Frederick Noronha (FN) on Thu, 12 Feb 2004 23:19:36 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> BytesForAll * Feb 2004

_/      B y t e s   F o r   A l l ---
_/      Making  Computing  Relevant to the  People of  South Asia
_/      FEB04 *

FLOSS in Uttaranchal

UNDP SDNP ICTD News for 10 February 2004] reports that  IBM India and the
Government of Uttaranchal signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MOU), in
a move to mark the beginning of a statewide e-Governance and University
Program initiative. The first MOU was signed to focus on Free/Libre and Open
Source Software (FLOSS) technology in the e-governance domain, and the
second, an e-Learning MOU, will concentrate on harnessing local talent.


Want to keep in touch with IT developments in South Asia? Check the
s-asia-it mailing list. Posting address and
details to join the list at

Portal for women entrepreneurs

Small and medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA), Pakistan, has
designed the country's first exclusive portal for women entrepreneurs with
the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Centre for
Research on Poverty Reduction and Income Distribution (CRPRID).  Hasan Rizvi
of the IUCN Pakiststan Programme informs that it can be accessed at:

FLOSS and e-gov

Planned shortly is a conference on "How does Open Source provide an
Innovative Solution for E-Government?" The Center of Open Source &
Government and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) are
co-sponsoring the conference in Washington, DC, March 15-17, 2004. See for more information and to register.

Among those participating are Marc Andreessen, Chairman and Co-founder of
Opsware Inc, Co-founder of Netscape, Key player in the Internet Revolution;
Mary Mitchell, Program Executive for eGovernment Policy, GSA; Bob Haycock,
FEA Chief Architect, OMB; Dawn Meyerriecks, CTO, Defense Information Systems
Agency (DISA); Barbara Held, German Federal Ministry of the Interior; John
Borras, Assistant Director, Office of the e-Envoy, UK Cabinet Office;
Claudia Boldman, Director of Policy and Architecture, Information Technology
Division, Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Highlighted topics of innovative developments involving Open Source software
include: * Federal Enterprise Architecture * Identity Management *
Government and Commercial Experiences * DoD Experiences * State and Local
Government Experiences * Legal Issues * Interoperability and Open Standards
Issues * Security Issues and * Cost Sharing and Savings Potential.

For more information and to register see the conference website at Contact: Tony Stanco at

Check out the eGovOS mailing list at

Phones versus poverty

Md. Arafatul Islam, a freelance ICT journalist from Bangladesh, narrates
having recently visited a "remote village of Bangladesh named Moukhara under
Natore District (in the north-west)" where he was surprised to learn of the
story of Helena Begum using her cellular phone, and the deployment of ICT to
battle poverty.

After fighting a lifetime of poverty inherited from her father, she received
mobile phone in the year 2000. Since, she paid bill near about 3,60,000
taka(6000 US $). "So it can easily be estimated how much profit she gained
from this phone," argues Islam. "Once she was an asset-less, helpless maid
servant. But now she is an owner of many valuable assets," he argues. Can
better communication really help fight poverty?  Contact the writer at:

IS mailing list

This is a list set up to discuss Information Society issues. For discussion
archives visit:
To join, send a blank message to:

Computing, responsibility

The Centre for Computing and Social Responsiblity has relaunched its
website. The new website contains new resourses, improved interfaces, and
new drill-down searching facilities, says CCSR webmaster Robert Neal. As
part of the relaunch a new electronic journal, The ETHICOMP Journal
( has been launched. Currently the journal is
on a free subscription for a limited period. Go to the journal webpage to
complete a simple subscription form.

Seminar on GIS in E-gov

Gautam Navin <> informed about a recent seminar on GIS
in e-governance being organised on Jan 30, 2004 under the umbrella of MAP
India 2004,the largest conference on geoinformation systems and technologies
in India. Check the website 

Speaking many languages

Wired, the US-based magazine reported recently how the World Social Forum
held in Mumbai could speak in 13 languages and yet allow everyone to
understand what the others were saying. In previous years, translations were
offered to delegates in three languages: English, French and Spanish. This
year, in addition to these languages, translations are being provided in
Korean, Japanese, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Bahasa
Indonesian and Thai. And yet, the service costs are minimal, wrote Swaroopa

The translations were done by an international network of volunteer
interpreters called Babels, using a newly created Free/Libre and Open Source
GNU/Linux software. "The software can be run on a midrange computer,
therefore cutting out the high costs of translation associated with special
high-speed computers, consoles and mixing equipment," said Wired.

"This is the first time we have used such an innovative free-share on such a
large scale," said Sophie Gosselin, a member of Nomad, the organization that
created the translation software was quoted as saying.,1282,61966,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_4

Licence fees and GDP

Expat Indian researcher Rishab Aiyer Ghosh argues that there is a strong
case for free software (also known as open source or libre software) being
deployed widely in developing countries. FLOSS's development community
provides an environment of intensive interactive skills development at
little explicit cost, which is particularly useful for local development of
skills, especially in economically disadvantaged regions. Further, this note
argues that the controversy over total costs of ownership (TCO) of free vs.
proprietary software is not applicable to developing countries and other
regions with low labour costs, where the TCO advantage lies with open
source, and the share of licence fees in TCO is much higher than in high
labour cost countries. The note concludes with a table comparing license
fees for proprietary software against GDP per capita for 176 countries.

Read the complete article at

ICT in Lanka schools

Government schools in Sri Lanka hope to benifit from the implementation of
the National Policy on School ICT Education.  According to this Policy
around 4.1 million students in around 9,700 schools will receive basic ICT
skills within next five years. This policy document was approved by the
Cabinet of Ministers in Sri Lanka. Ministry sources were quoted saying that
they are offering a new subject called GIT-General Information Technlogy as
a subject for all Advanced Level students in Grade 12. This one year course
will give basic ICT knowledge and skills to all advanced level students.
>From 2004 IT will be offered as an optional subject for GCE(O/L).Now
teachers are being trained for these programmes. It is expected to use IT as
a tool in subject teaching in all grades.

National Policy on School ICT Education in Sri Lanka is available at

See also: contribute/item-

A minister on IT

Shourie rightly turns down suggestions of massive government spending on
eGovernance projects. He reveals that already, ministries have been directed
to spend 3% of their budgets on IT. But that has only resulted in hasty
projects and idling investment. He says that unless developers build in
'interoperability', eGovernance will not take off. The good news for India
is that we have a clean slate to start with and so can make for example,
passports, visas, immigration and their various forms, 'talk to each other'.
He points out that 9/11 happened in the US because the FBI, immigration and
IRS were not sufficiently integrated.

He cites some examples:
--IIT Delhi is working on a stand alone kiosk for villages without 
any connectivity. Buses fitted with the right gear, will download and 
upload email and data as they cruise past the villages, and then, 
transfer the cache to a connected computer.
--Chennai Kavigal , a small company, has produced Indian language 
clones of MS-Office for just Rs.1800/-
--WEBEL, Kolkata has developed IT products for the blind. 
--C-DAC has a product that converts on-screen text to speech.
--F C Kohli, the legendary IT pioneer, has spearheaded a software 
that leapfrogs alphabet learning, and takes illiterates straight to 

Indian CVC

Check out the Indian Central Vigilance Commission.  Please see for the details of all the three commissioners.

Urdu... from Pakistan

Sarmad Hussain, the regional project leader of the PAN Localization Project
<> announced recently that a five-day training is
being held at Center for Research in Urdu Language Processing at National
University of Computer and Emerging Sciences on "Fundamentals of Local
Language Computing." 

The training is being held at the initiation of PAN Localzation project,
aimed at building local language technology, human resource capacity to
develop localized solutions and to develop policy around local language
computing, Hussain said.  

The Project is aimed to develop local language technology to help bridge the
digital divide in South and South East Asia.  The project is funded by PAN
program of International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada.  The
training is being attended by 55 people from 18 different countries of this
region.  For details, visit  Visit the 'Training'
link for details of the training.

An EPBX ... for e-mail

>From Pune, the Indian Express newspaper reports on how a small firm is
"taking on Microsoft with an e-mail exchange". Mithi, the firm behind it
says, "This connect server is to e-mail what EPBX is to phones. And it's a
low-cost alternative to Microsoft exchange or Lotus notes for e-mail".

Mithi's mission in 2004 is to tap the overseas market - "requests are
coming" -- and release Version 3 of their e-mail application in six months.
Mithi works out of two small offices now -- 3,500 sq ft in all -- on Baner
Road in Pune. 

Their first product was a multi-lingual word processor, built together with
C-DAC, the Indian government-funded Centre for the Development of Advanced
Computing. The year was 1995, and Mithi Software Technologies' bosses --
three friends, all software engineers -- heaved a sigh of relief that their
gamble to give up their jobs and set up a product company in 1991 had paid
off. Soon, the product, called LEAP, had half a million users with clients
including the Indian Railways, Parliament, oil companies, PSU banks.  They
started making money too. But, as Tarun Malviya, CEO, Mithi, puts it: "It
wasn't sufficient to grow to the next level."

[Mithi's website is at ]


>From Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, there is a sharing of a strong belief in ICT as an enabler of
development and as a key determinant of the competitive advantage of
nations. Due to this, the Government, private sector and other stakeholders
within Sri Lanka have developed a vision for an 'e-Sri Lanka' -- a vision
that, proponents say, will bring the benefits of ICT to every village, to
every citizen, to every business and will revolutionize the way Government
operates. highlights/highlight?

Another feature on the Development Gateway ( also
looks at whether the use of ICT help to bridge the rich-poor gap and
urban-rural divide in Sri Lanka? 

DG, an IT link

There are some 6040 DG (Development Gateway) members who have selected to
receive broadcasts on ICT4D from the Development Gateway. To subscribe,
unsubscribe, add your bio and photo to your personal profile or change how
often you receive email from the gateway (e.g. hourly, daily, weekly or
bimonthly) go to and change the
settings under "My interests" and click on "Update" at the bottom of the
page. This community now consists of 6324 members in over 185 countries who
have shared about 7087 knowledge resources as of January 19, 2004.

>From India itself,'s daily email alert promises to "list all
the Tenders related to your business area". You can save up to nine
different categories or search parameters for receiving Tenders of your

L10n study

Sankarshan in West Bengal tells us of plans to undertake a study titled
GNU/Linux L10n initiatives and their impact on ICT4D efforts. This will have
special relevance to management of such projects, integration and
collaboration protocols, tools and methodologies. It is being conducted
under the Independent Research Fellowship offered by the Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies (Sarai), New Delhi.

Aims include * an attempt to understand the publicly available roadmaps for
the L10n projects * analyse the project management and release management
protocols in place * an attempt to analyse ICT4D efforts based on these
localised GNU/Linux implementation and releases and * an effort to locate
and identify possible 'index cases' and test bench areas leading to a
self-sustaining implementation. 

More details from Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay sankarshanmukhopadhyay at vsnl dot
net GSM:: 0 98313 20136 +91 033 2447 4531 [R]

Electronic links

Nineteen women from all over India participated in the Women's Electronic
Network Training Workshop in India (WENT-IN) where they trained in planning
effective web-based information services, and in using online communication
tools to advance their networking and advocacy work. - APC WNSP

Join Bytesforall

To join the BytesForAll mailing list:

Another list offering free updates on GNU/Linxu in India GNULinuxInIndia:

bYtES For aLL is a voluntary, unfunded venture. CopyLeft, 2004. bYtES   _/
For aLL e-zine volunteers team includes: Frederick Noronha in Goa,      _/
Partha Sarkar in Dhaka, Zunaira Durrani in Karachi, Zubair Abbasi in    _/
Islamabad, Archana Nagvenkar in Goa, Arun-Kumar Tripathi in Darmstatd,  _/
Shivkumar in Mumbai, Sangeeta Pandey in Nepal, Rajkumar Buyya in        _/
Melbourne, Mahrukh Mohiuddin in Dhaka and Deepa Rai in Kathmandu, among _/
others. If you'd like to volunteer in any way, please get in touch.     _/
We need all the help we can get.                                        _/
BytesForAll's website is maintained by Partha       _/
Sarkar, with inputs from other members of the volunteers' team and      _/
supporters. To subscribe to our main mailing list, send a blank email to_/ If you've missed out      _/
recent debates, visit _/
If you'd like to get these low-volume updates regularly, sign up        _/
at the bytesforall mailing list                   _/                     _/

    February 2004	| Frederick Noronha, Freelance Journalist
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa 	| Goa India 0091.832.2409490 or 2409783
 1  2  3  4  5  6  7	|
 8  9 10 11 12 13 14	| Email fred at
15 16 17 18 19 20 21	| Writing with a difference	
22 23 24 25 26 27 28	| ... on what really
29			| makes *the* difference.

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: