental ethos; from the IIT’s, I would have taken           programme on HIV and AIDS. AMRF already has experience in
the rigorous capacity for desk research and analytic competencies;           developing ICT based knowledge kiosks (touch pads). At present
from India herself, I would have taken the rich cultural ethic, the          it is in the pilot phase, where the quality of information to be
seriousness to problems of development, and the diversity of people          imparted is being tested. The next phase would be developing
and thought.                                                                 the Human Computer Interface. For a programme of this
    I would have started small with one or two carefully chosen              magnitude to be a success a wide range of indicators and factors
facilities, one or two very solid collaborative relationships, one or        have to be looked into which if adhered to the role of ICTs in
two grand challenge problems, and the will to hire and foster world          combating HIV would be fulfilled. We are at present also looking
class researchers.                                                           out for sponsors who would be interested in funding our HIV/
Sustainability framework                                                     AIDS - ICT venture.
                                                                                 In Orissa, as part of a joint UNDP and Government of Orissa
A large part of my research has focused on understanding how ICT             initiative, ICT centres are being established in high migration
and international development interventions can be sustained over            areas of two districts, which have a lot of out-migration and also
the long term. I have been conceptualizing, as have others, a                high prevalence rates of HIV. Activities are currently underway in
sustainability typology. In my research I have noted the need for:           Ganjam district, and would soon be initiated in the other district.
• Economic or financial sustainability – the aspect that probably            This builds on UNDP’s experience on ICT centres for livelihoods
   gets the most attention in the literature.                                support that started five years ago in Coastal Orissa.
• Technological sustainability – a fairly well appreciated problem               Resource Centre for Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS (RCSHA)
   especially as we all are routinely victimized by our own technology       have developed a Multimedia Resource Pack on Targeted
   and its rapid rush to obsolescence.                                       Interventions (TI) which has been designed to provide the
• Social and cultural sustainability – by this I mean, in particular,        information on key aspects of the HIV and AIDS programme in
   equity of access issues, gender, caste, community, literacy,              India with special reference to Targeted Interventions.The CD
   language, economic groups, and so forth.                                  contains detailed information on all the components of TI. If any
• Environmental sustainability – not often directly considered in            one is interested to have this Multimedia Resource Pack please get
   ICT for development projects, though relevant in terms of e-              in touch with Aslam at RCSHA, at
   waste, electric power consumption, and even the carbon reducing               Another way of using ICT for spreading awareness was done
   promise of the global information infrastructure. And finally,            by Heroes Project and Star TV when they launched a first of its
• Political and institutional sustainability – the nexus of                  kind HIV and AIDS SMS contest. Radio Mirchi to join in for
   relationships between the broad set of stakeholders.                      ‘Gain from Gyaan’; to run from 22nd November to 15th January
    Time and time again it is lack of attention to this last category,       ’06 on 7827. Heroes Project and Star TV Network in association
political and institutional sustainability, which results in the death       with Radio Mirchi launched an SMS contest titled ‘Gain from
of a project.                                                                Gyaan’ that will run till the end of the year. The contest is a first
    In the Hindu pantheon Kali is the black earth mother. She is             of its kind in India offering users the facility to access HIV/AIDS
depicted holding a sword and severed head and wearing a necklace             information on their cell phones in an exciting format. For more
of snakes, skulls and human heads. She sustains the Hindu belief of          information, visit:
the never-ending cycles of birth and death. While she is the goddess         star_care.htm
of death, she lives with an overflowing love for the life of her children.
She destroys only to re-create.

January 2006 |                                                                                                                  9
ICT4D - An overview

                        ICT diffusion for socio-economic
                                       Development in information and                   the agriculture, non-ICT manufacturing
                                       communication technologies (ICTs) during         and service sectors is expected to bring about
                                       the last quarters of the 20th century has        a fundamental transformation in the nature
                                       ushered a new era in the history of mankind.     of production sectors with major
                                       Termed as ‘Information-Age’ the phase has        implications in terms of labour, productivity,
                                       marked a revolutionary transformation of         growth and employment. Penetration of
                                       technology from industrial units for             ICTs is again expected to reshape the method
                                       production to that of social spheres of          of work and market systems and the way in
                                       development with a thrust on human               which individuals and communities can
                                       welfare by widening the economic and             track and access information and services,
                                       productivity base.                               leading to changes in the structures of
The realisation of the                                                                  markets, improve the quality of life, deepen
                             Evolutionary impacts of ICT                                the participatory values of democracy and
potential impact that ICTs   This evolutionary transformation is made                   many more major advances in terms of
can make on human            possible by the dramatic increase in                       human development indicators.
                             computing power ensured by the                                 In an agrarian country like India, a lot of
development enabled the      emergence and rapid revolution of                          ICT initiatives have been made and the
                             microprocessor technology. Thus the growth                 nation continues to be a perennial ground
widespread diffusion of      in computing power has triggered a veritable               for many such practical and sensible
technology through a         race in developing digital devices that can                innovations to catch the youth afresh for
                             exploit the power by offering required                     the progress of the country. However,
vertical and multilevel      peripherals so as to extend capabilities. These            the great tasks of ICTs in raising the
                             devices served as aids for recording, organi-              living standards of its citizens in the
process giving access to the sing, retrieving, displaying and dissemi-                  short span of Independence cannot be
technology to                nating information at faster phase. Further,               underestimated.
                             the technological changes have reduced the                     The concern of government at national,
disadvantaged communities cost substantially facilitating the spread of                 state/provincial and local levels to
                             information into all aspects of human life.                incorporate ICTs into its local levels of
and individuals.                 The realisation of the potential impact                development is visible in the large number
                                       that ICTs can make on human development          of e-Governance projects in the county. e-
                                       enabled the widespread diffusion of              Governance system has been automated to
                                       technology through a vertical and multilevel     facilitate, use of ICTs to ensure greater
                                       process giving access to the technology          information access for the ordinary citizen,
                                       to disadvantaged communities and                 to deliver a range of services varying from
                                       individuals. Such diffusion is realised by its   online submission and complaints to delivery
                                       connectivity through which the full human        of education and health services and use of
                                       development potential of the technology is       ICTs as data gathering and warehousing
                                       ensured. It is this access to information and    devices to increase the quality of decision
                                       communication technologies that has              making and governance.
                                       helped most of the western countries to              ICTs to a certain extent has been
                                       evolve into a socially and economically self     successful in generating employment
                                       reliant developed nations.                       and micro entrepreneurship facilities
                                                                                        especially among the women folk,
                                       ICTs in rural development                        ushering a new confidence in their lives. This
                                       The promise that ICT revolution holds for        has been indirectly playing a catalyst role in
                                       the developing nations is manifold. It is        combating poverty among the poor and
                                       expected to result in the growth and             bridging the gender gap among rural
                                       diversification of the ICT sector leading to     women by empowering them with
                                       the rapid expansion of output and                knowledge of ICTs and micro-credit
                                       employment opportunities. Use of ICTs in         possibilities.

10                                                                                                                     i4d | January 2006
                                                                                                       ICT4D - An overview

 ICTs in food security                               in the Mexican Gulf region, have shown
 ICTs have served as tools for enhancing food        that when disasters strike, telecommu-
 security also. ICTs can help local farmers in       nications can save lives. ICT applications to
 gaining access to international market. e-          disaster reduction can play key role in the
 Commerce can help both the seller and the           early warning of environmental hazards,
 buyer to communicate in less time and use           promoting economic continuity, infra-
 internet to carry out a transaction. Farmers        structure preservation and fostering local
 can research on new types of products and           social and cultural dynamics.
 search for information on better package of         Fundamental drawbacks
 their produce. However, farmers in the first
 place has to be equipped themselves with            In most of the developing countries, the
 some basic education and computer literacy.         diffusion of technology is yet to take its
                                                     deeper roots. The use of ICT for human
 ICTs in education                                   development in India poses a challenge
 Needless to say, the use of ICTs as learning        because of the socio-economic characteristics
 tools in education enhances the capacity            of the country. This limited and uneven
 building for teachers. As a remote learning         diffusion of the new technology seeks
 system coupled with technical practices             attention of the decision makers to priortise
 ICTs will strengthen the institutional system.      it in development agenda. Considerable
 Thereby it encourages self-dependence,              work is underway to increase its access, so as
 creative learning and team work spirit.             to permit the realisation of the potential that
                                                     ICT holds for development. Yet, the
 ICTs in health services                             principal objectives of such work include
 ICTs have also come up with innovative              cutting the cost of connectivity.
 solutions for the public health. The use of             It has become inevitable that ICTs has
 ICT for health care in industralised                to put to its best use to address many
 countries has had a profound effect. With           concerns and sectors of human
 their capacity to rapidly collect, compile, and     development in poor societies so as to
 disseminate information, with sophisticated         eradicate the poverty, for providing better
 tools for data analysis, field workers can easily   healthcare systems, education, human
 obtain updated technical or consultation            resource and environmental management
 information regarding the prevention and            and economic development. The concern
 treatment of disease/health conditions.             towards development of any society and its
     ICT power has also been effectively             masses involves in the expansion of people’s
 harnessed to fight for the cause of HIV/            choices so that they can improve the quality
 AIDS by multiplying the messages for                of their lives. The distant reality of self
 creating awareness among the masses to make         reliance and development has come true
 them alert of the invading malady across            with the mass invasion of ICTs. At the cross
 the nations with the help of youth and              roads of information age, where the social
 community development organisations for             and economic activities spread far and wide,
 enhancing the health care services.                 moulding the society simultaneously for a
                                                     horizontal and vertical growth, it is hoped
 ICTs in disaster management                         that the aspirations of the upcoming
 The effectiveness of ICT as a tool for              generation to have ample employment
 management of natural, human or                     opportunities, mass production and output
 technology induced disasters has                    and conducive markets may be realised
 unquestionably been established. Recent             with the Millenium Development Goals
 experiences during the Tsunami in South             (MDG)!
 and East Asia, earthquake in Pakistan/India,
                                                                 Ajitha Saravanan,
 floods in Central America, and the hurricanes

 January 2006 |                                                                                        11

Empowering rural people
the e-Extension way
                                              More than seventy percent of the population        • The villages should have main
 Tamil Nadu                                   in India is living in the villages. Since              occupation of agriculture/animal
                                              independence, the government has                       husbandry/horticulture
 Veterinary and                               implemented several rural development              • Willingness for establishing an
                                              programmes. But they have not made any                 information centre by the community
 Animal Sciences                              remarkable improvement in their living             • To meet the electricity, telephone charges
                                              conditions. It can be mainly attributed to             and provide free space to accommodate
 University                                   the non availability of information on the             the centre
                                              emerging technologies. Therefore, transfer         • Village to have at least 500 to 1000
 (TNVASU) initiated                           of new technologies to the rural communities           families only.
                                              has became essential to eradicate the poverty          Based on the above criteria, each Training
 experimentation on                           and thereby triggering development.                and Research Centre has identified 4 to 5
                                                  Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal               villages. A survey instrument was applied
 rural e-extension for                        Sciences University (TNVASU) initiated             and randomly picked up 10 to 15 men and
                                              experimentation on rural e-extension for           women in each village to find out the
 transfer of                                  transfer of technology in seven villages and       information needs, trust and satisfaction of
                                              two urban locations of the State. Its primary      the information obtained. Their
 technology in seven                          aim was to find out whether the rural people       demographic details were also obtained.
                                              who are the real clients can access                Based on the interest and the felt needs of
 villages and two                             information on their felt needs electronically.    the stakeholders villages were selected to
                                              In the present situation it was thought to be      establish the village information centres. The
 urban locations of                           worthwhile to explore the possibility of           Training and Research centres in the district
                                              information access by the rural people on          served as hub centres under the overall
 the State.                                   their technological needs and hence nine           control of the Directorate of Extension
                                              Village Information Centres at six Districts       Education of the University.
                                              of Tamil Nadu were established.
                                                                                                 ICT facilities
                                              Selection of villages                              The hub centres were provided with a
                                              Initially, three Information Centres one each      computer, printer, web camera, speakers,
                                              at Vellore, Tiruchirapalli and Madurai distri-     telephone and internet connectivity. Each
                                              cts were established. Six more centres two         Village Information centre was provided
 F.R. Sheriff
                                              each in Cuddalore, Kancheepuram, and               with a computer, printer, web camera, digital
                                              Chennai districts were later established. In       camera, speakers, telephone, internet
                                              each of these districts, Tamil Nadu Veterinary     connectivity, printed books, journals,
                                              and Animal Sciences University has facilita-       newspapers, video compact disc player,
                                              ted a Training and Research Centre or Farme-       television, radio with tape and CD Player.
                                              rs Training Centre or Krishi Vigyan Kendra.        At Madurai and Cuddalore district, three
                                                  The centre staff were given responsibility     centres were given internet connectivity by
                                              of selecting a suitable village. The criteria of   CorDect wireless local loop (WLL)
                                              selection were:                                    technology and other centres were
                                              • A remote village with facilities of              connected by dial up facility.
 Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences,
                                                  conveyance                                         Women did not use information centres
                                              • Facility of electricity and phone                effectively as they have been located in
                                                  connection                                     community buildings of the villages at

12                                                                                                                              i4d | January 2006
Vellore (Chitteri), Madurai (Puthuthamaraipatti), and                     have not tried using it. They felt that the computers are the monopoly
Triruchirappalli (Kuzhumani). These centres were financially              of the educated and elite people of the society. Now after providing
supported by International Development and Research Centre,               the information access points (computer with internet connectivity)
Canada. Based on the observation that women and girls are not             the community has started using it, which has now motivated
approaching information centres for accessing information, six more       them to build capacity for themselves as well as for their children.
centres were established at Varakkalpattu and Kandrakkottai of            Children are more curious and have learnt to use computer at a
Cuddalore District (Rural Site) Kancheepuram and Maraimalai               quicker phase than the adults.
Nagar of Kancheepuram District (Semi-Urban site) Pallikaranai and             The self help group women have started applying Information
Aminjikarai of Chennai District (Urban Site). These centres were          Technology for their own purpose such as letter documentation,
financially supported by UNESCO, New Delhi for a period of two            saving their files in floppies, recording their accounts in excel option
years from 2003 to 2005.                                                  and taking printout. They are in a position even to operate digital
                                                                          camera to take pictures of their centre activities and SHG meetings.
The beginning                                                             These centres are providing health information, literacy programme,
A steering committee was composed of the local Panchayat leader,          prices of commodities, weather information, crop planning and
progressive farmer, middle level farmer, small farmer, landless           animal husbandry technologies. This information was provided by
labourer, women, youth, bank official, postal employee, trader,           self-learning compact discs, video and audio packages. Computers
business men, self help group animator and the Hub Centre officer         are not going to be an alternative but perhaps only instrument for
as Member Secretary in three of the information centres located in        progress and growth, a passport to better life.
community buildings. Whereas the centres located in Self Help
Group women households, the members of the group were allowed             Social innovation
to decide on the functioning of the centres in six information centres.   Mr.V.Gurusamy is a resource poor watchman and aged about 60
                                                                          years. He is a resident of Puduthamaraipatti village. His son Mr.
                                                                          Narasimhan is doing Ph.D in Niigita University of Pharmacy and
                                                                          Applied Life Sciences, Japan. Mr.V.Gurusamy used to contact his
                                                                          son through letters, which usually takes one month time to get
                                                                          reply from his son. With the help of Senior Research Fellow
                                                                          Dr.S.Gnanlakshmi of Village Information Centre, email id was
                                                                          created to Mr.Gurusamy and subsequently he got trained in internet
                                                                          and sending e-Mail. This made him possible to contact his son and
                                                                          his son too finds it convenient to respond over mail. Now without
                                                                          others help he is capable of sending mail to his son. His family
                                                                          members were very happy by getting immediate reply from their
                                                                          son through Village Information Centre.
                                                                              The SHG women provided with information and
                                                                          communication technology tools are continuously using personal
                                                                          computers for their knowledge building and also teaching other
children@varakkalpattu                                                    members on its usage, which is likely to be a continuous process.
                                                                          SHG women expressed that they have seen the computer in movies
The demographic details, information needs and educational level          and shops. But they never had an opportunity to use the computer.
were collected from the Nine centres. The Steering Committee/             So they felt proud to have the computer and showed a greater
groups were given the responsibility of managing the centre by            amount of interest to learn the computer operations. Being members
taking appropriate decisions.                                             of the self help groups, the women, in general and resource poor
   Focus group exercise was done to educate the community/                rural women in particular who are below the poverty line can wield
members of the group on their present status and the ways of              greater advantage in seeking technical information, inputs training
improving their knowledge. Based on the decision of the steering          etc., for their income generation.
Committee/members more than 10 volunteers were given training                 Tamil Nadu Government has developed a website
on basics of computer applications. Audio and Video CDs          to market the products prepared by SHG
containing Animal Husbandry Practices, Fishery Products, Value            women in Tamil Nadu. This group received invitation from District
added products were supplied to the village information centres.          Rural Development Agency officials to participate at SHG products
Based on the felt needs of the villages a Tamil portal was prepared       exhibition held in Mumbai. The Indian Bank Manager came forward
containing District profile, Communication details, Agriculture,          to give loan to carry on business to this group. Now the group has
Animal Husbandry, Horticulture, Fisheries, Home Science,                  become more active and the hopes of members are increasing.
education, Government – departments, marketing places and
frequently asked questions and hosted in our university website:          Expectations of the family                                                    After the establishment of Information Centre and teaching the
   Those who are already aware of computer/internet out of shyness        basics of computer operation the women, men, youth are being

January 2006 |                                                                                                               13
User profile of Self Help Group Information Centres and community Information Centres

   Details             SHG Rural Site        SHG Semi-         SHG Urban site           Total     Community Information               Total
                                              Urban site                           For Three SHGs     Centres(3)
   Computer basic             332                245                 219                 796                     3043                3839
   Learning                 (2.14%)            (1.58%)             (1.41%)             (5.14%)                 (19.66%)             (24.8%)
   Playing games              371                293                 240                 904                     8250                9154
                            (2.39%)            (1.89%)             (1.55%)             (5.83%)                 (53.29%)             (59.1%)
   Internet access            319                246                 207                 772                     1717                2489
                            (2.06%)            (1.59%)             (1.33%)             (4.99%)                 (11.09%)             (16.1%)
   Total                     1022                784                 666                 2472                   13010                15482
                            (6.60%)            (5.06%)             (4.30%)             (15.96%)                (84.04%)

respected by the family members and their morale is boosted.                Information Centre of the Puduthamaraipatti since it is managed
Opening of information centre in their village and leaving it to the        by two Veterinarians. On 9.10.02 the Village Information Centre
care and benefit has marked change in terms of social aspect and            of Puduthamaraipatti received a mail from Miss. Suganya, Kiosk
self-esteem of the individuals. They feel that their status has             Operator of T.Ulagupitchanpatti village stating that six sheep of
improved by possession of the computer centre. The same respect is          Mr.Pitchai and two of Mr.Pandi have died due to some disease and
being extended by local government authorities like municipality            around hundred sheep are suffering with diahorrea and other illness.
and panchayat board for having and accessing computer by the                Immediately the Village Information Centre staff contacted the
villagers.                                                                  Professor and Head, Veterinary University Training and Research
    SHG members are not only interested to learn computer but               Centre (Hub centre), Madurai and conveyed the message over e-
they also want to give computer education to their children as they         mail and phone. Then the Village Information Centre staff with a
are not in a position to send their children to English medium              specialist (Pathologist) rushed to the spot (T.Ulagupitchanpatti)
matriculation school. SHG member’s children are studying in                 and inspected the problems of the sheep. Based on the symptoms
Government schools. So centre is the only access point for them.            they came to the conclusion that the sheep were affected by disease
Even though, lots of computer institutions are available in the             called “Enterotoxemia” a bacterial disease. Samples were collected
nearby vicinity, they are not in a position to pay exorbitant fees.         from the affected animals and sent to the lab for confirmative
    The members are not getting adequate skill based training               diagnosis. Immediately around 623 (worth Rs.6,23,000) sheep
programme for income generation. Women are not only interested              were vaccinated with Enterotoxaemia vaccine. The affected animals
on information but also interested in the hands on training, as             recovered completely. All the sheep population of the village was
without it, the information alone will not serve them any purpose.          saved by timely information services available at T.Ulagupitchanpatti
This has motivated us to provide different skill training programme         and Puduthamaraipatti.
to the members.                                                                 Useage of information centre at villages during the scheme period
                                                                            and subsequently are as follows:
Technology adoption
Various CDs are given to the members for self-learning. Mrs. Devi           Lessons learnt
was rearing rabbits in her house. She started rearing rabbits as pet at     Based upon the experience acquired over the project period, a
her home. Now she has 20 rabbits in her house. She did not know             number of useful suggestions have emerged with regard to advising
the method of rearing rabbits scientifically. She kept all rabbits in       future applications of the information centre model for community
open terrace of her house. The place became dirty. Once she came            development. Information is available on various subjects but to
to the centre with her daughter and watched the “scientifically             access it, one has to be well versed in English language. Government
rabbit rearing” CD prepared by Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal             of Tamil Nadu is continuously developing various websites; the
Sciences University. After that she modified the cage and maintained        required information is yet to be made available. It is time for the
the area without dirt and waste materials. She prepared feed                educational institutions and the Government authorities to develop
scientifically for her rabbits according to the formula. Now she            information through CD based updates in local language.
wants to make it as a successful business. She has started selling          1. The project site should be selected carefully. Nothing can be
rabbits to her friends, peers, relatives etc., and started earning money.      done successfully without the target people co-operation.
    In Melur taluk of Madurai District, computer kiosk centres were         2. Information, which is provided to them, should be need based.
established in 40 villages by Dhan Foundation. All the kiosk centres        3. Information provided through video and audio were cost
and the Village Information Centre of Puduthamaraipatti of                     effective.
TANUVAS-IDRC were connected to internet through cordect                     4. Information retrieval should be cost effective.
wireless technology. The kiosk operators of nearby villages used to         5. Project should have enough period of time to monitor and analyze
send queries on treatment and husbandry practices to the Village               the feed back of the project.

14                                                                                                                                i4d | January 2006

Mobilising computers
for rural empowerment
                                       ICT can empower                                     dissatisfied with the service. However, the
  Amongst the                          The Computers On Wheels (COW) project               COW model holds a great deal of potential
                                                                                           for transmitting valuable information in
  remote and under                     explores the use of communication
                                       technologies as a catalyst for empowerment          cases of communicable disease outbreaks in
                                                                                           animals and humans. In the future COW is
  developed villages                   and creation of opportunity. The project
                                       works in rural areas where social and               hoping to subsidise the medical advice
                                                                                           service using revenue from non-essential but
  of Andhra Pradesh,                   economic development is stifled by
                                       drought, under investment in infrastructure,        popular services such as events photography.
                                                                                           The project will also aim to address long
  motorcycle-                          poor communication and social inequality.
                                       COW currently works in 14 villages, each            term illnesses.
                                                                                               Another service has been developed to
  mounted computer                     of which is visited once a week by one of
                                       two Information Providers (IPs) equipped            help womens savings groups to keep
                                                                                           electronic and digital records of their
  operators are                        with a modified motorbike, computer
                                       equipment and cell phone internet link.             accounts and photographs for their group
                                                                                           management. Members of these groups pool
  leading a struggle                   The IP provides a range of services designed
                                       to address health, educational and                  their financial resources and open a bank
                                                                                           account in the local village mandal.
  for social and                       agricultural needs. Each service draws
                                       upon the knowledge of many outside                  The application allows a record of payments
                                                                                           and withdrawls by group members. At
  economic change.                     experts and well wishers who support the
                                       COW project voluntarily or with little              first group leaders regarded this service
                                       remuneration.                                       with uncertainty perhaps due to the
                                           One of the most pressing issues COW             rather unfamiliar nature of the technology
                                       has addressed is that of rural healthcare.          involved and maybe in some cases due to
                                       A system has been designed to put villagers         reluctance for group accounts to become so
                                       in touch with a health expert without the           unreservedly transparent. However, a
                                       need for them to travel many kilometres to a        direct link to the State Bank of India has
                                       primary health centre A web-based system            since been established. This will allow
                                       allows the IP to select options in a                women’s groups to have access to banking
                                       questionnaire to describe the patients              services without the need for journeys
                                       symptoms accurately without colloquialisms          of several kilometres to the town or
                                       or the need for extended descriptions. Visual       village mandal.
                                       symptoms are photographed and posted                    Many community members have
                                       along with the questionnaires on the                embraced COW’s educational and training
                                       Internet. A primary health centre doctor and        services with almost unreserved enthusiasm.
                                       a visiting doctor in Hyderabad dedicate a           Computer based lessons in schools are made
                                       few hours a week to log onto a website where        possible by requesting a small contribution
                                       they can read and reply to posts from the IP        from pupils parents in order to cover costs.
                                       in the field. The system has had some notable       Some teachers are so committed that they
                                       successes but it is somewhat impaired by            have offered to cover the cost of the service
                                       the limited help a doctor can provide               by contributing personally. In other areas
   Edward Crompton                                                                         adult learners have identified ways in which
                                       remotely. Situations where the service does
   Mahiti Infotech, Bangalore, India                                                       they can implement the use of computers
                                       not eliminate the need to travel to a                                                                       in enterprising ways and are actively
                                       healthcare centre or where there is little short-
                                       term improvement can leave patients                 demanding suitable lessons from IPs. One

January 2006 |                                                                                                     15
boy asked for training in graphics and text manipulation                    interact with members of the community, but attempts
saying it would enable him to get a job designing car number                have been made to quantify certain qualities in an IP. With help and
plates. On occasion it even seems that the desire to learn takes            advice from Managementor - a professional placement consultancy
precedence over the relevance of the material, an IP reported that          firm - a narrative was constructed which puts the IP in a variety of
he had received a request to teach some rather obsolete DOS                 social situations and asks them to decide on a course of action.
commands after word spread that they were being taught in a                 By examining the choices made by the IP it has been possible to
neighbouring village.                                                       identify candidates with skills and sensitivities that compliment the
                                                                            aims of the project.
The Food for Work Programme
The COW project has worked directly with the Andhra Pradesh                 Hardware and software usage
state government to assess the pilot phase of the ‘Food for Work            Storage of confidential information in financial systems such as the
Programme’. The programme aims to curb unemployment and                     banking software raises the importance of the integrity and security
improve village infrastructure by employing local people to perform         of the computer systems used by COW. Back up and security are
manual work such as road building or well construction.                     becoming increasingly important as the project grows. Until recently
Misappropriation of funds can, and does, take place during these            COW has used entirely proprietary software. At the outset of the
construction activities. Information Providers are able to record           project there was little incentive to migrate from the Windows
information about various aspects of the work taking place in the           system shipped with new laptops.
villages and make it available to government officials in Hyderabad             There seemed to be many far more important considerations of
via a secure website. IPs also interview manual labourers and make          project design to concentrate on. As the project has matured and
certain testimonial information available on the same website.              the need for greater security and virus resistance has grown, so has
Although data gathered in this way can never be verified as one             the case for FOSS. Migration to a Telugu Linux distribution would
hundred percent accurate, it is expected that by cross referencing          potentially eliminate the struggle IPs and trainees have in navigating
information from official records and the testimony of workers,             an entirely English user interface. The use of FOSS would also ease
anomalies will become more obvious and abuses of the system can             the growth and replication of the project by eliminating the need
be identified more easily. With the help of well wishers of the COW         for expensive licences. However, much software COW uses has
project including members of the Centre for Good Governance,                been developed by outside organisations and can only run on a
Hyderabad and tutors from Jawahalal Nehru Technological                     Windows platform. In addition, members of the community
University, Hyderabad, a database system was developed whereby              demand training in the most widely used software and operating
the IP can store large amounts of data on his laptop offline before         system: Windows. These are barriers that will have to be broken
uploading it quickly onto the Internet when he reaches an area with         down if the project is to migrate to FOSS.
cell phone coverage.                                                            Hardware systems were a very important consideration
                                                                            from the beginning of the project design. A low powered motorbike
Role of Information Providers (IPs)                                         was chosen as a means of transport for the IP because they are
IPs take a leading role in the development of the COW enterprise            economical to purchase, run and maintain, easy to ride and they
model. They often request training to fill gaps in their expertise or       cope well with the rough and potholed tracks between villages.
to eliminate the need for outside skills on which they occasionally         The motorbike is modified to carry a laptop, printer, speakers for
rely. Information Providers are recruited by COW from amongst               multimedia presentations and a power source. Experiments were
the villages the project serves. They are given training not only in        performed with a solar panel mounted on a foldable shelf on the
the technology they use but also the social needs and problems              motorbike.
faced by their communities.                                                     However, it has since been found more efficient to mount a
    Although IPs are paid a fixed monthly wage in the first few             larger solar panel on the roof of the IPs house and use this to charge
months after they are recruited, they are subsequently paid a               portable car-type batteries. Internet access is via a cell phone.
percentage of the revenue gathered from COW services which will             The connection is expensive and signal coverage is limited, but the
rise as the project scales up. This is a necessary part of the developing   system is used for short uploads and downloads rather than extended
COW model that will allow the project to be sustainable and                 web browsing.
replicable. Of course, the success of the project is ultimately                 The internship I spent with Computers On Wheels was
dependent on a genuine match between project aims and values                the latest in several hosted by the project. Interns have
and those of the IP. Any number of well designed services can be            been a source of technical support but applicants have
produced, but without a strong desire for improvement in the                been judged not simply on what they can contribute in terms
community on the part of the IP, COW cannot hope for successful             of skills. Pingali Rajeswari, the founder of Computers On
implementation to address the needs of the poorest community                Wheels, considers interns’ motivation and commitment
members.                                                                    just as important. She hopes the experience and knowledge
    When recruiting Information Providers the significance of               that COW gives Information Providers and interns will
technical skills or previous community work experience is given a           enable them to become independent of the confines of the
lower weighting than the personal values of the IP. There is no             project and become part of a larger movement for social
replacement for intuition in long-term assessment of IPs as they            empowerment and equality.

16                                                                                                                                 i4d | January 2006

Access to VoIP in its
                                             Services provided by VoIP                          of this cost-saving technology. Currently,
  Voice over Internet                        With Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)           more than 30 Internet Service Providers
                                                                                                (ISPs) offer VoIP for internal corporate
  Protocol (VoIP) has                        support for computer-to-telephone calls,
                                             telephone-to-computer calls and telephone-         telephony. These firms operate in a nebulous
                                                                                                area of VoIP that is not clearly legal or
  all feasible features                      to-telephone calls. VoIP represents a
                                             significant step toward the integration of         illegal and risk confrontation with the
                                                                                                National Communications Authority
  over the other                             voice and data networks. Originally,
                                             regarded as a novelty, Internet telephony is       (NCA). These ISPs have the requisite
                                                                                                technology and expertise to provide VoN
  telecommunication                          attracting more and more users because it
                                             offers tremendous cost savings relative to the     on a larger scale.
                                                                                                    Revenues for this service are estimated at
  systems which seek                         Public Switched Telephone Network
                                             (PSTN). Users can bypass long-distance             between $8 and $10 million a year and are
                                                                                                expected to grow at an annual rate of 5
  the attention of                           carriers and their per-minute usage rates by
                                             running voice traffic over the Internet for        percent. This clearly demonstrates
                                                                                                the viability of this industry. Legalising
  policy makers for its                      an Internet-access fee. The expansion of
                                             Voice over Network (VoN) would serve to            internal corporate VoIP and VoN would
                                                                                                reduce the risks for VoIP suppliers and
  implementation in                          fill the gap in supply of International Direct
                                             Dialing (IDD).                                     help to promote the development of
                                                                                                Ghana’s telecommunications infrastructure.
  Ghana.                                          VoIP telephony allows telephone calls to
                                             be made over the Internet. While VoN refers        However, legalising VoN could potentially
                                             to a standard telephone call utilising VoIP        erode the revenue base of Ghana Telecom
                                             and bypassing all or part of the public switch     (GT), the partially government-owned
                                             telephone network. Currently, the                  incumbent telecommunications service
                                             availability of affordable and reliable IDD is     provider. Statistics shows that revenue from
                                             limited in Ghana. Charges for IDD using a          international calls dropped from $ 42 million
                                             PSTN can cost up to 75 cents per minute            in 1998 to $14.4 million in 2002.
                                             to West African countries and up to $1.50              Some industry experts believe the
                                             per minute when calling North America.             decrease in IDD revenue was due to the
                                             About 45 percent of IDD calls encounter a          increased use of VoIP, email, international
                                             busy signal, requiring callers to redial several   short messaging services (SMS), and
                                             times before achieving a connection. The           instant messaging (IM). The National
                                             cost to place calls to countries within the        Communications Authority (NCA),
                                             region, using a VoN is 5 to 7 cents per            established by Parliamentary Act in 1996 as
                                             minute and 10 to 15 cents per minute to            a central regulatory body to create
                                             North America, roughly 10 percent of the           transparency in the regulation of the
                                             cost of IDD using PSTN.                            telecommunications sector and to promote
                                                                                                a stable operating environment for all
                                             Regulating VoIP in Ghana                           participants, while promoting fair
                                             One of the decisions facing tele-                  competition and efficiency, has as a result
   Gordon Feller                             communication policy makers in Ghana is            commissioned a technical team to among
   Urban Age Institute, USA                  how to regulate VoIP. Government                   other things investigate how some ISPs                     regulation therefore becomes the hurdle that       caused the loss of more than $30 million to
                                             must be overcome to increase the availability      Ghana Telecom.

January 2006 |                                                                                                           17
The policy knots                                                           5. The New Telecom Policy (NTP) treats this issue under the section
There is very little possibility that the NCA can stop the proliferation      on ‘International telecommunications’;
of VoIP and other technologies - such as IM, SMS, and email - that         6. It is hoped that by the end of this year (2005) all questions on
decrease demand for IDD using PSTN. In addition, the Ghana                    VoIP operations in Ghana would have been settled with the
Telecom (GT) network cannot meet the demand for IDD. The                      offering of the licensing and regulatory framework discussed.
challenge for NCA will be to develop a policy that legalises VoN           Expected trend ahead
while providing a new revenue base for GT. If VoN is legalised, one
source of revenue for GT will be the leasing of E1’s to VoN providers.     Ghana has a particularly large VoIP grey market estimated at
Leasing one E1 generates $2,000 in revenue a month. Annual                 approximately $15-25 million a year in 2003. In other West African
revenue from the leasing of E1s after the legalization of VoN is           markets the grey market is estimated at somewhat between 10-
projected to be between US $5 million and US $10 million. This             20% of the overall market. ‘Grey’ markets in international VoIP
gain in revenue would offset the future decrease of traditional IDD        calling have cropped up almost everywhere in Africa because of the
revenue based on the rate of decline from 1998 to 2002. GT can             large difference between the price charged to the African customer
also utilise wholesale VoIP, which is explicitly legal in Ghana, to        by monopoly incumbent telephone companies and the much
decrease its IDD rates and increase its competitiveness.                   cheaper cost at which they buy that call on the international market.
    Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA) has also              Grey market operators like ISPs and cyber-cafes can offer the
argued that losses at GT mean lower contributions to the Universal         calls more cheaply and still make a profit. What the benefits /
Access Fund. However if the Government were to legalise VOIP, it           advantages to the average Ghanaian? In a country like Ghana where
could tax the operators and get back this revenue and provide an           a large number of people have relatives and friends living outside
opportunity for Ghana to be the telecom gateway in the sub-region.         the country, the legalisation of VoIP technology will make it easier
    Here is an outline of the official position of The National            for relatives and friends across continents to stay in touch. Particularly
Communication Authority (NCA):                                             if one considers the fact that the number of households with phones
1. VoIP is allowed within the corporate VPN setting;                       at home is approximately 76 phones per 1000 people. Tele density
2. Licensed International Gateway operators are free to use whatever       in 1999 was the same 76 phones per 1000 people.
   technology they choose to terminate/originate their international           Most people wanting to make calls to relatives outside the country
   traffic in or out of the country (including VoIP technology),           have to queue up for the few working phone booths to make calls
   within the right interconnection agreements with other carriers;        with expensive phone cards they purchase and that only give them
3. ISPs, Internet Cafes are not allowed to terminate international         a few minutes of talking time. With the advent of Internet Cafes,
   voice traffic on the national PSTN or any other public telephone        which can be found in most places in Ghana including villages, the
   network, since their license is primarily for data and not voice        next logical step is VoIP so that a cheap reliable means can be
   communications;                                                         provided for people to talk to their relatives outside of the country.
4. The NCA however realizes the blurring of the line between data              VOIP will be legalised in Ghana when policy makers gather the
   and voice traffic on IP networks, and as such is working on a           political will to carry it out. GISPA is currently working with the
   licensing and regulatory framework to enable qualified operators        NCA and Government to facilitate the development of a framework
   (ISPs, Internet Cafes) to offer VoIP services to their clients while    for legalising VOIP operations. NCA is hopeful that by the end of
   contributing to the development of the access network and               this year (2005) the licensing and regulatory framework for VOIP
   telecom development in the country in general;                          would have been sorted out and implemented.

                                                         A silent revolution
 Glenanore, a tea estate at Haputale in SriLanka, alongside the            The estate kids were charged only a nominal fee. Vengadesh is also
 factory and the living quarters of the plantation workers houses          encouraging enough not be strict with the timings, allowing them
 the Glenanore Knowledge Centre. Until last 6 years the poverty            to work freely when the computers are not occupied. The Centre
 ridden estate area was even deprived of the electricity facility.         also provides different services, like government forms which, can
 But, now the centre is a hive of activity.                                be downloaded from the web.
    Every computer of Knowledge Centre was occupied. Young                     Vengadesh now had a host of customers other than the estate
 children were accessing to information, searching for websites in         community. In a sense the Centre has built a bridge between a
 English and in their own language (Tamil) downloading the data            once marginalised community with the rest of society. With the
 information for the projects they were working.                           access to the ICTs, the estate community has received the power to
    It is to the enterprise of an individual like Vengadesh, the           change their destiny.
 Glenanore centre was established in March 2005. Since than it                 For the enthusiasm instilled by Vengadesh, it is hoped
 has been hard work for him to promote usage of the Centre among           that it will take the community a long way in taking
 the poor and ignorant estate community. 6 months of his hard              control of their own lives, changing the environment and building
 work is positively paying off. Business started picking up slowly.        the future.

18                                                                                                                                   i4d | January 2006

ICT makes a difference
                                                 worth talking about. Although Sri Lanka            children, who dropped out of school
                                                 boasts of a 92 per cent literacy, the literacy     because it was too far for them to travel to
                                                 amongst these villagers is appalling. Many         the nearest upper school, will now be able
                    Maithri Jansz                are illiterate. Over 70 per cent of the adults     to continue their studies. In fact, parents
                    ICT Agency of Sri Lanka      do not even posses a birth certificate.            have now come to realise that their children
                             H.A.Wickremasinghe took up his post           are receiving greater attention here at their
                                                 as principal of Kudathamnnawa Viduhala             own village school than at the secondary
This story begins in a very remote village in    in January 2004. At this time, 64 pupils           schools they travel out to. At the same time,
Sri Lanka. The actors are a school principal,    were on roll, out of which 27 were totally         the enthusiasm to teach and learn has also
a marginalised community and a personal          illiterate; added to this,
computer. Kandurupitiya is a small village       only 10-15 pupils were
under the purview of the Mahavillachichia        on regular attendance.
Divisional Secretariat within the                His challenge was to
Anuradapuara District. Miles into nowhere,       convince students - and
surrounded by the dense jungle,                  more so their parents that
marginalised from the rest of the country        their children need
and yet home to about 200 families, this         to attend school. Mr
village had nothing significant to talk about    Wickremasinha tried
– until now.                                     every trick in the book -
    Founded in 1958, Kandurupitiya               gentle persuasion,
Kudathamnnawa Viduhala serves two                enticement, threats, but
villages in the region offering education up     none of them had any
to the 5th grade. Children travel as far as 6    real effect. Then arrived
km to reach the school. When they complete       to the school a computer
the 5th grade they must enter other schools      along with a load of
located outside the village some 15- 40 km       material. At the time, no
away. This leads to a situation where over       one in the school had any knowledge of             increased with other subjects like English
50 per cent of children drop out of school       computers, but the English teacher took it         receiving much attention. Kids, who were
as there is no local transport – at least none   upon himself to read the books that came           once illiterate are enthusiastically speaking
                                                 with it and gradually started conducting           English due to their new English
                                                 classes. The popularity of these lessons soon      curriculum. Such has been the revolution –
                                                 went beyond the imagination of everyone            for there is no other word for it – that has
                                                 involved; students not only were coming to         taken place in this small village.
ICT Agency plans to                              school, they were staying back after school,           The ICT Agency discovered this
                                                 till late hours, to be able to use the computer.   diamond in September, 2005. ICT Agency
work with the school                                  Today Mr Wickremasinha proudly states         plans to work with the school to make
                                                 that he has on regular attendance 90 per           it a part of its e-Village Project and soon
to make it a part of its                         cent of the children on roll; he has a             the school will receive more computers
                                                 computer lab to which he has added 3 more          and also connectivity. The story started
e-Village Project and                            computers (donated by the Horizons school,         with an unconnected community that
                                                 Mahavilachichia); he has a volunteer teacher       discovered what technology can do for them.
soon the school will                             who teaches the children computer basics           Their dream is to break free from the
                                                 and what is more, with the setting up of the       ignorance that ties them down and
receive more                                     computer lab he was able to convince               prevents them from achieving greatness.
                                                 authorities to allow the school to increase its    Where it will end, we do not know, but
computers and also                               reach to the 6th grade and is presently            we do know that ICT can make that
                                                 lobbing for it to be increased to the 9th Grade.   difference; and we wish them heights greater
connectivity.                                    The significance of this is that all those         than they dream.

January 2006 |                                                                                                              19

Media for rural marketing
                          Indian agricultural industry has been            marketing strategies and to avoid unethical
 Media Rural              growing at a tremendous pace in the last         practices, which distort the marketing
                          few decades. The rural areas are consuming       environment. Many of the inputs used for
 marketing uses both      a large number of industrial and urban           production process have implications for
                          manufactured products. The rural                 food, health and environmental sectors.
 kinds of media i.e.      agricultural production and consumption          Rural marketing needs to combine concerns
                          process plays a predominant role in              for profit with a concern for the society,
 the traditional          developing the Indian economy. This has          besides being titled towards profit. Rural
                          designed a new way for understanding a           market for agricultural inputs is a case of
 media as well as the     new process called Rural Marketing. The          market pull and not market push. Most of
                          concept of rural marketing has to be             the jobs of marketing and selling is left to
 modern media.            distinguished from Agricultural marketing.       the local dealers and retailers. The market
                          Marketing is the process of identifying and      for input gets interlocked with other markets
 Rural marketing          satisfying customers needs and providing         like output, consumer goods, money and
                          them with adequate after sales service. Rural    labour. The importance of rural marketing
 requires the             marketing is different from agricultural         can be understood from the fact that today
                          marketing, which signifies marketing of rural    modern inputs i.e. diesel, electricity,
 understanding of         products to the urban consumer or                fertilisers, pesticides, seeds account for as
                          institutional markets. Rural marketing           much as 70% of the total cash costs and
 the complexities and     basically deals with delivering manufactured     23% of the total costs incurred by the
                          or processed inputs or services to rural         farmers in the Green Revolution areas.
 this article reviews     producers, the demand for which is basically     Further the percentages were higher at 81%
                          a derived outcome.                               and 38% for small; farmers owning 1.85
 some of the key              Rural marketing scientists also term it as   hectares of land.
                          developmental marketing, as the process of
 issues.                  rural marketing involves an urban to rural       Strategic aspects
                          activity, which in turn is characterised by      Rural marketing in India is not much
                          various peculiarities in terms of nature of      developed there are many hindrances in the
                          market, products and processes. Rural            area of market, product design and
                          marketing differs from agricultural or           positioning, pricing, distribution and
                          consumer products marketing in terms of          promotion. Companies need to understand
                          the nature of transactions, which includes       rural marketing in a broader manner not only
                          participants, products, modalities, norms        to survive and grow in their business, but
                          and outcomes. The participants in case of        also a means to the development of the rural
                          Rural Marketing would also be different          economy. One has to have a strategic view
                          they include input manufacturers, dealers,       of the rural markets so as to know and
                          farmers, opinion makers, government              understand the markets well. In the context
                          agencies and traders. The existing approach      of rural marketing one has to understand
                          to the rural markets has viewed the markets      the manipulation of marketing mix has
                          as a homogeneous one, but in practice, there     to be properly understood in terms of
                          are significant buyer and user differences       product usage. Product usage is central to
                          across regions as well as within that requires   price, distribution, promotion, branding,
                          a differential treatment of the marketing        company image and more important farmer
                          problems. These differences could be in          economics, thus any strategy in rural
 S.Gopalakrishnan Iyer    terms of the type of farmers, type of crops      marketing should be given due attention
 India                    and other agro-climatic conditions. One has      and importance by understanding the       to understand the market norms in                product usage, all elements of marketing mix
                          agricultural input so as to devise good          can be better organised and managed.

20                                                                                                       i4d | January 2006
                                                        NanaSala Vouchers
 The ‘NanaSala Dahasak’ (1000 NanaSalas) Project of ICT Agency                 Already in its short existence, the voucher programme has made
 which is being implemented under the patronage of H.E. the                positive impacts on the people in the target areas. In Moneragala,
 President, is well under way with 150 Centers already operational.        the Nanasala owners speak of people from the community doing
 The ICTA nevertheless understands that the subject of Information         CAD drawings and chatting with relatives who are in foreign
 Communication Technology is new to most of Sri Lanka’s                    countries. In Badulla, NanaSala owners help people find jobs
 population, especially in the rural areas, and that they may not be       through the government’s JobsNet website and receive e-Learning
 fully aware of the benefits of ICTs. They may even be un-informed         in certain A and O level subjects. In Hambantota, people come to
 of the services offered at the NanaSala centres. Even for the segment     the NanaSala to learn English through e-Learning software, access
 of population that understand these benefits, and also know where         government services through the web, access market prices and do
 the closest NanaSala is, the affordability factor may dissuade them       typesetting and desktop publishing. NanaSala owners, who
 from using these services.                                                understand their communities better than any outsider, are coming
     In order to address this affordability gap, the ICT Agency has        up with creative and innovative ways to popularise the centres by
 begun an innovative voucher program, which is currently being             mobilising segments of their communities through ICT-learning
 administered by Pricewaterhouse Coopers Sri Lanka. Customers              groups called ‘e-societies’, visiting nearby schools and giving free/
 can visit the NanaSala, ask for a Rs. 50 voucher and use a computer       low-cost computer classes at the centres.
 or the Internet for the exchange of this voucher. The owner is then           The ‘digital divide’ between the rural areas and urban areas,
 reimbursed by ICTA for the cost of the voucher, also providing a          the poor areas and affluent areas is striking in most countries, both
 source of income for the owners. Currently, the awareness and             developing and developed. This divide leads to an opportunity
 voucher programmes are in operation the NanaSala: Rural                   gap where rural populaces are denied some of the prospects that
 Knowledge Centres in 3 districts, Hambantota, Moneragala and              are available to those in urban areas and many a concept has been
 Badulla, and will be extended to the rest in the near future. ICTA        proposed and actioned to bridge these gaps. The ICT Agency is
 has also obtained the services of SEEDS - an institution with             executing some of the more promising ideas - with the voucher
 extensive experience in communicating complex concepts in rural           programme being the front runner among them - to ensure that
 areas - to create awareness of this voucher programme. SEEDS are          the digital divide, in Sri Lanka at least, becomes a thing of the past,
 currently running outdoor advertising campaigns with village              and every student, entrepreneur or any citizen, regardless of
 meetings in areas near the NanaSala centres.                              location, gets an opportunity to reach their fullest potential.
                                                                                                                          Source: ICTA, Sri Lanka

Client and location specific promotion                                     market research should be undertaken to assess the buyer’s needs
Increasing specialisation in the farming sector has marketers to this      and problems so that continuous improvements and innovations
strategy. The marketer under this strategy has to design location          can be undertaken for a sustainable market performance.
and carry out farmer specific promotional campaigns.                       Developmental marketing
Recommending the use of the products at micro level would result
in increasing productivity of the input and thereby increasing the         Developmental marketing refers to taking up marketing programmes
image and the sales of the product can raise the input demand for          keeping the development objective in mind and using various
rural markets. Joint or co-operative promotion A personalised              managerial and other inputs of marketing to achieve these objectives.
approach is required under this strategy of rural marketing. Under         A prerequisite for developmental marketing is Development Market
this approach there is a greater scope for private sector and farmer       Research, which can be termed as the application of marketing
organisation to get into input supply and especially into retail           research tools and techniques to the problems of development. The
distribution, as it is a low risk activity.                                research tools of marketing like product testing tests marketing,
                                                                           concept testing and media testing or message test and focus groups
Bundling of inputs                                                         are used in this work. Developmental marketing has started to find
In order to reap the benefits of, the economies of the scale a rural       its roots in India where researchers are using focus groups and
marketer has to resort to bundling of inputs. ‘Bundling of Inputs’         products tests to learn more about rural markets and products needs
is the process by which the marketer would provide a bundle of             and USPs (Unique Selling Proposition) can be tried out. Media
products to the retailer so that he can meet the requirements of the       rural marketing uses both kinds of media i.e. the traditional media
farmers in one place. The village level co-operatives and other agencies   as well as the modern media. The traditional media includes puppetry,
can play an effective role in the distribution of inputs. Establishing     drama, folk theatre e.g. tamsaha (role play of different characters by
linkages with financial agencies and other input sellers can help          one or two persons), nautanki (short skits with songs and poetry),
greatly as the bank credit plays an important role by making the           street plays, folk songs, wall paintings and proverbs. Marketer uses
purchase possible. Management of Demand A marketer apart from              traditional media as it is more accessible, personalised, familiar and
maintaining good supplies in terms of quality and quantity also has        carries a high potential for change. The modern media includes the
to focus on the demand side of the operations also. Continuous             print media, the television and the radio USPs.

January 2006 |                                                                                                                21
    Some of the USPs of the companies engaged in rural marketing
are given below. Mahindra Tractors- ‘Mera Desh Mera Gaon’ (My
country my village) Tafe Tractors-‘Grameen Bharat ki Dhadkan’               NepaLinux is a Debian and Morphix based GNU/Linux
Tafe ka Massey Ferguson(The heart beat of rural India its Tafe’s            distribution focused for Desktop usage in Nepali language
Massey Ferguson) Swaraj Tractors- ‘Pragati aur Khush-hali ke liye’          computing. It contains applications for Desktop users like:
(For development and happiness) Escorts- ‘Nayi technique ke sath, , Nepali Gnome Desktop, Nepali input systems
Bharosa Jeevan bhar Ka’ (A life long trust with new techniques)             etc. Since January 2004, Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya, the principal
Eicher-‘Ghazab ki takat, ghazab ki shaan’ (Incredible strength,             archive of books and periodicals in the Nepali language, undertook
Incredible pride) Sun Seeds- ‘Grow with Sun’ ICI Karate Insecticide-        the Nepal component of the 30-month long PAN Localisation
‘Keedon ka Maha-kaal, Phasal Ka Pehredaar’ (Insects enemy protector         Project (, a multi-nation localisation project
of the crops). Pesticide India- ‘Desh ke liye Phasal Anek, Keedon ke        being conducted in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia,
Naash ke liye Foratox Sirf Ek’ (Numerous crops for the country but          Laos, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, with the support of International
only for destroying pests i.e. Foratox). Thus the companies use             Development and Research Centre (IDRC), Canada. This project
different formats to influence the target audience in order to produce      includes a Nepali GNU/Linux distribution ‘NepaLinux’
the desired results. Extension Services. There are several limitations      comprising of localised GNOME,, Mozilla suite,
of rural marketing in the Indian context, this leads to the need for        and other utilities that include Nepali Spellchecker, Thesaurus,
extension services to supplement the efforts of the firms engaged in        Nepali Unicode support, etc. This distribution can be used in
rural marketing. The various extension services could include credit        Nepali as well in English environment.
facilities, competitions among the farmers, educating the farmers               Though NepaLinux is basically a live CD it can also be installed
regarding the appropriate agricultural practices, etc. Extension            in the computer. The work for the installation process has been
services would thus play a crucial role in the development of rural         facilitated through the European Commission supported Bhasha
marketing in India.                                                         Sanchar Project ( which is led by the Open
                                                                            University (UK). NepaLinux is a Free/Open Source Software
Ethics in Business                                                          (FOSS), in which the source code is open and the users have the
Ethics occupies a special place in rural marketing, and has been at         freedom to use, study, modify according to one’s needs and
the heart of all the transactions whether cash or kind. In order to         redistribute it. NepaLinux, being a Free/Open Source Software,
make a lasting impact on the rural clients, the firms need to built a       does not charge for its software unlike proprietary software, which
trustful relationship and that is possible by no other means but            cost a lot and also do not allow the users to study, modify, or
only by ethical conduct.                                                    redistribute. The official website for NepaLinux is
                                                                   Other available places to look for assistance
Partnership for sustainability                                              are: Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya support forum (
There is a need to build partnership with rural clients for a sustainable   forum), NepaLinux Mailing List (,
business relationship and sustainable marketing relationship.               NepaLinux Wiki (, IRC for realtime
There should be a long-term relationship between the firms and              queries (#nepalinux on The web space for the
farmers for agro business projects, which are risky, long drawn and         hosting of NepaLinux for the users inside Nepal has been provided
technical in nature. Partnership is required in rural marketing             by Everest Net. Information regarding the download of
business so as to award distributorship to local groups and individuals     NepaLinux for users outside Nepal is available on the website.
employing locals, staff secondment in local projects, preferential
                                                                            Digital cinema – Virtual multiplexes
purchase of local product, training to locals and discount on product
supplies in some areas. Rural marketing firms can work with NGOs            When UFO (United Film Organizers) Digital Cinema Systems
also because NGOs have better linkages and understanding of the             was launched, they had promised that their systems will provide
local communities and their problems. Nagarjuna fertilisers and             scheduling flexibility to their Exhibitors. The exact implication
Chemicals Ltd has set up an agro output division which is known             of this statement is now been reflected in theatres. With zero
as FMS (Farm Management Service) which provides packages to                 investment in print costs, distributors are using UFO Digital
the farmers right form soil testing to post harvest stage of the crop       Cinema System to convert single screen cinemas into virtual
system. The FMS aims at enhancing farm productivity optimising              multiplexes. In a manner similar to multiplexes where multiple
cost of production, improving economic returns to farmers                   films are exhibited on a single screen. Single cinema screens like
and enhancing the cost of production and enhancing the                      Central Plaza in Mumbai, Mahalaxmi in Surendranagar and Vinay
produce quality.                                                            in Adipur are getting released with simultaneous screening of Ek
                                                                            Ajnabee and Kalyug. Similarly Kalyug and Apharan are being
Conclusion                                                                  released simultaneously in Bangbasi in Howrah, Central Plaza in
Rural marketing in India has still a long way to go, rural marketers        Mumbai, Durgapur in Durgapur, Manoj in Asansol, Paradise in
have to understand the fact that rural marketing in India has a             Porbandar and Rakhi in Salkia. This is possible solely due to UFO
tremendous potential in our country. Rural marketers should                 Digital Cinema’s unique capability of hosting 8 to 10 films at a
understand this fact and try to tap the huge untapped potential in          time on their servers for exhibition in their theatres.
our country.                                                                                  More information can be found at

22                                                                                                                                i4d | January 2006
 The Asian conference on          The Asian conference on
     e-Government                   ICT and Education

                    April 25 - 28, 2006
              Rama Gardens Hotels and Resorts

Organisers     Co-organiser           Supporting partners

             Media partners                     Institutional partner
                                                                  Technical Sessions
                                                                  •   e-Government Country Plans
                                                                  •   Policy and Technology Framework in e-Government
                                                                  •   Funding and Financing Mechanisms in e-Government
                                                                  •   Content Management, Data Standardisation and GUI

April 25 - 28, 2006                                               •   Public-Private Partnerships and Service Level Agreement
                                                                  •   Emerging trends in Mobile Government
                                                                  •   Government Process Re-engineering and Change
Introduction                                                          Management
Asian countries are witnessing a dramatic change in their         •   Project Monitoring, Evaluation and Auditing Mechanisms
economy. So is the scene of e-Governance! Some countries are      •   e-Democracy through e-Government
already topping the international charts of e-Governance, some    •   e-Security and Cyber Laws for efficient Governance
have just begun their journey, while there are a few others       •   ICTs and Rural e-Governance
who are yet to step into the e-Governance arena. The scope
for these countries to learn from their advanced Asian
neighbours is immense and opportunities are unbound.              egov Asia 2006 will have an elaborate exhibition of latest e-
The present need is to create a common ground of equitable        Government products, solutions suites, services, initiatives and
learning which facilitates a process of overall development of    case studies from all across Asia and beyond. Professional service
the region.                                                       providers, IT vendors, consulting firms, government agencies
                                                                  and national/international development organisations involved
The Event                                                         in the e-Government domain are encouraged to participate in
egov Asia 2006 - the international conference on e-Government,    the exhibition.
aims to provide a knowledge-sharing platform and a forum
for policymakers, practitioners, industry sleaders and            Call for Papers
academicians of Asia-Pacific nations to carry forward the         Abstract Submission:           February 28 , 2006
e-Government vision of the region and consolidate them into       Abstract Acceptance:            March 05 , 2006
actionable programme, through collaborative learning and          Full Paper Submission:          March 30, 2006
                                                                  Important Contacts
Keynote Sessions                                                  Registration:        
Eminent experts and senior government officers from various       Papers:               
parts of Asia and outside Asia will discuss the e-Government
                                                                  For Sponsorship:     
developments in their respective countries. The discussion will
                                                                  For Exhibition:      
include but not limit to the following topics:
                                                                  For General Information:
•   e-Government trends in Asia
•   e-Government strategies of Asian countries                                   Submit abstract online at
•   Leadership reflections in e-Government                         
Keynote sessions
Eminent experts from the education
system and senior government
officials from various part of Asia
                                                                                                  April 25 - 28, 2006
and outside will discuss debate the
current policies and trends in ICT    Education and training are the foundation of global competitiveness. There is increasing evidence
in education in their respective      that education and skill levels of human resource are significant determinants of success or
countries. This discussion will       failure of human resource-led strategy of a knowledge society in a globalised world. In recent
include the following broad           years, several countries in East and Southeast Asia have embarked on creation of globally
themes-                               competetive human resource through national education strategies with a focus on integrating
                                      ICT in education at all levels. However countries are still in different stages of this integration,
    National ICT and Education
                                      coping with challenges of infrastructure and implementation.
    ICT in Education trends in        The conference
    Asian countries                   Digital Learning Asia aims to take stock of the progress of the South and East Asian countries
    Best Practices in ICT in          in utilising Information and Communication Technologies to enhance the quality and reach of
    Education in Asia                 education with a focus on building a human capital that responds to the needs of a globalised
                                      world. The conference will provide a platform for policymakers, practitioners, industry leaders
Sessions                              and academicians to showcase best practices, share experience, knowledge and perspective
The conference will focus on the      and learn from exploring solutions to meet challenges of integrating technologies in all level of
following board thematic sessions-    education as well as introducing technology education at all level. The conference will provide
    Public private partnership in     a forum for showcasing and learning from best practices, explore solutions to meet challenges
    ICT in education                  and discuss issues and strategies for best utilising the potential of ICT in education.

    Technologies for education        Exhibition
    and training                      Digital Learning Asia 2006 will have an exhibition of latest e-solutions, services, initiatives and
    Education of informatics and      case studies from across Asia and beyond. Professional service providers, IT vendors, consulting
    communication technologies        firms, government agencies and national/international development organisations involved in
    Online teaching and learning      the ICT in Education domain are encouraged to participate in the exhibition.

    Distance education/learning
                                      Call for Papers
    e-learning in classrooms
                                      Abstract Submission:         February 28 , 2006
    Instructional design and e-       Abstract Acceptance:         March 05 , 2006
    learning content                  Full Paper Submission:       March 30, 2006
    Monitoring and evaluation of
    ICT in education                  Important Contacts
    Quality standards in e-content
    Future trends in e-learning
We welcome new themes/session         Exhibition:        
ideas.                                General Information:

                                                 Submit abstract online at
                                               Organizers’ profile

Organisers                                                               The Centre for Good Governance
                                                                                                                   The Centre for Good
Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies                                                                  Governance (CGG)
                  Centre for Science, Development and Media                                                        was established by
                  Studies (CSDMS) is a leading Asian non-                the Government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP) in October, 2001 to
                  governmental institution engaged in                    help it achieve the State’s goal of transforming governance.
                  advocacy, research and community building              CGG undertakes action research, provides professional advice
in e-government, ICT for Development and knowledge man-                  to, and conducts change management programmes for
agement issues through capacity building and media initiatives.          government departments and agencies to help them implement                                                            their reform agenda successfully. CGG works closely with
                                                                         policy-makers like Ministers, senior officials, management
                                                                         experts, institutions and other stakeholders, especially citizens
GIS Development Pvt. Ltd.
                                                                         towards ushering in a caring government centered on the
           GIS Development strives to promote and propagate              people.
           the usage of geospatial technologies in various areas
           of development for the community at large. It remains
           dedicated to foster the growing network of those              The University of Malaya, Faculty of Economics and
interested in geo-informatics worldwide and Asia in particular.          Administration                                                                 UNIVERSITI MALAYA, the first University of the
                                                                                        country, was established on 8 October 1949 as a
                                                                                        national institution to serve the higher education
Co-Organisers                                                                           needs of the Federation of Malaya and Singapore.
                                                                                        The University of Malaya grew out of a tradition
Danish Technological Institute (DTI), Denmark
                                                                         of service to the society - to help lay the foundations of a
                              The Danish Technological Institute
                                                                         new nation by producing a generation of skilled and
                              (DTI) is one of the oldest
                                                                         educated men. The University motto, “Ilmu Punca Kemajuan”
                              technological institutes in the
                                                                         (Knowledge is the Key to Success) reflects the philosophy of
world. DTI has successfully carried out a projects like BEEP (Best
                                                                         the University in its constant endeavour to seek knowledge
e-Europe Practices), PRISMA (Providing innovative service mod-
                                                                         in all fields to produce successful graduates and a successful
els and assessment).

Supporting partners                                                      UNIVERSITI TEKNOLOGI MARA
SEAMEO                                                                                               MARA College was officially
               The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education                                            renamed Institut Teknologi MARA
               Organization (SEAMEO) was established on 30                                           (ITM) on 14 Oktober 1967. Its
               November 1965 as a chartered international                establishment came as a response to a crucial need in the country
               organization whose purpose is to promote                  of Malaysia for trained manpower in the professional and semi-
               cooperation in education, science and culture in          professional levels. In August 1999, the then Prime Minister of
the Southeast Asian region. The vision is to have a dynamic, self        Malaysia, Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad announced the
reliant, strategic, policy-driven and internationally recognized         change of name of ITM to Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM).
regional organization for strengthening regional understanding           With this acknowledgement from the government, a major
and cooperation in education, science and culture for a better           restructuring exercise was carried out in order to consolidate
quality of life.                                                         the University’s resources for optimum productivity.                                                 

                                                   egov Asia 2006 & DL Asia 2006 Secretariat
                                        Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS)
                                                     G - 4, Sector-39, NOIDA - 201 301, India
                                               Tel: +91-120-2502180 to 87, Fax: +91-120-2500060
                           URL:, E-mail: info@egovasia,net,
Vol. IV No. 1               January 2006

           Information for development
         w w w . i 4 d . c s d m s . i n

                                                              Solutions and Tutor Vista get ready to tap          planning to venture into the US market.
                  Agriculture                                 this market.                                        It expects 225 schools on an average to
                                                                 With broadband services getting cheaper          have 10 class rooms running Smart–Class.
       e-Farmer call centre launched                          and students turning tech savvy, online             Presently, the company is reaching over 1
       in Uttar Pradesh                                       tutoring is fast turning mainstream, giving         lakh students in various states in India.
                                                              the friendly-neighbourhood coaching                        
       ATNC Info-solution Company has
                                                              centres a run for their students. In order to
       launched an e-Farmer call centre for the
                                                              popularise the concept, while institutes such
       rural community in western Uttar Pradesh.
       Supported by NABARD, State Bank of India
                                                              as Career Launcher are collaborating with           Taking ICT to remote schools
       and others, this initiative is a part of the e-
                                                              broadband service providers to expand their         in Bhutan
                                                              reach, others such as the Hyderabad-based
       Farmer technology project that the company                                                                 The department of information
                                                              TIME institute is going in for direct tie-ups
       is working on.                                                                                             technology in Bhutan through a
                                                              with 800 engineering colleges in the SEC B
           ATNC, operating in the domains of Agro-                                                                government of India funded programme
                                                              and C towns to provide coaching for entrance
       & Rural- Informatics, provides complete                                                                    has started distribution of 300 computers
                                                              exams such as CAT and GRE.
       end-to-end IT solutions for rural                                                                          to the 100 selected schools from December
       community addressing the need to build                                                                     19, enabling hundred remote community,
       cost-effective, user-friendly, IT-based                                                                    primary and lower secondary schools
       systems.                                                                                                   around the country to learn the basics of
                                                              10,000 Nigerians to benefit                         computers when the 2006 academic
                                                              from IT programme                                   session begins.
                                                              Poised to eradicate IT illiteracy in Nigeria,           Each school will get three computers,
       Digital revolution in                                  over 10,000 Nigerians are to benefit from           a printer, free Internet and maintenance
       Agriculture                                            NIIT computer training programme in all its         for a year. This week 25 teachers from the
                                                              centres spread across the country.                  remote schools around the country
       US chipmaker AMD Inc has tied up with
                                                                 This number is in addition to over 130,000       completed a 10-day training in basic
       National Spot Exchange for Agricultural
                                                              Nigerians from all walks of life who have           computer operations in Phuentsholing.
       Produce to provide the latter its Personal
                                                              enjoyed such opportunities. Nigeria is joining      Many of them had not touched a computer
       Internet Communicators to help connect
                                                              other countries to train over 500,000 people,       in their life.
       over 7,500 agricultural produce marketing
                                                              which is in continuation of the mission set               
                                                              out by NIIT of bringing people and
          This tie-up will offer an affordable
                                                              computers together successfully.
       computing solution, including broadband
       connectivity and pre-installed software to
       farmers, sellers, traders and buyers in the
                                                                                                                  500 Judges get computing
       nationwide agricultural supply chain.                  Educomp targets 5 lakh                              skill in Rwanda
                 students, extends to all Indian                     A total of five hundred provincial
                                                              Languages                                           judges and court clerks from different
                 Education                                    Educomp Solutions Ltd, a technology                 provinces of Rwanda recently concluded
                                                              enabled education solution provider, is             a two-month basic computing skills
       Online coaching zooming into                           planning to expand its ‘Smart– Class’ project,      course from their respective provincial
       Indian tutorial market                                 an educational infrastructure project with          centres.
                                                              digitilised content, being offered in 10 local         The officials were taught basic
       Tutorial centres are now going online as               languages now, to almost all the other Indian       computing skills like Microsoft Word,
       education-service providers such as Career             languages too.                                      Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and how to use
       L auncher, Triumphant Institute of                        The company, digital content provider for        the Internet.
       Management Education (TIME), Educomp                   K12 (Kindergarten to class 12), is also                             

       January 2006 |                                                                                                                     27
The i4d News

‘SBI Tiny’, the no frills                                                                           e-Auction quota of coal gets
                                                                                                    two time increase
account for rural Indians                                                                           The Government of India has doubled the
                                                                                                    quota of coal for consumers under
                 State Bank of India (SBI) is launching a ‘no frills’                               e-Auction route during the current
                 bank account exclusively for rural people in the                                   financial year.
                 country.                                                                              The ministry of coal has permitted Coal
                    The scheme will enable villagers to start a                                     India Ltd (CIL) to offer another 10 million
                 bank account with deposit amount as low as Rs                                      tonne of coal for consumers under e-
50. Termed ‘SBI Tiny’, the account can be maintained with zero                                      Auction during the current financial year
balance. This deposit scheme will be available to all daily wage                                    taking up the total coal released under the
earners or those with monthly income below Rs 5,000. It will                                        new route to 20 mt.
carry interest as applicable to savings accounts, which is currently 3.5 per cent. The bank may,         
at a later date, consider ATM cards based on biometric access, depending on the business
volumes. SBI has over 4,000 rural branches across the country.
                                                                                                    e-Encyclopedia on Indian
Microsoft to push                                Southern Indian police                             traditional medical
e-Governance in India                            launches Web log                                   knowledge
Microsoft is to invest US$1.7 billion in India   In keeping with the policy of the Karnataka
                                                                                                    With help from software engineers and
and also partner the government of India         Government in India to implement
                                                                                                    patent examiners, some 100 doctors,
in pushing e-Governance through National         e-Governance in the day-to-day
                                                                                                    practitioners of ayurveda, unani and
Institute for Smart Governance (NISG).           administration to the maximum extent, the          siddha, ancient Indian medical systems, are
    Microsoft has signed agreements with         Dakshina Kannada District Police has               putting together a 30-million-page
the government’s Indian Computer                 launched its official Web log (blog).
                                                                                                    electronic encyclopaedia of India’s
Emergency Response Team (CERT-In)                   Important matters relating to the
                                                                                                    traditional medical knowledge, the first of
and the NISG, the 49 per cent government-        district police would be regularly posted on
                                                                                                    its kind in the world.
owned non-profit company that promotes           the blog. The blog can be accessed on http:/
                                                                                                        The US$2m project, christened
e-Governance in India. The e-Governance          / With this, authentic           Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, will
agreement would enable Microsoft and             and official information of the department
                                                                                                    roll out an encyclopedia of the country’s
NISG to create a new class of applications       can be given to the press and the people
                                                                                                    traditional medicine in five languages -
and solutions that focus on optimising the       swiftly, to which all can easily access.
                                                                                                    English, French, German, Japanese and
delivery of government services in identified          Spanish - in an effort to stop people
areas. Two new innovation centres, both
                                                                                                    from claiming them as their own and
tie-ups with the NISG in New Delhi and                                                              patenting them.
Hyderabad, are also to be set up by                   e-Commerce/e-Banking                                          
Microsoft. Microsoft will conduct pilot
projects on workflow automation in               New Gen ATMs to auto-clear
government, e-Governance solutions and           cheques                                                    Livelihood
smart cards in these two centres.
                                                  In India intelligent deposit of the cheques
                                                 is just round the corner with which cheques        A call centre now for
                                                 deposited through ATMs would be                    blinds in India
Intel making computer for                        automatically cleared by the clearing house
                                                                                                    The non-governmental organisation, Late
                                                 on the basis of digital image of cheque
e-Governance                                     scanned and transferred by the machine
                                                                                                    Vasantrao Sule Medical and Charitable
                                                                                                    Trust, is launching a call centre in India
World-renowned chipmaker, Intel, has             to the respective bank.                            that will employ only unemployed visually
developed community-based computer,                  RBI has agreed to allow it to be
                                                                                                    impaired youths.
which would be used by the Government            implemented in national capital regions of
                                                                                                        The call centre will cater to the needs
of India for e-Governance purposes.              the country during the middle of year 2006.
                                                                                                    of unemployed youths by providing
    These special computers are being            Banks from the public sector and the private
                                                                                                    information about jobs available in Mumbai
tested in 20 villages across the country. The    sector have given a positive response to new
                                                                                                    and Thane. To be called Blindline, it would
local Indian companies like Wipro, Zenith        technology expressed keen interest in
                                                                                                    initially be a placement helpline. This is
and HCL would act as Intel vendors and           adopting it. India has over 21,000 ATMs
provide these community PPPs to the                                                                 one of the 50 projects which the charity
                                                 in the field and its growing at an
government. The Centre aims to use this                                                             organisation has undertaken to provide
                                                 annualised rate of nearly 25 percent.
computer to expedite land revenue related                                                           self-employment to the physically
                                                 Intelligent deposit of currency note is
work and issue license, like e-Seva services                                                        challenged youths. It is being launched on
                                                 another new feature that is expected to
in Hyderabad.                                                                                       December 12 in Mumbai.
                                                 hit the market next year.

28                                                                                                                                 i4d | January 2006
                                                                                                                                      The i4d News

Microsoft to add 3,000
professionals over the next 3                            HCL to preload regional
yrs in India
Global software giant Microsoft will
                                                         language interface on PCs
increase its headcount in India by 3,000                 In a bid to drive PC usage among non-English speakers, HCL
over the next three to four years.                       Infosystems would preload Indian language interface across
   It has 4,000 professionals in India today,            all its PC brands, including Beanstalk, Ezeebee and Busybee.
which will be increased to 7,000 over the                     Developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced
next three to four years.                                Computing (C-DAC), the offering initially is in Tamil, Hindi
                                                         and Telugu. Similar efforts are on to develop software tools,
                                                         utilities and applications in other Indian languages also.
HCL top ICT employer in UK
HCL Technologies Ltd’s offshore arm,                     acted as a powerful recruiting sergeant for        an Internet search engine. Users will be
HCL Great Britain has been named as one                  the blogging community.                            able to vote on which answer is the best for
of the top information and communication                    In recent months, the stalwarts of the          each question. The free service may help
technology (ICT) employers in the UK by                  Ethiopian blogging world, chief among              Yahoo, the No. 2 Internet search engine
Corporate Research Foundation (CRF).                     them ethiopundit, have been joined by a            behind Google, lure more users and sell
    HCL Great Britain is ranked alongside                whole range of online upstarts, among              more advertising.
leading ICT companies such as Tesco and                  them Weichegud! ET Politics, Satisfy My         
Nokia. Within UK shores, HCL owns and                    Soul (Ego) and Friends of Ethiopia, all of
operates the Apollo BPO center in Belfast                whom use the conveniently free and
and a delivery center at Armagh, Northern                anonymous Blogger platform for their                      Telecommunication
Ireland (UK), making it the only Indian IT               online musings. One website doing its best
company with local investments in facilities.            to keep track of the new explosion is              Telcos target rural India
                  BlogAfrica, which lists the entries of around
                                                                                                            Global telecommunication giants are
                                                         100 of the best-read African blogs from
                                                                                                            gearing up to take a deep plunge into the
                                                         Cairo to Cape Town.
                                                                                                            domestic rural segment.
SA launches database for                                                  
                                                                                                               Handset majors like Motorola and Nokia
unemployed graduates                                                                                        and infrastructure provider Alcatel, and
Over 20 companies in South Africa have                                                                      Indian companies such as Reliance
pledged to enroll more than 4 000 graduates
                                                         Now chat sessions can also                         Infocomm and Tata Indicom have already
next year. This has emerged during
                                                         become error-free                                  taken the first step to venture into the
government’s launch of the Unemployed                    Chennai-based Aspire Systems can now               unchartered territories. India has more than
Graduate Placement Initiative (UGPI), a                  help keeping the chat sessions error-free          6.34 lakh villages, of which Uttar Pradesh
database set to link unemployed graduates                by avoiding pitfalls like a spelling or            with over 1.2 lakh villages and Bihar
with possible employers.                                 grammar mistake. This will be done with            (77,697), Madhya Pradesh (76,220),
   The database is managed by the                        IMSpellCheck, developed recently for a             Orissa(51,057), Maharashtra (43,025) and
Umsobomvu Youth Fund, a youth body                       customer who wanted to capitalise on the           West Bengal (40,889) are on the top of the
that is aimed at promoting job creation and              lack of spell check on commonly used               strategy for the rural foray.
skills development among young South                     Instant Messenger applications such as                  
Africans between the ages of 18 and                      MSN Messenger, AOL and Yahoo.
35.Companies will be able to place                          This product checks the spelling
advertisements on the Internet portal                    mistakes and grammatical errors when we            Cell phone users on wait list
directly but will have to register first.                type in Instant Messengers and also
                                                                                                            Cellular uptake in India is picking up so
                           intelligently corrects them. It can be
                                                                                                            rapidly that operators now have a waiting
                                                         downloaded from
                                                                                                            list. While Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has
                                                                                                            reported over 1.4 million subscribers on its
           Technology                                                                                       waiting list, private cellular operators admit
                                                                                                            to not being able to offer connections to
Ethiopian bloggers find their                            Yahoo Answers for                                  everyone for lack of capacity on their
voice now                                                online queries                                     network.
In the past few months, the Ethiopian                    Yahoo! Inc., seeking to increase the                         ’s
                                                                                                                BSNL mobile waiting list is almost as
blogging scene has started to blossom.                   amount of user-generated content on its            high as its fixed line list, which has 1.6
While this is partly due to the slow but                 web sites, is offering Yahoo Answers that          million users awaiting a connection as on
sure spread of Internet infrastructure                   lets people pose questions and receive             September 2005. There are more than
across the country, another reason is the                answers from other Yahoo users.                    three million new users added by cellular
number of seismic events that have taken                    Yahoo Answers is designed to provide            operators across the country.
place since the May elections, which have                information that can’t easily be found using          

January 2006 |                                                                                                                         29
The i4d News

74 pc of ICT workforce lack                                                                                  General
formal education                                                                                     Now training schools to beat
The ‘National ICT Workforce Survey 2005’, carried out by                                             IT staff crunch
Computer Association of Nepal (CAN), shows that of the total                                         With studies projecting a shortage of skilled
ICT workforce of around 4,000, only around 1,000 have formal                                         IT professionals in the not-so-distant
ICT education from recognized colleges and universities.                                             future, IT majors have started to take
    Among those with formal ICT education, 77.2 percent                                              corrective steps. Taking a que from Infosys,
were educated in Nepal, 13.6 in India and in countries such as                                       IBM is now planning to invest in a captive
Russia, Australia, China and the US, among others, while the                                         training school to impart training to
rest have obtained training on computer operation and other                                          thousands of techies expected to join its
readymade software packages from computer institutes. According to the report, only 22.49            Indian subsidiary in the near future.
percent of the workforce is engaged in real ICT activities such as programming, software and             This will be first instance of a
hardware development, networking and animation compared to around 71.28 percent in                   multinational opening a campus here
professions such as teaching, training, secretarial jobs and other ICT related activities.           although it is a common practice for US
                                                              companies. The Infosys centre at Mysore
                                                                                                     has facilities to train close to 10,000
Grey telecom market players                      connect with the compatible device. Press           employees each year. Though in the
in India make losses Rs 458-cr                   the messaging key on the keyboard and               drawing board, the IBM school is expected
                                                 the messaging window immediately opens              to be large as the company has big plans
The department of telecommunications                                                                 for its Indian operations. Besides expanding
                                                 on the phone.
(DoT) figures that Grey market operators                                                             its in-house training, the company has
in the telecom sector have caused the                                                                launched a programme to get a greater
country losses amounting to Rs 458 crore                                                             number of women to join the tech sector.
since 1998.
                                                 Solar power for better rural                        Currently, women constitute 24% of IBM’s
    Over 60 per cent of the revenue losses
have been reported from Delhi and
                                                 cell phone access                                   global workforce, the company wants to
                                                                                                     double it in the next 5-10 years.
Maharashtra, with violations to the tune         Siemens Communications has developed
of Rs 290 crore. Grey market frauds of           a solar-powered base station for
about Rs 60 crore had been registered in         cellular network operators operating
Andhra Pradesh, followed by Tamil Nadu,          in remote areas of Africa that lack                 IT, BPO exports to earn
Karnataka and Gujarat at Rs 36 crore, Rs         electricity supplies. The first base station,
                                                 in Chiringa, Malawi, has been supplied to
                                                                                                     US$60 bn by 2010
35 crore and Rs 15 crore respectively. These
six states also accounted for over 95 per        Celtel, which operates in 13 African                IT and BPO industry representatives have
cent of revenue losses through illegal           countries. Cellular base stations were              called for creating 10-12 integrated
telecom set-ups. The department has set          usually powered from the electricity grid           townships like Gurgaon and Pune to keep
up dedicated CBI cells in the four metros        with a diesel-powered generator as a back-          India’s fast growing achievements from
in addition to Vigilance and Telecom             up in case of power cuts.                           falling in the infrastructure ditch.
Monitoring cells in Delhi, Mumbai,                                         Releasing the new Nasscom-McKinsey
Hyderabad and Chennai, to mitigate grey                                                              report, they said that IT and BPO sectors
market activities.                                                                                   would earn $60 billion in exports by March
       Now wireless communication                          2010, about 7% of GDP, up from 3% at
                                                 for vehicles                                        present. About a million jobs in these
                                                                                                     sectors are projected to be generated near
                                                 General Motors demonstrated a vehicle-
                                                                                                     Tier-I cities (Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad,
        Wireless                                 to-vehicle (V2V) wireless communication             Chennai and Mumbai) and about six lakh
                                                 system that alerts when a collision is              in other towns across the country.
Nokia releases wireless                          imminent.
keyboard                                             The automaker equipped regular
                                                 Cadillac STS sedans with wireless and
Writing text messages, e-Mails, meeting
                                                 Global Positioning System antennae and
and calendar notes quickly and efficiently
                                                 computer chips that allow the cars to
on the easy-to-use portable, wireless
QWERTY keyboard now makes this the
                                                 communicate with other vehicles with                 For daily news on
                                                 similar equipment. The wireless technology
perfect tool for the mobile wireless office.
   The Nokia Wireless Keyboard connects          in one car detects the presence of the other               ICT4D
                                                 two Cadillacs and avoids collisions by either
via Bluetooth to compatible Nokia Series
60 Bluetooth enabled mobile phones, like         alerting the driver of danger or by                      log on to
                                                 automatically stopping the vehicle in an
the Nokia 6600, Nokia 6260, Nokia 6630
and Nokia 7610. Simply pair the two              emergency.                                 
devices, then turn on the keyboard and                  

30                                                                                                                                  i4d | January 2006
   A SHA

Technology prospect in
farm sector
                                           Introduction                                       • Inadequate awareness of various national,
  The provision of                         It is due to the lack of knowledge/                  state and other expert R & D, training,
                                                                                                and other institutions for networking
  agri-business                            information viz., weather, market, schemes,
                                           events, State policies and others, most of our       and synergy collectively;
                                                                                              • Lack of opportunity to share the success
  services through                         farmers are failing to reap the benefit of their
                                           hard work in terms of sustainable farm               stories/valuable experience.
  CICs has been                            income. Though there is a great demand for
                                           these services there is no service provider        Farmers
                                                                                              • Inadequate awareness of latest production
  named as Asha as it                      hither to. Paradox is, the same information/
                                           knowledge is available with different                practices, technologies available, trainings
                                                                                                offered, schemes available etc;
  has shown a ray of                       agencies and access and reach to the masses
                                           is the problem being faced currently.              • Inadequate awareness of weather and
                                                                                                market price information resulting in loss
  hope to all                              Looking at the great demand of specified
                                           information and services and their impact            in produce/value;
                                                                                              • The cost of contacting the nearest ADO/
  stakeholders of farm                     on farmer’s household incomes and farm
                                           economy in general, a web portal http://             VLEW/agriculture functionary every
                                                                                                time is becoming costly;
  sector.                         enriched with
                                           useful information/under one umbrella and          • Poor inter personal communication with
                                           aimed at marketing farmers, functionaries,           department functionaries;
                                           scientists, traders and the NGOs on user           • Lack of opportunity/right forum to share
                                           fees basis to derive benefit from the portal         the success stories/valuable experience;
                                           through Community Information Centres              • The problem of spurious inputs – seeds,
                                           (CICs) set up in each block of North Eastern         pesticides etc. are causing great loss to
                                           States of India in the partnership of GOI,           farmers.
                                           has been developed. The provision of Agri-
                                           Business services through CICs has been            Scientist
                                           named as Asha as it has shown a ray of hope        • A serious communication gap with the
                                           to all stakeholders of Farm Sector.                  Agriculture Department functionaries on
   Dr. Saurabh Gupta                                                                            the technology developed by them
   State Informatics Officer & Technical   Challenges in farm sector in                         resulting use of inappropriate
   Director                                north-east India                                     technologies by farmers;                      Agricultural Field Functionaries:                  • Lack of value addition to research and
                                           • Inadequate access to latest production             their access to farmers.
                                             technology of both traditional crops and
                                             about new crops being commercialised,            Traders
                                             in spite of large investment and initiative      • Difficulty in direct trading because of lack
                                             from the government for the last fifty              of information about producers;
                                             years;                                           • Compulsion to depend on middlemen.
                                           • Inadequate/lack of access to various                To meet out the challenges Asha portal is
   Mr Diganta Barman                         schemes/guidelines/project profiles              designed for farmers with the goal for
   Technical Director,                       offered by various Government                    improving their farm income on sustainable
   NIC Assam                                 institutions, in spite the initiative from       basis, to make CICs sustainable and to
                                             the government;                                  convert them as rural knowledge centre for
                                                                                              farmers, government functionaries,

January 2006 |                                                                                                         31
scientists, traders and the corporate sector besides providing a          Directorates - Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary,
platform for the farmers, traders, government, bank, institution          Fishery and Sericulture; Deputy Commissioners, District
and private/corporate partnership for facilitating agri-business in       officers - Agriculture, Veterinary, Fishery and Sericulture,
north-east India. In the first phase, Assam, the state of blue hills      District Informatics Officer (NIC), community information
and red rivers, has been selected for its implementation. It can be       centres, Agriculture Development Officers, PRIs, VLEWs,
replicated in other states of north-eastern states of India.              NGOs, SHGs etc.
                                                                       • Presence of a highly reliable delivery mechanism viz. community
Objectives of ASHA                                                        information centre with resources viz. computers, satellite link,
• Building up of resources;                                               uninterrupted power system, infrastructure along with two
• Capacity building;                                                      efficient technical persons. So no need for additional investment.
• Facilitate in establishing direct link between line departments,     • CICs linkage with National ICT backbone through VSAT based
  research institutions, scientist, corporate/private sector with         network.
  farmers;                                                                 The concept of marketing the contents of portal is new. It will
• Facilitate in establishing direct link between buyers and sellers    create new avenues in entrepreneurship in content marketing and
  and reduce time and hassles;                                         hence will create employment opportunity to rural educated youths
• Delivering market services in demand among the farmers;              in opening up more cyber cafes in villages.
• Developing agro-business sector;                                         The Asha services, comprising knowledge and project
• Creation of new livelihood and employment avenues in farming         profiles, will augment livelihood and employment opportunities in
  sector;                                                              the rural areas. Since there are several stake holders in the exercise,
• Bridging the gap between employer and unemployed youth               any laxity from any one stakeholder may affect the exercise.
  through rural employment exchanges as a part of Asha;                In view of the SWOT analysis, a comprehensive structure for services
• Coverage of informal rural farm and non-farm sector;                 needs to be offered to stakeholders and the model of delivery has
• Development of entrepreneurship in farming sector;                   been designed.
• Improvement of rural economy.
                                                                       Services offered using Asha
SWOT analysis                                                          Two types of services are being offered by Asha: telephonic services
Strength                                                               and walk in services.
• Involvement of several competent stakeholders viz. Assam SFAC,       • Telephonic Services: Service available over telephone on working
  NIC ASSC, Director of Industries and Commerce, Managing                days are: weather, market, contact numbers, R & D institutions,
  Director - Assam Infrastructure Development Corporation,               and training institutions, ask expert, Calendar etc.

32                                                                                                                             i4d | January 2006
• Walk-in Service: The web portal offers a wide variety of                 Input validation
  services viz., weather and market watch, environment issues,             Mostly security problems begin with input validation. The problem
  all schemes and their guidelines, various training institutes            of SQL injection etc can be avoided by proper implementation of
  and calendar, names and telephone number of functionaries                input validation. When input validation is performed, many
  right from the department to till grass root level. All services         applications implement input checking on the client side through
  are of great demand in rural areas but there is no supply rather         JavaScript and HTML form elements. Client side checks can have
  no one is catering of these services. It is expected that the            more usable interface and can cut down on trips to the server to
  web portal will definitely improve capacities and confidence of          check for missing or malformed input.
  both the farmers and government functionaries and ignite rural               There are two basic security problems with client side validation
  economy.                                                                 checks. The first is that while they do appear to restrict user input,
Delivery mechanism and model                                               they actually offer no security benefit at all. All client side
                                                                           checks can be easily bypassed by an attacker. The second issue is
The delivery of services will be made to all registered users through      that client side checks make it difficult to ensure that server side
CICs. The membership can be availed in prescribed ways. There              checks are in place and are implemented correctly. Most testers
are some categories of membership and the Fees structure for 2005-         will be able to exercise the client side checks, but without
06. For groups (NGOs/PPS/SHG), only the president and secretary            ‘hacking’ the application, the server side checks may not be tested.
of the group are allowed to interact/avail the services. There are         The various categories of client side validation checks are: HTML,
special offers such as (1) if an individual member enrolls ten new         Design, JavaScript.
annual members, his services validity will be increased to one more            These checks did help users input the data in a correct format.
year; (2) if a group (SHG/NGO/PPS) membership serves, validity             However, they added no value in terms of security, thus
will be increased one year for every 50 new annual members                 requirement to implement these same checks on the server to enforce
enrollment in the CIC.                                                     the security of the validation checks arises. User input is validated
    The government functionaries includes agriculture, veterinary,         on the browser whenever possible (by client scripts). Browser
fishery and sericulture department officials of all categories till        validation is faster and reduces the server load. The method
grassroots level. Free Internet browsing minimum 10 hours per              adopted to validate a form on the server is to post the form to itself,
month (maximum can be decided by the Custodian and CIC based               instead of jumping to a different pages and the user gets the error
on their income and help extended by the functionaries in marketing        messages on the same page as the form. This makes it easier to
the Asha services). Actual cost of printing will be decided by CIC         discover the error.
operator and DIO on annual basis.                                              Asha portal handles various errors as per the coding thus hereby
Technology applied                                                         safe guarding the background process from any malicious attackers.
                                                                           This is done by redirecting the erroneous pages to a known page.
Security is the major issue in keeping data safe, thus in Asha             This concept of making Asha portal, a secured portal made it a
portal, MD5 encryption technology has been incorporated                    portal with difference.
for safeguarding the password used for logging into the various
dynamic module of it. Many portals use basic authentication with           ‘Asha’ – the hope
the access files or simple web forms, combined with cookies                Implementation of ASHA services has shown a ray of
to authenticate their users and only a few of them use a HTTPS             hope as per title ‘Asha’ to the farmer, functionaries, scientists,
server to send the data. Someone sniffing packets on the                   bankers and other stake holders of farm sector for improvement
network can easily capture the passwords, and use it to gain access        in their functions. The farmers are saved of being victims of
to the accounts.                                                           dubious traders by getting the market information,
    The solution to this problem is to create a ‘hash’ of the password     even of unorganised markets by visiting community
before sending it. This hash should not be used again, a ‘seed’            information centres.
concept is used which results in a different seed each time a user             The Asha Services portal has become a unique portal in
wants to login. A seed is generated, i.e. 12345.67890 and is included      the country, offering services on five sectors of farming -
in the page where the user is being asked for his password. A copy         agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries and sericulture
of the seed is stored in the session object at the server side. When the   under one umbrella. It has become a unique portal, offering
user submits the page, a javascript calculates the MD5 hash of the         modern cultivation/management practices of a number of crops
seed and the password.                                                     and, at the same time, offering wealth of information for the attention
    The e-mail address and the hash are sent to the server. When the       of corporate and to facilitate agri-business.
server receives this data, it reads the password for the entered email         Using Asha services, community information centres are
address from the database, and calculates the hash using the seed          developing as knowledge information centres and are
which is stored in the session object. Both hashes are compared, and       becoming self sustainable. In last four months total enrollment
if they match, the user is being granted access to the site. This          of members is 3746 and revenue earned by these centres is
method is much safer than the ‘.ht access’ method, and that it is          Rs.323647, showing the interest of farmers in this new IT initiative
strong enough to operate without SSL. However, it can also be used         to meet the challenges in farm sector in far flanged area of north-
in combination with SSL to increase security.                              eastern India.

January 2006 |                                                                                                               33

“ is crucial that people
have real access to ICT”
                                                  both at the community level with existing           Marketing of rural produce is known to
                                                  networks and amongst a much wider                   become more efficient.
                                                  community, with positive impacts at the                 The area that is likely to derive
                                                  household level. Fifthly, physical capital is       maximum advantage is capacity
                                                  created by access to markets and market             strengthening of rural youth and knowledge
                                                  information.                                        sharing among local communities, especially
                                                  Has ICT proliferated the problem of ‘digital        in relation to marketing and disease control.
                                                  divide’? Can you suggest some solutions?            Disaster preparedness is another key area.
                                                  The ‘digital divide’ is a primary indicator of      How ICRISAT is encouraging ICT
                                                  unequal opportunity, separating those who           application in development sector?
               Dr William D Dar                   can access and use ICT and those who do             ICRISAT believes that rural communities
   Director General, The International Crops      not have access to technology or cannot use         are better able to cope with drought when
   Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics   it. All countries, even the poorest, are            they have access to timely information and
           (ICRISAT)              increasing their access to and use of ICT.          knowledge. The Virtual Academy for the
                                                  But the ‘information have’ countries are            Semi-Arid Tropics (VASAT) is a strategic
How would you like to define role of ICT          increasing access and use at such an                information, communication and non-
in a developing nation?                           exponential rate that the divide between            formal distance education coalition hosted
The likelihood that people in developing          countries is actually growing. Within               by ICRISAT that aims to explore and
countries can improve their lives is often        countries, all groups are also increasing their     interface ICTs with open and distance
limited not only by their lack of access to       access to and use of ICT. Here too,                 learning (ODL) so that information and
modern means of communication and                 ‘information haves’ are increasing access and       knowledge can be shared in innovative and
sources of information, but also by complex       use at such an exponential rate that the            effective ways.
network of constraints ranging from poverty       division within countries is also actually          To what extent ICT applications are fruitful
and injustice in their own societies to the       growing. For ICT to have a real impact, it is       in relation to the work of your organisation?
structure and dynamics of the global              crucial that people have real access to it.         As an international agricultural research
economic system. Access to ICT can make               The ‘digital divide’ can be bridged when        centre, our organisation is mandated to
major difference in a developing nation. ICT      factors such as physical access, appropriate        produce and disseminate international
impacts on human capital development              technology to suit local conditions,                public goods, and ICT-based tools and
through improved access to education and          affordability, capacity, relevant content,          methods have for long been used in my
training via distance learning programmes         integration, socio-cultural factors, trust, legal   organisation. An example is the information
and education tools and their transfer to         and regulatory framework, local economic            on plant genetic resources held in trust by
remote locations. Secondly, natural capital       environment, etc are tackled. There is also         ICRISAT on behalf of the global community.
is enhanced by greater access to institutions     the need to build capacity among the local          Information on these resources is effectively
dealing with different aspects of natural         users in making use of ICT to access relevant       disseminated using ICT. Map products and
resource management and sharing of                information. That should be fulfilled as well.      data on village level studies are other
experiences with other individuals and            Which development sectors have higher               examples.
communities to develop local solutions to         potential to apply ICT for its remarkable               Agricultural extension is an important
problems. Thirdly, supporting and                 progress?                                           area for improving food security of rural
strengthening local financial institutions to     From a series of studies carried out in India,      communities in the rainfed areas of the
improve the provision of information on           it emerges that access to information on            tropics. This sector can derive benefits from
services and facilities available, can lead to    public services is a key area that will derive      emerging ICT applications. Our VASAT
better financial capital. Fourthly, social        maximum advantage. Health-related                   programme is an example of how we intend
capital accrues with improved ‘networking’        consultations are known to get a boost.             to use ICT to help our ultimate clientele.

34                                                                                                                                  i4d | January 2006
                                                                                                                     January 2006

                                                                      ICTD Project Newsletter
                                                                                          the ICT-enabled route to achieving Good
                                                                                          Governance. It may be called as ‘i-
                                                                                          Governance’ – integrated governance
                                                                                          since it integrates both processing and
                                                                                          communication technologies, and also
                                                                                          integrates       people,        processes,
                                                                                          information, and technology in the
                                                                                          objective of achieving governance
                                                                                             Recently the Right to Information Act
                                                                                          has been introduced in India “to provide
                                                                                          for setting out the practical regime of
                                                                                          right to information for citizens to secure
                                                                                          access to information under the control
                                                                                          of public authorities, in order to promote
                                                                                          transparency and accountability in the
                                                                                          working of every public authority, the
                                                                                          constitution of a Central Information
                                                                                          Commission and State Information
                                                                                          Commissions and for matters connected
                                                                                          therewith or incidental thereto”. But the
                                                                                          very basic problem of decentralised self
                                                                                          governance is the existence of wide gap
                                                                                          between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.
                                                                                          Lack of quality information flow from
                                                                                          the upper tiers to the people at
                                                                                          Panchayats or vice versa is a major issue
                                                                                          in rural development. The Panchayats,
‘i-Governance’- the ‘DRISTI’ way                                                          thus need to play the role of ‘information
                                                                                             ICT has the potential to contribute to
Decentralisation aims at associating        (panchayats) and urban local bodies
                                                                                          fostering       empowerment            and
people with the government to the           (municipalities)) in 1992 widened the
                                                                                          participation and making local
maximum possible extent. In India, the      democratic base of the Indian polity.
                                                                                          government processes more efficient
Panchayati Raj system enables people        Within a year most of the states passed
                                                                                          and transparent by encouraging
to participate in democracy in a more       their own acts in conformity with the
                                                                                          communication and information-sharing
effective way and provides an               amended constitutional provisions. As a
                                                                                          among people and organizations, and
opportunity for rural people to plan and    result India has moved towards what has
                                                                                          within the government itself. Local need-
administer their own affairs. The           been described as ‘multi-level federalism’.
                                                                                          based information generation, Internet
introduction of the Panchayati Raj
                                            Need for ICT interventions in                 and electronic mail facility for
Institutions (PRIs) in 1959 is considered
to be an instrument of social revolution
                                            empowering local bodies                       information and knowledge sharing
                                            Good Governance is a part of the              together can create a knowledge base
in India, the idea of which is based on
                                            development process and the emergence         for the rural community. Use of ICT can
the philosophy of decentralisation. The
                                            of new ICTs has all the attributes of         bring more transparency in the
73rd and 74th Constitutional
                                            enabling this process. e-Governance is        functioning of the government and, at
Amendments (for rural local bodies

the same time, can help people                 important feature of the Panchayati Raj            There is one post of Executive
participate in decision-making processes.      System in West Bengal. A two tier system       Assistant, one post of Secretary, one post
ICT is expected to give the poor a voice       of Gram Sansad and Gram Sabhas was             of Job Assistant and one post of Assistant
to demand Government support and               established in 1992. Gram Sansads and          (Sahayak) in each Gram Panchayat.
reform                                         Gram Sabhas not only provide                   Apart from that there are also one/two
    One of the main focuses of UNDP’s          opportunities for practicing participatory     posts of group D employees, known as
Country Programme 2003-2007 is to              democracy, they also serve as forums           ‘Panchayat Karmee’ in each Gram
support capacity building of institutions      for planning, information dissemination        Panchayat. The posts of Job Assistants
of local governance for improved service       and most importantly for holding the           are being replaced by creating posts of
delivery, enhance people’s participation,      Gram Panchayat leaders to account.             Nirman Sahayak, which are filled up by
and ensure greater transparency and                                                           persons with diploma in civil
                                               Composition of Gram                            engineering.
                                               Panchayats in West Bengal
    UNDP recognises that access to                                                                At the Panchayat Samiti level there
information and a well-functioning             The members of a Gram Panchayat are            are only three posts. However, all the
justice system are prerequisites for           elected by the voters within a Panchayat       officers and the staff of the Block
poverty eradication. Therefore, these
two areas run as cross-cutting issues
through all of UNDP’s projects in the area
of Decentralisation and Participatory

Panchayat system in West
In India, the State of West Bengal has
been the role model for grass roots
democracy, decentralisation and local
governance as it is one of the earliest
states to make a serious effort to
implement Panchayati Raj. The record
of initiatives for rural decentralisation in
West Bengal is remarkable. The
Government of West Bengal has
regularly held Panchayat elections since
1978 and it has devolved considerable          area through a secret ballot. The total        Development office work for the
powers to PRIs.                                number of such elected members of a            Panchayat Samitis in their ex-officio
    The State passed Panchayati Raj            Gram Panchayat is not less than five and       capacities. There is 1 Upper Division
legislation in 1974. This movement has         not more than thirty. Average number           Clerk, 1 Clerk-cum-Typist and 1 Peon.
been sustained even after the enactment        of elected members of a Gram Panchayat            Challenges to the PRIs in West Bengal
of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment           is 25. Amongst such elected members,           are associated with the following: (i)
Act. From the very outset and                  not less than one third will be women          improving information delivery, (ii)
particularly after the 73rd Constitutional     and members of SC/ST community are             better identification of opportunities, (iii)
Amendment, the Government of West              to be elected in the same proportion as        corruption-free access to government
Bengal has been taking several steps to        their population in that area.                 funding, (iv) professional monitoring of
bring about reforms in local governance            The District Magistrate is the ex-         development schemes, (v) minimising
aimed at ensuring greater participation        officio Executive Officer of the Zilla         time and effort wastage, (vi) improving
of people, decentralisation of planning        Parishad and the Block Development             prosperity and social infrastructure, and
functions, transfer of development             Officers is the ex-officio Executive officer   (vii) improving health services.
schemes to PRIs, increase in fund flow         of the Panchayat Samiti. This
from line departments to PRIs and              arrangement helps in better integration        Outline of DRISTI Project
providing untied funds to PRIs.                of functioning of the DM and the BDO           With the growth in the scope and span
    A system of transparency and               with that of the Zilla Parishad and the        of functioning of the PRIs it is felt that
accountability appears to be an                Panchayat Samiti respectively.                 the technique of function of the PRIs

should be modernised to deliver better       accounts keeping and performing other              Finance Commission and to meet
services to its stakeholders. The ‘citizen   statutory duties. The statutory duties             requirements of CAG for audit.
as the shareholder’ can now demand           include participatory implementation               Sub project III: This Sub project is to
information on the functioning of a          and monitoring of various poverty               facilitate government-citizen interface. It
government and may also provide              alleviation and social security                 is browser-based information bank
several inputs to the government’s           programmes, birth and death                     containing government orders, circulars,
policy-making process, while the ‘citizen    registration and issue of certificates, issue   notifications etc to facilitate Good
as a customer’ can demand better             of trade and other certificates, efficient      Governance. The objectives are as
services from local governments.             collection and management of resources,         follows:
   The DRISTI (Decentralised Rural           and GIS based information bank to build         • collection and storage of data on fund
Information Services & Technology            a sound decision support system for                management of the PRIs at the State
Initiatives) project, being implemented      people-centred planning process.                   server;
by the West Bengal State Rural                  To start with, the accounting module         • tabulation, analysis and dissemination
Development Agency (WBSRDA) and              will be integrated with other modules              of information in standard formats to
the Dept. of Panchayat & Rural               and testing will be done in 50 selected            be made available for critical appraisal
Development, Government of West              GPs of Burdwan district.                           of the civil society;
Bengal aims to strengthen rural                 Sub project 1B: This involves creation       • notifications, circulars, guidelines
decentralisation, to establish a credible    of GIS maps indicating local resources             issued by the department and case
system of fund management and                and gaps for preparation of people-                studies on best practices related to
accounting process and to disseminate        centred plans. The objectives are -                PRIs, Self Help Groups (SHG),
information for ensuring social audit.       • to create and provide thematic maps              watershed development, sanitation,
Riddhi Management Services Pvt. Ltd.,           according to user’s queries based on            public health, alternative primary
is the partner organisation and will            the attached database in a user-                education will be categorised and
assist in accomplishing the GIS                 friendly manner,                                made available through the
based Decentralised Information              • to allow instant record display of a             department’s website.
Management.                                     particular location,
                                                                                             Roadmap for project rollout
   The objectives of the project are:        • to allow users to drill down from one
                                                                                             in Burdwan District
• to build up a strong MIS for                  map to another related map and scale
   monitoring the fund management and           up and down from district map to             The Project will be implemented at 20
   administrative functions of the three        village map,                                 Panchayat Samitis of Burdwan District
   tiers of PRIs as per new Accounts         • to allow full-fledged database                and 50 Gram Panchayats under these
   Rules,                                       manipulation through its own                 Panchayat Samitis The GIS based
• to create database on accounts as             integrated modules,                          Decentralised Information Management
   required for statutory audit by CAG,      • to allow users to generate reports of         system will be implemented at Galsi-I,
• to strengthen the delivery of civic           great variations both in graphical and       ,Galsi-II, Aushgram-II and Aushgram-I
   services by the PRIs to the rural            text formats.                                Panchayat Samitis covering 32 Gram
   people,                                      Sub project II: This sub project targets     Panchayats.
• to establish easy access to financial      creation      of    Integrated        Fund         The Decentralised Information
   information and budgetary execution       Management and Accounting System                Management Initiative (Sub-Project IB)
   by the PRIs and the civil society,        (IFMAS) at Panchayat Samiti level with          will be implemented in two phases.
• to promote a decision support system       the objectives -                                During Phase-I (first year), the Executive
   for decentralised people-centred          • to computerise the entire fund                Officer, Panchayat Samitis and selected
   planning process.                            monitoring of all Panchayat Samitis,         members of Panchayat Samitis will be
   The entire project has been divided       • to standardise the accounting system          initially trained in computer basics and
into four components: - Sub project IA,         of the two upper tiers of Panchayat          use of, GIS technology (WhizMap and
Sub project IB, Sub project II and Sub          System,                                      application of GIS) at Riddhi
project III.                                 • to exercise budgetary control,                Management Services Pvt Ltd. Social
   Sub project 1A: This sub-project is to    • to ensure financial discipline and            Sector data at Panchayat Samiti and Block
provide Gram Panchayat Management               promoting       transparency          and    level will be collected and analysed. This
System (GPMS) at Gram Panchayat (GP)            accountability,                              analysis will then be compared at the
level to enhance the efficiency in           • to create a database of accounts              block level in a Monthly Review Meeting
functioning of GP through financial             as recommended by the 11th                   and then sent to the District Planning

Committee as well as to the District          Awareness Building Programmes)               available with the Departmental
Magistrate.                                   appeared to help them reduce time,           website and also at
    During Phase-II (second year), the        increase efficiency and satisfy the
final maps prepared will then be given        ultimate      beneficiaries     through          In Sub component II, the sites are
out to BDOs/PS members, GP                    transparent        and      accountable      prepared at Panchayat Samiti level.
functionaries and job assistants for          management system. Following are the         Awareness building programmes
incorporation of the details of each and      modules those have been incorporated         have been organised for end users.
every household with a unique number          as per need assessment:                      Hardware and application software for
on these maps.                                • Income certificate                         Integrated Fund Monitoring and
    Development of GPMS software              • Residential certificate                    Accounting System at 15 sites out of
under Component 1 has already been            • Preliminary certificates for               target 20 has been installed and the rest
started. Release of version 1.0.7 (the next      identification of castes                  will be installed soon.
version which is now available for field      • Tax module                                     Application software has been
testing) based on feedback received from      • Birth Certificate                          developed to integrate the financial
the users will take place by March 2006.      • Trade license                              system of the upper two tiers of the PRI
    Development and field-testing of          • Village information bank                   system in West Bengal. Necessary
regional language version will be finished    • Death certificate                          reports for MIS have been developed
by April, 2006 and establishment of           • BPL list                                   and are now at the stage of field-testing.
connectivity will be done by July, 2006.          For Sub component-IA, the sites are          Under Sub component III, data
Inclusion of extra modules for citizen        prepared at 50 Gram Panchayats.              collection of circulars, government
centric services such as collection           Awareness building programmes have           orders, and notifications have been
of Panchayat Tax will be done by              been organised for end users. The            completed. Categorisation of the
June, 2006.                                   system study has been completed for the      document according to subjects is
    In Component 1B i.e. GIS component,       software GPMS (Gram Panchayat                scheduled to be completed shortly.
it is expected that all the GIS maps will     Management System) and the migration             Some immediate results available
be made available for decentralised           of this software from English to Bengali     from the introduction of the DRISTI
planning and monitoring at all the 35         is now in progress in association with       system are illustrated through the
Gram Panchayats in four Blocks by July        National Informatics Centre (NIC) and        diagram below:
2006.                                         Red Hat Linux. The software would be             The DRISTI project will provide an IT
    Regarding Component 3, it has been        web-based solution to cater to all the       based solution for all the major functions
estimated that the development of web-        3345 Gram Panchayat across the State         of Panchayats including micro planning
enabled interface will be finished by         West Bengal.                                 at village level and will provide updated
March, 2006; entry of categorised data            Hardware and application software        information to all the stakeholders
(orders, circulars, case studies) will get    for GPMS at 35 sites out of a target of 50   including civil society for promoting
done by July, 2006 and the system will        have been installed and the rest will be     transparency and accountability. It is
be made available to the public by            installed soon. Cash books, general          aimed at ushering in ICT-led
September, 2006.                              ledger, subsidiary cash book, receipt        development in rural West Bengal.
                                              payment accounts, bank reconciliation
Current status of the project                 book, and other related documents are        References
The project DRISTI’ is in the process         being generated through the software         •
development phase. A Needs                    only by entry of Credit and debit            •
Assessment study was conducted and the        vouchers.                                    •
results have been incorporated into the           Under Sub component IB, training of        westbengal.htm
project. As the GP and PS officials had       different officials and people’s             •
been facing difficulties in day-to-day        representatives has been completed.            WebActRTI.htm
maintenance of accounts, budgetary            Whiz-maps have been installed in four
control, monitoring of various                blocks. Data porting into maps is under
developmental schemes and also                progress. This component is being
                                                                                           NISG and i4d reserve the right to reprint
delivery of services to the citizens, the     implemented         through      partner     articles produced for the ICTD section of the
initial response to the project was           organisation         namely       Riddhi     i4d magazine and website, with due credits to
encouraging as the proposed software          Management Services Pvt Ltd. The GIS         NISG and i4d. Please write to the editor for
(as demonstrated to them during               maps of all the four Blocks are now          any request of reprints.


On the verge of 50 years
It won’t be an exaggeration if we say that Internet is one of the          Netting the info through net
greatest inventions of our time. The advent and spread of the              Libraries began automating and networking their catalogs
Internet has transformed our way of life. Internet has become              in the late 1960s independent from ARPA. The visionary
almost indispensable to perform businesses, to communicate, to             Frederick G. Kilgour of the Ohio College Library Centre
retrieve information and for for various other services. The early         led networking of Ohio libraries during the ’60s and ’70s.
Internet was used by computer experts, engineers, scientists,              In the mid 1970s, more regional consortia from New England,
and librarians. There was nothing friendly about it. There were            the Southwest states, and the Middle Atlantic states, etc
no home or office personal computers in those days, and                    joined with Ohio to form a national, later international, network.
anyone who used it, whether a computer professional or an                  Ethernet, a protocol for many local networks, appeared in 1974,
engineer or scientist or librarian, had to learn to use a very             an outgrowth of Harvard student Bob Metcalfe’s dissertation on
complex system.                                                            ‘Packet Networks’.
Entering into Internet
The Internet was the result of some visionary thinking by people in
the early 1960s. They saw great potential in allowing computers to
share information on research and development, especially in                        Internet, initially known as
scientific and military fields. It was J.C.R. Licklider of Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT), who first proposed a global network             ARPANET, was brought online
of computers in 1962. He envisioned a globally interconnected set
of computers through which everyone could quickly access data                   in 1969 under a contract let by
and programs from any site. In spirit, the concept was very much
like the Internet of today. Licklider was the first head of the computer      the renamed Advanced Research
research programme at DARPA, starting in October 1962. Leonard
Kleinrock of MIT and later University of California, Los Angeles                     Projects Agency (ARPA).
(UCLA) developed the theory of packet switching, which was to
form the basis of Internet connections.                                        The Internet matured in the ’70s as a result of the Transmission
    Lawrence Roberts of MIT connected a Massachusetts computer             Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) architecture which
with a California computer in 1965 over dial-up telephone lines            was first proposed by Bob Kahn at BBN and further developed by
that showed the feasibility of wide area networking, but, at the           Kahn and Vint Cerf at Stanford and others throughout the 70s. It
same time it showed that the telephone line’s circuit switching was        was adopted by the Defence Department in 1980 replacing the
inadequate. Kleinrock’s packet switching theory was confirmed.             earlier Network Control Protocol (NCP) and universally adopted
Roberts moved over to DARPA in 1966 and developed his plan for             by 1983. As the commands for e-mail, FTP, and telnet were
ARPANET. These visionaries along with many others are the real             standardised, it became a lot easier for non-technical people to learn
founders of the Internet.                                                  to use the Internet. The first effort, other than library catalogs, to
    The Internet initially was known as ARPANET. It was brought            index the Internet was created in 1989, as Peter Deutsch and his
online in 1969 under a contract let by the renamed Advanced                crew at McGill University in Montreal, created an archiver for
Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Charley Kline at UCLA sent the            FTP sites, which they named Archie. This software periodically
first packets on ARPANet as he tried to connect to Stanford Research       reached out to all known openly available FTP sites, list their files,
Institute on Oct 29, 1969. e-Mail was adapted for ARPANET by               and build a searchable index of the software. In 1991, the first
Ray Tomlinson of BBN in 1972. He picked the @ symbol from the              really friendly interface to the Internet was developed at the
available symbols on his teletype to link the username and address.        University of Minnesota.
The telnet protocol, enabling logging on to a remote computer, was             In 1989 another significant event took place in making the nets
published as a Request for Comments (RFC) in 1972. RFCs are a              easier to use. Tim Berners-Lee and others at the European Laboratory
means of sharing developmental work throughout community. The              for Particle Physics, more popularly known as CERN (European
File Transfer Protocal (FTP), enabling file transfers between Internet     Organisation for Nuclear Research), proposed a new protocol for
sites, was published as a Request for Comments (RFC) in 1973,              information distribution. This protocol, which became the World
and from then on RFCs were available electronically to anyone who          Wide Web in 1991, was based on hypertext, a system of embedding
used the FTP.                                                              links in text to link to other text.

January 2006 |                                                                                                              39
   The development in 1993 of the graphical browser Mosaic by           quicker speed connections and wireless connectivity. The demand
Marc Andreessen and his team at the National Centre For                 is heralding a response for these needs and it seems there will be no
Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) gave the protocol its big            limit what to ask for.
boost. Later, Andreessen moved to become the brains behind                  For the next few years, the Internet will almost certainly be
Netscape Corp., which produced the most successful graphical            content-driven. Although new protocols are always under
type of browser and server until Microsoft declared war and             development, we have barely begun to explore the potential of just
developed its MicroSoft Internet Explorer.                              the existing ones. Chief among these is the World Wide Web, with
   Internet was originally limited to research, education, and          its potential for simple on-line access to almost any information
government uses. Commercial uses were prohibited unless they            imaginable. Yet even as the Internet intrudes into society, remember
directly served the goals of research and education. This policy        that over the last two decades “The Net” has developed a culture of
continued until the early 90s, when independent commercial              its own, one that may collide with society’s. Already business is
networks began to grow.                                                 making its pitch to dominate the Internet. The big questions loom
                                                                        unanswered: How will society change the Internet... and how will
Impacts of Internet                                                     the Internet change society?
During this period of enormous growth, businesses entering the
Internet arena scrambled to find economic models that work. Free        References:
services, supported by advertising, shifted some of the direct costs    •
away from the consumer temporarily. Services such as free web           •
pages, chat rooms, and message boards for community building,           •
growth of online sales for products – all these facilitated             •
the enormous growth of Internet business. The decline in                •
advertising income spelled doom for many dot.coms, and a major          •
shakeout and search for better business models took place by the                                                                 Saswati Paik
    A current trend with major implications for the future is the
growth of high speed connections. Wireless has grown rapidly in
the past few years, and travellers search for the wi-fi ‘hot spots’
                                                                        GSN Online Shared Learning Awards
where they can connect while they are away from the home or
office. Many airports, coffee bars, hotels and motels now routinely      Global SchoolNet has announced the 2006 GSN Online Shared
provide these services, some for a fee and some for free.                Learning Awards. These awards recognise exemplary tele-
    It must be stated that Internet has brought many changes in          collaborating teachers, media specialists, and other school-based
society and economy all over the world. Today, with the vast             educators. Since 1984 the Global SchoolNet Foundation (GSN)
knowledge presented on the Internet, anyone can glean great sources      has been a leader in demonstrating and promoting online shared
of information. Now, people are getting the opportunity of on-line       (collaborative) learning. GSN’s Online Shared Learning Awards
learning through net, at the same time, they are much better             recognize global teaching champions from around the world -
informed to discuss their physical problems with doctors and experts     both new comers and pioneers. The awards seek to promote the
taking the support of Internet. Telemedicine which is the transfer of    effective use of tele-collaboration among different groups of
electronic medical data (i.e. high resolution images, sounds, live       students. This year Global SchoolNet will recognize educators
video, and patient records) from one location to another, is another     in TWO different categories:
boon to all. The way people conduct business has vastly changed         • Educators in the U.S.A. who teach within the 50 United States,
with the wide use of the Internet. Many businesses have websites           and
that provides opportunity to people to conduct business ‘on line’.      • Educators outside the U.S.A. who teach OUTSIDE the 50
This field has huge scope to grow and advance greatly in all regions       United States, including its commonwealth and
in the near future.                                                        unincorporated territories (such as Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin
    According to an estimate available at http://www.                      Islands, Guam, etc.), 20.9 per cent Internet users are           In recognition of their dedication, leadership and hard work,
from US, while 10.6 per cent are from China and 8 per cent from          selected educators will each receive a cash award of $2,500 and
Japan. From the same source, it is found that in Asia the growth of      an all expense paid trip to the National Education Computing
Internet use has increased by 34.5 per cent in last five years (2000-    Conference (NECC) in San Diego, California (July 2006). The
2005) while rest of the world has shown a growth rate of 65.8 per        finalists each receive a check for $250 and a special award plaque.
cent. These figures are encouraging although there is no scope of        If anyone knows an educator who qualifies for Online Shared
satisfaction to grow with purposive use of Internet. Internet has        Learning Award, please take a moment, nominate them by
made our life easier, faster and more efficient. This boon of ICT        January 27, 2006. Complete details are available at: http://
may act as a boost to develop further, empowering our knowledge,
sharing more information with each other.
    As with all growth there are pains to be dealt with. Users want

40                                                                                                                            i4d | January 2006
Books received
Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2005/2006                                                           opportunity index based on the information
                                                                                                    state framework and model, detailed regional
Publishers: Orbicom, IDRC, UNDP-APDIP                                                                analysis with a policy focus for countries in
Chief Editor: Chin Saik Yoon                                                                          Africa, Asia and Latin American and the
                                                                                                      Caribbean and women in the Information
Pages: 280
                                                                                                       society, which incorporates quantitative and
ISBN 983-9054449                                                                                        qualitative research to study the gender
                                                                                                        digital divide.
                     This publication, the second volume in the series                            The report’s statistical and analytical overview
                      offers valuable analysis by several specialists who   and real life illustrations of use of ICTs and female connectivity,
                       work and live in the economies that they report      makes it an important instrument in the work and future projects
                       on. While the 2003/2004 edition focused on           of the ICT policy makers, operators, investors, researchers, statisticians
                        initiatives to transform the digital divide into    and NGOs.
                         digital opportunities in 27 economies and a
                         sub region, this recent edition focuses on the
                         use of ICT for development and in building         Understanding Knowledge Societies
                     information society.
                                                                            In twenty questions and answers with the index
    It includes authoritative reports on how 29 economies are using
                                                                            knowledge societies
ICT in business, government and civil society written by senior
authors who live and work in the region, under Chief Editor Chin            United Nations publication
Saik Yoon. Four thematic chapters are included in the publication           Pages: 180
on various facets of the information society, like Building information
societies, Internet Governance, Social, Political and Cultural aspects      ISBN 92-1-109145-4
of ICT and appropriate ICT for Asia Pacific.
    Four organizations, Pan Asia Networking Progamme (PAN) of                                   Today, if some talk about ‘information society’,
International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Asia-                                     others speak about ‘knowledge society’. While
Pacific Development Information Programme (APDP) of United                                       these specific prefixes give specific directions to
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Network of                                           society alongwith bringing in confusion
UNESCO Chairs in Communications (Orbicom), collaborating in                                        between the new technology or ICT and the
this initiative as co-publishers. A free CD-ROM containing an                                      techniques of knowledge development, the
electronic version of the 2003/2004 edition is included in the                                     Report has tried to recognise the real tension
publication. A useful and authoritative source of information on                                between the two, attempting to establish how
the new infotech among countries, the review will be helpful for            governments can lead and how societies can organize for the
the ICT specialists and communication researchers.                          transformation towards knowledge society.
                                                                               The Report proposes an index of knowledge societies and makes
                                                                            recommendations for governments and political and economic elites,
From the Digital Divide to Digital                                          as well as for the business, civil society, news media and academic
Opportunities                                                               communities.
Measuring information states for development                                   Why it is important to understand knowledge society? What are
                                                                            the main drivers of a society that is defined by its ability to develop
Editor: George Sciadas
                                                                            knowledge? Submitting the detailed analysis on the hot debate on
Pages: 260                                                                  knowledge societies by answering twenty such questions, makes
ISBN 2-922651-50-3                                                          the Report a unique one.
                                                                               While Jerzy Szeremeta, the main author of the Report led the
This joint Orbicom-ITU publication launched in the context of               content research, the Report has been finalized under the direction
second phase of Tunis in November 2005 contains an overview of              of Guido Bertucci, Director of the United Nations Department of
the global trends in ICTs produced by the ITU staff.                        Economcs and Social Affairs (UNDESA) Division for Public
   This edition is based on a three-part work plan, like the ICT            Administration and Development Management.

January 2006 |                                                                                                                  41
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           Bytes for All...
           It is that time of the year, when the trials and tribulations of                   Read the story of the $100 laptop at
           the year that went by are chosen to be temporarily forgotten.                   Intel+calls+MITs+100+laptop+a+gadget/2100-1005_3-
           Old ties are renewed. New ones are strengthened. You                            5989067.html?
           make merry with friends, and enemies tend to be
           overlooked. It’s the beginning of a brand new year. As the                      Power of ICT
           world marks the 1st anniversary of the deadly Tsunami that
                                                                                           Our reader, Dipti Kulkarni raised the following interesting questions
           hit South Asia last year, we at Bytes For All look forward to
                                                                                           on the power of ICT. One: if ICT’s all over the world are being
           an eventful year and a Tsunami of ideas on our ever-
                                                                                           installed to strengthened democracy, than is the process of installing
           increasing and dynamic readers list.
                                                                                           ICT’s itself democratic? What she means is whether all stakeholders
                                                                                           involved in the process get a fair say or not. Second: What is meant
           Cheap computers: real machines or toys?                                         by “lack of information to remote communities”? Does this
           Come 2006 and schoolchildren in Brazil, Thailand, Egypt and                     information represent what the communities actually needed or
           Nigeria will begin receiving the first few million textbook style               what the proponents of ICT wanted to provide? Third: How do
           computers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)                  technocrats justify the astronomical sums of money spent on ICT,
           media lab run by Nicholas Negroponte. These small lap-top style,                when plans to sustain the infrastructure are not clearly laid down?
           hand-cranked lime-green devices runs on Open Source software                    This even includes so-called sustainable technology like community-
           (Linux), can set up their own wireless networks and are intended to             radio. Fourth: Are technocrats pulling wool over every ones eyes by
           bring computer access to areas that lack reliable electricity. Hear             accepting international funding when they are really not sure
           about “Open Source” and its bound to spark adverse reactions from               whether ICT can eradicate the problems of their societies? Fifth:
           the custodians of proprietary software. Craig Barrett chairman of               Whether the questions of digital divide are addressed in the social
           Intel Corp. has called this laptop a “gadget”. He further fuels the             context of caste, creed and gender discrimination. Dipti feels that
           debate saying, “Gadgets are not always successful”. Barrett elaborates          ICT implementation would have hugely benefited from a healthy
           that; people in developing countries would be looking for a full-               dialogue between technocrats and social scientists, and also from
           functionality computer like a regular PC, not gadgets that have to              active participation from the communities. These two things are
           be hand-cranked for power. He said that Intel would work in                     sorely missing in our scheme of plans. Lisa Thurston added to the
           providing low cost affordable full function PCs, and not handheld               question mark on ICT saying that we may be investing a little too
           devices or gadgets. This sparked off an array of opinions on our                much optimism in ICT, but at the same time if we focus too much
           readers list. Tom Brough had this to say; the price and capability of           on the negativity of ICT, than we may never be able, to take off. She
           a computer does not matter. Cheap computers do not necessarily                  too seconded Dipti’s question whether there is awareness among
           mean incapable computers. By Intel’s standards then, even our                   ICT implementers for the need for proper consultation with
           indigenous SIMPUTER would be termed a “gadget”! Does the                        recipients and beneficiaries of ICT’s. Earl Mardle of KeyNet
           Microsoft-Intel lobby sense a threat to its market? In Tom’s words              Consultancy had this to reply: He gave the example of the Jhai
           its very easy for a multi million-dollar industry representative to             Foundation, which built a PC to the specifications of the Lao
           trample on the sandcastles of a minuscule non-profit organization               communities. We can as well say that the Lao communities were the
           trying to think out real solutions for real problems, scaring them              designers of the PC, though the technological know how for the
           with conflicting parameters like price and performance. According               same may have come from scientists in the foundation. The
           to Tom we all started with computers with processing capabilities               foundations approach was based solely on human relationships.
           much, much less than what are available today. A personal computer              This in some way answers Dipti’s fifth question that there does exist
           of today may be equivalent to a super-computer of yester years!                 in some part of the world communication between technocrats and
           What is important is not how pricey or powerful a computer is, but              local communities. Coming to Dipti’s second question: Earl gave
           the opportunity that it presents to the user to learn new skills. In            the example of the Jhai Foundation’s coffee production and
           that sense a “gadget” too is a powerful machine because it has the              marketing project. Where it involved taking an existing resource
           ability to tickle the gray cells. Terry King added that obsolete does           and applying new skills and networks to increase its value to the
           not necessarily mean “useless”. He gave the example of a version of             local community. Due to the success of the above two projects of
           Linux called UBUNTU, which ran as a complete operating system                   the Jhai Foundation, the local communities came to trust the
           on even an old PII machine. Satish Jha provided the balancing                   technocrats. Earl feels that local communities already know their
           comments. MIT’s $100 laptop is fine, because it passes the moral                needs, they do not have to be imposed with views on “what they
           test of providing cheap computing power to the developing world.                need” by ICT implementers. They require someone who will listen
           However we do not have to get carried away by morality that “what               to what they have to say, and genuinely help them technologically
           is cheap is good”. But rather focus on whether “what is free is                 to satisfy their “needs”. According to Earl, what ICT implementers
           supported” or not. Guess, the perpetual war between “open source”               need to make their interventions works are, humility, curiosity and
           and “proprietary” is far from over.                                             a willingness to learn. Without those, we are designing for failure.

           42                                                                                                                                           i4d | January 2006
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                                                                                                                      Bytes for All...
                 Ananya Guha of IGNOU also concurred with Dipti’s views that                   to the propagation of true scientific temper in the society”. Jha
                 there should be a dialogue between technocrats and communities.               concluded saying that, regression in SL’s has to stop because huge
                 She opined that that we should not get carried away with operating            investment in R&D is made by the govt. every year. Its time SL’s
                 ICT at the grass root level. She also pointed out at the aspect of            access where India stands technologically compared to the rest of
                 “technology appropriateness”. I.e. which technology should be used            the world. Chart out a course and march forward. In conclusion
                 where? Subbiah Arunachalam of IGNOU opined that some of the                   one would say, India and any developing nation does not need a
                 key actors in ICT for development are not necessarily techno-savvy.           white elephant; it needs a scientific laboratory that delivers.
                 What is required is vision and insight. And there exist organizations
                 like IDRC and SDC who undertake ICT only after careful study.                 Happenings
                 It’s not fair to dismiss all technocrats as too bullish with no knowledge
                                                                                               • Nepal: NepaLinux, a complete Nepali language operating system
                 of ground realities! Satish Jha was of the view that unsuccessful ICT
                                                                                                 has been released. It is open source software and is developed
                 projects are seldom because there was no dialogue between social
                                                                                                 and distributed by Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya under the PAN
                 scientists and technocrats. It was more because of “aid” culture
                                                                                                 Localization project with the support of IDRC, Canada. For
                 practiced by technocrats. Unless technocrats are groomed to market
                                                                                                 more information visit:, http://
                 their “product” with value added services for their customers, ICT
                 initiatives may not always succeed. Questions and more questions!
                                                                                               • India: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled an ambitious
                 For now most of Dipti’s questions remain unanswered. But as Satish
                                                                                                 Rs 1,74,000-crore Bharat Nirman programme; a “specific
                 Jha put it simply saying it’s difficult to answer the above questions
                                                                                                 financing window”, in the National Conference on Bharat
                 unless one has gone through the evolutionary cycle of ICT
                                                                                                 Nirman on 16 December in New Delhi. Read more at: http://
                 implementation oneself.
                                                                                               • Bangladesh: Bill Gates visits Bangladesh and other South Asian
                 Have scientific labs in India delivered?                                        countries with a bag of philanthropic goodies, plans for
                 Fredrick Noronha of BFA, posted an interesting item on the theme:               investment galore. Read more at:
                 “Booming Computer sector seen as a Mixed Blessing”. Many senior                 bytesforall_readers/message/7244?threaded=1
                 scientists in India felt that even though IT had prevented “brain
                 drain”, it was now acting as a “brain sink”, i.e. the cream of talent in      Announcements
                 the country opting for IT based careers, where they were paid
                 exorbitant salaries. Today’s youth no longer wanted to opt for careers        • Fellowships: One World South Asia, announces Ek-Duniya
                 in science. Top executives of the IT industry however dismissed this            Grassroots Innovation Fellowship on Technology (EGIFT).
                 concern as “disguised envy” for the IT sector. This article invited             EGIFT will support two fellowships to transform innovative
                 myriad inputs from our readers. One of our readers Mohan Das,                   technology ideas to reality - right from their concept stage to
                 seemed to agree with the point of “disguised envy”. He queried                  design, prototype development, and field-testing. Read more at
                 whether scientific institutions in post independence India had been   
                 addressing the technical issues that the country faced or had they            • First conference on next generation wireless systems next month:
                 turned into “useless, irrelevant white elephants and ivory towers               North South University (NSU) will be hosting the first Institute
                 housing self centered scientists”. Subbiah Arunachalam concurred                of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) conference in
                 saying that there was no lab-to-land and land-to-lab flow of                    Dhaka next month. Find out more at
                 knowledge. I.e. there was a communication gap between scientists                group/bytesforall_readers/message/7312
                 and communities. We are reminded of the same view echoed in the               • Telecentre experiences: Calling all telecentre enthusiasts,
                 thread “Power of ICT”. Satish Jha enlightened us with his                       managers and users. wants to hear your telecentre
                 experiences in interactions with top CSIR executives. About our                 stories! Learn more at
                 scientific labs (SL) Jha observes as follows: SL’s do not believe in            bytesforall_readers/message/7334
                 management. Trained managers do not run SL’s; rather scientists
                 climbing up the ladder run them. SL’s do not work to either national           Bytes for All:
                 or global benchmarks. SL’s do not have a clearly defined and                   Bytes For All Readers Discussion:
                 workable vision that can translate to goals, objectives and strategies         bytesforall_readers
                 that can be corrected accordingly midcourse. SL’s foster the typical           Bytes for All RSS syndication:
                 bureaucratic culture of “inertia”. They are inward looking and not
                                                                                                Bytes for All Readers Forum RSS syndication:
                 open to “change” and “judgment by others”. Those within the          
                 system who seek change are up against a dead wall, since they do               Bytes for All discussion summary compiled by:
                 not know where to begin. Bibek Kumar Anand of “SAMPADA”                        Archana P. Nagvekar, Bytes for All, India
                 echoed Jha’s views saying; “rule bound organizations are anathema

                 January 2006 |                                                                                                                     43

Tunis consensus for an
information society
   The second phase of the World Summit on the Information                   Follow-up and implementation: Tunis is not the end of the road
Society (WSIS) held in Geneva concluded on 18 Novemeber 2005             for WSIS. As the Summit of Solutions, the Tunis Agenda for the
after almost a week of intense negotiations with a credit of eight       Information Society recognises that it is now time to turn principles
plenary sessions, 308 parallel events organised by 264 organisations     into actions. For the Tunis phase of the Summit, it has also created
and 33 press conferences attracting around 19’000 participants           a so-called Golden Book listing projects announced during the
worldwide.                                                               Summit. More than 200 projects have been included to date, many
   Hailed as a resounding success by national delegations from 174       of which are multi-million dollar undertakings. The eleven Action
States and participants from more than 800 entities including UN         Lines in the original Geneva Action Plan putforth key elements in
agencies, private sector companies and civil society organisations,      the building of the Information Society. The Tunis Agenda now
the Summit was convened in Tunis to tackle the problem of the            establishes a specific list of possible moderators/facilitators for each
‘digital divide’ and harness the potential of information and            of these Action Lines. Through ECOSOC the UN Secretary-General
communication technologies (ICTs) to boost the drive of economic         will report to the General Assembly by June 2006 on the modalities
and social development. The two resultant documents of the               of interagency coordination of implementation. At the same meeting,
Summit are the Tunis Commitment and the Tunis Agenda for the             Mr.Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the Summit, will report on
Information Society which were endorsed by world leaders at the          the outcomes.
closing plenary of the Summit. Uniquely enough the WSIS was
held in two phases; in developed country and developing country.         The Dialogue continues
This has ensured that the full range of issues of the Information        The world of ICTs is characterised by fast-paced and non-stop
Society were addressed at the same time highlighting the critical        technological change. The Internet of tomorrow will look very
need to bridge the digital divide.                                       different from the Internet of today, as revealed in ITU’s new report,
                                                                         The Internet of Things, which was released at the Tunis summit.
Global agreement on crucial issues                                       The follow-up process established by WSIS contains several built-
Three key issues dominated the preparatory process leading to the        in milestones to ensure that policy review and debate continue, so
Tunis Summit are (i) Internet governance, (ii) financing strategies,     that the outcomes of the Summit can be shaped to changes in the
and (iii) implementation mechanisms for the Action Plan developed        world of ICTs.
by the first phase of WSIS in 2003, in Geneva.                               At the national level, all countries are called upon to develop
    Internet Governance: The breakthrough agreement on Internet          national e-strategies as an integral part of national development
governance brokered in Tunis acknowledges the need for enhanced          plans and poverty reduction strategies. The deadline for this action
cooperation to enable governments and is based around a number           is 2015, but many countries have already started to implement
of newly agreed principles and future mechanisms. The process of         such plans. Affordability of access is a critical part of bridging the
moving towards the enhanced cooperation will be initiated by the         Digital Divide. As tasked by the Summit, ITU will continue its
end of Q1 2006. Another important element of the Tunis output            efforts to study the question of international Internet connectivity
document is the creation of a new Internet Governance Forum              as a matter of urgency.
(IGF), to be convened by the UN Secretary-General, to foster and             The Tunis Agenda calls on ECOSOC to oversee the system-
enable multi-stakeholder dialogue on public policy and development       wide follow-up of the Tunis and Geneva outcomes. Consistent
issues.                                                                  with the reform of ECOSOC requested by world leaders at the
    Financing mechanisms: The WSIS outcome texts reaffirm the            Summit in September in New York, the Tunis output calls on
Geneva agreements that information and communication                     ECOSOC to review the mandate of the Commission on Science
technologies are a key tool in national development strategies. For      and Technology for Development, including the multi-stakeholder
that reason, financing of ICT deployment is vital in meeting the         approach.
Millennium Development Goals. The document welcomes the                      Finally, the UN General Assembly is asked to declare 17 May as
creation of the Digital Solidarity Fund. It underlines the importance    World Information Society Day. 17 May has traditionally been
of providing quality, affordable communication access to all citizens,   celebrated as World Telecommunications Day, so ITU will collaborate
and notes the inequalities that presently exist.                         in this process to give even greater magnitude to that event.

44                                                                                                                               i4d | January 2006
What’s on                                                                                            Nigeria
                                                                                                     20-22 March, 2006
                                                                                                     Role of the Media in the Development of
                                                                                                     Education in Africa
Africa                                          England
24-29 January, 2006                             21 February, 2006
World Social Forum 2006, Mali                   Community Development and Health                     Qatar           Birmingham                                           7-15 March, 2006
index.php?cd_language=2                  World Telecommunication Development
Australia                                       Germany                                              Doha
06-07 February, 2006                            09-11 February, 2006
Open Road 2006 Conference: Challenges           Digital Inequality and New Spaces of
and Possibilities, Melbourne                    Informal Education for Young People                  South Africa    Bielefeld                                            22-24 February, 2006
                                                    Conference on Knowledge Management
7-10 March 2006                                                                                      in Higher Education: A Gateway to
11th National Conference on Volunteering                                                             Excellence and Innovation in Africa
Melbourne                                       Ghana
                                                                                                     Pietermaritzburg                        14-18 March, 2006                          
                                                Global Summit On HIV/AIDS, Traditional
                                                Medicine & Indigenous Knowledge                      1-3 March, 2006
Bangladesh                                      Accra                                                ICTs for Civil Society
12-16 February, 2006                                                                                 Johannesburg
Impact of Global Issues on Women and                                                       
Children, Dhaka                                 India
                                                                                                     content&task=view&id=129&Itemid=55           Map India 2006
                                                30 January-01 February, 2006
                                                New Delhi                                            Thailand
China                                                              25 - 28 April 2006
13-16 March, 2006                                                                                    egov Asia 2006 & DL Asia
Effective Science Communication in an                                                                Bangkok, Thailand
Era of Globalisation, Beijing                   Italy
                                                                                           ,   15-17 March, 2006
                                                1st World Congress on Communication                  15-17 March, 2006
                                                for Development, Rome                                “Strengthening the Business Fabric with
Ethiopia                                                                Dynamic ICT” IDC’s Asia/Pacific CIO
23-26 January, 2006                                                                                  Summit 2006
Enhancing Equitable Livelihood Benefits of                                                           Bangkok
Dams Using Decision Support, Nazareth           Kenya
                                                                                                  23-25 February, 2006                                 Default.asp
                                                IDLELO2: Achieving Millennium
24-27 April, 2006                               Development Goals through Community
2nd International Conference and General        Software, Nairobi                                    UAE
Assembly Meeting of the African Network                       26-29 March, 2006
for Strategic Communication in Health and                                                            Map Middle East 2006
Development                                     Nepal
Addis Ababa                                     20- 25 February, 2006                                  Good Governance in Civil Society                     index.htm

                          Get your event listed here.

January 2006 |                                                                                                                        45

Reaching out to globe
WSIS and the goal                                                     • In Romania 73% of broadband subscribers use 3G technology.
• In 2003 leaders at the                                                There are still few fast networks outside the West though.
  United Nations World                                                Fat pipes
  Summit          on      the
  Information Society                                                 • When developing nations have net access, there are still gaps in
  (WSIS) agreed that by                                                 who has broadband.
  2015, more than half the                                            • Broadband means nations can run more efficiently.
  world should be in reach                                            • But just 20% of the 153m global broadband connections are in
  of the net.                                                           developing nations.
• The world is still a long                                           • China makes up 14% of those as the second largest broadband
  way from that goal.                                                   market.
• The second part of the                                              • Western nations have more access to bigger bandwidth too.
  summit in November                                                  Schools online
  2005 took stock of how far the world has come.
• There are still stark inequalities in access.                       • Fast broadband connections open up possibilities not just for
                                                                        businesses in developing nations, but also for education.
Net growth                                                            • Broadband means that the web becomes a rich multimedia
• Emerging and developed economies realise they should exploit          experience rather than a slow, text-based one.
  the net.
• It gives people a global voice, helps businesses, and is key to
• But there remain concerns over who can exploit the net’s full
• The global net population grew from 381m to 872m between
  2000-2004. Developing nations’ share of that number grew
  from 21% to 39%.

Scratch the surface
• It appears the divide between those online and those not is
• But there are more net users in Seoul than in sub-Saharan Africa.
• In fact, the annual growth rate in the number of net users has
  been dropping since 1998.
• This means the WSIS goal of 50% of the globe in reach of the
  net by 2015 is in danger.                                           • Just 38% of developing nation schools are online; only 1% in
Net in the hand                                                       • Almost all schools are online in developed countries.
• But the web is not just                                             Next steps
  about PCs plugged into
  the net.                                                            • Many feel “shock measures” are needed now to take the world
• Many in developing                                                    towards 2015.
  nations are reaping the                                             • Spreading access to broadband more equitably, particularly
  benefits of access to                                                 wirelessly, is key.
  information        and                                              • Building high-speed 3G mobile networks on top of existing
  communication via                                                     ones would help.
  mobiles. Mobile net                                                 • For this, high 3G licence fees should be eliminated, and regional
  bypasses costly physical                                              market competition is needed, say expert
                                                                                                                        Source: BBC News

46                                                                                                                        i4d | January 2006
                                                                                                                                     R O
                                                                                                                                      eg W
                                                                                                                                        is !!

                                                                                                                                          te !

                            Rural Communities      E M E R G I N G T E C H N O LO G I E S A N D B E S T P R A C T I C E
                                                                      S O LU T I O N S T O R U R A L I C T AC C E S S

                                      LE MERIDIEN RESORT & CONVENTION CENTRE
                            COCHIN, KERALA, INDIA • 30th JANUARY – 2nd FEBRUARY 2006


          HOSTED BY
Department of Telecommunications,
       Government of India

         MANAGED BY


     S P E A K E R S W I L L I N C LU D E
     Hon Shri Dayanidhi Maran, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, India
     Dr. Eun-Ju Kim, ITU Senior Advisor and Acting Head of the APAC regional office, ITU
     A. K. Sinha, Chairman and Managing Director, BSNL
     Dr. D.P   .S. Seth, Member, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
     Phuthuma Nhleko, CEO, MTN
     Hamid Farooq, CEO, Warid Telcom, Pakistan
     Dr. J. S. Sarma, Secretary, Department of Communications, India
     Prof. M. S. Swaminathan, Chairman, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)
     Tadashi Kondo, Country Director, Asian Development Bank
     Prof. Rekha Jain, Professor/Coordinator, Centre for Telecom Policy Studies, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
     Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai
     Bistamam Siru Abdul Rahman, Chairman, Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT)
     Ela Bhatt, Founder, SEWA
     Erik Aas, Managing Director, Grameen Phone Ltd.
     G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, India Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
     Mr. Amit Sharma, Cluster President, India, Thailand, Indonesia & Vietnam, Motorola
     * speakers to be confirmed

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CRC-210x270-Ad.indd 1                                                                                                                 3/1/06 11:13:16

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