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Issue dated - 03rd May 2004


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Prof Keniston on India

Old India hand and close watcher of ICT-for-development initiatives, Prof Kenneth Keniston of MIT, has recently published a new book titled ‘IT Experience in India’, along with Deepak Kumar of Bangalore. Published by Sage in March 2004, it is priced at Rs 250 (paperback) and Rs 425 (cloth).

This book explores whether modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) can deliver on their promises of democracy and prosperity for the people of developing nations who comprise 80 per cent of the world’s population. In order to do this, this volume uses lessons from the Indian experience—a country where information technology (IT) has made giant leaps, but which suffers from what has been described as multiple ‘digital divides’.

The contributors explore four such closely interrelated divides. The first is internal—between the digitally empowered rich and the poor. The second is a linguistic-cultural gap between English and other languages and between ‘Anglo-Saxon culture’ and other world cultures. The next gap is underscored by disparities in access to information technology and between rich and poor nations. Finally, there is the phenomenon of the ‘digerati’. This is an affluent elite possessing the appropriate skills and means to take advantage of ICTs.

Essays by V Balaji et al (Pondicherry), T H Chowdary (Indian telecom), Pat Hall (IT and diversity), Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala and Bhaskar Ramamurthi (telecom and regulation scenario), P D Kaushik (e-governance for the poor), Deepak Kumar (digital development), Harsh Kumar (Indian languages), Rajeev Sangal et al (digital resources in Indian languages), Anna-Lee Saxenian (the Bangalore boom) and an introduction by Prof Keniston (The Four Digital Divides) are part of the book.

Indian Ham

Lawrence MG <puthuvelil@sancharnet.in> recently announced a new mailing list that would be of interest to all those interested in amateur radio in India. To join the list, send a blank email to: IndianHam-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

eProcurement in India

Raj Kumar Prasad of the Commonwealth Centre for e-Governance (India Chapter) recently announced that the World Bank together with the Commonwealth organisation and the Commonwealth Centre for e-Governance India have the planned first international conference on eProcurement in India on June 3, 2004.

Says he: “eProcurement is integral part of e-governance and smart governance.” Details are available at the Commonwealth Centre for e-Governance India, Delhi Chapter. www.electronicgovindia.net

List for Railways

A list for the Indian Railways? Yes, there’s a lot of interest in it too. See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/irfca

There are over 5000 railway photographs in the archive of this list. Other postings dealt with the Katra-Udhampur rail link, a rail trip to Shimla, Mumbai’s new EMU, and a lot more.

Also see http://www.irfca.org

Consumer issues

And another one for consumer issues in India.


Dgroups list

Dgroups is a joint initiative of Bellanet, DFID, Hivos, ICA, IICD, OneWorld and UNAIDS. To check out the mailing lists available via this server visit www.dgroups.org

Movie topics

This list has been set up by film buffs keen to build up Goa’s film culture prior to the shifting of the International Film Festival of India to India’s tourist state, in November 2004.

The list is available at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/moviesgoa.

Why the list? Say the promoters, Salil and Gayathri Konkar: “Cinema makes us laugh, it makes us cry, it inspires and it thrills. Cinema gives us much more than that: it gives us the opportunity to like and dislike, to argue, to discuss and sometimes leaves us speechless. If you enjoy cinema just for itself or if you are one of those who are hooked on films and love to make new friends and discuss films for hours on end, then consider joining Moving Images Film Club. Moving Images in collaboration with the International Centre, Goa at Dona Paula (also the venue of the screenings) will bring to you films and documentaries, popular and the classics, from India and across the globe. The screenings are open to all and there is no charge.”

Computer literate district

Malappuram is India’s first computer-literate district, reports the Milli Gazette. See


Acharya features

Acharya recently featured on Drum Beat, a newsletter on communication for development activities. See this multilingual software and online Sanskrit lessons for the disabled; provided by the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras as part of an effort to bring the benefits of ICT to all Indians. http://acharya.iitm.ac.in/

Noted in the Gulf

GNU/Linux enthusiasts in the Gulf region recently noted the arrival of a new version of the Simputer. www.amidasimputer.com

Said Manoj Menon <manojcmenon@yahoo.com> on the linux-middleeast mailing list on yahoogroups.com: “[GNU]Linux based PDA for less than 1000 AED…and best of all, it’s made in India.”


Responding to the reports about the Simputer, Gary Dunn <> of the Open Slate Project wrote: “Several years ago I started a project called Open Slate, with exactly this in mind. To date it has not generated much interest. My website is a bit mouldy, but I think you will find it interesting. If you are interested in working on Open Slate please drop me a line.” See http://openslate.sourceforge.net/

Internet and poverty

“The Internet in developing nations: Grand challenges” by Larry Press, in First Monday, volume 9, number 4 (April 2004)

For over a decade, we have hypothesised that the Internet could raise the quality of life in developing nations. We have conducted hundreds of studies of the state of the Internet and ‘e-readiness,’ done extensive training of technicians and policy makers, run pilot studies, and held local, regional and global conferences and workshops. After all this activity, Internet connectivity is still nearly non-existent in rural areas of developing nations, in urban areas the numbers are far below that seen in developed nations.



G Karunakar <karunakar@freedomink.org> recently announced the launch of an Indian localisation e-newsletter. Says he: “The aim of this newsletter is to highlight localisation activities based on Free/Libre Open Source Software, present a complete picture, and to serve as a mouthpiece for all localisation teams & their volunteers.”

Its highlights include Bengali, Punjabi supported languages in Gnome 2.6, Hindi and Tamil supported in KDE 3.2 and Mozilla build with Indic support

Read the complete issue at www.indlinux.org/nl/nl150404.html A pdf of it is available at www.indlinux.org/nl/nlvol1.pdf (238KB)

If you would like to receive a copy of the newsletter regularly you can subscribe to the mailing list

E-governance database

Any idea about a useful national database of e-governance projects in India? Bytesforall (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers) reader Rama Bhardwaj was just one of those enquiring about the same recently.

Both she and another query about the use of ICT for coping with disasters threw up some interesting debate and ideas.

Open access health

Dr Vinod Scaria <drvinods@HotPOP.com> recently announced his article on Open Access for Health professionals and how Open Access can be capitalised on by developing world professionals was published at Plexus. The full text is available at: http://www.psyplexus.com/excl/open_access.html

Contacts Dr.Vinod Scaria through www.virtualmedonline.com. E-mail: vinodscaria@yahoo.co.in.

GNU/Linux CDs

ILUG-Delhi has set up a ‘CD request’ list. It invites people from other cities in India to join this list “and make it an India-wide resource for exchanging free software CDs.” https://frodo.hserus.net/mailman/listinfo/ilugd-cd

India Computes! is presented by Frederick Noronha, a freelance journalist based in Goa. He is the co-founder of BytesForAll, a voluntary unfunded venture focusing on how IT and the Internet can benefit the common man, particularly in South Asia. To join the Bytesforall mailing list send a blank e-mail to bytesforall_readers-subscribe@yahoogroups.com Website: www.bytesforall.org

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