February 13, 2007
When one talks about E-governance for conservation, most of us dismiss the idea as one whose time has not come.
But an article I read at the following link called
the 100 dollar un-pc
reassures me that the day is not far when we can achieve that.
The article talks about the revolutionary product Nova net tv which is a PC costing less than Rs 5000/-
Rajesh Jain, co-founder of Novatium
says that in India’s PC market there are 10 million relatively wealthy Indians at the "top of the pyramid" who buy computers just like consumers in developed countries. There are an additional 30 million urban Indians at the "middle of the pyramid" and
100 million very poor Indians at the "bottom of the pyramid." "What we are saying is how can you dramatically bring down the entry levels for computing in this country and make it accessible to the middle of the pyramid?" he says.
Novatium’s approach has been to completely redesign the computer, slashing costs while keeping the form and functions typical
of a top-end PC. Once it’s set up, it doesn’t look all that different from a conventional PC—the basic box plus a keyboard and monitor. It installs and operates as simply as a television—you plug it in and switch it on. And the money doesn’t come from government
budgets or philanthropic largesse, but from Jain’s profit-oriented business model.
The concept owner and cofounder Prof. Jhunjhunwala and researchers at IIT came up with a plan that builds on the "thin client" concept
that has been popular in the West for years, but only for business applications. It uses a cheap microprocessor and removes the hard disk, CD/DVD drive and other costly and problem-prone components, leaving the keyboard, screen and USB port. Easier to maintain
than regular PCs, sales of thin-client PCs to businesses are growing at about 20 percent a year in developed nations, even as sales of regular PCs flatten. Instead of working backward from the PC, Jhunjhunwala pioneered a new architecture from the ground up,
replacing the expensive microprocessor with the guts of a mobile phone—thus tapping a supercompetitive industry with enormous economies of scale. In 2003, Jain and Jhunjhunwala cofounded Novatium, along with Analog Devices Chairman Ray Stata, with the aim
of taking thin-client computers into the home market.
Read the full article which appeared in News Week International at
May 23, 2006
Ashok Jhunjhunwala of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, is the key expert behind innovation of cordDECT technology,a low-cost advanced Wireless Access System.
What is CorDECT Technology?
It is a wireless in a local loop (WiLL) technology. What it means is that the connection from an exchange to any home is on wireless, very much like mobile, instead of copper wires. It is a fixed wireless connection, which can be used not only for telephony
but also for Internet connectivity. It is tailor-made for broadband deployment and for rural areas.
Read more about it at
March 08, 2006
This article appeared in http://www.thinkcycle.org
The article details an initiative launched in February 2003 in Phon Kham, a village in the jungles of northern Laos: a human-powered computer called the Jhai Computer (Jhai means hearts and minds working together in Laotian).
A villager on a stationary bicycle will make it possible for the village to connect to the Internet via wireless remote. The idea is to provide communication, because every day they sell their ducks, rice, weaving and chickens, and sell for less money than
they should because they can't know the real price down in the towns.
Organisers claim that this project is unique in that it relies on simple materials like foot pedals and wireless antennas rather than high-tech devices (or even electricity). All 200 residents of Phon Kham live in bamboo houses with thatch roofs, none of
which have electricity or telephone access.
Laos is the 10th-poorest country worldwide. The bike-pedaled generator will power a battery that in turn runs the computer, which sits in an 8-by-10-inch box. The computer will run on only 12 watts (compared to a typical computer's 90 watts). A wireless
card (an 802.11b, the current industry standard) will be hooked up to an antenna bolted on the roof of a bamboo house; the signal will be beamed from there to an antenna nailed to a tree on top of a mountain. The signal will be bounced to Phon Hong, which
sits 25 miles from Phon Kham and is the nearest big village with phone lines. The phone lines then hook to an Internet service provider. The Jhai runs on Linux software.
A Laotian IBM engineer in New York to customised the software to the Lao language. The Internet connection will enable the Jhai Computer to be used not only for e-mail, but also as a two-way telephone system (through Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP).
It has no moving parts, the lid seals up tight, and you can dunk it in water and it will still run...
The idea is to be rugged, last at least 10 years and run in both the monsoon season and the dry season.
March 08, 2006
‘IT for Social Change’ (IT4SC), a network idea by Anil Shaligram who used to run a DTP centre in Maharashtra, is being implemented by him in the State.
His strategy is to conduct community IT literacy campaigns, set up IT Centers in localities. Through village network he plans to collect basic relevant data and contents on various issues, computerize these and use it for analysis, dissemination and broadcasting.
The first Social Process Software that uses these data for analysis and resolution of community problems has been developed called
Domestic Women Workers’ Software Tool and it is being used by domestic worker's unions. In addition to employment issues and domestic women workers from cities and towns, they have also taken up the issues of sanitation and water conservation
in villages, public distribution system, public health, poverty related issues, destitute people's pensions etc.in the next software application.
Anil also writes about how the grass root movement is being led by youth. In Beed District youth lead IT driven rainwater harvesting and water management. In Parbhani they use IT to guarantee employment to communities. In New Mumbai, they are exercising
right to information and communication using internet to win a participation in developmental process. In Satara, IT has become integral part of their education and cultural activism.
Anil envisages that the concept of IT for Social Change (IT4SC) will become a major Social Sectoral concept and 21st century is going to be a Networking Society and Knowledge Society. This IT enabled community based concept is going to play a major role
in the formation and constitution of that society. It can also be a CONVERGING SOCIETY in which organizational solutions like IT4SC will emerge by which backward communities can catch up with the advanced communities by using advance knowledge and technologies
to usher into an egalitarian world community.
Anil can be contacted at email@example.com
January 26, 2006
“Participatory Rule Appraisal” (PRA) appears to be paying dividends to the West Godavari district administration in implementing the relief and rehabilitation package meant for the people of 29 villages who had to be displaced due to the construction of
Under PRA, the role of district administration will be minimal. The concept, the brainchild of West Godavari district Collector Luv Agarwal sounds interesting. In case of Devaragondi and Mamidigondi villages, the district administration limited its role
to explaining the salient features of the package and identified several places suitable for rehabilitating the displaced. The villagers visited all the places and themselves chose where they wished to stay.
“Now, we will ask the people to choose the plots where they want their houses to be constructed. Once, all the villagers identify the plots, construction of houses will be handed over to the NGOs,” says West Godavari district Collector Luv Agarwal .
As per the project schedule, people of seven villages have to be first rehabilitated in the new villages within three years. By the time, all this is over, the people will develop some attachment too to their new habitations, the Collector said. Though PAR
is a time consuming process, its sustainability is more and the chances of irregularities are less, the Collector added. According to him, the State government has already cleared the proposals pertaining to Devaragondi and Mamidigondi villages and the process
is on for the remaining habitations.
January 26, 2006
n-Logue was established to serve the information and communications needs of people living in small towns and rural areas of India.
To rapidly scale its operations, the company employs a three-tiered business model based on the belief that delivery and management of Internet services should devolve to the level of the supply chain that comes closest to the user of the service. This decentralised
model of operation draws, in large part, from the success of cable TV operations in India.
At the top level is n-Logue, which provides equipment, training and support to the LSPs(Local Service Providers) and kiosks, and also takes care of regulatory and connectivity issues.
At the second level, n-Logue identifies and partners with a local entrepreneur (also called a Local Service Provider or LSP) in every area it wishes to operate. These LSPs find subscribers, provide services and collect payments.
At the bottom level are the village kiosks, which provide services and information aimed at the rural market. With the help of n-Logue, the LSPs recruits the local entrepreneurs who set up the kiosks.
Thus there are up to three business entities involved in the operation - n-Logue, the LSP and a kiosk operator. All three must thrive for the operation to succeed.
Prof. Jhunjhunwallah of IIT Madras who is behind making available an Internet kiosk for just Rs 40,000 (around US$830) that could link up thousands of villages in the country has this to say
” Since we're talking about low investments we can create an army of rural entrepreneurs. They could avail of small loans to set up their own rural STD phone-cum-Internet centres," These small rural businessmen will be 50 per cent partners, and since they
will be from the local areas in which they operate they will have far better contact with those with whom they work. In a 25km radius, they expect to find buyers for 500 to 700 connections. These may be individuals, government offices, schools and, most importantly,
Internet kiosks that allow access to everyone. This level of operation should make a LSP viable, says Dr Jhunjhunwala.
Even if the numbers don't come in immediately, they will in a year's time when people start realising how new communication technologies empower them. Work towards this end is already underway at Cuddalore district, in India's southernmost province of Tamil
Nadu. The technology is also being successfully implemented in Madurai (also in Tamil Nadu) and Dhar in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Likewise, the project is taking hold in Bagru of Rajasthan and Sangrur in north India. "We could have a million
subscribers in three to four years. It's possible." Simultaneously, Jhunjhunwala is inspiring youngsters to work on rural Internet applications.
And also on offer is word-processing in the local Tamil language, a mail-client in Tamil, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) or voice-mail in the local language and an agricultural portal in the regional language. "We're adopting two key elements. Affordability,
since everything is very low cost, and involving a local person in providing the solutions," says Professor Jhunjhunwala, explaining his model.
Thus far n-Logue has implemented the project in four centres. "The first-level feedback has been extremely encouraging. We have kiosks running in the middle of Madhya Pradesh where the average revenue a kiosk man makes is Rs 4,500 per month. Net of expenses,
he makes Rs 3,000 per month, which makes him a rich man in that village,"
January 08, 2006
The Grameen Sanchar Sewak (GSS) scheme, kickstarted by BSNL and the Department of Posts in 2002, is ready to be regularised and go national.
The GSS scheme, which began with the idea of employing rural postmen to carry mobile phones from door-to-door in 12,001 villages, has tapped into the 7,000-strong network of self-employed people that Grasso( Grameen Sanchar Society)-a non-governmental organization
-uses to carry phones to far-flung locations.
Grasso-subsidized by BSNL for the gSS scheme- has provided mobile reach to 93% of West Bengal's 34 blocks. They are now planning Common Service Centres(CSCs) in the State's 3,357 gram panchayats. The CSCs are to be a hu for about 20 services, ranging from
electriity bill payment, tea and coffee to commodity trading, warehousing and cold storage.
December 12, 2005
I am not sure I would be in favour of reducing the number of people "dependent" on the Farm. One thing about a Farm is that it provides for the ability to grow "personal use" crops and hence the required nutrition and a very high degree of self-esteem. I
would not want to be in the situation of my grandfather who had to see his family disperse because the Farm could not support the family.
You can get the GDP and the Per Capita figures to be whatever you want. I am not sure if there is a value in the GDP for "3 meals a day for the family" as opposed to homeless existence in the "City".
Multi-Media enabled cyber-cafe in a village sounds like a good idea for providing the environment for knowledge transfer. Instead of just looking for cyber-cafe entrepreneurs, perhaps we should also look at small trades people who would support the "machineary
of the Farm and village".
December 10, 2005
Amin: They say the world has a digital divide. In the digital world, there is a further divide-the users and the techies. Take the case of cyber cafes which are the places from where most Indians access the e-mail. The cafe owner takes care of PC upkeep,
viruses etc ( He is a techie in his own right!) so the user is free to reap the benfits only- of emails-at a small price for the connect time. It is this user I had in mind when I was talking of empowerment.
I cannot agree more with you about the impact of the moving picture in spreading any kind of awareness. I am a film maker myself. I make films when I feel a strong need to communicate - like some would write articles or books. So, the knowledge centre at
the village must be a multimedia machine, capable of showing films, apart from storing data, communicating etc.
Coming back to our original topic of creating entrepreneurs at the village centre through e-governance. Allow me to quote Mr. Narayanmurthy, Chairman Infosys
“ About 650 million people live in the villages, and agriculture accounts for 26% of India’s GDP, which is about $162 billion. Divide $162 billion by 650 million, you get about $250 each. That is one-third the per capita income of India, which is about $700.
You could try increasing the productivity of India’s farm sector so it shoots up to about $ 1 trillion, but that’s a really tough task. Conversely, we could reduce the number of people dependent on agriculture, let’s say make it 450 million, and simultaneously
raise farm output to around $350 billion. This too would significantly raise per capita income, and it is far more manageable.”
But is it really manageable if we let “natural forces” to take charge? Faced by failed agriculture incomes, people are migrating to nearby cities in uncontrolled and mismanaged numbers. Creating knowledge centres in the villages will tempt the new job seekers
to stay back and become cyber entrepreneurs.
December 07, 2005
Susan I am not sure about the empowering impact of an e-mail becuase the reality these days is the spam that comes with an e-mail access. Empowerment would come from seeing and watching how other people in the world do the same things. I remember a story
where a person was trying to show the value of a brrom with a long handle as opposed to the hand-held bunch of "twigs". It was only by seeing the "advantage" of the broom did the change happen.