By Bytes for All 25 December 2004
APC’s newest member, Bytes for All, is an online citizen’s network that connects the people of South Asia on the issues of information and communication technologies (ICT) and development. Bytes for All produces a summary of previous month’s hottest discussion topics on the network. APCNews will now be featuring the summaries on a regular basis. In November deliberations ranged from the FLOSS (Free/libre and open source software) movement in non-profit organisations, ICTs for development, internet governance, and transparency and accountability in transactions to internet standards.
Compiled and summarized by Shahzad Ahmad, Bytes for All, Pakistan
Bytes For All Readers list is a platform for information to critically examine the issues whether (ICT) can be any effective tool to fight against poverty, illiteracy and social injustice that loom the countries in South Asia. It is an extension of an information portal – Bytes for All – that was lunched in 1999. A good number of development practioners, researchers, IT professionals and students from South Asia are connected to this list and the network itself is increasingly growing with the spontaneous support and participation from its subscribers/members. In a move to spread the discussion and to aware people outside the list, Bytes for All will re-publish a monthly summary of its discussion through different print media and other media network, including APCNews.
In November 2004 deliberations ranged from the FLOSS (Free/libre and open source software) movement in non-profit organisations, ICTs for development, internet governance, and transparency and accountability in transactions to internet standards.
ICTs for Development
Internet can transform rural India
Shobha Warrier interviewed Prof. Jhunjhunwala where he discussed various issues and solutions to transform rural India using ICTs. This interview that was forwarded to the list triggered up a great deal of intriguing discussion.
Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala an internationally reputed professor on connectivity design particularly for WLL technology has also incubated many ideas that cater to rural Indian market. In his interview he talked about, Bloomba, the search-based e-mail application which has been taken over by Yahoo recently and iSoftTech the team behind development of Bloomba, including other significant matters. He believes that until the Indian rural population (around 700 million people) is not mainstreamed in the development process development objectives cannot be achieved. Prof. Jhunjhunwala has presented vision 2010. He maintains that telephones and the Internet can have an amazingly positive impact in the development of rural India and the GDP of rural India can be doubled in the next 8-10 years. He suggested developing the rural micro enterprises by developing, the Internet kiosks, ATM machines, the medical diagnostic kit, etc.
Responding to this interview most of the members appreciated Prof. Jhunjhunwala’s ideas for rural development however; there were many who did not agree with his optimistic views. Many believe that technology is not yet hassle free, and people in the rural area are not very much receptive towards change. Making ICTs work in the rural areas needs a total social re-engineering and social dynamics cannot be assessed with a set of formula. Others believe that proper capacity building initiatives for the rural communities will certainly help the development agenda forward.
Taking part in the discussion, Mr. Osama Manzar, WSA Expert from India informed the members that he has made numerous visits to evaluate the performance of various ICT4D initiatives throughout India and he will bring all the facts and figures in the form of a book which he is working on right now. He maintains that ICT interventions can do wonders in Education and Governance. The discussion is still continuing and is likely to bring in more views.
Making ICTs relevant to development is possible
Atanu Garai, ICT Advocacy Officer, OneWorld South Asia shared this posting from Digital Opportunity Channel sent by Zunaira Durrani, a member of BytesforAll from Pakistan. It is actually the summary of discussion in the month of August 2004 at Bytes for All readers forum.
Surveys for India
Dr D. Rama Rao has informed Bytes for All readers that a survey on IT needs of farmers in a remote village in Nagonda district is being carried out. The results will be available in a book accompanied with CD and on a dedicated website as well.
Transparency and Accountability
Kris Dev (Krishnan) suggested launching a ‘Transparency & Accountability’ (TRAC) movement worldwide to invite people voluntarily to give up all cash transactions and make their dealings totally transparent and accountable. In his opinion, this can change the mindset of people and the society can be liberated of all evil thoughts and actions. In response to this call Mr Peter B shared information regarding another such organization Transparency, Accounting and Accountability, and effective Monitoring and Evaluation (TAAME). The TAAME strives to bring all organizations under a system that allows good accountability, and as a substitute for the prevailing high cost way of doing Monitoring and Evaluation.
Telecenters in Urban Slums
This piece of information was shared by Mr. Joydeep Paul regarding the discussion on Internet transforming the rural India. During his stay in Brazil he had an opportunity to closely observe various telecenters/training projects in slums of Urban Brazil, and found that it was really difficult to assess the benefits of such an initiative. He believes that other parameters are also needed to evaluate such a development project than only focusing the idea of sustainability.
Agri Info Online
Frederick Noronha shared this piece of information about an interesting initiative called isapindia and the site that Sunil Khairnar has been running, which provides links to agri-related info via cyberspace. To get agriculture-related information via simple, effective and low-cost e-mail, this is the place to check out.
Novell launches Desktop Linux for enterprises
Sayeed Rahman shared the news that Novell Inc. has build a desktop version of its open-source Linux operating system aimed squarely at enterprise users. Linux Desktop 9 is built on the same code base as SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, a product used by a growing number of enterprises to run their back-office computers. Novell has been intensively promoting Linux as an alternative to Windows ever since the company acquired Germany’s SUSE Linux AG last November.
Realizing The Promise of Open Source in the Non-Profit Sector
Partha shared this article by Jonathan Peizer of Open Society Institute, an initiative of Soros Foundation on Open Source Software for Non-Profit Sector. The article covers various aspects of FLOSS in Non-Profit organization e.g. its usage and need assessment of non-profit sector, investments in training, joining with technology buzz, linking social source, and financial implications. To read this interesting article please visit:
UNESCO and Free Software
Partha shared this piece by Richard Stallman, who is founder of the Free Software Foundation and the author of the GNU General Public License. Richard lauded the role of UNESCO towards FLOSS movement and its support to the extension and dissemination of human knowledge. His article briefly covers the development process of GNU Project and its contribution to Open Source movement. The complete article is accessible at:
i4d Monthly Digest – FLOSS
The i4d monthly digest brought features and stories in the October issue on Free/Libre and Open Source Software. The issue is available online at the following link:
Lawsuit for use of Linux
Sunil Abraham an open source passionate and bytesforall team member shared this news report from Reuter about Steve Ballmer’s threat to sue Asian governments using Linux for IP violations. Sunil in his passion for FLOSS maintains that any government that recognizes Software Patents after this threat deserves to be sued.
Internet Standards in South Asia
APNIC signs an MOU with ISPAK & ISPAN
Kapil Chawala shared this news with BytesforAll members that APNIC has signed an MOU with Internet Service Provider Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) and Internet Service Provider Association of Nepal (ISPAN). Under the MOU, ISPAK, ISPAN and APNIC will cooperate to promote domestic and international Internet standards, infrastructure, and service developments exchange information; provide assistance to each other in organizing meetings, seminars and conferences; and provide training opportunities for ISPs in Pakistan and Nepal.
Events and Announcements
First Annual SANGONeT "ICTs and Civil Society" Conference and Exhibition
The Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT) will host its first annual "ICTs and Civil Society" conference and exhibition from 1-3 March 2005 at the Indaba Hotel in Fourways, Johannesburg. The conference will focus on ICT-related issues to the CSO sector. The conference is aimed at senior staff and technical employees in the CSO sector as well as individuals who work with these organizations, including international funding agencies, the private sector and government. Approximately 300 people will attend the event.
CSM 4th Annual Conference on Corporate Citizenship – ‘Focus on Sustainable Finance & Investment’
The conference is scheduled during 17-18 December, 2004 at The Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, India. This year’s conference will focus on the theme of Sustainable Finance & Investment with particular relevance to India. Although the world’s 4th largest economy with the 2nd largest GDP of developing countries, India has one quarter of the world’s poor people and ranks 127 on the UN’s Human Development Index behind China and Brazil. The conference will set the debate in the global context of the Millennium Development Goals and the Monterrey Consensus of the UN Conference on Finance for Development.
Women in e-governance
A conference on Women in E-Governance is to be held at Annamalai University, Tamilnadu, India on December 20-21, 2004. It is being organized by the Department of Library and information Science at Annamalai University in association with Anitra Trust, Chennai. The thematic background as well as the sub-themes of the conference are available at the conference website www.witindia.org
Children Competition by Childnet
A new global competition, has been launched this year, it aims to get children more involved with running websites. Research suggests under-18s often use the internet very differently from adults. Younger people, especially teenagers, use it more for entertainment and socializing. This competition aims to assess the creativity of young internet users. It is being run by Childnet, which has been campaigning for the last 10 years to make the internet a safer place for children.
International Conference on E-Governance (ICEG), Colombo, Sri Lanka
The objective of ICEG-2004 is to provide an opportunity to share research findings and learn from the successful implementation of some current e-government experiments. Participants are expected to include faculty/ scientists, university students, private sector executives (solution providers), government officers, policy makers and NGO/community volunteers. An International Advisory Committee (IAC), comprising international experts and representatives from government and industry, guides the development of the conference program. For more information please visit: http://www.iitc.lk/iceg2004/index.html
International Democratic Education Conference
The 12th International Democratic Education Conference will be held from 3-12 December, 2004 at Bhubaneswar, India (campus of Silicon Institute of Technology). For more information please visit http://www.idec2004.
Google’s New News Service for Scientists and Scholars
Omi Azad shared this valuable information with BytesforAll that Google is rolling out a new search service that will index academic research such as books, technical reports, and peer-reviewed papers. The Google Scholar service offers unique access to a number of publications and publishers. It is an excellent initiative giving the flexibility to find the research papers, and conference proceedings. One can access the newly launched search engine for researchers and academicians at http://scholar.google.com/
SciDev.Net launches new news service for South Asia
The SciDev.Net South Asia gateway offers free daily news, features and opinion about the links between science, technology and development aimed at India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Maldives. For more information please visit http://www.scidev.net/southasia.
UNESCO website on Caravanserais
The UNESCO’s website on Caravanserais aims to be a forum for exchange and discussion and a gateway to free information about fascinating monuments dotted over a large part of the world stretching from Central Asia over the Middle East to North Africa. The site will mainly be of interest to researchers, art and/or architecture students, but it will also reach out to tourists and other lay people keen to learn about these monuments. it contains names, plans, photographs, maps and architectural details of various monument.
The Manthan Awards
Digital Empowerment Foundation, a Delhi-based NGO and World Summit Award in partnership with PlaNet Finance India, has launched The Manthan Award to recognize and award the best e-Content practices in India. The Manthan Award, is an Indian initiative of the World Summit Award (WSA) process, to select the best practices in e-content and creativity through the panel of the most experienced and recognized experts in the field of ICT4D.
World Summit Awards (WSA) in Bangladesh
Omi Azad shared the news about The World Summit Award (WSA) in Bangladesh giving details about its launch, national selection process and the names on national expert panel. His message called for those interested to know/participate/sponsor/jury member for WSA-Bangladesh initiative to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In response to Partha’s message about BytesforAll discussion being re-published in Print Media throughout South Asia, Dorothy K. Gordon, Director-General, AITI-KACE, Accra, Ghana lauded the efforts of BytesforAll. In her own words “…Well, Excellence markets itself. We also have this list down as one of the best resources in its focus area… Keep up the good work”. The appreciation certainly helps to do better in future. Well Done Team!