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Vol. V No. 2

February 2007

The first monthly magazine on ICT4D

Technology access community centres Egyptian experience Information for development

Sustainability of telecentres Telecentres in Pakistan: A way forward

Content development for telecentres

ISSN 0972 - 804X

Communities of Practice Telecentres

Samband: ICT access for non-literate people

knowledge for change

We build

We explore

Documentation We search

We capture We cooperate We advocate


We converse We inform

We collaborate

We share


We interact We deliver

We propagate We serve

We reach out to communities

We bring change for progress


Vol. V No. 2

February 2007



Policy Guidelines Part B


Yam Pukri, Burkina Faso


39 ICTD project newsletter

Setting up community radio stations in India II

Targeted approach for sustainable telecentres Ouédraogo Sylvestre


Prosperity Through Innovation, 15 December 2006, Delhi, India Launch of the Voices for Innovation India Portal

Telecentres - the Egyptian experience




Content Development for Telecentres Samband: ICT access for non-literate people Sagun Dhakhwa, Ganesh B Ghimire, Patrick Hall, Prakash Manandhar and Ishwor Thapa



Network to consolidate rural communities N S Vasanthi

Sustainability of Telecentres


Financial Sustainability of Telecentres in Bangladesh

Telecentres in Pakistan: A way forward Salman Malik

15 19

Ashwini Telemode services: A virtual reality Ajitha Saravanan

TARAhaat ICTs in the heart of rural India Upasna Kakroo

Workshops on Euro-India ICT Cooperation Initiatives, January 2007, Pune, Hyderabad, India Euro-Indian cooperation for research funding



Evolving ‘Mobile Lady’ into ‘Info Lady’

Field Report

National Seminar on the eDistrict Mission Mode Project, 11 January 2007, Hyderabad, India Effective eGovernance for good

Agri-Telecentres, South India


Interview ICT developments in Malaysia - KTAK’s view Dato Dr Halim Man

36 45 46 

Bytes for All What’s on In Fact Variation in telecentre services

News Search ICT4D news by date in the sectors of governance, health, education, agriculture and so on. E-mail Subscribe to daily, weekly, monthly newsletters online or send request to

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Technology Access Community Centres Sherif El Tokali and Nayer Wanas

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Research e-Learning projects from India. Learn more about FLOSS Print edition The past issues of the magazine are available online

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I write to assure you that I have been receiving the magazine regularly and as matter of fact it has been very useful and educative. We enjoy your magazine but worry about your costs in mailing it to us. We would read it here if it was digital instead of the beautiful print job that you send. Timothy Anderson Executive Director, World Computer Exchange - Canada

Your wonderful magazine has been arriving here regularly. We would be most grateful if you could keep sending it to us. We are just not keeping up with the developments in this important area of communications. Our access to Internet technologies is quite limited within the country. We are hoping that access will be improved in the near future. So it is great to read about all the things that are happening in countries that are much poorer than PNG. Actually PNG is not a poor country at all - food supplies are plentiful and cheap. But we are afflicted by many development-related problems that could be better addressed by taking note of what is happening in other countries. Br Michael McManus Communication Arts Department Divine Word University, Papua New Guinea

Thank you for regularly sending us a copy of i4D magazine. It is quite a good source of information for decision-making and to follow up on developments in the field of ICT4D in the region. We would request to receive future copies of the magazine. Angelo Juan O. Ramos, Executive Director Molave Development Foundation, Inc. Makati City, Philippines

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i4d Editorial Calendar 2007 Month



Malaysian ICT for Development


eAsia Conference curtain raiser special + Communities of Practice in Telecentres


Human Rights and eAsia conference report special


Community Radio and Gender special


Promoting innovations, role of ICTs in SMEs


Lead up to GK 3 - Emerging Technologies


ICTs for livelihoods/wealth creation (BPO/KPO/Cyber cafes/Kiosks)


Government investments in ICT4D (Review of CSC, India Programme)


Lead up to GK 3 - Emerging Markets


Internet Governance


Lead up to GK 3 - Emerging Leaders in ICT4D



i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2

 Editorial Information for development

Communities of Practice in Telecentres

ADVISORY BOARD M P Narayanan, Chairman, i4d Chin Saik Yoon Southbound Publications, Malaysia Karl Harmsen United Nations University Kenneth Keniston Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA Mohammed Yunus Grameen Bank, Bangladesh Nagy Hanna e-Leadership Academy, University of Maryland, USA Richard Fuchs IDRC, Canada Rinalia Abdul Rahim Global Knowledge Partnership, Malaysia Walter Fust Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Switzerland Wijayananda Jayaweera UNESCO, France EDITORIAL BOARD Akhtar Badshah, Frederick Noronha GROUP DIRECTORS

Telecentres or village knowledge centres are taking the centrestage, thanks to the Government of India’s project-Community Service Centres, ably backed by the momentum set off by the Alliance partners of Mission 2007. The project is significant for its humungous reach, ensuring ubiquitous access to the entire country while building up the much needed infrastructure, all across the country. Not only are national level telecentre networks creating, coalescing and growing in strength, but also are sharing knowledge and experiences across countries, building a regional momentum. Case studies from many different countries provide a panoramic view of the developments in the region. In preparing for the recently held eAsia2007 conference, we have had the opportunity of reflecting on the strength of well planned and interactive telecentre networks, academics, researchers, and policy makers, as well as to learn about the scenario in Asia, largely focussed on South Asia and South East Asia.

Maneesh Prasad, Sanjay Kumar EDITORIAL TEAM Editor Ravi Gupta Editorial Consultant Jayalakshmi Chittoor Sr Assistant Editor Saswati Paik Assistant Editor Dipanjan Banerjee Sr. Research Associate Ritu Srivastava Research Associate Ajitha Saravanan Designer Bishwajeet Kumar Singh Web Programmer Zia Salahuddin

A close examination of the aspirations, up-scaling plans and the challenges that continue to confront the telecentre movement indicates not only the need to keep a development perspective in the forefront, but also to balance it with economic and social sustainability questions. Other key challenges that requires addressing include development and collation of local need based content, addressing the diverse language issues (both technical and cultural), coping with cultural and social diversities, dealing with the special needs of people with different abilities and responding to the needs of sustaining the programmes emerges.

i4d G-4 Sector 39, NOIDA, UP, 201 301, India Phone +91 120 250 2180-87 Fax +91 120 250 0060 Email Web Printed at Yashi Media Works Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, India i4d is a monthly publication. It is intended for those interested and involved in the use of Information and CommnicationTechnologies for development of underserved communities. It is hoped that it will serve to foster a growing network by keeping the community up to date on many activities in this wide and exciting field. 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 result of the information provided.

In our current issue of i4d magazine, the fundamental role of learning and knowledge sharing for content, capacity building and sustainability of telecentres have been addressed through our various features that have been presented. We are pleased to share with our readers that the Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies, in partnership with and lead partners Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, International Development Research Centre and Microsoft have committed to bring out a magazine dedicated to this subject, in line with our commitment to provide a forum for learning, sharing and collaborative knowledge development. We would like to hear from our readers their interest to be part of the telecentre community. Please do not hesitate to write to us with any inputs, ideas and stories that can be shared.

Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies, 2006 Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

i4d is supported by:

February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

Ravi Gupta





Setting up community radio stations in India II Imposition of penalty/ revocation of Permission Agreement i) In case there is any violation of conditions cited in 5(i) to 5(viii), Government may suo motto or on basis of complaints take cognisance and place the matter before the Inter-ministerial Committees on Programme and Advertising Codes for recommending appropriate penalties. ii) The penalty shall comprise of: a) Temporary suspension of Permission for operating the CRS for a period up to one month in the case of the first violation b) Temporary suspension of Permission for operating the CRS for a period up to three months in the case of the second violation depending on the gravity of violation. c) Revocation of the Permission for any subsequent violation. iii) In case of revocation of Permission, the Permission Holder will not be eligible to apply directly or indirectly for a fresh permission in future for a period of five years. iv) In the event of suspension of permission as mentioned in para 6 (ii) (a) & (b), the permission holder will continue to discharge its obligations under the Grant of Permission Agreement during the suspension period also.

Transmitter Power and Range i) CRS shall be expected to cover a range of 5-10 km. For this, a transmitter having maximum Effective Radiated Power of 100 W would be adequate. However, in case of a proven need where the applicant organisation is able to establish that it needs to serve a larger area. ii) The maximum height of antenna permitted above the ground for the CRS


We are providing the guidelines for setting up Community Radio stations in India. In last issue, we have covered a few steps, here are the remaining steps. shall not exceed 30 meters. iii) Universities, Deemed Universities and other educational institutions shall be permitted to locate their transmitters and antennae only within their main campuses. iv) For NGOs and others, the transmitter and antenna shall be located within the geographical area of the community they seek to serve.

Funding and sustenance i) Applicants will be eligible to seek funding from multilateral aid agencies. Applicants seeking foreign funds for setting up the CRS will have to obtain FCRA clearance under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976. ii) Transmission of sponsored programmes shall not be permitted except programmes sponsored by Central & State Governments and other organisations to broadcast public interest information. iii) Revenue generated from advertisement and announcements as per Para 8 (ii) shall be utilized only for the operational expenses and capital expenditure of the CRS.

Other terms and conditions i)

The basic objective of the Community Radio broadcasting would be to serve the cause of the community in the service area of the Permission Holder by involving members of the community in the broadcast of their programmes. ii) Though the Permission Holder will

operate the service under these guidelines and as per the terms and conditions of the Grant of Permission Agreement signed, it shall be subject to the condition that permission holder will adhere to the norms. iii) The Permission Holder shall provide such information to the Government on such intervals, as may be required. iv) The Government reserves the right to take over the entire services and networks of the Permission Holder or revoke the Permission in the interest of national security or in the event of national emergency/ war or low intensity conflict. v) The Government reserves the right to modify, at any time, the terms and conditions if necessary, in public interest or for security considerations. vi) Notwithstanding anything contained anywhere else in the Grant of Permission Agreement, the Government shall have the power to direct the permission holder to broadcast any special message. vii) The permission holder shall be required to submit their audited annual accounts to the Government in respect of the organization/division running the CRS. viii) A Permission Agreement will be subject to such other conditions as may be determined by the Government. ix) The Government shall make arrangements for monitoring and enforcement of the ceiling on advertisements in areas where FM radio stations have licenses.  i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2


Targeted approach for sustainable telecentres The author looks forward to formulate new strategies, outlook and approach for Yam Pukri, its mink, its assets and its prospects in the current dynamic scenario of new technologies.

Burkina Faso is situated in the center of West Africa and spread over 274200 square Kms. According the UNDP, Burkina Faso ranks among the poorest nations in the world. Nearly 40% of the population lives below poverty level.In the domain of telecommunication, Burkina Faso made great progress especially with the arrival of the mobile telephones and the Internet since 1996. Yam Pukri is an association which promotes new technologies, and the Internet in Burkina Faso. Created in 1998, this association rose quickly with the support of partners like Fondation du Devenir, Terre des Hommes, IICD (International Institute for communication and Development, Haye). Local information and knowledge sharing programmes (Burkina made it possible to sit a material and institutional basis with the organisation. Now, Yam Pukri has its computer museum, a remote training programme with African Virtual University, a Web site to upload videos on the Internet and the a private firm.

Strategy of approach

OuĂŠdraogo Sylvestre President de Yam Pukri, Burkina Faso

February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

The strategy of approach can be described ‘as targeted approach’ because it aims to towards the target public which is or appears most interested by this kind of tools. The objective here is to bring the tools closer to the user and to thus reduce the costs of displacements all while making it effective. Thus centres of formations are installed in the educational circles and also in the urban environment but near of the environment where the uses of the ICTs are required. Thus among the 5 centres of formations that Yam Pukri has, two are installed in colleges and, three in public spaces. The needs for new technologies are more felt in the capital than in the other localities because of the concentration for the activities. Connectivity is rather difficult inside the country, which

creates stumbles for projects of this type. Hence, Yam Pukri undertakes such specific pilot programmes with concerted efforts.

Vision of new technologies The multiplicity of the interventions, the innovations and the experiments in favour of new technologies in the countries raises challenge to Yam Pukri to put efforts in order to be more effective. Associative work is an effective means to touch the underprivileged people who do not have means to learn or use these tools. The majority of information which interests people of the South is not available in numerical format. Information which passes in numerical format is stored in distant computers in occident and access facilitated only for the occident. A technical or malevolent problem can thus block the access to information of the countries of the South. No hardware, for example the computers are designed in Africa necessitating the dependence for hardware and software on the occident, from where there is a perpetual danger of change and incurrence of significant financial expenditure.

Functions on merit and excellence Yam Pukri is a rare association, owing to the fact that all those who profit from its services are its members. Apart from that, there are active members who are the body of the organisers. In the beginning, the majority of the members appointed at stations of responsibility could not adhere to their commitments because of the lack of motivation or the lack of qualifications. It is thus significant that an associative structure does not give responsibilities to an interested but non qualified third person, especially being a very demanding field. Very few partners dare to invest in the ICTs and, as a result only passionate people can work


In the case of an association, co-operative or another form of regrouping, management is more delicate, considering often individually; one does not have the same motivation as that of the group. The structure will survive if it is able to be projected in the future and to make credible scenarios of self-management and selffinancing. It must be able to renew the inventories of its hardware and able to offer services at prices covering the costs of operation.

Social role vs. financial sustainability Source: Cybercentre+de+Nomgana.JPG

effectively in an association of ICTs. In order to be more operational, committees were created, each of one occupying a specific aspect of new technologies. The present five Commissions took shape distinctly in association are: (i) The Commission creation and animation of local Web sites, (ii) The data-processing Commission, (iii) The Commission forums of exchanges of the young people by the Internet, (iv) The Commission study and observation of the phenomenon of new technologies in Burkina Faso and in the world, and (v) The Commission assistance with the installation and the analysis of numerical data. The Commissions function either permanently, or according to the needs. Each member of association can create his Commission, to work and develop his activities. Greatest work for the organisers on the training level is to identify the recipients of training in data processing and to propose a type of formation adapted at the school level, the needs and the professional profile of the member.

Advantages The advantages for this kind of the collective access to training and ICTs’ approach are multiple. The population is poor and the needs felt by the population is also different from that, which one can imagine in Occident. The majority of the population does not need to use a computer daily or to open its box of eMail. Often it is not a necessary for individuals to have a microcomputer or a personalised access Internet. It has to be realised that high cost of the equipment data processing is not with the range of the average purses. The collectivisation of the needs and the tool is thus a source of economy in increasing its effectiveness. Indeed, a firm or an association cannot survive in an environment where each person has her own access mode, which makes collectivization non-profitable. It thus allows: • To make the use and training cost of the hardware cheaper. That thus further allows access to those who would never have had the means of using a computer or Internet connectivity. • To make available the data-processing tool in the backward places. • To make viable the structures of collective accesses.

Problems involved Several scenarios have to be considered in the collective accesses. Considering the two alternatives of mode of coordination in the activity: private or social organisation; a private firm, would be profit motivated. The dilemma here is that it is sometimes difficult to reconcile the interest of the greatest number.


One often wonders if associations which propose Internet services must align their tariffs on those of private providers or offer services at social costs. This question is complex because the alignment of the costs on those of the market can often mean that the social associations are not powerful. With the competitive prices currently practised, one can wonder how the private one is left there. The research of a minimal profitability however requires that associations manage to cover their operating costs. However they will not be competitive with the market with technologies used currently. It is thus preferable, if such a situation arises to seek other solutions by diversifying the activities of the structure. It is indeed very difficult to compete with the sector deprived in certain fields.

Guidelines The organisation must play foremost role in the promotion of ICTs. They must provide services that the private one cannot compensate for. The experince Yam Pukri shows that it is impossible for an organisation to be autonomous by making it a social body, and if it does not sustain it would pass in the camp of the private one. (An association can be described as autonomous if it manages to cover its operating expenses, the basic investments and the initial working capital being ensured by other organisations by a generating income). Therefore Yam Pukri has centered its triennial programme on the questions of creation of content by associations and the teacher training of centres of formations and Internet access besides installation of a network of exchanges of information between associations. Activities such as the ‘forum of exchange between the young people’ with Ground of the Geneva Men made it possible for the young people of Burkina to swap with other young people of the whole world on topics such as the right of the children, the job of children etc. The programme of ‘creation of local area network and exchanges of information’ also made it possible to develop a local expertise as regards to ICT’s. If at the beginning of the era of the ICTs in Burkina, the mission of the telecentres was to provide accesses to the Internet for the majority, the proliferation of the private accesses need to to redraw the landscape of the centres. Telecentres were to create a social vocation. With the experinces of Yam Pukri, it was evident with the origin of the installation of such an operative paragraph, a debate has to be raised in order to establish a prospective vision as concerned to autonomy. The definition of the term of autonomy also poses a problem of funds because an autonomous organisation for Yam Pukri is that which manages to cover its operating expenses. The hedging of the total expenses will put the firm in the balance of deprived and the costs of the services will reflect the market demand. One must thus make incentives with creativity in the community telecentres so that one can fulfill their mission of social service.  i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2


Telecentres - The Egyptian experience Technology Access Community Centres project was launched in the Governorate of Sharkeya marking the first telecentre in Egypt. TACC users have become more active in community involvement and have improved their quality of life.

Sherif El Tokali ICT for Development Specialist UNDP, Egypt Nayer Wanas ICT for Development Consultant Electronics Research Institute Cairo, Egypt


Introduction In March 1998 the “Technology Access Community Centres (TACC)” project was launched in the Governorate of Sharkeya marking the first telecentre in Egypt. The telecentre was established by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Egyptian Cabinet Information Decision Support, the Governorate of Sharkeya, the Investors Association and the Sharkeya Chamber of Commerce. The objectives of the TACC was focused on providing the community with access to information technology and the skills needed for effective use of this technology to encourage sustainable development. The Governorate of Sharkeya was selected due to its high unemployment rate and illiteracy rate, highlighting the need for a job creation and educational development catalyst. The project established three TACCs in Zagazig, 10th of Ramadan City and the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce building. The health, education, and communication sectors of Sharkeya represent areas were seen to be in need of the potential benefits of the introduction of the TACC project. The TACC produced numerous achievements through providing the local community with access to information technology. This was achieved through combining the establishment of an ICT infrastructure and the necessary human resources, offering affordable services, and encouraging IT participation through community outreach. It was successful in providing the local community in Sharkeya, from a variety of population segments, with the skills needed to use information technology by offering training courses, actively assisting users, designing web pages and providing information in the local

Arabic language. These achievements were supported by the human resources, infrastructure and outreach abilities that existed at the TACC centres. • Increases in Resident Profits and Job Creation: have been found to occur in some cases within the local community. These increases are evident in the agricultural, education, business and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) sectors. Farmers outputs have risen, teachers have advanced their careers and received promotions, business professionals have found better jobs, Internet Cafés have opened and a CSO has begun preparing to hire, train and fund ICT professionals. • Improvements in Sustainable Human Development: has positively been impacted by the presence of the TACCs through the benefits the centres provided to five thematic sectors of society. These sectors are: (i) agriculture, (ii) education, (iii) business, (iv) CSOs and (v) the child sector. • Benefits of Capacity Building: have been witnessed in the five sectors that the TACC focused on. TACC users have become more active in their involvement in their community, and in improving the quality of their lives. Numerous instances of community members serving as teachers and educators have occurred.

Community Outreach Community outreach was conducted by the United Nations Volunteers staff (UNV) to support the TACC objectives. The UNV focused their outreach on five thematic societal sectors evident in the Governorate, namely (i) agriculture, (ii) education, (iii) small SMEs. (iv) CSOs and (v) health. In the agriculture sector the UNV sought to overcome the challenges of the high illiteracy rate among farmers, the highly i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2

traditionalized nature of agricultural practices in Sharkeya and reaching the remote villages the farmers lived in by establishing links with the agricultural ministry and the agricultural research community including its professors and employees. In the Education sector the UNV carried out outreach activity with schools and orphanages for the purpose of sensitizing teachers and students to the uses of ICT in the field of education. Web pages were developed that provided a database of educational resources available to students in the Sharkeya Governorate and a guide to village level and eGovernance information. Additionally, an emphasis was placed on promoting the spread of ICT use in the field of education by encouraging teachers to communicate among themselves on ICT uses in the education field. Outreach in the SME sector was conducted in the 10th of Ramadan City. UNDP TACC personnel coordinated with the Association for Developing Small and Medium-Scale Industries in the New Cities (ASMINC) to promote and establish the usage of websites among SMEs for the purpose of increasing product awareness and sales and improving the transfer of product related information. Additionally, the outreach conducted also encouraged the participation of SME personnel in TACC ICT training courses by sensitizing the enterprises to the benefits of ICT use.

Within the agricultural sector farmers that used the TACC have increased their productivity, communicated more easily and frequently with their families and with local community members and they increased their level of empowerment. As a result of their usage of the TACC, these farmers invested in fertilizers and better production methods, actively spread information they acquired at the TACC, contacted members of their families outside Sharkeya via the Internet, travelled outside of the region and viewed world and national news. The TACC had positive impacts in the education sector through the efforts of teachers, students and researchers. Teachers that used the TACC benefited by increasing their productivity while they impacted the community by educating others on ICT usage, functioning as a medium for the spread of information, and using ICT to more effectively teach basic subjects. The TACC’s impact on the business sector was evident in the improvements in the operations of business professionals and SMEs and the founding of private Internet Cafés. As a result of the TACC business professionals increased their marketability through the obtainment of better jobs and/or increased responsibilities in their current positions and they increased their efficiency by communicating with other professionals and utilizing computers for business operations. The CSO sector of Sharkeya also incurred benefits as a result of the TACC. The ASMINC, for example, promoted the use of the TACC to its SME members for the purpose of training its employees, incorporating the use of computers in their operations and promoting their companies and their companies’ products. Within the youth sector the TACC furthered the education of children and supported empowerment and capacity building among them. Children that used the TACC learned to develop web pages on their own and use computers as a method of expression, and they were exposed to a broader view of society and world events.

Telecentre support Programmes The UNV outreach to the CSO sector focused on improving the efficiency of local CSOs operations and of the promotion of their development functions through the use of ICT. In Zagazig the UNV supported the five main CSOs: Rotary Club, Women in the Shadow, Boys and Girls Orphanage, Egyptian Dream and Fat’het Kheir. The UNV conducted outreach in the health sector by supporting the dissemination of health care related information via the Internet and by documenting health related information in Arabic. Community outreach was carried out in three villages: El Saadyne, Senhawwa, and El-Ghaar. In these villages women were educated on health issues using a laptop computer

TACC Impact The achievements of the TACC, since its implementation in March of 1998, have resulted in an impact across varying sectors of the local society[Ryniak, 2002]. The individuals that have been exposed to and utilized, the services of the TACC have been effectively applying the knowledge they have acquired for the purpose of bettering themselves and the community. February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

It is apparent through the TACC’s achievements that they has been successful in training community members on ICT, creating a wealth of development related information and encouraging ICT use for development purposes. The manner in which community members have applied their new found skills, utilized the information produced at the TACC and integrated ICT with their personnel contributions to development has led to quality of life improvements and the furthering of sustainable human development in the Governorate of Sharkeya. The success of the TACC has encouraged MCIT to establish a nationwide telecentre programme, called ITclubs. In order to support these centres, and based on the experiences gained from the TACC, a coordinated set of programmes has been created. • The Mobile ICT Unit (MICTU): Community outreach has been found to be crucial to any community centre. In order to achieve this goal, alleviate the problem of computer scarcity, and to expose communities to ICT as a tool for development the MICTU programme was started in 2004. The solution involved the use of busses specially equipped with a fully functional media lab. These units service specific geographical areas and stop at


schools and communities for periods as long as two weeks. The MICTUs are vehicles equipped with computers that travel to rural areas offering short and focused courses in computer literacy. During these visits the MICTUs offer computer tuitions at the basic and advanced levels such as (i) Basic computer skills and the use of productivity application including word processing, spreadsheets and graphics, (ii) Internet skills training, mainly browsing, searching and email, (iii) Support of existing school curricula, via a combination of material provided in the MICTU and online, and (iv) Advanced applications like graphics and web design. During each visit the unit provides information about the nearest telecentres to these communities. • The Community Development Portal: In order to promote sustainable human development and the integration of rural and urban communities into the knowledge society and information generation capacities content, especially in local languages, is essential. Through the experience of the TACC the lack of Arabic content and its scattered presence has been notices. To overcome this drawback, the Community Development Portal (CDP) was established. The CDP acts as a common entry point to information related to issues important to the citizen and with the potential to assist him or her in the pursuit and development of additional socio-economic opportunities, in the local Arabic language. The CDP addresses community needs by providing communities with information related to business, small industry, health, agriculture and farming, educational and vocational training, in addition to general information covering a broad spectrum of socially and economically constructive issues. The portal is integrated with an outreach mechanism that is coordinated closely with the project’s partners that include local telecentres and NGOs. To foster substantial and meaningful NGO and telecentres participation regular outreach meetings are organized for experience sharing and to reinforce extensive local participation, which is a vital element of the project as a whole. The CDP allows users to build a thriving digital community, which seeks to provide valuable economic and social services to communities and individuals at large. Much of the CDP content was not previously available to its users, making this initiative invaluable in bridging the gap between rural and urban communities. • IT for Illiteracy Eradication (CD-ROM tutorial for basic literacy): It has been observed that the use of ICT encouraged illiterate people to become literate in the TACC. In order to utilize this potential a set of CD-ROM tutorial software designed to teach reading and writing as well as math literacy has been developed. The distribution of the software is managed through the telecentres, schools, and NGOs. It also aims to help achieve ‘’primary education for all’’ in Egypt, hence realizing a key MDG. It is worth noting that illiteracy is a major problem in Egypt, and there is a great need for huge national efforts towards rectifying this situation. This CD-ROM avails educational content for illiterates on a new medium, and on the internet, to fight illiteracy in Egypt, especially among the youth. • Telecentres for individuals with special needs: The purpose of these telecentres is to illustrate the positive role ICT has in assisting the population of visually impaired as well as deaf & mute to


become productive individuals within their communities, it also allows them to start their own businesses and continue their education. Three telecentres have been piloted to be equipped to address the needs of those individuals with special needs through a partnership between the UNDP Egypt, MCIT, the UNDP regional programme ICT for Development in the Arab Region (ICTDAR), Resala (an NGO), and Vodaphone Foundation. The purpose of this pilot is to illustrate the positive role ICT has in assisting the population of individuals with special needs and assist in better integrating them within the community. • ICTs for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (ICT4M/SME): The success of the TACC in attracting more use of ICT within M/SME has encouraged the UNDP to purse expanding its scope across Egypt. The UNDP, MCIT, International Development Research Centre and (IDRC) have partnered to create a collective set of tools and mechanisms for supporting M/SMEs. The overall objective of the programme is to build capacity and provide tools within Egyptian M/SMEs to leverage ICTs in order to generate employment and to create efficient, better connected and more competitive enterprises. The telecentres are involved within this programme not only in providing access, but also in identifying new socio-economic opportunities that can be leveraged through ICT, and to foster the understanding of the benefits of ICTs by M/SMEs while promoting their usage. These programmes are to be augmented by a networking and integration mechanism, IT Mega Club Portal, established in partnership between MCIT and Microsoft. The portal allows for increased cross fertilization between the different telecentres and resources sharing. It also includes resources and tools that are useful for telecentre activities. Another initiative adopted by the UNDP, in partnership between MCIT and Microsoft is the capacity building programme for telecentres. This programme covers advanced IT and management skills in addition to ICT for development concept. The programmes aim to integrate the tools and activities of telecentres. It has been noted that the needs of telecentres intersect in many ways, not only in Egypt but also regionally.

Conclusions Throughout the experience of the TACC it has been observed that ICT can be an effective tool in sustainable development within communities. The TACC was successful in placing a framework for the local community involvement with ICT. The TACC’s involvement with the different sectors of society increased its impact, and addressed the possibilities for improvement and expanded its services. A special highlight on inclusion, content, SMEs and individuals with special needs have been observed from investigating this experience. Collectively these initiatives aim to maximize the utilization of telecentres within communities to aid the involvement of communities, not only for the sake of improve the telecentres, but also increase their impact. Through this bundle of programmes, individuals can aspire to improve their livelihoods by integration within the knowledge society and increase their awareness of their own needs. The impact of these programmes is yet to be explored as they attain a level of maturity.  i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2




Samband: ICT Access for non-literate people ICT facilities are far from their reach due to the prerequisites of literacy to use computers. Although the interest in telecentres is increasing, new technology needs to be developed to include the rural population as users of the centres. Sagun Dhakhwa Ganesh B. Ghimire Patrick A V Hall Prakash Manandhar Ishwor Thapa Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya

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Introduction In the mid 1990s various knowledge sharing networks were set up to share knowledge among the poorer people of developing countries. All these systems, whether paper based or computer based, demanded the ability to read and write, and yet levels of literacy were often around 50% so that more than half the population was unable to participate except through an intermediary. One important response has been literacy programs, but illiteracy is remarkably persistent, being coupled to poverty. Governments of the developing world are unable to provide adequate number of schools in rural regions forcing probable students to travel long distances to reach schools. The ethnic diversity in regions like South Asia also means that governments find it difficult to provide primary education in native languages. On the Sambad project we aim to support illiterate people directly, as part of this move towards this new multimodal literacy. We believe if support could be given for the non literate people through appropriate interfaces, they can take the benefits of telecentres.

Appropriate Interfaces The normal interfaces to computers, such as Microsoft Windows and other leading systems, are relatively complex, with their metaphors of file paths, menus and command lines. This complexity has worried us, since illiterate people would also be less familiar with complex technologies, and may even never have used a telephone. We are undertaking a series of usability trials to explore our technical options. What kind of interaction do illiterate people feel most comfortable with? We have already assessed basic interaction devices – keyboard and mouse, and also touch screen.

We established a usability laboratory at the Godavari Marble Works just south of Kathmandu and arranged a number of usability assessment trials over several days, with each trial attended by 4 or 5 people. The subjects were initially interviewed to record basic facts about them, in particular their level of literacy. They were then shown a short video on the computer about the importance of education to get them used to the computer and surroundings. This system asked them to do a number of tasks using the interface device being evaluated, before they went on to listen to pre-recorded stories or songs by other non-literate people or record their own story or song. The number of subjects was really very small, so though differences were found between different categories of subject and between different devices, none were statistically significant excepting for one – the touch screen was found to be significantly easier to learn and to use for the non-literate subjects. The interface itself was readily understood by everybody, though some found the spoken instructions too long and stopped attending to these. What we in effect are doing is build a simple set of functions on top of the operating system: • access control: identifying who the user is so that some information and facilities can remain private; • communication: identifying who you want to send a message to, identifying yourself to them, and sending the message; receiving messages from others; • finding information: describing what information you want, where to look, and searching for it; • composition and amendment: creating a new message, editing and improving it as necessary, ready for storage and/or communication;


• computation, as in spreadsheets: representing numbers in tables and undertaking standard calculations upon these; • storage and retrieval: storing you own information, whether created personally, or retrieved from elsewhere.

Text-free technology In our initial work we focused on the composition of speech messages, believing that these should be as easily produced and edited as are written message. The idea in both these systems is to display speech in a word-like form - a sequence of speech ‘chunks’ separated by non-speech ‘silences’. In the design study the ideas were reviewed not by illiterate people but by another group of writing-disabled people, dyslexics. Sambad developed its own speech editing software using publicly available algorithms for it, and building on developments in speech processing since that early work on Etherphone and the more recent work by Tucker et al on speech-as-data. We have also been adding some innovations of our own. Usability experiment screenshot

that 8KHz 16 bit audio compressed by the speex algorithm is of good enough quality for voice instructions.

Text to Speech There can be no complete escape from writing and lots of written material will be useful to illiterate people. The usual way of accessing this is through text-to-speech technology, and we have been developing TTS for Nepali using the Festival and Festvox systems. We have been given considerable help by the language technology and research centre at the IIIT Hyderbad, who have experience of producing TTS systems for Indic languages. This has enabled us to produce a basic speech corpus for TTS, with letter (and syllable) to sound rules, plus a 6,000 word lexicon of syllabification, and a lexicon of exception pronunciations. We are now about half way through producing the TTS system, involving two software engineers part time (about one full-time equivalent) plus a linguist part time.. By the time we finish it will have taken about a year to produce the TTS system, using around one and a half person years of effort plus specialist training and support. This TTS system will need to be hooked into the Windows and Linux platforms in the way that is standard for such systems. We are also designing the Sambad speech editing and browsing system so that this technology can be directly used for speech captions in the user interface.

Application for Telecenters

In this process we have identified that the number of interactive elements in a single screen is kept to a minimum, and all interactive elements have a speech caption. Each screen has an audio instruction that can be replayed with facility for speed change, skip and rewind. It was found that user interfaces with these properties are comfortable for the illiterates. User interfaces without text rely more on audio technologies. Recent advances in audio technology have enabled the concept of an audio form. Architectures like the VoiceXML standard from W3C and Sun Microsystems’s architecture defined in have been used by many companies to provide customers with phone based services at reduced labour costs. This technology is also suitable for interfaces for the illiterate however due to the limitations of the current state of the technology, we found it impractical to use it in the Sambad project. Particularly, speech recognition and text to speech technology has not been fully developed for Nepali and other regional languages. We have been developing a TTS system for Nepali which we will be incorporating into software that we develop for the illiterate. Speech compression, changing speed of speech playback and visualization of speech has been incorporated in software that we are currently developing. Speex, an open source and patent free speech compression library has been used for compression. We found


During several visits at the telecentres of Western Nepal, we found that most of the telecentres in the rural areas are struggling to survive due to the small number of participants. Most of the rural population are non-literate and do not have access to services of these telecentres. ICT facilities are far from their reach due to the prerequisites of literacy to use computers. Although the interest in telecentres is increasing, new technology needs to be developed to include the rural population as users of the centres. We believe the software we are developing and the user interface designs we are researching will enable the non-literates majority of the rural population to participate meaningfully in an information based society through telecentres.

Conclusions We envisage a situation where access to computers for illiterate people will be possible, so that they can undertake all the basic functions that literate people take for granted. The interface to the computer will be different, visual with speech and little or no writing. It will also be less cluttered, with most of the complexity of normal operating systems hidden. Computers that will be used will be in community telecentres. The benefits of use must significantly outweigh the ‘costs’ of entering a telecentre and learning to handle the technologies that it contains. The application we used for our interface evaluations, that of story telling, has itself proved attractive to some people as a means of acquiring knowledge from illiterate people.  i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2


Telemode services: A virtual reality Introduction Inspired by the memory of the late philanthropist Byrraju Satyanarayana Raju, founder of Satyam group of companies, ‘Byrraju Foundation’, is a non-profit organisation dedicated to bringing about a tangible improvement in the quality of lives of the rural under privileged through the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Set up in July 2001 based on the vision of the founder, a successful agriculturist turned entrepreneur, who strongly believed that the development of villages is vital for the progress of India. Byrraju Foundation is currently working in 171

villages in six districts of Andhra Pradesh (AP) state in India, impacting 2 million people under various projects with a mission is to create a world-class platform for sustainable rural transformation. Project Ashwini (partnered by UNDP/NISG and Media Lab Asia) is a perfect example of such a visionary project implemented by the Foundation in 2005 that is proactively engaged in leveraging ICTs to grassroot developmental issues enabling the village populace to take informed decisions and immediate action. Under the purview of Ashwini, several extension services were initiated. ‘V-Agri’ (Virtual Agriculture), ‘Community TV’ and ‘Ancient Wisdom through Modern Technology’ are a few among them to make a mention. Speaking on these programmes Mr. P. Ram Gopal of Byrraju Foundation says “the services initiated or to be initiated are intended to be as catalyst agents to bring about touching and visible changes to lives in rural areas and efforts put in this direction brings a sense of satisfaction to me and my colleagues in returning back to our February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

fellow people in the form of advanced knowledge for the betterment of our own communities”

V-Agri (Virtual Agriculture) Agriculture and agrarians is one of the prime areas in our country seeking urgency in up- gradation in all angles to come out from the shackles of conventional methods and conceptions to increase output and productivity for fetching an enhanced and sustainable market throughout the year. V-Agri is one such extension activity of Ashwini that is robustly operating in seventy five villages of East and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh. Supported by Media Lab Asia, the service has developed confidence of over 2000 farmers comprising of seventy five villages. Primarily a data sheet would be made to fill from the farming communities with the help of the coordinators on pertaining issues and focus area to be addressed. This is processed into digital format facilitated by a software developed by IIIT, Hyderabad. The texts and photographs taken in field are being thus translated and are loaded to build database. This further facilitates for the constant updates. The programme mainly occupies the extension of advisory services to the farmers. They include suggestions on crop production and cycling to kinds of fertilisers and pesticides to be used with the support of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Surprisingly enough this method brings ‘field to the lab’ facilitating agricultural experts and scientists collate on the information derived from grass roots and also based on the doubts and suggestions raised over ICTs. “At village level seeking the advice of the expert groups of far off places and clearing doubts over video conference is no small feat, a few years back” says Mr. P Sridhar Reddy, Officer-in-Charge of V-Agri. “The enthusiasm developed over the ICT enabled initiative is immense and has to be sustained with constant innovative techniques, where the real challenge lies” he adds. The service thus enables periodical monitoring of the gap areas to look into the scope for further improvisation. This platform of data house can thus be effectively used for studying the feasibility factors to determine scale of finance required for next cycle, export potential of the crops, quality of parametres need to be set for harvest ahead etc. The services comes with a nominal fee of Rs.150 per season for a farmer enabling him to make use of ICT services provided by Ashwini centre in his village. By next rabbi season, the service is expected to cover 6000 farmers collating with concerned service providers.


Issues The issues faced on such tele-mode operations are often chronic. It often calls for a recheck with ground realities. Ashwini centres have found to its dismay that 70-90 percent of cultivators are not real owners of the land and, the rich land lords are of little interest to make use of the service. Moreover, being a seasonal occupation the part time cultivators engage themselves in odd jobs in off seasons, diminishing the interest of services provided with a sustained value. This necessitates to see to whom the service actually goes. Food retailing and quality maintenance, intervention to maintain transparency, extending advisory service to crops other than paddy, coconut and plantains, encouraging multiple stake holders to avoid stagnancy are certain gap areas identified by Ashwini in the operation of remote mode of service extension.

Solutions • Identify who is the farmer- landowner/cultivator • Set a definition for farmer to whom the service is intended for • Study the difference and need requirements between small and large group farmers for sustainability factor • Traditional Vs. Modern (Look for Value addition in new services) • Market driven approach Mr. Reddy also feels “It is hard to sustain even one percent of work based on speculation. The beneficiaries should be equipped with the capacity of identifying market. Market mobilisation, dynamicity to know the end users, knowing further, the needs of farmers to take a new step- have to be thoroughly scrutinised at this stage. Coupled with this, advisory services of V-Agri would definitely help to bridge the gap, control cynicism and keep the motivation factor alive”

Community TV Project The Community TV is yet another initiative that rides on the existing project – Project Ashwini. The technological and social innovation is well impacted on community television programme to be piloted in three villages in West Godavari district. This innovation combines the services of a TV studio and a local cable network creating a powerful communication medium in providing virtual delivery of services to the community. Ms. Veena Yamini, Coordinator of the programme says “initiated in collaboration with UNESCO, the programme intends to actively involve the participation of the beneficiary communities in producing the content that is locally relevant to them. This will be a first if its kind- a local, social and communication network in the adopted villages. The programmes of community TV are thus produced using locally available resources and facilities at the Ashwini centre. The programmes, there after would be telecasted through a dedicated cable channel to all the community households (where a TV with cable connection exists) for 2 hours a day. They will also be able to watch from their homes, the existing community development programme telecast under Ashwini programme”. The community TV will be managed by a committee of members selected from various sections of the village like – women, youth, farmers, literates and neo-literates, elderly etc., A researcher (with Mass Communication background with exposure to film making) is placed at one of the project sites for carrying out ‘Ethnographic


Action Research’ and coordinate with the activities of content making, community mobilisation etc. related to the initiative. Thus the main content of community TV will be having the follwing highlights: • Virtual delivery of services like telemedicine, teleeducation etc., • Video– to be telecasted to the community through cable TV. Various issues like women empowerment, health issues, education, livelihood options, and general awareness will be taken up in developing the local content. The Community TV initiative can said to have two components – that are intertwined with each other – • Ethnographic Action Research and, • Local Content Production

Research Component In the research component, the main aim is to find out if ‘ICTs can be used for poverty reduction’. The methodology used is Ethnographic Action Research. Queensland University of Technology and University of Adelaide will be providing the guidance for carrying out the research.

Local Content Production The process of establishing connectivity between the Bhimavaram Foundation studio and the local cable TV office has been established to enable telecast of the TV programmes produced through Cable TV. Now the training programme in video production and post production is being planned to enable the community members to work on the video content. For this purpose, video clubs are being formed in each of the project sites enabling community members to produce the local content. The video club members will identify the themes and types of content for programme production during the training sessions. The content made by the club members will be transferred to Bhimavaram studio for support in editing. From the Bhimavaram studio, the final content (in the form of TV programmes) will transmitted to the local cable TV station and from there the programmes will be telecasted to households in 45 adopted villages of the Foundation.  Reported by Ajitha Saravanan, i4d, CSDMS, i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2


Network to consolidate rural communites Agri-telecentres integrate relatively isolated communities into national and international information networks, develop the rural and remote infrastructure, thereby improving local administration and foster socioeconomic development.

Introduction Telecentres, also known as ‘Multipurpose Community Centres’, ‘Community Technology Centres’ or ‘Technology Access Community Centres’, are public locations offering a variety of communication accessories to the public for information dissemination. The concept, first initiated in Sweden around 1985, grew to more than 250 centres during the last 10 years in the Europe and other developed countries. Subsequently, telecentres have been successfully introduced and established in developing countries especially for the development of rural communities. Based on the location (developed/developing country; rural/urban area), these centres work as agents offering a wide range of facilities and services like providing technology, developing human capacity, encouraging socio-economic development etc. As community information centres, they supply access to databases, receiving and posting information to local people on matters concerning spread of diseases, weather, prices of farm products, educational opportunities etc. The practical, gainful and cost-effective services accessible to the rural society through these community centres have resulted in positive impact on the socioeconomic development of the rural population.

Agri telecentres

N.S.Vasanthi Professor and Head, Department of Biotechnology Bannari Amman Institute of Technology, Tamil Nadu, India

February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

Of the various sectors that are benefited by telecentres, agriculture development has been in focus for quality practice disbursement by aiding in a two-way communication between farmers of selected regions and networking for local problem solving and natural resources management. Though familiarity of conventional practices exists within farmers through media information, they require details on

important matters such as, managing diseases and pests, prevailing market price of the crops and livestock management. The expertise and information available elsewhere rapidly disseminated to the local farming community through the centre, ensures timeliness of solution, and accurate details on the prices, arrivals and market trends for proper sale and trading of their produce, without the involvement of the middleman. Thus, integrating relatively isolated communities into the national and international information network develops rural and remote infrastructure. For the public, useful information on educational matters, occupation, land holdings by farmers, variety of crops cultivated, crop and livestock production, marketing constrains etc., are made accessible for improving local administration to generate employment and foster socio-economic development. Telecentres are equipped with computers and Internet connectivity with the focal point to facilitate exchange of knowledge between farmers, community groups, research institutes and intermediary organisations online or through information stored in electronic form. Web-based tools and a range of other media are used to store information for the benefit of the stakeholders to communicate with each other. An expert committee of scientists, farmer experts and other agriculture extension workers contribute to the details needed by the farmers on various issues. Such electronic information is promoted through websites, database creation and discussion forum by the government (, non governmental organisations and income-alert private organisations. The website act as gateway to search the database and the discussion forum help farmers to ask questions to experts for their opinions. Documentation of the


interaction in on-line databases allows technologies or methodologies to be continually updated by incorporating user feedback. The information is made available in local language as well as in English and in different forms like brochures, videos, extension leaflets and power point presentations for effective communication in places where Internet connectivity is weak. To the uneducated villagers, the required information can also be downloaded as audio files and played.

Advantages Telecentre offers economic facilities the rural population is looking for on a market for the procurement of subsidised agriculture seeds by directly interacting with companies. The service rids the high handedness of the middleman and offers affordable attractive priceperformance ratio. The ‘anytime-anywhere’ advantage ensures marketing leads to the farming community by discovering efficient price for agricultural trading transactions. The information on grain price interests agricultural workers especially women who receive part of their wages in grain. Thus many rural developmental agencies are attracted to these centres to deploy appropriate websites for defining the market for agricultural produce.

Challenges Theoretically, agricultural telecentres and websites with precise, latest, relevant content should be universally successful. Critical user conditions arise due to particular demographic, geographic, cultural, social, psychological, economic and other factors. Extremely precise local needs and the great diversity in local conditions have been the major challenges facing the targets of the telecentres. These specifically include the low use of textual information due to poor literacy rate; dependence on middlemen due to remote locations; lack of sources of information due to diversity of regional languages and their dialect and the cost of technology. Initiatives to set up Internet kiosks in rural India were not successful because kiosk operators lacked a large revenue stream as many of them were set up only with eGovernance applications in mind. Bad traffic at the websites, when compared to the actual activity in the physical world has been another experience. Barriers to information actively imposed by the architects and website designers also affected information dissemination. In spite of a core value proposition and significant investment by the Indian government, many NGOs and other agencies in developing portals connected with agriculture have failed due to limited Internet interchange on these websites.

Few success stories from south India • M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, Tamil Nadu: is a research-oriented non-profit organisation. In collaboration with the International Development Research Centre, it is backing Internet, voice, and database access to rural villagers in Pondicherry ( The MSSRF telecentres give daily news, employment news, meteorological report, vegetable prices at farmer’s market, acquisition price of paddy varieties, purchase price of crop varieties, fertiliser and pesticide stock and details of transport and seed at godowns. Since Tamil is the main language of rural people, the personal computers in each village information centre have software with Tamil fonts.


• Samaikya Agritech P. Ltd: a company in Andhra Pradesh was incepted in 1999 and put into action in June 2000. Its head office in Hyderabad has 18 net connected ‘Agritech Centres’ supervised by qualified agricultural graduates, in five districts of Andhra Pradesh. The centres provide technical assistance, inputs (seeds, fertilisers and pesticides), machinery hire, tools and spares for sale, analyses of water and soil, weather monitoring, field mapping etc in addition to field examination to farmers on commercial basis. Farmers register with centres and obtain technical information in support of their farming activities. • Rural Agency for Social and technological Advancement (RASTA), Kerala: the agency is working in Wayanad district of Kerala from 1987. Apart from tackling general problems of rural community, it focuses on sustainable agriculture promotion activities. The Village knowledge centre, established in 2004 through community based organisations owned by the women groups and farmers, facilitates interaction at group level for the farmers to share. In 2006, the centre upgraded as a Telecentre by ECCP programme of EU, serves as an e-Argi learning centre. The website in Malayalam, the local language, provides good practices along with details of specific crops cultivated in the area. • Kisaan-kerala Karshaka Information Systems Services and Networking: established in 2004, is a project of the Department of Agriculture, Government of Kerala and run by the IIITM-K and Kerala Agricultural University. It uses Information Technologies to establish a farmer centered integrated distributed information system to collect, share and disperse relevant and significant information to farming community to improve agriculture growth and farmers’ well being in Kerala. It supports an interactive regional agricultural portal (, runs a weekly Malayalam TV serial ‘KISSAN Krishideepam’ and an agriculture call centre to answer farmers’ inquiry over phone.

Future Prospects Successful telecentres have maintained an efficient team of specialists to clarify doubts, suggest solution, interact and give confidence to farmers. Its sustainability is essential to bridge the knowledge management gap in agriculture. The rural community has the aptitude to absorb new technologies if they are important to them. Intel has introduced a new Personal Computer that can run on alternate power sources such as car battery with, special technology to endure adverse weather conditions including heat, dust and humidity. Microsoft has plans for 50,000 telecentres with very small aperture terminal Internet (VSAT) connectivity to rural India where telephone connectivity is not available, in the next three years through bank financing. Availability of these facilities should guarantee information flow through telecentres to villages and the community should be encouraged to pay for the services they are benefited. This will ensure innovation and responsiveness with stability and public participation for increasing the number of people, who are otherwise excluded, into the information network. This will strengthen and sustain telecentres making them user-friendly and customised to specific user groups of different geographical areas. Thus, solutions to local language and dialect issues can be found overcoming the present obstacles of failure of governmental websites.  i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2


ICTs in the heart of rural India TARAhaat telecentre network, a commercial venture of the Development Alternatives group and TARA, has made a serious impact on the people it serves in the heart of rural India, covering the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and more accurately the region of Bundelkhand. This place known for its rich heritage, warriors and opulence now only hosts the remnants of that historic past in the endless fortresses and temples which titivate the surrounding areas. The dry, arid land now tells a different story. Rains have not come calling for a greater part of the last three years. The villages bask in lazy sunlight, and a step into the area is enough to make one feel that amidst all the changes, time sometime, has stopped, nonchalant about the hours its loses. I visited a TARAgram in Orchha, near Jhansi. This was a district headquarter connecting 26 villages in the adjoining area and by itself was connected to the Delhi centre. One of the challenges of such a remote control of the villages is that unlike many other places in India, the villages in this area are separated by huge distances; the areas between two villages are often unpopulated and desolate. This in a way also warrants an inherent need for connectivity. With

Of those who sit and watch and those who go and do, Sushila from Tarichar village in Bundelkhand definitely belongs to the latter group. A student herself, hands-on eLearning TARAhaat software, she intends to help change the world around her. February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

TARAgram at Orccha

the opportunity in place, TARAgram started functioning in 1998, as an attempt to connect, and if possible bring in the realization in the people that the right to Information and Communication was an amenity as basic as the need of food, if not more important, but surely as critical. It has taken nearly 9 years for TARA to seep into the soil and become a recognizable part of the geography. The challenges have been multifarious and the TARA team has risen to the task on more occasion than one.

Taking the TARAhaat home Most definitely one of the biggest challenges in the setting up of telecentres in Bundelkhand has been the lack of inbuilt local interest. As a result, the process has been such that for ICTs to reach people, TARA has had to go to the people, to make them adopt and understand the utility of these technologies. An important difference in the TARAhaat centres is that everything comes for a price! For using the telecentres, and enrolling in the various IT courses run in the centres, the locals have to pay. This is considered to be helpful in the circumstances, as with a price local people have had a tendency to attach ‘value’ to the services, as most free services are thought to be ineffectual. It is noteworthy however, that Bundelkhand has one of the lowest per capita incomes in India. Hence ‘selling’ ICTs to the villagers is no mean task. The team has done a demographic analysis of the areas it caters for, and the areas have been divided into classes - A, B, C, etc. Depending on these classes the fee on the IT for every group varies from INR 50 to 7000. The various courses being imparted also vary from 1 hour courses to 6 month courses. Some courses are Microsoft certified


also. All of these courses are administered by the TARAgram at Orccha and the course material (print and online) is provided for by the centre in Delhi. Some of these courses are promoted as being essential in obtaining jobs, which is the reason for quite a lot of young job seeking people joining the centres. Some of them are employed within the TARAhaat centres itself, as tutors or coordinators. In a place where people would walk 2 Kms to save INR 2 by avoiding local transportation, even with the advantages, the aforementioned figures seem exorbitant. As confessed by the team members themselves, ‘marketting’ the computer as a new kind of TV and bringing out its utility by emphasising how it saves time, to people who own nothing baring time, is a futile strategy. The TARAhaat team thus often has to adopt flexible approaches, like letting people know how much money they can save by adopting new communication technologies. The centres have initiated some eGovernance services- “ePrashasanik Sewayein”- by which they make documents like land records, diving licenses, information on applications, complaints etc., easily obtainable on the centres (through Internet usage and connectivity to relevant state

government departments) against payment of a small sum of money. This service has proved quite useful as people are told that their transportation charges to the state capitals to get such papers would cost much more. Even if potential consumers agree to spend an amount on such a service, this is only the first step, as their skepticism looms large. Once committed on a time frame by which the process would be complete and the documents will reach the consumer, there is no space for backing out, as it’s very tough to get back the consumer to trust the centre. The team has to carefully promise only what the centre can deliver with mathematical precision. As another innovative practice, a mobile phone is taken to the farmers and if at all they want to ask an agriculture related query, they are made to call up a number, where the query is registered and a reply is sought within 24 hours. This service is available at a nominal cost and the TARA team goes to the farmers making them aware of this service. This service particularly has had quite a few takers, though convincing people to take it up is expectedly not easy.


Involving the community- Get them to TARA The best way to involve the local community as described by the TARAhaat team has been to get inspired locals themselves to join the TARA team to help involve the local community. These representatives are selected from within the villages and are then trained to either become teachers at the centres or join the marketting team to encourage more people from the village to join the centres. Often these representatives are past students of various courses in TARA centres, who are inspired to continue the good work. They first join in as students and if found suitable continue as paid tutors. Another strategy developed by the TARAhaat team has been to go to the locals and ask them what they would want to learn, apart from ICTs. Taking this feedback in, an Usha certified sewing course has been started along with the ICT courses in the TARAhaat centres. Programmes like the English speaking course- “Vyavharik Angrezi Course” have been taken up instantly by the locals. This approach has worked as most people who came to the centre would automatically become curious about the computers. There is also a specific team for community involvement and various programmes have been initiated to break the barriers and help the people to know the TARAhaat team. Various competitions like a candle making competition and a cake making competition are organized amongst the locals. This is done in the villages and helps build an interactive relationship between the locals and the TARAhaat team. There have also been instances wherein the locals have been encouraged to start their own setups following the results of various competitions. Generally for these activities, a common place within the village is selected visà-vis the TARA centres, and often the team has found this a challenging task, as the society stands divided based on different castes, which often means that the programmes have to be organized separately for different groups, though with concerted efforts, the situation is improving. The TARAhaat centres also have hand paper making, bio diesel and cement making units, wherein the raw materials are taken from the surrounding areas and the processes are environment friendly. A lot of people from the areas, especially women work in these units at the TARAgram centre in Orchha. To encourage the children of these women to study, a children’s hall has been made in the centre, making more women come to the centre and learn new things.

…What Lies Ahead… Looking back at TARA and what they have achieved, one tends to take a cautious stance, thinking of all that needs to be done still. Not a large, though a considerable number is not yet acquainted with ICTs. The divisions within the society still surface out. But having said that, its important to reiterate what one of the members said, “We don’t quite know whether what TARA is doing is going to change lives in the present generation, but we do know for sure, that a definitive road has been paved for the next generation.”  Reported by Upasna Kakroo

i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2


ICT developments in Malaysia - KTAK’s view ? What are the main areas of activity of

The main focus of Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications, Malaysia-KTAK is the development of key infrastructure and services that will propel the development of ICT. Under the 6th National Policy Objective of CMA 1998, KTAK will ensure an equitable provision of affordable services over ubiquitous national infrastructure. Part of this infrastructure is the provisioning of Internet facilities and services in the rural areas. Dato Dr. Halim Man, Secretary General, Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications, Malaysia gives an overview of the country initiatives. February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

KTAK with regard to ICT based development in Malaysia? (Unit PR) The main focus of KTAK is the development of key infrastructure and services that will propel the development of ICT. Modern communications, both telecommunications and broadcasting is ICT based and any development of these will inevitable cause the development of ICT industries. Networks today are all ICT based, so are the applications and services that run on them. ICT has also enabled multimedia devices with multiple function that allow computing and communications to take advantage of networking. Through the MyICMS886 initiative, KTAK aims to develop key services and infrastructure that has the maximum impact on the generation of growth within the industry. For instance the development of high speed broadband and next generation networks together with the transition to IPv6 will boost content based services and applications that in turn will lead to the development of the content industries and e-services applications. Similarly, the implementation of digital terrestrial television and mobile TV will promote the development of content and


What role does KTAK play in spearheading rural telecentre initiatives in Malaysia? Under the 6th National Policy Objective of CMA 1998, KTAK will ensure an equitable provision of affordable services over ubiquitous national infrastructure. Part of this infrastructure is the provisioning of Internet facilities and services in the rural areas. As an agency responsible to the development of Communications and Multimedia Industry, KTAK will ensure that even the rural communities wouldn’t be left

behind in the advancement of these technologies. Hence, the implementation of rural telecenter initiatives by KTAK will address the issues of the digital disparity between the urban and rural communities and eventually will bridge the digital divide that exist between the urban and rural communities.

? In context of telecentre initiatives, how

did KTAK start its journey in terms of policy development and launching government programs? The provision of communications infrastructures and services in community centers was given high emphasis under the Eight Malaysian Plan (RM8) whereby the government had approved RM 6.8 million for the implementation of Rural Internet Center (RIC) Programme. The Government launched the National Broadband Plan (NBP) in 2004 as a strategic step to propel the country into a knowledge-base society and economy. As part of NBP implementation, the Government implemented connecting communities program which involved selected public communities such as government departments, schools, clinics, universities and research institutions and community centers. To enhance the concept of telecenters for implementation, the Government commisioned JICA to conduct a study on the “Enhancement of Info Communications Access in the Rural Communities in Malaysia” (January 2002 to March 2003). The objective was primarily to formulate an Action Plan for the enhancement and technology transfer of the infocommunications access in rural communities. The present model of telecenter implementation and deployment is based on the recommendations and proposals made in the final report of the study.


? What is the response of the rural community towards telecentre initiatives in Malaysia? The initiative was well received by the rural communities and the Ministry had received requests from the communities to replicate the initiative elsewhere. As of 2005, more than 245, 739 people in the rural have been given the basic ICT training in all the 42 sites of PID.

? What challenges exist in making

telecentres successful in delivering social and economic benefits? Challenges are : • To educate and train the rural communities whom are extremely ICT illterate • To capture the interest of communities surrounding the telecenter • To ensure participation and usage from the communities • To get local figure to champion the initiative Steps taken to address the challenges are : • Employing supervisors and assistant supervisors, whom are a degree and diploma holder each, to educate and train the rural community • The establishment of telecenter committee whose members are local figures and leaders to carry out promotion and awareness efforts to the rural community • Involving the communities in telecenter activities to instill a sense of belonging to the telecenter • Constant monitoring of activities and utilisation at the Ministry through an online Network Monitoring Center.

? How does the government cooperate with

private sector players to implement and sustain telecentre projects? The telecenter projects had received numerous supports and cooperation from the private sector players throughout its implementation. For the case of Pusat Internet Desa, Pos Malaysia, the national postal company allocated an annex next to the rural post offices as the center to house the computer equipments and to conduct telecenter operations. The bandwidth and Internet Connection to the centers is provided by


GurukulOnline revolutionizes the concept of learning in India The pioneer & innovator of eLearning in India, GurukulOnline Learning Solutions™ have become leaders in this realm today. Their offerings include specialized solutions to corporate houses in high end strategy consulting, educational institutions and retail in numerous spheres - synchronous and asynchronous learning, high-end strategy consulting, and customized content development, cutting-edge web collaboration and more. Unlike distance Learning, eLearning is the use of computer technology to design, deliver, select, administer, and extend LEARNING through internet. It basically involves the delivery of a learning, training or education program by electronic means; i.e. the use of a computer or electronic device to provide training, educational or learning material. The roll out is instant once courseware is ready. Sessions are recorded; students can view it again, no missed sessions & no loss of continuity. Acknowledgement of query can be organized instantaneously and reply also can be organized expeditiously even when faculty is traveling. Apart from eLearning & Vocational Job Based Education across India; GurukulOnline also provides corporate training programmes. GurukulOnline has partnered with leading institutions & has gained us expertise in numerous domains such as, Organized Retail, Pharma & Bio-Tech, Capital Markets, Petroleum, BFSI, ITES-BPO etc. Their expertise in each phase of the eLearning cycle – Consulting, Installation, Integration, Deployment, Training and Support is unmatched in the industry. In addition to their domain knowledge, they have also partnered with leading eLearning technology vendors like, IBM, Centra-Saba and have mastered expertise on open source - MOODLE LMS. TMNet, the nation largest ISP at a discounted rate as part of their corporate social responsibility in assisting the Government to bridge the digital divide. Multinational companies such as Microsoft had also contributed significantly to the telecenter initiative in terms of training materials and training the trainers modules as part of the capacity building programs for the project.

?KTAK through its special agency –

MCMC, issues licenses under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the Postal Services Act 1991 and the Digital Signature Act 1997. Can you share with us in brief the impact of these Acts and policies on the overall ICT infrastructure development in Malaysia? The CMA’98 has been effective in establishing the regulatory and institutional framework for the communications industry that includes telecommunications, broadcasting and posts. In particular the CMA promotes convergence through the horizontal market structure through the NFP, NSP, ASP and CASP licensing regimes. The convergence of services is taking place rapidly. For a start there is now sharing of infrastructure by both the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors taking place

within the scope of existing NFP and NSP licenses. The establishment of MCMC has resulted in more streamlined and effective licensing and regulatory process for the communications industry. As the convergent regulator for the communication sector MCMC deals with the licensing of all markets– NFP, NSP, ASP and CASP. Previously these were done by different agencies – Telecommunications Depart-ment, Postal Department and Ministry of Information (for broadcasting).


How is KTAK taking initiative towards enabling convergence technologies for maximizing social and economic benefits of ICTs? Development of communications infrastructure and services has great impact of the social and economic development of the country. One of the prime objectives of KTAK is to provide a connected environment through the provision of network facilities and services that allow the provision of the type of services required by the people. For those people who are excluded from the mainstream, such infrastructure and services are provided through the universal service program.  i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2

India's Premier ICT4D event 31 July - 02 August, 2007 Pragati Maidan, New Delhi

knowledge for change

A report by Goldman Sachs stated that between 2007 and 2020 India will see a structural increase in potential growth to nearly 8%, four times increase in productivity in industry and services as compared to agriculture, four times increase in GDP per capita, and house ten of the fastest growing cities in the world. This report has identified investment to information technology, openness to trade and greater financial deepening as the key drivers to this accelerating growth. While India has made huge strides and has been a key player in the Information technology revolution, vast digital divide still exists that inhibits a sustained all-inclusive growth for the society. India is bracing itself to catalyse the potential of ICTs in all spheres of development and creating opportunities for private investment and initiatives to supplement its development. In this immense growth environment, there is also a need for strategic planning, knowledge sharing and collaborative vision building between the government and the private sector to leverage the country’s growth potential and steer the country to lead the knowledge revolution. eIndia 2007 is an inclusive, consultative and constructive ICT for Development forum – the largest and only one of its kind in India – promoting and propagating the use of ICT4D through its five seminal conferences. Through its five different but interrelated conferences namely, egovIndia2007, Digital Learning India 2007, Indian Telecentre Forum 2007, eHealth India 2007 and mServe India 2007, the conference will address the issues of digital divide and identify and explore opportunities for Digital India.











The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has formulated the National e-Governance Plan which aims to bring all government services to the doorstep of each citizen by making the services citizen centric and ensuring that the right people get the benefits. To further bolster the drive towards efficient and transparent governance, the Right to Information Act was passed in late 2005. While these measures are making a positive impact on the governance practices, there are still issues of access, content, partnerships which need to be addressed for creating the desired environment of trust between the state and her citizens. egov India 2007 aims to consolidate the information available in the domain, giving key stakeholders from India and around the world a chance to showcase the progress and highlight hindrances in this field. The conference will shape the debate around egovernance and build the path towards a constructive knowledge sharing platform and the way forward for the Indian egovernance programme.

India is trying to achieve the ‘Education for All’ goal in one hand and investing in building infrastructure and initiating programmes to build a world class human resource capacity on the other. The National Knowledge Commission has emphasised the need for extensive use of ICTs for research, collaboration and university networking for building ICT skills, sharing education resources and reaching the un-reached in higher education though distance learning. The Indian Government has also recognised that skill building and lifelong education has to begin from school and has increased its investment in school education and technology-enabled learning. Taking a cue from the global trends in education and capacity building, India’s progress to a driver of the knowledge revolution through its human capacity is possible only though sustained efforts by the government, global assistance and collaboration and partnerships with private sector and civil society. Digital Learning India 2007 will take on the existing debates and provide a platform for all stakeholders to deliberate on the issues of enabling and strengthening capacities to achieve the national goals of education.

With the launch of a national programme 100,000 Community Service Centres, the Indian telecentre movement is at a vibrant stage of development, with the key stakeholders representing government, private sector and civil society besides donors being engaged in fulfilling the aspirations of the grassroots community to join the knowledge economy. Technological innovations to improve access have begun to get tested for emerging markets/ emerging people. Civil society is piloting and testing role of upscaled ICTs and telecentres/ public access knowledge centres to fulfil social objectives, provide access to governance and empower the communities, at a scale un-thought of anywhere else in the world. How exactly will we measure the progress, and monitor the impacts? Second year in the series of annual consultations, the Indian Telecentre Forum 2007 will provide the platform to take stock of what has happened. The Forum will shape the way forward for the telecentre movement within India, and for creating an example for the world to learn from.

Telemedicine has been a technological takeaway for the developed countries. Defined as the use of communication networks for the exchange healthcare information to enable clinical care, it is increasingly being viewed as a tool for improving care and enhancing access to healthcare. One of the major ehealth initiative in India was executed by the Indian Space Research Organisation. ISRO took up the initiative of telemedicine in the year 2001 to further expand the application of INSAT to newer areas with the specific aim of bringing in the expert medical facilities to the grassroots level population.Telemedicine helps to connect remote rural hospitals/health centres to super specialty hospitals located in the cities and helps patients in remote and rural areas to avail timely consultations from specialist doctors without the ordeal of travelling.

The Indian telecom sector after liberalisation has shown tremendous growth with its growth rate being one of the highest in the world. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has said the total number of telephone subscribers in India had hit 189.9 million, of which 149.5 million are mobile customers.The mobile phones apart from bringing in the aspect of mobility in connectivity have an inherent ease in terms of usage unlike computer-based connectivity, which requires people to be literate and eLiterate at the same time. The immense growth has also meant that the cost-perequipment has also come down drastically. This growth though, has been lopsided and the mobile revolution has been limited to urban areas primarily.The rural areas have remained untouched and in a nation which is plagued by connectivity lapses, mobile technology may well emerge as the key to bridging the digital divide.

eHealth India 2007 will deliberate on such initiatives and many other excellent though scattered efforts in this field and bring it together to form a conduit of critical information.

mServe India 2007 will showcase the immense potential of mobile technology in the implementation of existing and future m-Government, education, agriculture and other applications.

Past Sponsors and Exhibitors empowering education... enabling careers

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Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS), G-4, Sector - 39, Noida, Uttar Pradesh - 201301 Phones: +91-120-2502180-85 Fax: 91-120-2500060

For any information/enquiry contact Sulakshana Bhattacharya Tel: +91-9811925253 email:

Vol. V No. 2

February 2007

Information for development


Indian Government plans to put land records online The Department of Land Reforms under the Ministry of Rural Development is planning to launch a Comprehensive Modernisation of Land Records (CMLR) system for farmers of India. The Ministry of Rural Development is planning to launch CMLR, which will make all records of land in the country online by the end of 11th Five Year plan. According to the scheme, using aerial survey and digital mapping would computerise all records for land and other immovable properties. These computerised land records will be equipped with an automated system, which will keep records of all transactions that can be accessed online. The computerised records will be connected with a national Management Information System (MIS). This will generate a reliable database on land ownership, tenancy rights, crop details, land revenue, sources of irrigation and previous transactions. The proposed scheme will replace two existing central schemes of computerisation of land records (CLR) and strengthening of revenue administration (SRA).

Community radio

PRSA helps communities of India and Nepal Panos Radio South Asia (PRSA) is proving benefits and helping local communities of India and Nepal. Panos Radio South Asia (PRSA) is providing information to local communities of India and Nepal. In Budikote village of Karnataka, India PRSA is providing February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

programmes based on agriculture, banking, health, and governance broadcast by a community cable audio network. While in Palpa, small town of Nepal, PRSA is helping school children via community radio


rce me om e-C

Sony offers eCommerce platform in China Sony Hong Kong has retained the Customer Relationship Management (CRM), mobile Internet, eCommerce, entertainment and gaming technology in China, Pacificnet to provide eCommerce solutions in China. The Sony style eCommerce platform will include key Internet applications like mass multi-user, online log-in registration, administration, MySony membership management, billing, sales and order reports, warehouse inventory management and backend ERP interface with SAP systems, firewall and load-balancing systems, Web+ application servers, credit-card security management and a shopping cart and payment system which enables customers to purchase products from Sony Style online, and make payment online using a credit card. Sony Style Studio allows members to share digital content like photos, images and videos with other members. The Sony Style Shop is an online shopping portal for customers, allowing them to review and purchase various Sony products.



Brunei delivers ICT in the Kampong The Ministry of Home Affairs of has signed a contract with ZNet Technologies to promote eLiteracy programme at Kampong.

The Ministry has signed a contract with ZNet for supply, delivery, testing, training and maintenance of IT facilities for the ministry and all departments under it. The IT facility would be provided to all Penghulus and Ketua Kampungs. The prime objective of the project is to equip every officer and staff of the ministry with eLiteracy and enable them to effectively use this skill to perform their jobs more efficiently. The supply of IT facilities will include computers, notebooks, printers, Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office software, which is expected to be completed in approximately six months. The Government will also provide training to 1500 officers and staff members of the ministry. Ministry is also planning to enter into the online eGovernment era like web-portals, electronic filing, document management, project management, administration processes, asset and inventory management and eLearning.


British Council launches training programme to implement ICT in UAE schools British Council has launched the project, which is aimed to introduce effective use of ICT in schools in UAE. British Council is to bring together teachers and GGC and UK policymakers to introduce ICT. The British Council has completed its first teacher-training programme for UAE national schools for vision impaired. The UAE Ministry of Education, Abu Dhabi Education Council, Dubai Education Council and the British Council are collaborating on the project held at the Abu Dhabi Education Council’s Emirates


The i4d News

UNESCO launches teachertraining programme in Africa UNESCO has launched a high-priority ‘Initiative on Teacher Training’ in sub-Saharan Africa. This initiative will assist the continent’s 46 sub-Saharan countries in restructuring national teacher policies and teacher education. The main aim of the training programme is to improve the quality of teaching across the continent. In this initiative, 17 countries are participating, including Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, United Republic of Tanzania, and Zambia. TTISSA will link and create synergies from the other core Initiatives, the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) and the Global Initiative on Education and HIV and AIDS (EDUCAIDS).

National Centre for Educational Development. British Council launched this training programme with the support of Ministries of Education. The British Council has collaborated with UK education consultants to provide training on ICT tools for education, including eLanguages and Global Gateway. The British Council is also working on the ICT in Schools project in co-operation with all the Education Zones in the UAE. The training workshop is aimed to increase the skills of teachers in the use of ICT in the classroom and to develop the level of confidence in the use of online tools for international collaboration in education. All UK schools have broadband connections and the aim in the UK is to create eConfident schools, effectively using ICT in management, learning and communications to parents.

Microsoft ties with IEG to educate students on Microsoft technologies Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd has tied up with the Institute of Electronic Governance (IEG), Andhra Pradesh (India) to educate students on next-generation Microsoft tools and technologies. According to the agreement, students in Andhra Pradesh would be able to develop skills of next-generation Microsoft tools and technologies including Net.Microsoft and IEG will together on five e-Governance projects. Microsoft will provide training programme to students, who are in prefinal year BE, Btech and MCA courses. The company will provide training to about 1500 students in a month



ICT Minister plans to revoke Cabinet’s revolution in Thailand The ICT Minister is planning to propose to revoke the resolution of the last Cabinet regarding service telecom deals in Thailand. Sitthichai Phokaiudom, ICT Minister has proposed to cancel the resolution of the last Cabinet regarding previous telecom deals. The deals between between TOT and Advanced Info Service (AIS) have caused a 50 billion loss to the country. Asset Examination Committee (AEC) will take further steps after allegations of graft are found.

Microsoft awarded communities for helping people with learning disabilities The software giant, Microsoft has awarded community groups working to help people with learning disabilities use computers and improve their IT skills. Microsoft has given £75,000 and Microsoft’s Office software to communities across the UK to help physical and mental disabilities through Microsoft’s annual Community Learning Awards. Microsoft’s global giving initiative, is a scheme, aimed to eliminate technology illiteracy supported by a long term investment of cash and software. The award scheme is supported by Citizens Online, which is hoped to IT training through supporting informal

training projects that introduce ICT to disadvantaged young people and adults. The awards have gone to a range of charities, including a project in Northamptonshire which helps people with autism learn the necessary IT skills.


Cuba boosts telemedicine service Cuba has developed a transmission system of digital medical images by named Imagis, providing telemedicine services to several hospitals of Cuba. Currently, Imagis has been installed in several hospitals of 11 provinces. It allows storing, visualising, processing and transmission by eMail images received in tomographs, ultrasound, magnetic resonance, x-rays, angiographs and others. The network allows doctors to use services like, cardiology, angiology, neurology and general medicine

More funding to combat HIV/ AIDS More funds will be allocated by the Union Ministry of Health to combat HIV/ AIDS in India. The Union Health Ministry in India has recently proposed about more funding for anti-HIV/AIDS programmes to a record of INR. 11,585 crore, which will be supported by the World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other agencies. The funds are to be spent over the next five years for prevention, care, support and treatment of the disease. The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), the nodal agency for spreading awareness, doing research and good work in the area of HIV/ AIDS will administer the spending under the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) III. The programme is scheduled to start from April 1, 2007. The programme has received an in-principle approval from the Planning Commission. The World Bank will fund about three-fourth of the programme. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNAIDS, ILO, Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, USAID and World Food Programme will also providing support. India is home to 5.3 million HIV/AIDS positive people.

i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2

The i4d News 


CWJ brings cyberclubs in rural communities of Jamaica A volunteer of Cable and Wireless Jamaica, Pete Smith is teaching youngsters of Jamaica about computers and Internet. An employee volunteer with Cable and Wireless Jamaica is bringing ICT in numerous rural townships, inner-city communities and remote areas of Jamaica. Cable and Wireless Jamaica Foundation (CWJF) is making an effort to set up ‘cyberclubs’ to provide access to ICT at the community level. These facilities, which include personal computers equipped with broadband Internet service compliments of the CWJF, are bringing the information age within the reach of communities and individuals that have been underserved in this regard. In addition to establishing cyberclubs in various communities, the CWJF partners with over 30 communitybased organisations are involved in community development and Information Technology-based training, facilitating free broadband access and the provision of computers to enhance their existing programmes. The organisation will also continue to offer free Internet services to all primary and secondary schools and work with both the public and private sector as well as other individuals and organisations involved in promoting access to ICT.

Introduction of smart cards for disbursing subsidies: Planning Commission of India The Planning Commission (Government of India) will be introducing smart cards to make the subsidies more targeted. The proposal is to provide smart cards to below poverty line families for use in buying monthly requirement of electricity, LPG or kerosene oil. It is expected that poor in the country need to be provided subsidy for which introduction of smart cards is necessary to target the beneficiaries. The concept of smart card has also been mentioned in the Integrated Energy Policy proposed by the expert committee headed by Mr Kirit Parikh, member, Planning Commission, Government of India. The committee has favoured the new mechanism as it could help the government reduce its subsidy bills while at the same time ensure subsidised

February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

India Govt. approaches ISRO to provide telemedicine service in Orissa, India The State Government has approached the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to provide equipments to facilitate the supply of telemedicine in Orissa, India. The Government is planning to provide telemedicine facilities in all the district headquarters hospital of the 30 districts of the State. The Government has already set up the telemedicine centre at Cuttack, Berhampur and Burla College. The Government is investing INR 800 thousand per hospital to set up telemedicine hospitals. All the hospital would be connected through telemedicine network. The Government is also planning to set up telemedicine centre at Kalahandi, Koraput, Sundergarha and Mayurbhnaj.

provisions to families that require it the most.


RailTel allows buying platform tickets from mobile phones Citizens of Bangalore, Karnataka (India) can buy a platform tickets from their mobile phones. RailTel has introduced a new service for people of Banaglore to buy platform ticket by using their cell phones. Airtel has signed a deal with RailTel to offer this new service. Airtel customer has to just type PFT and SMS it to 64639. Customer will receive a five-digit code on their mobile, that has to be fed into the vending machine which will print the platform ticket. The cost of every SMS would be INR 4 and, would be deducted from their prepaid account or added to their post paid bill.

HitachiSoft launches ‘GeoMation Keitai, GIS system for mobile phones A software development company in the Hitachi Group, HitachiSoft has launched its ‘GeoMation Keitai’ Series, a Geography Information System (GIS) product for mobile phones. The ‘GeoMation Keitai’ series will allow mobile phone users to view and renew GIS managed business data on their mobile

phones. ‘GeoMation Keitai’ will connect with ‘Geomation’, HitachiSoft’s enterprisetype GIS product, which will integrate and interconnect with data of different formats to realize a map-based business system. The software is compatible with DoCoMo and au as well as other mobile phone applications. Mobile phone user can download it immediately through their regular mobile carrier. A c c o rding to company sources, currently, ‘GeoMation’ is used in the management of electricity, water and gas facilities using its map-based system. The company is expecting to provide support sales and product transportation to its customers in areas like disaster prevention, disaster measures, and insurance-finance-property transactions.

Open source

NGO-in-a-box initiative to promote FOSS The South Asian hub of the world-wide NGO-in-a-box initiative was launched at the start of this year by, Bangalore with the support of Hivos, Netherlands. NGO-in-a-box is an initiative of the Tactical Technology Collective, Netherlands with the aim of providing effective Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) applications tailored to specific needs of the non-profit sector. There are several ‘boxes’ of CDs containing tools that address needs such as open publishing, security and audio visual production. will be


The i4d News launches strings-free VoIP offers the strings-free VoIP service, which allows customers greater control on their telecommunication. Members of can access VoIP calling without signing for a monthly commitment. VoIP Internet phone service provider ( announced that the company has launched a no-string service, which allows customers to make more control on their calls. To use the Make a Call service, members create a free account and then add credits, using any US issued credit card. Then, members simply can go to the web-based interface and enter the number they’re calling from and the number they’d like to call. acts as a facilitator in a privacy-protected, automated process that calls both numbers and then connects the two parties. Once connected, calls proceed normally, as if they’d been directly dialed. Per minute rates for calls within the United States and Canada are $0.02 to $0.03 a minute.

distributing various editions of the boxes across South Asia over the next two years. In parallel they will be holding a series of workshops across India which will train NGOs in the use of the boxes and the issues they aim to address. Workshops are not only designed to address the training needs of NGOs but they will help organisations build up a sustainable technical self support network. This will be bolstered through the strategic use of a mailing list, online wiki, support forum and telephone support desk. It is hoped that the project will attract tech savvy students and professionals who will supply a second layer of support. The boxes themselves will be refined on the basis of feedback gathered from users and workshop participants. The NGO-in-a-box organisers are especially keen to support the role of women within beneficiary organisations and promote the use of Free and Open Source Software within women’s groups. The first NGO-ina-box workshop to be held in India will take place from 19th to 24th March 2007 in Pune, Maharastra.

code of corporate social responsibility in private sector companies, ranging from responsible globalisation to promoting human rights and fighting corruption. The United Nations Development Programme will work with business enterprises and other stakeholders in eight countries – EU members Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia, and candidate countries Croatia, Macedonia, and Turkey. The project will assist the integration of social and environmental concerns in business operations and in corporate interaction with government, trade unions, business associations and communities on a voluntary basis. The aim is to accelerate in the new EU region the implementation of CSR (corporate social responsibility) practices, which are seen as a vehicle for EU harmonisation, social cohesion and improving competitiveness. Business networks in Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany will contribute through exchange of experience and good practices.


UN to promote responsible business practices in new European Union members The United Nations (UN) has launched an initiative to introduce good and socially responsible business practices in new European Union (EU) member countries, as a part of its new US$ 1.36 million project. The UN has consistently pushed for a



Bangladesh launches Telecentre Network Bangladesh Government has launched the Bangladesh Telecentre Network on January 13, 2007 at the BRAC Centre. In the first phase of the BTN is to launch Mission 2011, under which telecentres would be set all across the country. These telecentres would allow

villagers to access livelihoods services through ICTs. The project is expecting over 20 organisations, including NGOs, private sector enterprises and other development partners to form the network.

First CSC launches in Jharkand, India Soon, the first Common Service Centre (CSC) will come in Jharkhand, India. The CSC is the single-gateway for Governmentto-Citizen (G2C) services, under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). The main aim of CSC is to bridge the gap between government and citizen. The pilot project of the first has been set-up in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. The CSC in Jharkhand would be the first one to be implemented under the NeGP. The Government is planning to set up 1500 more centres like this. The centre will initially offer 22 suite of government services. VSAT facility and touch screen kiosks would connect the centre. Initially the centre will concentrate on teleeducation and tele-health facilities.


Govt. plans for nationwide broadband network in Indian 11th Plan Indian Government is planning to connect all libraries, research centres and educational institutes through broadband network in its 11th plan. The Knowledge Commission of India has recommended connecting all libraries, research centres and universities of the country with a broadband network. The Commission’s recommendation is for a 100-megabit network with 500 nodes. The Commission’s chairman Sam Pitroda, announced this plan while signing threeyear MoU between industry body CII and American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) to promote healthcare sector in India. This broadband connectivity will also facilitate telemedicine service across the country. The telemedicine service will connect the health centres and district hospitals of the country. CII has committed to connect 100 villages in this year. The 100 villages would be in the states of Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Firstly, the project would be set up in Patna.

i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2


Launch of the Voices for Innovation - India Portal The Prosperity through Innovation— Strengthening Entrepreneurship, Enterprise Ecosystem meet was organized jointly by Voices for Innovation (a platform by Microsoft), Project VIKAS, CSDMS, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (Government of India) and Clusterkraft. The meet took place on 15 December 2006 in Ambassador Hotel, Delhi. The idea behind the meet was to share and disseminate knowledge from experts in the areas of SMEs and ICTs to promote cluster development, entrepreneurship and innovation. In the opening remarks, the concept of Voices for Innovation as an online knowledge-sharing platform for the knowledge workers, which is relevant for entrepreneurship and innovation, was put forth. This event was the third and final series of grassroots consultations that were held in Pune on 11 December 2006 and Tirupur on 13 December 2006. These consultations were representing the automotive cluster and the garment clusters of entrepreneurs, organised with the local associations. Honourable Union Minister of State (Independent-Charge) for Science and Technology and Ocean development, Government of India Shri Kapil Sibal talked about the importance of innovation in the era of globalization, where market forces play a key role in diffusion of technology even in the rural areas. He said there is a need to see how global changes in technology affect lives, even in the rural hinterlands. He said that small-and-medium manufacturing enterprises play a key role in generating employment. In order to boost productivity, SMEs (small and medium enterprises) do depend on IT since usage of IT reduces transaction costs and improves productivity. Usage of IT also helps in communicating. SMEs exist in various sectors of the economy such as information

Minister Shri Kapil Sibal launching the VFI India portal

February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

technology, textiles et al. There is need to have a legal framework to ensure investment in small and medium enterprises. There is also the need to look how the knowledge economy works. Kapil Sibal emphasized the need for cluster development at the village level, where IT can play a key role. The Minister then launched the VFI India portal. Dr. V. Govindarajan (Member Secretary, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council, Government of India) said that the economy of a modern nation under the modern development paradigm shifts from agriculture, to manufacturing and finally to services sector, over time, means that at the initial stage of development, a majority of the workforce depend on agriculture, and the primary sector contributes the major portion of the gross domestic product (GDP). In the second stage, the majority of the work force depends on manufacturing (the secondary sector), and the majority of the GDP comes manufacturing sector. In the final stage, services sector hold a majority of the workforce, and it contributes a major portion of the GDP. The economy reaches the final stage when the majority of the work force is skilled and the economy is termed as the knowledge economy. What has happened in the case of India is that the economy has entirely jumped from the initial stage to the final stage, leading to social tensions, since a large part of the population are lacking basic amenities like literacy, housing et. al. The employment elasticity in the case of manufacturing sector has fallen between the successive national surveys. This can explain the case of India’s jobless growth scenario. Moreover, India’s manufacturing sector has not grown because of lack of competitiveness, access to capital and redundancy in technology at the firm level. There is a need to see how innovatively ICTs can be used in small and medium manufacturing units, and how ICTs affect productivities of SMEs. Investment in SMEs can be done through public-private partnership mode. Doug Hauger (COO, Microsoft India), spoke about the use of ICTs in an innovative way to boost economic growth. He informed that mostly innovation happens in an informal way in small companies/ firms. He said that innovation ecosystem faces challenges. There is need to look at issues like patents, intellectual property rights, and taxation. Patents, copyrights and intellectual property rights help innovators to innovate, since they act as incentives to create new product. The tax structure should be such that that it helps the innovators. He said that Voices for Innovation is a platform for the community to participate and exchange ideas and provide solutions to problems.


Sheetal Mehta (CEO, Innovative Social Ventures) gave an extensive presentation on innovation, entrepreneurship, policy making and IT. She said that there is a need to define innovation, whether it is a new one or a ‘fix it’ type. There is also the question of accessibility to resources (both economic and non-economic) and for innovation to take place. Experience plays a key role in innovation, since intrinsic knowledge is related to experience. For innovation to take place there is need for funding (both fixed and working capital), incentives to patent, adequate infrastructure and skilled labour. The return on innovation should be measurable for monitoring, deriving conclusion and planning. There is a need to look at the sustainability (economic) aspect of innovation. The main inhibitors of innovation are wrong government policies, and entrepreneurship culture. Ms. Mehta said that in order to generate innovation, there is need to look at the ‘ecosystem’ which comprise of the government, academics, corporations, financial influences (venture capital), entrepreneurs, ISVs, SMEs and analysts. There is need of co-opetition (or cooperation) instead of competition. There is a thin line of difference between social entrepreneurship and innovation. No longer greed (or profit motive) among the firms is termed good. Instead, day-by-day, firms are going for creating social goods, such as following environmental standards. Karma is a principal of action but innovation is about creating changes. Innovation is not about reacting to change. Corporate social responsibility is done for innovative social welfare as is being promoted by the UK government. Under the global entrepreneurship programme, dealmakers are going global. There is need to access smart money (venture capital), and promote technology and life sciences. There is also the need for attracting and matching talent. In UK, there had been efforts to enhance the entrepreneurial gene pool in United Kingdom. In India, efforts had been taken to promote economic growth through foreign direct investment. But now there have been efforts to look into areas like human capital, R&D, and spin offs. Innovations have taken place in sectors like Information Technology, biotech, wireless, semiconductor and pharmaceuticals. SMEs constitute 90% of all industrial units, 40% of industrial output and 45% of formal industrial employment. We need to look at MINE Relief, Capstan Learning, Voices for Innovation. Sheetal Mehta has also mentioned about the launch of IMEA VFI, where there had been partnership at the local and at the global level. What is needed by the private sector is to initiate the process of dialogue with the government. For enhancing growth, there is need to implement innovative technology, and focus on competition. There should be focus on working together and closer. There is also the need to engage in prosperity thru innovation, and strengthening entrepreneurship. Prof. Richard Duncombe (IDPM, University of Manchester) spoke about the ICT in strengthening innovation and entrepreneurship. He said that innovation should be seen as a change process. There are standard models for innovation. If somebody is working in the area of SMEs, there is need to look at the mature manufacturing sector, who have a strong domestic and export orientation, and face increasing global competition. The key driving force for innovation is determined by low ICT


knowledge and skill. There is also the need to look at regenerated manufacturing base with greater competitiveness, productivity, export market and R&D, as they determine SME upgradation and development. The key internal drivers for ICTs are leadership and strategic focus. The key external drivers for innovation are market and customers. The constraints for innovation are generic constraints (that affect all firms) and specific constraints (largely internal and firm specific). The resistance to change can also become constraint for innovation. Richard Duncombe said that the problems with standard model 1. Tends to be supply driven and technology led 2. Over-simplifies complex innovation processes (push-pull) 3. Fails to distinguish between sectors and size 4. People create change not technology 5. Ignores social dimension For developing SMEs, one needs to keep in mind the above five factors (i.e. organizational readiness, managerial capability, ICT capability, motivation and value chain positioning.) along with forward and backward linkages. The key soft factors for developing SMEs is to emphasize upon: 1. Motivation—respond to incentives via more effective commodity chain positioning 2. Awareness—management practices (e.g. intellectual property rights) 3. Leadership—foster vision and commitment 4. Human resources—key ingredients—can consider outsourced solutions (ISPs/ ASPs)—control and internal capability should be retained in the business 5. Financial resources 6. Managerial capability—the ability to link innovation Policy suggestions by Duncombe were: a. Support the enabling environment –manufacturing and social enterprise sectors (macro level interventions) b. Awareness raising among SME support agency staff about the role of ICTs for productivity and competitiveness c. Develop demand driven information services incorporating epartnership d. Develop an authoritative knowledge base of good practice on ICT innovation in SMEs. e. Support the development of the localized ICT sector and ICT technical capability and the localization of IT support sector with a sustainability component The meeting ended with panel discussion and questions from the floor, followed by dinner.  To join the Voices for Innovation community, please log on to or write to the VFI India secretariat i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2




Effective eGovernance for good governance District Online Smart Transactions (DOST) - India an exclusive national seminar on e District Mission Mode Project (MMP) has been organised by Government of Andhra Pradesh (AP) in association with Department of Information Technology, Government of India. The seminar was held on 11th January 2007 at Dr. MCRHRD Institute, in Hyderabad, as part of the three day IT expo event GITEX-India 2007. The meet mainly targeted to modulate a reliable strategy based on the successful models and that is replicable at all levels of the country’s administration - village panchayat to block levels and, taluks to district levels.

The chief guest J.Harinarayan, Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh asked to understand thoroughly where India stands now at eGovernance and get organised for moving further up the eGov readiness index. The inaugural session concluded with a vote of thanks by P.Raghuveer, Additional Secretary (eGov), Government of Andhra Pradesh who urged the practitioners and stakeholders to work on the prioritisation of the services that should be covered mandatorily under the proposed eDistrict MMP. He enumerated the

The inaugural session The session started with video film on ‘DC Suite’ of Palakkad district, Kerala and ‘Jan Seva Kendras’ of Gandhinagar district, Gujarat, both an ICT enabled service delivery centres reaching the people with wider impact. The formal welcome address was delivered by K. Ratnaprabha, Principal Secretary, IT&C, Government of Andhra Pradesh. R. Chandrasekhar, Additional Secretary (eGov), DIT, Government of India setting the tone for the seminar was eloquent on need based services. He said “common man in India looks forward for government services with lot of expectations and it is essential to have a sustainable governance that adopts best of the e-Enabled practices to maintain perennial flow of further improved services that come with an increased ICT literacy and awareness levels. Since state governments are unable to deal with them in bulk quantity, district administration can do justice to them by putting a little extra effort to build a systematic condition and collate and bring out projects that are quick, painless and accessible and, workout on the ingredients that make it sustainable. He urged officers to work with fire in the belly and achieve the set target tasks within the tenure period to leave a marking impression that necessitates certain qualities like ‘trust’ and ‘tracking abilities’, developing leadership at various levels of political, bureaucratic and technocratic structure. He urged on capacity development to implement the initiatives and projectise them. He also stressed on the criteria for success and set the two indicators for evaluation: (i) number of digital services available in remote areas and (ii) percentage of people having the ability to access them at village level. He emphasised that any e Gov initiative should exist beyond the tenure of the initiator. We can achieve this only by bringing all the stakeholders round a table and discuss, as is now happening in this seminar. February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and said that ICT tools have to be used within that framework so as to reach the goals by 2015 as planned.

Panel Discussion After a brief break a panel discussion on ‘Conceptual Framework of eDistrict” was initiatied under the chairmanship of R.Chandrasekhar, Additional Secretary who highlighted several successful eGovernance projects. He advocated for using the most modern technologies suitable for the time. He deplored that most of the e-Governance processes were not designed for the convenience of the citizens, but for the convenience of the administrators. The eDistrict MMP is a major initiative being started with one or two districts in each state on a pilot basis and it would aim to enhance at providing most of the government services electronically at the doorstep of the citizens Suman Billa, Collector of Palakkad district of Kerala state made his presentation based on experience of the implementation of the project ‘DC (District Collectorate) Suite’. It highlights the concept of paperless office maintaining an effective networking of G2G, G2C, and G2E communication between and among the various governmental departments, public and the employees respectively.


The architecture framework of the suite is divided into ‘back office modules’, ‘middleware intranet services’ and e-Services (front end services)’. A communication network mode named ‘Tappal’ is adopted here that gives lateral value addition to the entire system. Sanjay Jaju, Commissioner, MCH, Hyderabad talked from the perspective of ‘Rural Service Delivery’. Highlighting with the backdrop of West Godavari, District of AP state, he said rural areas suffer from knowledge gaps, weakening them further and, resulting in aggregation of poverty. Hence it requires a citizen centric move to empower citizens through IT. The factors required to be looked into are: what is needed, how it can be done, how should it be, services, economics, training and education. What is the need for the hour is to convert villages as knowledge hubs. The implemented project is called SMART (Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive, Transparent, Governance). It offers services like grievance cell, tele-education, issuance of certificates, dues clearance services like taxes and electricity bills, pensions, land records, civil supplies, auctions, online registrations, local entrepreneur details, tourism bookings, matrimonial services etc. The key factors that contributed to success of SMART are breaking the big tasks into small do-able tasks, encouraging multiple stake holders, educating and sensitising citizens, providing solutions from demand side rather than supply side. Dinesh Tyagi, CEO, IL&FS, New Delhi conceptualised his talk from the perspectives of the proposed Citizen Service Centre. It mainly inquires into the fact what a man residing in a village needs. eDistrict basically functions at collectorate level of the administrative structure and eGovernance is institution based, process oriented service, based on user centric needs. eDistrict functions under three criteria ‘regulatory’, ‘developmental’ and other ‘general law and order’. Here, Collectorate needs to develop inclination to put services for social upliftment and economic benefit. R&D approach should be adopted for the functioning of eDistrict which calls for a process of re-engineering based on the needs of user end citizens to enhance their capacities. Y.K. Sharma, Dy. Director General, NIC, New Delhi explored the contours of a Sustainable eDistrict initiative. He talked on types of challenges being faced service delivery Industry, and asked to identify the kind of services that need to be delivered at different levels. Identify and interact with vertical government service providers (GSP) that have a capacity to reach clientele/beneficiaries and, linking them to the socio-economic status, ability to pay, working on entrepreneurship mode duly ensuring sustainability. Prof. Subba Rao Ghanta, President, IEG spoke on ‘Jawahar Internship Programme (JIP) and Architectural Solutions for Effective Service Delivery supporting Change Management’. He stressed on JIP partnership model where industry, education and government are collaborating partners in progress. In comparison to other technological and technical institutes Jawhar Knowledge Centre (JKC) runs on a novel approach of grooming its students to become responsible citizens. It builds a civic sense in them to do service to their society through application of science and technology. Under the JIP, it provides a rare opportunity for them to work closely (ten hours a week) in the adopted villages that generates substantial and authentic feedback to work further on e Services. Dr.Vijayashree, Faculty, CCDM, MCRHRD Institute,


Hyderabad gave her presentation on Revamping Delivery systems’. She gave voice for cutting edge employees where eTools and systematic approach coupled with right administrative will was highlighted with the prioritisation of health and welfare issues.

Interaction with floor Following the panel presentations, the session was opened for interaction with the participants. There were certain suggestions for speakers. To a question why the success of West Godavari district could not be replicated in East Godavari, Jaju answered that no single solution can be mandated for development. Though a model may be successful in West Godavari, it has to be skillfully adopted while transplanting to other district by priortising the issues of the region. It requires little bit of initiative and leadership. Only doable tasks in small proportion should be undertaken after a concrete plan, duly involving all the multiple stakeholders. The successful model of West Godavari can be established as a PAN India model to replicate to other parts of the nation as well. There was a query on the need for linking awareness and capacity building to eDistrict as limitation to public connectivity was a cause of concern. Technology should be leveraged to benefits of the public. CSCs should be equipped to provide citizen and public services at government level as well.

Case studies- Track I The afternoon sessions were divided into two parallel tracks consisting of case studies and brain storming on ‘What should be the essential components of an eDistrict MMP’. The first session case-studies of track I was moderated and presented by Vikas Kanungo, Chairman and Secretary General of the Society for promotion of eGovernance, India. He also made a presentation on ‘m-Government Enabling an Always-on district with Governance @24/7 delivered anywhere’. He explored the concepts of benefits of mobile (m) government, drivers of m-government, rate of penetration of mobile devices, ease of use for citizens, interoperability factors, ability to bring government close to citizens rather than taking citizens to computer, cheaper than computers and easy to use. The scope is wide on developing new imaginative angles of these enabling mobile technologies into the service of administration and e/mGovernance. He added that eDistrict is a state initiative at district level and appropriate action policy need to be framed. The case study on ‘Telebhuktan-IVRS based utility payment system’ was presented by Sanjay Dubey, District Magistrate of Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. He emphasised on hassle free, cost effective and time saving broad based systems to facilitate the payment with flexibility from anywhere at all time. ‘eJustice-Online Delivery of legal services’ was delivered by Vijay Karan Reddy, Sr. Project Manager CGG, Hyderabad. He emphasised on the need for simplifying the laws to the understanding capability of common man. Building a repository of such simplified version of complicated legal structure helps to spread awareness among citizens. Case study on ‘Use of e-Biometrics to strengthen service delivery system at grass root level’ was presented by M.Thennarasan, DDO, Vadodara District of Gujarat. Biometrics refers to the automatic identification of a person based on his/her physiological or behavioral i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2

characteristics. This method of identification offers several advantages over traditional methods as it demands physical presence of the person at the time of identification. It ensures discipline, punctuality, quality of management etc resulting in better output. The model can be replicated with certain degrees of flexibility. The session was then opened for interaction with the floor. A Query regarding the sustainability of telebhuktan model in the light of limited number of users was raised. Dubey replied that sustainability is ensured by way of collecting a minimum registration fee for certain period of time apart from transaction fee is collected from citizens for this service. In addition the government departments also pay a transaction fee for this service. He said the break even would be achieved with 5000 monthly transactions. The second session of the Track I Case Studies was moderated by Osama Manzar, Chairman of Manthan Awards. ‘E-Content and Livelihood’, based on a Local Area Portal (LAP), Dausa in Rajasthan was presented by him. He stressed on the importance and originality of the content and pleaded to link to the target group using ICT as an enabling medium. Vikas Nath, Consultant, e-Governance, ICT and Knowledge Networks, Geneva presented his case study on ‘Does stronger EGovernance mean better governance and more doable Millenniun Development Goals (MDG) Agenda?’ and the ‘international perspectives and implications for e-District’ of State-level Mission Mode Projects. The presentation was based on the findings of UNDP, Electronic Discussion Forum held in November-December 2006 organised for European community. It substan-tiates with evidence that stronger eGovernance means better governance and more doable governments in MDG agenda. For e-District Mission Mode Projects the following precautions have been suggested • Instead of a rigid and uniform model for all edistricts, different models focused on locally Felt-Needs of the population have to be created. • A robust e-model has to be constructed standing over provisions based on Laws & Citizen Charters at the national, state and local level rather than on Technology. • Focus should be on partnerships rather than on competition and on removing factors which create an uneven playing. • Targeting first time and new users is as important as retaining existing users for success of the project • Applications that will deliver maximize End Benefits to the users have to be identified. Then the Technology that fits best with the capacities of the local population. (Eg Mobile phones) have to be selected. • Development gains have to be brought through the instrument of ‘Right to Information’ as lack of information is the most cited needs at the local – level. Mahendar Reddy, Inspector General of Police, Hyderabad, presented his case study on ‘Service Delivery Improvement through process standardisation and automation’. He set an example of developing the concept of people friendly police and community police. This was possible only by computerisation of his Commisonerate by polishing work values, behavioural responses, and thereby upgrading the dignity and nobility of the profession. February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

‘Use of ICT at Jan Seva Kendras’ in Gandhi Nagar District of Gujarat was the case advocated by Sonal Mishra, District Collector, Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat. While showing a video film she stressed on the need for creating awareness and instilling confidence among citizens on using ICT tools. Her target areas specified for improvisation are IVRS (Interactive Voice Responsive System) and interface for G2C services, where the service comes with a nominal fee. ‘Parishkruthi- A ray of hope to voiceless petitioners’ was presented by Rajendra Narendra Nimje, Director, Technical Education, Government of Andhra Pradesh. Talking on the elements of eDistrict, he said, it should have a sustainable factor even after the initiator leaves. Customisation is also required. Prioritisation and selection of services is a must. One has to work at developing the factor of ‘e-Readiness’ also.

Road ahead The outcome of the Track II, brain storming session was shared with the delegates by Abbasi, Director, MIT, Delhi, Radha Chouhan Conslultant, PMU, Govt. of India and Rajendra Nimje collectively. Some of the points which emerged from this panel were as follows: • List of services identified should be common at National Level and some services should be left to the states to decide the type and the priority of service. • Aspiration levels (eReadiness) of states and Districts may be different; hence implementation methodology should be left to the respective Districts. • Not to target services that are in MMPS • Reasonable amount of backend to be done along with process re engineering. • If the service falls under a single office/ or a single department: end to end computerisation should be taken up or if it involves multiple departments, then computerisation may be taken up in Phases. • A single application for a particular service should be developed and available across the nation and should be able to customize accordingly to suit different needs. • Front end delivery mechanism – CSCs • Two Phase implementation: Pilot in 2 to 3 Districts and then roll it out in the entire state. • User Charges should be levied – to meet maintenance. charges. • Focus on Training and change management of employees. • Study the best Practices in other Districts and adopt the same. • Process re engineering should be taken up step by step. • The service should be available from District, to Thana and then to Village level. • Time line as essential factor to be circulated and discussed Raghuveer, the organising lead of the seminar concluded the session calling for an action saying ‘it is a beginning of a networking, contributing further to the improved service delivery to citizens through an effective use of technology” and hoped that the national conference at Bhopal in February would give the eDistrict MMP a final shape based on the deliberations that are held at Hyderabad.  Reported by Ajitha Saravanan,


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Bytes for All... BFA Bangladesh launches ICT4D report Successful usage of ICT to the purposes of social development in Bangladesh is not that old. Past few years have been very eventful in the means and the context of using ICT for development (ICT4D) which has now turned into an independent domain of interest to different stakeholders. Therefore a study on the present status of different areas in ICT4D (in Bangladesh) was very important and Bytes for All Bangladesh teamed up with a number of local lead organisations/individuals in preparing a status report on these areas and uploading that document as a Wiki to seek feedback from our readers. Please read and edit the document with your views, correction and information at: ?q=national_report Courtesy: Monjur Mahmud

Global engineering and design portal Autodesk Inc. has announced the launch of its Global Student Engineering and Design Community portal (http:// in India. The launch of this portal is part of Autodesk’s global initiative to educate the student community with latest 3D design technologies and prepare them for careers in engineering and design. As of today, more than 1,100 universities across 54 countries are part of Autodesk’s student community portal. Courtesy: Frederick Noronha,

FLOSS feeds Want to know what’s happening in the world of Free/Libre and Open Source Software around Asia? Check

titled ‘Telecentres and Community Resource and Information Centers in Pakistan’ programme that will be targeting setting up of rural ‘Telecentres’ in Pakistan under the Universal Service Fund Programme. Courtesy: Fawad Riaz Bajwa

Tracking news online for non-profit Subramanya Sastry has created this superb tool called NewsRack that allows one to electronically track news published on certain subjects (of your choice). You can set up the keywords, and it will keep track of the news. It’s meant primarily for non-profit organisations, and one could try it out too. in New Delhi has a server that allows one to create ‘alerts’ for themes of one’s choice. Courtesy: Frederick Noronha

Panel on global waste flows Toxics Link and International Institute of Industrial and Environmental Economics, Sweden conducted a panel discussion on ‘Materials, Products and Waste Global flows and local environments – impacts on Developing Countries’ on December 18, 2006 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India. The panel is a part of the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Society for Ecological Economics on ‘Ecological Sustainability and Human Well-Being’ ( Courtesy: Sejuti Sarkar De

FSF launches BadVista initiative Webcast on eSecurity ICT is becoming increasingly pervasive in development projects, and is often cited as a tool to reduce corruption and improve the efficiency of government services. As a result, e-Security is becoming a significant challenge for developing and transition countries, especially those that are ill-prepared to deal with technology risks. This seminar provides insights into how such risks can be recognised and addressed by both public entities and task team leaders (TTLs) across all sectors to ensure better financial returns and overall impact for e-Government initiatives.

The Free Software Foundation launched, a campaign with a twofold mission of exposing the harms inflicted on computer users by the new Microsoft Windows Vista and promoting free software alternatives that respect users’ security and privacy rights. The campaign will organise supporters into effective and unusual actions drawing attention to this daylight theft of computer users’ rights, aggregate news stories cutting through the Vista marketing propaganda, and provide a user-friendly gateway to the adoption of free software operating systems. (See

Courtesy: Oleg Petrov

Courtesy: Anivar Aravind

Telecentre movement in Pakistan

ICT industry incurring loss for political turmoil

Pakistan is gearing up for a massive and expansive Telecentre movement evolving as a multi-stakeholder initiative. However, the crown for advocating and initiating the process of Telecentres goes to both the World Bank and Mr. Salman Ansari of SATC (Salman Ansari Technology Consultants) who has completed the final report

After severe power crisis, the on going deep-rooted political turmoil is hampering the growth of our ICT sector. The much hyped thrust sector is incurring great loses for current political turmoil, which may turn out to be more than previous political transitions. Software and other IT enabling services are facing hurdles just when the


i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2

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Bytes for All... industry is finding new windows for exports. Access the entire article on the link below. Courtesy: Shahidul K. K. Shuvra

Search India patents online claims it is the first site to provide a complete, searchable and free version of post-TRIPs Indian patent applications and issued patents. It is created by Professor Bhaven Sampat of the International Centre for Health Outcomes and Innovation Research and the Department of Health Policy and Management at ColumbiaUniversity, together with Patrick Crosby of XB Labs, LLC and The Ford Foundation generously provided material support for data collection and software development, and Sarah Allenby provided excellent research assistance. Courtesy: Soenke Zehle

Sri Lanka digitises birth, marriage and death certificates The preliminary chapter of the restructuring process of the issuance of birth, marriage and death certificates is near completion in Sri Lanka. ‘This tech savvy initiative will allow Divisional Secretariats to bring down lengthy waiting times to as little as 10 minutes for the issuance of any one of these certificates,’ said D.C. Dissanayake, Programme Manager, ICT Agency of Sri Lanka. Courtesy: Nuzreth Jalaldin

Engendering National ICT Policy:

media organisations, free culture creators and grassroots journalists with a particular emphasis on those in developing and transition countries. Courtesy: George Lessard

Microsoft on wireless mesh networks When a giant such as Microsoft initiates research projects on technology, it is pretty clear that it’s going to be the future. I recently stumbled upon a page that talks about their research in the field of ‘wireless mesh networks’. As it seems they have been at it fora while now. Microsoft seems to have applied its ‘Embrace, Extend and Extinguish’ ideology to this. Mesh Connectivity Layer (MCL) started its life as a version of the Dynamic Source Routing Protocol (DSR). DSR has been extensively modified to improve its behavior, most significantly to support link quality metrics. Courtesy: Warren Noronha

Creating the Arab Creative Commons The Arab Commons initiative ( was officially launched as an ambitious project to promote and support the creation and development of Arabic content released under Creative Commons licenses. The initiative aims to educate Arab artists, intellectuals and creative workers about the advantages of releasing their works under the Creative Commons licenses. Arabic is the native language of more than 200 million people, and is spoken by a much larger number. Courtesy: Frederick Noronha

Free online abstracts podcasts

This year’s final edition features articles and analysis from new writers in different regions. Focusing on national policies, the articles aim to assess the current political landscape and will to integrate gender into efforts at developing ICTs in the country. New resources are collated around this theme focusing on contexts and priorities in diverse locations.

JournalJunkie provides free online podcasts of the abstracts of articles in a growing number of medical journals. You can listen to them online or download them to your MP3 player. You can also ‘subscribe’ for automatic downloads. When the journals provide their own podcasts (as Lancet, BMJ, NEJM, and JAMA do, for example), JournalJunkie simply adds links and the layer of subscription management. For journals that don’t already provide podcasts, JournalJunkie makes its own. All the voices on its podcasts are human—and it has a standing call for more human readers.

Courtesy: Shahzad Ahmad

Courtesy: Subbiah Arunachalam

Open publishing edition of NGO-in-a-Box launched The Open Publishing edition of NGO-in-a-box is a toolkit of free and open source software, tutorials and guides for producing, publishing and distributing content. The edition, produced by Tactical Tech in collaboration with iCommons, is aimed at small to medium sized non-profits, independent February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

Bytes for All: Bytes For All Readers Discussion: bytesforall_readers Bytes for All Summary Archive: Bytes for All discussion summary compiled by: Zunaira Durrani, Bytes for All, USA


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Telecentres in Pakistan: A Way Forward The Broadband Policy of the GoP was rolled out with the aim of driving PC penetration, Broadband access and ICT services across all population segments and geographic areas of Pakistan. It was also realized that there are vast locations of unserved and underserved areas and populaces where market forces will have to be facilitated in rolling out voice and broadband data services due to lack of viable business cases. The Universal Service Fund framework is hence being devised to ensure availability of ICT and basic telecommunication services to these un-served/underserved populations and geographic areas through competitive offering of CAPEX subsidies. Setting up of community telecentres offering broadband internet connectivity and access to E-services tailored for rural communities along with voice and other services, is considered to be an important component of the Universal Service

At present, a public-private-partnership model is being considered for implementation in which private sector is involved in providing the basic infrastructure while the public sector would facilitate and support in deployment at the key locations.

Considerations for Effective Sustainable Deployment Since the key consideration for effective deployment is to guarantee the sustainability of the centers and proper ownership for life to avoid wastage of the resources, the following have to be ensured during execution • Facilities for deployment at identified districts have to be picked keeping in mind public accessibility, security and central or federal ownership for coherent uniform deployment and to avoid cross departmental coordination issues. • Ownership of equipment and other

The USF policy is particularly designed to be technology neutral and upcoming innovative technologies are foreseen to play a significant part in realizing the objective of ubiquitous availability of a wide array of ICT services Program. Such telecentres have proved to be instrumental in bridging the digital divide and in extension of better economic opportunity to rural populations in several developing countries. The USF policy is particularly designed to be technology neutral and upcoming innovative technologies are foreseen to play a significant part in realizing the objective of ubiquitous availability of a wide array of ICT services.


resources of the project has to be fixed for continued upkeep and maintenance of the facility and coordinated operations. Replacement and maintenance of equipment to be included in the framework. • Responsibility has to be fixed on a recognized project partner or other entity for ensuring continual operations with adequate management, manpower and

other resources to ensure 12 or 16 hours operations. This could be the organisation in whose facility the telecentres are housed or another project partner. • Establishing the entitlement of collection of revenues or an appropriate revenue sharing arrangement and model for accounting of revenues etc.

Objectives and target areas The central aim of these Telecentres is the provision of better governance by delivering government services, low cost telephone connectivity, providing ICT training, basic telemedicine, e-mail, information about farming, weather. It is envisaged that this will help translate into an economic impact on the common man and to make quality of life better. Through the provision of telecommunication and ICT services being offered through the Information Telecentres under the USF, the following types of benefits are expected: • Improved education • Improved health • Improved communication and social cohesion • Access to government services • Access to information • Access to commercial services • Access to markets • Better employment opportunities Hence, significant improvements in local economy and social well-being are expected as a result of successful establishment and operation of these centres. 

Salman Malik Sr. Project Manager Ministry of IT, Pakistan

i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2

February 2007

ICTD Project Newsletter

Decision Support Systems: Facilitating the Panchayat Planning Process Decision Support Systems have come a long way since 1965 when the first IBM System 360 and other mainframe systems were used to develop Management Information Systems for large companies. Today DSS is widely used in diverse applications ranging from aerospace medicine to managing populations of wild animals in protected areas. Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. – Author Unknown


aking decisions is always a tough task. The task is even tougher when all the variables that may have an impact on the decision are not fully known. Many variables are inter-related in complex and often subtle ways and predicting the total outcome may be daunting, if not impossible. Decision making in complex systems like the command and control of military units, organization of manufacturing processes, natural resource management, etc. often stretches the limits of our capabilities. While the interactions between different elements in the system may be fully known, it may be difficult to predict the influence of external variables on the system or to predict how the system will react to a change in the external system for e.g. a policy decision. An example will illustrate the point. Valley of Flowers is a beautiful region nestling in the Himalayas. During the monsoons the slopes are carpeted with flowers of numerous delicate hues and the valley is a paradise not only for nature lovers but also for botanists since many of the flora are endemic

to the region – not to be found anywhere else in the world. There are many villages bordering the valley. The locals graze their cattle in the valley. The local forest authorities took a decision to ban grazing in the valley thinking that would protect the flora of the valley. Exactly the opposite happened. Within a year or two the valley was overgrown with weeds which were choking the flowering plants and the famed beauty of the valley was in danger of disappearing. The decision to ban grazing was hastily revoked. Since in many situations the quality of decisions is important, sometimes even critical, for e.g. medicine, information technology is used to supplement the decision making process. While disciplines such as economics, operations research, etc have developed models to help take rational decisions; newer disciplines like information science, artificial intelligence, etc have helped recast these models as computer programs to help complex decision making processes. This has given rise to Decision Support

Systems (DSSs). While the concept of a DSS is very broad and definitions vary, in general, a DSS is a class of computer-based information system that supports decision making activities. It is a general term for any computer application that enhances a person’s or group’s ability to make decisions. DSS does not intend to replace the decision making capability of a human being. It couples the intellectual resource of individuals with the capabilities of the computer to improve the quality of decisions. DSSs are being used increasingly in business, financial management, predicting markets, clinical diagnosis, military, engineering, management of natural resources like watersheds and water bodies, fisheries, wildlife management (e.g. managing trumpeter swan populations in the Rocky Mountains), evaluating river basin strategies, evaluating strategies to halt desertification, etc. They are proving to be indispensable in situations where the amount of information available is too large for the unaided decision maker and where precision and optimal

Make ICTs Work for People

decision making is important. DSS can integrate various sources of information, provide intelligent access to relevant knowledge and aid the process of structuring decisions. While no universal taxonomy exists the following is widely accepted: • Model-driven DSS: There is access to and manipulation of a statistical, financial, optimization or simulation model. Model-driven DSS plug in the data and parameters provided by the user into a model while analyzing a situation. • Knowledge-driven DSS: This provides specialized problem solving expertise stored as facts, rules, procedures or in similar structures. • Data-driven DSS: They emphasize access to and manipulation of internal company data or sometimes external data. • Document-driven DSS: These systems manage, retrieve and manipulate unstructured information in a variety of electronic formats. • Communication-driven DSS: This supports more than one


person working on a shared task. DSS in Governance and Development After the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments local governance bodies now have greater powers to make locally relevant plans for economic development and social welfare of their constituencies. DSS can greatly aid and support local governance bodies in planning, forecasting and information management. The Government of India initiated a number of technology-based programmes to support local level planning viz. Natural Resources Data Management System (NRDMS) of the Department of Science & Technology, National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS) of the Department of Space and Geographical Information System (GISNIC) and District Information System (DISNIC) of the National Informatics Center (Ministry of Communication and Information Technology). The most notable and probably the longest running use of DSS for local level planning is

the NRDMS. The objectives of the project are to: • Develop spatial data management tools for district planning; • Demonstrate the applicability of the tools in two districts: Bankura in West Bengal & Kolar in Karnataka for water resource management, land use planning, energy management and infrastructure development; • Strengthen institutional backup through training programmes and technology transfer. A major outcome of the project is a comprehensive understanding of the requirement of data processing tools for local level planning through a systematic needs assessment study. The indigenously developed GRAM++ GIS software package has been upgraded with additional features for databases on natural resources, demography, agroeconomy, socio-economy and infrastructure facilities. Evolution of NRDMS The NRDMS programme was initiated in 1982. During the first decade (1982-1992) the vision was to provide S&T inputs for operationalsing the concept of Decentralized Planning of the country. The goal of the programme was to develop computer compatible methodology for developing spatial databases on natural resources, socio and agroeconomic parameters to further the concept of area specific decentralized planning. In order to achieve this goal, the objectives of the programme were: • To promote R&D in spatial data management. • To develop pilot scale integrated databases on natural resources and socio-economic parameters to cater to micro level planning. • To demonstrate the efficacy of

At the end of the first decade, standardized formats and computer-based methodologies for collection, storage and retrieval of data on natural resources and socio-economic parameters were developed. An indigenous DOS based GIS package, Geo Reference Area Management (GRAM) was developed in modular form. The developed packages were operationalised by establishing ten pilot district database centers at Vishakapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Koraput (Orissa), Sultanpur (Uttar Pradesh), Gurgaon (Haryana), Kheda (Gujarat), Alwar (Rajasthan), Munger (Bihar), Pauri (Uttar Pradesh), Chandel (Manipur), Goa/ Daman. Some decision support modules for location of amenities, land and water management and investment planning were developed in research mode. The application of NRDMS technology was demonstrated in drought management in the Gurgaon district of Haryana. On evaluation of the first decade of NRDMS programme the following shortcomings were observed: Data: The developed databases were mostly non-spatial and not much spatial data was available. Due to lack of data flow between sectors the databases developed

Source: Website of Dept. of Science & Technology

were not integrated in nature and did not serve the information need of local level planners. Despite the huge amount of data collected, little of it was available in computer readable form. Technology: There was no technology diffusion to the local level due to the high cost of hardware and software. To fulfill the needs of local level planning there was a need to develop lowcost technologies for spatial information generation. The developed databases needed constant updating and developed software and GRAM needed updating and maintenance.

while the goals were focused towards 1. Development of spatial data management technologies for integrated rural development planning and 2. Demonstration of utility of spatial data tools in local level decision making.

Technology Transfer: Lack of trained manpower at the local level was hindering the application of spatial data technologies to local level planning.

Use of DSS in local planning received a boost with the passage of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments which mandated local bodies to carry out planning and implement integrated development schemes. The VIII 5 Year-Plan (1990-95) suggested that the developmental plans should be drawn up at the local level (district and below) taking into account the physical and human endowments of the area, felt needs of the people and funds available.

The evolution of NRDMS during the second decade (1992-2002) was primarily influenced by the introduction of GIS and launch of the Indian Remote Sensing Satellites. The programme was looked upon as a major initiative for introduction of geo spatial technologies and tools in the local level planning of the country. In this context, vision of the programme remained the same as first decade,

At the end of the second decade, about USD2.1 million had been spent on the NRDMS programme which included a support of USD1.26 million from the UNDP. The major outputs at the end of second decade were as follows: 1. Improved procedures for data collection, collation and processing at local level developed. 2. Indigenous GIS package GRAM


Make ICTs Work for People

database approach for management and conservation of natural resources with emphasis on location specific problems. • To build spatial resource profiles at different hierarchical units of planning i.e. district, block and panchayat . • To provide software support for data management, modelling and operations research.

Make ICTs Work for People 42

(ii) Bio-Geo database for ecological modelling of Himalayas (iii) Landslide studies (iv) Coastal Zone Management & Conservation







upgraded to Windows based GRAM++ and allied tools like GRAM controls, VECVIEWER, GRAM-DRISHTI developed for customization and applications development. Tutors (GIS Tutor, GRAM++ Tutor) developed for the training of officials and Line Department staff, NGOs and Communities in principles of GIS. Spatial Decision Support Systems for water management, energy management and infrastructure development developed. Software to aid watershed management developed e.g. GRAM SWAT, WMDSS, ECOLAND. User-friendly interfaces developed for language conversion, visualization and web-based applications. Spatial resource profiles and user specified applications developed and demonstrated at district level in selected sectors of land and water management, road construction, infrastructure location, health planning, natural disaster management, election management etc. Pilot scale district level GIS databases developed and demonstrated in 40 districts.


Stage has reached for proliferation of the Geo-information technologies at other districts. 9. Availability of the core expertise in spatial data management in R&D institutions and concept champions at districts/states. Going Forward Building on the lessons learnt during the second decade of implementation the objectives for the Tenth Plan (2002-2007) period are as follows: 1. Establishment of NRDMS District Centres: It is proposed that every state in the country will have district-level NRDMS centres. 2. Karnataka – A laboratory for NRDMS Methodology: To test the efficacy of the NRDMS methodology as a planning tool on a state-wide scale it is envisaged that one State should be covered in entirety. Karnataka has been chosen as the pilot state. 3. Promote R&D initiatives for (a) Improvements in database management: (b) Development & adoption of new techniques for data generation & analysis (c) Promote NRDMS methodology for (i) Land & water systems analysis

Other good examples of DSS applications in local level planning are in Paramakudi taluk of Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu; land use changes and micro-level regional planning in three panchayats: Kumarakom, Ramanakari and Pallipad of Kuttanad region in Kerala and SAKARMA in Kerala. Consolidation of Efforts In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. – Roosevelt The objective of a DSS is to put the user in the first category (of the above quote) and not the second and third. There are many scattered efforts going on all over the country to develop DSS for strengthening panchayats in local level planning. These efforts are mostly being developed in isolation. There is an urgent need for all partners to come together on a common platform to consolidate efforts so that useful applications can be rolled out on a nation-wide basis to support panchayats become stronger and more self-reliant. ICTD

NISG and i4d jointly hold the copyright to the articles printed in the ICTD section of the i4d magazine and website. For permission to reprint the articles please write to the Editor i4d.






Evolving ‘Mobile Lady’ into ‘Info Lady’ Making ICTs relevant to the poor people is basically about providing information and knowledge services, which are related to their livelihood. If telecentres are only for providing communication services, it would be difficult to find any direct poverty alleviation effect. D.Net has been experimenting what livelihood contents make an impact on the livelihood of the poor people in rural Bangladesh since 2003. D.Net also has deployed multiple ICT channels for testing also channel suitability of the contents. One of the D.Net’s innovations was the concept of “mobile lady” with mobile phone in hand roaming door-to-door in villages for making poor people access livelihood advices through advisers at help desks. The mobile lady concept as a part of “Pallitathya Help Line” solved a number of problems simultaneously: a. Problem of electricity: mobile phone charging facilities are available thus problem of low coverage of electricity was overcome; b. Problem of ICT penetration: Computer and other ICTs are relatively expensive and not wide-spread, however, mobile

phone connectivity is now available in 85% of territory of Bangladesh. Thus, the mobile phone was chosen to bring the benefit of ICTs to poor people as quickly as possible. Similar rapid expansion of mobile phone network is true for many countries across the globe; c. Problem of outreach: As the mobile lady moves door-to-door, the delivery of services and promotion takes place simultaneously. Generally, across the globe, it is difficult to make people coming to the telecentres, as it is a matter of behavioral change of the people, which takes longer time. This approach solved that problem of mind shifting of the rural people. Women and physically handicapped people face difficulties visiting telecentres for getting services. The mobile lady concept includes these two important groups of beneficiaries; d. ‘Mobile lady’ emerged as a new profession for educated women in the villages; e. The earnings from the ‘help line’ services were enough to cover both fixed and variable costs and it was financially viable for the mobile lady. However, the financial viability problem was not

D.Net’s innovation was the concept of ‘mobile lady’ with mobile phone in hand roaming door-to-door in villages for making poor people access livelihood advices through advisers at help desks. The mobile lady concept as a part of ‘Pallitathya Help Line’ solved a number of problems simultaneously. February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |

resolved for the help desk. It is important that without sustainability of the help desk help line model’s sustainability will not matter in the long run. D.Net has developed an animation character with the mobile lady, which is named as “MONI”, a lady with a by-cycle moves door-to-door to promote telecentre and help line for improving people’s access to livelihood information and knowledge. D.Net received Global Gender and ICT Award 2005 in recognition of this innovation. Despite tremendous success, the mobilephone based service delivery had number of limitations, which are as follows: a. limited number of services: only helpline and commercial phone services are available through the mobile phone available with the mobile lady; b. financial viability: the mobile phone charge has been reducing, so there is threat to the financial viability at the mobile lady end; c. unavailability of livelihood content: as limited people visit the telecentres, there is a need whether the content could be made available through the mobile phone. Although web browsing is available in many mobile phones, it is not convenient for the users, as the screen is very small. D.Net team was searching for alternatives and finally decided that a SmartPhone could be a very good solution to the problems mentioned above keeping all the benefits of the mobile-lady concept. Having this SmartPhone, D.Net wants to rename the mobile lady as “info-lady”, because she is now able to offer information and knowledge services as well.  Source: Innovative Solution Series-1, Development Research Network Bangladesh





Euro-Indian cooperation for research funding The two workshops organised in January 2007 by the Euro–India ICT Co-operation Initiative ( in Pune and Hyderabad focused on the growing opportunities for Indians to participate in European Research funding and to strengthen Indian participation in Framework Programme 7 (FP7), Europe’s main instrument for funding research, running from 2007-2013. These two workshops leveraged off the success of three earlier Euro-India ICT Co-operation workshops held in Bangalore, Mumbai and Kharagphur, bringing together European and Indian players in the arena of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Over 15 speakers from leading IT enterprises, research organisations, and experts from European funded projects provided a first-hand look at European projects, challenges, solutions and new ideas. European Experts explained the inner workings of EU-funded research projects with a practical guide on how Indians can get involved in successful funded international research projects.

IT specialists shared their extensive experience in collaborating with Europe, highlighting the benefits of joint cooperation and underlining the multiple opportunities for Indian organisations through joint EU-Indian projects. They also spoke on multilateral cooperation in RTD from an Indian perspective providing experiences with Europe and related projects. Ravi Jain, Vice-President, Tech Mahindra Limited (, India said “The Euro-India ICT Cooperation

Initiative provides Indian Enterprises the opportunity to interact and network with experts from industry and academia to innovate and develop solutions with the help of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), addressing challenges that we all face.” Balamuralidhar P., Tata Consultancy Services ( stated, “TCS is the premier Indian IT company with a global footprint. Participation in EU R&D projects enables our organisation to collaborate with a large group of experts possessing complementary capabilities, making our own contribution to research and innovation all the more relevant in the global arena.” Now is the time to act. Inform your European contacts that you are interested in participating in EU Framework Programme7 project proposals; visit IDEALIST to view Partner Searches to discover a European consortia that is seeking your expertise;inform us at that you are active in pursuing EC funded project for us to assist and support you  For more information on the Euro-India ICT Co-operation Initiative and future workshops in Chennai and Kanpur in March 2007 visit


i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2

What’s on Africa 28-30 May, 2007 eLearning Africa 2007, Kenya

Australia 7-8 March, 2007 23rd Annual Conference, ATUG 2007 AustralianTechnology Park, Sydney

18-20 September, 2007 Wimax Global Forum,Germany wimaxvision/world_forum

8-11 October, 2007 Broadband World Forum Europe 2007 Estrel Convention Centre, Berlin

Singapore 20-22 March, 2007 Mobile Content World Suntec International Exhibition & Convention Centre, Singapore

15-17 May, 2007 Wimax Asia The Shangri La Hotel, Singapore wimaxvision/asia



20-21March, 2007 Wireless World 2007 Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre

17-19 December, 2007 3rd Indian International Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IICAI), Pune, India

3-6 March, 2007 Web Information Systems and Technologies Barcelona, Spain

1-3 May, 2007 CeBIT Australia 2007, Sydney

United Kingdom


5-6 March, 2007 4th Annual the Connected Home, London

26-29 March, 2007 Fiera Milano Congressi, C5 World Forum


7 March, 2007 TV Over Net, London

27-30 May, 2007 9th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries, Paulista Plaza Hotel, SĂŁo Paulo


14 -17 May 2007 8th Malaysian International Conference on Communications (MICC), Malaysia

13 March, 2007 JISC Conference International Convention Centre, London


Philippines event_conf_0307.aspx

3-6 December, 2007 ITU TELECOM EUROPE Sofia, Bulgaria

23-24 April, 2007 ICT on People, Work and Communities in Asia, Philippines

CSDMS Events

China 7-8 March, 2007 3rd Powerline Communications World Asia 2007, Hong Kong render.jsp?

14-17 April, 2007 International ICT Expo, HongKong

31 July - 02 August, 2007 Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, India eGovIndia 2007

Digital Learning India 2007

Indian Telecentre Forum 2007


eHealth India 2007

15-21 March, 2007 CeBIT Hannover

mServe India 2007

United States 9-10 May, 2007 GovSec, Washington DC

Uganda 5-8 August, 2007 3rd Annual International Conference on Computing and ICT Research - SREC07, Makerere University, Kampala

Vietnam 15-17 March, 2007 Projects Vietnam 2007 Ho Chi Minh International Exhibition and Convention Centre (HIECC) Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Get your event listed here. February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2 |



Variation in telecentre services The services offered by telecentres are mostly based on ICT by sharing local equipment and connectivity to telecommunications networks. The concept of sharing such facilities and access is especially interesting in remote or a deprived areas. The data analysed is based on the study of ‘Digital Dividend Clearing House’ on 200 representative telecentre initiatives world wide by various sectors for a host of services. Accordingly telecentre services are categorised by the kind of management the organisation is built upon: for-profit, government or non-profit. Based on these classifications, the majority of telecentres specified in the Clearinghouse are of non-profit. • Profit projects companies are set up with an aim to make a return on their investment. • Government projects are initiatives of a government or government agency and may or may not aim to achieve sustainability/profitability on an individual telecentre level. • Non-profit projects include those set up by foundations, international agencies, NGOs and civil society organisations and other corporate philanthrophic activities/institutions.

The global distribution of telecentre projects As per the data of Clearing house, Asia and Africa have the highest numbers, indicating g the low teledensity that leads to a higher demand for telecentre services in these regions. Among countries, India (25 percent) and South Africa (8 percent) have the most telecentre projects.

Telecentre initiative activities by sector

The variation of activities of a telecentre vary widely depending on the type of management (for-profit, non-profit, or government). The graph shows a breakdown of activities based on sector. • For-profit telecentres: It mostly provides agricultural inputs like accurate crop prices, weather reports, and crop diagnostic services besides business development, e-Commerce, and financial services. • Government telecentres: They primarily offer e-Governance services besides skill upgradation services like computer training, education (in a minor scale), and activities related to agriculture, youth, and the empowerment of women. • Non-profit telecentres: These organisations vastly offers services in computer training, education, and youth-based activities. Healthcare and radio applications are also offered in these centres with little profit motive.

Telecentre initiatives by sector

Telecentre initiatives by region



i4d | February 2007 | Vol. V No. 2

Click-start to an e-healthy journey ...

rg e.o n i nl ho t l ea .eh w ww

... by simply logging on to The pulse on Asia’s e-Health

India's Premier ICT4D event 31July - 02 August, 2007 Pragati Maidan, New Delhi

eIndia 2007 is the premier ICT4D event of India. This is the largest ever conference and exhibition covering the fast growing ICT4D activities in the country encompassing the following five events: •

egov India 2007

• digital Learning India 2007

Indian Telecentre Forum 2007

• eHealth India 2007

mserve India 2007

Communities of Practice Telecentres : february 2007 Issue  

i4d encompasses the role and relevance of ICT in various development sectors such as Rural Development, Gender, Governance, Micro-finance, E...

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