Frederick Noronha (FN) on Wed, 2 Apr 2003 12:30:02 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> BytesForAll * April 2003 ezine

_/  B y t e s   F o r   A l l ---
_/  Making  Computing  Relevant to the  People of  South Asia
_/  APR 2003 * APR 2003 *  APR 2003 *  APR 2003 *  APR 2003 *   

Software for the blind

President Abdul Kalam has launched a software for the visually impaired,
that can make information in Telugu and Hindi languages easy to access.
"Reading Aid for Blind", developed by the International Institute for
Information Technology (IIIT), enhances the reading capability of the
visually handicapped. With the help of this software, text on-screen can
be transformed to speech. The computer then reads this out to the user.
This project has been funded by Satyam Computers.

Cheaper PCs closer?

Business daily The Hindu Businessline reports that the promised 5KPC
(priced at just Rs 5000) could be closer than thought. Two companies - Via
Technologies and NetCore (promoted by Mr Rajesh Jain of the India World
fame) are jointly making this possible by bringing down prices of hardware
and software respectively. The 5KPC, as Mr Jain calls it, is expected to
revolutionise the usage of computers. The Via machine is a thin client,
with a motherboard and processor but no hard disk or floppy drives.
Marketed with a full OS - Netcore's Emergic Freedom, based on Linux - it
offers e-mail, browser, office suite, instant messenger and supports
specialised Windows applications through add-on software.

PDAs for infoaccess

Rahul Nainwal <> is doing a series of case studies on
ICT initiatives in India.  He is keen to know of any intiatives in India
worth studying where PDAs or other access devices are being used to
provide information access to communities.

More details from Rahul Nainwal Director MITRA F-48,Ground floor, Lajpat
Nagar-1 New Delhi-110024 Tele/Fax: 91-11-26911720

ICICI volunteers

Check ICICIcommunities volunteering scheme online at

Bloodbank online

This initiative could do with more volunteers... another bloodbank online,
this time one from tiny Goa.

Health initiative

Thanks to Shu <> for alerting us to the news that IITs of
Madras and Bombay are planning to link rural patients with the doctor
through Internet. They are trying to use kiosk and Bluetooth technologies
for rural healthcare. The TeNet group of IIT Madras in alliance with HP
Labs India is planning a kiosk Internet link with a doctor for primary
ailments. The plan is to equip the kiosk with certain basic devices like
stethoscope, thermistor, blood pressure meter and ECG. The readings of
these devices are transferred through Internet to the doctor at the
district or taluk level. There will also be provision for video
conferencing between the doctor and the patient. IIT Bombay is working on
use of wireless technology for healthcare by application of Bluetooth and
WLAN technologies for patient monitoring.
Window to Bhutan

>From Bhutan, a private independent online newsmagazine featuring
comprehensive web-based news, view, opinions and articles on Bhutan and
includes a comprehensive set of links to other international and regional
news sources. That's what it promises to be. It also includes links to
Bhutan government's Ministries and Departments and features information on
Bhutan's festival, people, weather and travel. It includes information on
diplomatic missions based in Bhutan. Thanks to Partha and Alan G Alegre
for sending this through. See

Bhutanese refugees

The Bhutanese refugees ( )
website provides information on the origin, causes, and current situation
about Bhutanese refugees and political situation in Bhutan.

Looking at India's role

A US National Science Foundation supported workshop on the Indian
development experience in the context of ICTs was jointly organized by the
School of Public Policy at George Mason University and the Department of
Management Studies, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The
workshop was co-sponsored by the Indian Institute of Information
Technology and held in Bangalore during March 3- 5, 2003. A CD containing
the profile of participants and abstracts of papers have been released for
limited private circulation, according to Sreekumar <> of the
Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.

Localized browsers

One of India's prominent Internet companies has been looking for
programmers who will help localize Mozilla to Indian languages. Those who
apply need to have at least 2-3 years experience, but above all, a passion
for the Internet and for free /open source software.  The objective of
Indianizing Mozilla is to revolutionize computing in Indian languages,
especially on the Internet. The selected individuals will be based in
Mumbai. Contact or

Consequences of IT

Anil Kanhangad of the ATPS <> informs about
Vivarasangamam, that was scheduled for March 8-9. It was a a joint meeting
of various organizations and individuals for discussing the consequences
of information technology in different sectors , with special reference to
Kerala. See the web site: for more details of

Back to Baramati

Digital Partners and Vidya Pratishthan's Institute of Information
Technology (VIIT) will be holding its third annual Baramati Initiative on
ICT and Development from May 30-June 2. The Third Annual Baramati
Initiative on ICT and Development will explore ways in which information
communication technology is being used as a tool to empower the poor.  It
will emphasize the role of social entrepreneurs using ICT in opening new
avenues for the poor in markets, e-commerce, and information sharing, and
will explore models that demonstrate both social impact and financial

More details from Vipasha Gupta, Program Officer for our Social Enterprise
Laboratory, at and and cc or by fax at (011) 2649 4380.

Digital Opportunity

Check out the Digital Opportunity Channel coming in from OneWorld South Asia
in New Delhi. You can contact the editor

Tops in Urdu

BBC's Urdu news site,, has just been ranked the world's best
Urdu website by South Asia's leading internet magazine, Spider from
Pakistan. The March issue of Spider carried out a survey of Urdu sites to
rank the top 10 websites. shared the honour with the news
daily Jang's internet site,

Spider said BBCUrdu is "remarkable - one of the best news and
entertainment sites and gives a high standard content in Urdu". "Since
Urdu is just developing on the web, it is truly exciting to be part of the
whole process," BBCUrdu editor Mohammed Hanif has been quoted saying.

Others in the list include, two are Urdu dailies (Jang and Ausaf), and
three portals. One offers Urdu and other regional language downloads
(Liwal). One is a bilingual news site originating from the US (Urdu
Times), and one offers Urdu tutorials, dictionaries and Urdu website
building skills (Ukindia).

Indic solutions

Joseph Koshy <> from Bangalore asks: "Any
suggestion on how we could increase the participation of talented
developers in indian language (free software and) open-source projects?"
Koshy, deeply involved with FreeBSD and IndicComputing, has done a lot of
work on this front himself. See or

Planting ideas

Ajit Maru <> stresses the need for more agri-related
information online. Says he: "I believe that increasing connectivity in
the National Agricultural Information Systems will lead us towards new
innovations....  Some of these are 'open information sources', 'virtual
universities', agricultural intelligence units (though sinister sounding,
they are primarily aimed to provide nations and regions of agricultural
development and trade issues in other parts of the world), virtual
collaboraties for multi-location, multi-disciplinary collaborative
research which share resources such as laboratories, experimental farms
and technical expertise within and across NARS etc.,. These will need new
knowledge and skills for not only collaborating but managing these
collaborations and joint activities."

ICT in agri

For more info on ICTs in agriculture, join the mailing list by sending a
blank email to

Akshaya, Kerala

Akshaya project is being implemented under the leadership of Kearala State
IT Mission, Department of Information Technology, Govt. of Kerala. For more
information see


See this collection of Malayalam GNU/Linux screenshots. If you're to join
with this effort, please contact Baiju M at

Vernacular SMS on its way
11 million mobile phone users SMS primarily in English. A Canadian company,
Zi Corporation, has introduced predictive text input for SMS in Hindi. Zi
Corporation has announced what it claims to be the first predictive text
input (also referred to as dictionary mode) for mobile phones in Hindi. The
Devnagari script is complex unlike the English alphabet. Hindi alone has 33
consonants and 11 vowels. Add ligature - combinations of letters to form new
letters of new shape, to these 44 characters and you have a horrid
experience of creating text; even with a keyboard equipped with more than
one hundred keys.

See also 
Thanks to Ashish Kotamkar (ashish at for this piece of
information. "Communicate in your own language. Log onto"

English-Bangla translator source

Hasin Hayder <> has announced the uploading of English to
Bangla translator source code to a Bangla Open Source Community Site at : Check out the mirror :
"Download. The translator is easy for simple sentence conversion," says
Hasin Hayder, the administrator of and
You can send in comments at

National Workshop on Library Automation in Hindi
------------------------------------------------ announces plans by INFLIBNET Centre, Ahmedabad to
hold such a workshop from April 7-11, 2003. Information and Library
network (INFLIBNET) Centre, is an IUC of the Indian University Grants
Commission (UGC), in Ahmedabad. This workshop will provide an opportunity
to the working Library professional to understand and learn different
aspects of Library Automation in Hindi medium. The workshop will cover
topics related to library automation, networking, standards related to
library automation, software for library automation etc. Special focus
will be given on hands on practice. The entire lecture as well as
practical sessions will be in Hindi. or contact Dr TAV Murthy,
Director <>, Shivpal Singh Kushwah, Sci/Tech Officer-I
<> or H G Hosamani Scientist-B

Info via PDAs

Allsoft Technologies <> is into into handheld PDA
applications for storing and sending information and monitoring remote
data. They say they've been one of the few companies who have been into
applications for pocket-based handhelds wherein one can carry, capture and
transfer data from remote places with the help of just a telephone line
with or without access to the Internet. They offer expertise to government
departments such as education, healthcare, agriculture, tourism, rural
development, power, social welfare, rural/tribal development, watershed,
police, healthcare, taxes, panchayati raj, etc. Besides to private
segments such as pharma, insurance and logistics.

More details from Rajeeb Ghosh Vice President Allsoft Technologies T-3,
Priya Apartments, Somajiguda, Hyderabad 50008 India. Phone
91-40-5566-6868/6869 Fax 91-40-5566-6870 Email


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Frederick Noronha    :  : When we speak of free
Freelance Journalist :       : software we refer to
Ph 0091.832.2409490  : Cell 0 9822 122436               : freedom, not price.

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