Frederick Noronha on Tue, 1 Feb 2000 03:30:22 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> BytesForAll FEB 2000 Issue # 6

10101  bYtES For aLL * bYtES For aLL * bYtES For aLL  10101010
n e w t e c h n o l o g i e s w i l l m e a n h a v i n g m o r e
i n t h e h a v e-n o t c a m p i f w e a r e n o t c a r e f u l
1010101                                             1010101010
1010101            Issue No 6 * Feb 2000            1010101010
0101010      AN OCCASIONAL NEWSLETTER TO MAKE       0101010101
1010101          COMPUTING AND TECHNOLOGY           1010101010
0101010    FRIENDLY TO THE NEEDS OF THE MILLIONS    0101010101
0101010   Editor: Frederick Noronha   0101010101
1010101   alongwith Partha Sarker   1010101010

Info courtesy: The Week

SENIOR AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION scientist Dr Sandhya Shenoy of the National
Academy of Agricultural Research Management in Hyderabad-India has created
'A Gateway to Indian Agriculture' website with technical support from Dr
John Schmitz, of the Agricultural Instructional Media (AIM) Laboratory at
Illinois University.  This site gives information on animal sciences, crop
sciences, agribusiness, fisheries, home science, horticulture, natural
resources, and sustainable agriculture. Links to agriculture- related
organisations worldwide, programmes, publications and libraries, and pages
on weather, agricultural issues and policies, gender issues, infotech and
human resources enrich the site. It also has a good map of India with
hyperlinks.  It is accessible at

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Info
courtesy: Zubair Faisal Abbasi <> The Sustainable
Development Networking Programme (SDNP) -- a global programme of UNDP
being managed by IUCN in Pakistan -- having pioneered email and offline
Internet in the country, has launched its online Internet services from
January 17, 2000. SDNP aims to promote electronic networking and bridge
the information gap for sustainable development. The new value addition in
its services would facilitate the development sector in realizing the
potential of Information and Communication Technologies for Sustainable
Human Development.  These online services will initially be available from
Islamabad but would soon be extended to other SDNP centers:  Karachi,
Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta. Using the latest Internetworking technologies
on Linux based servers, SDNP would provide free web hosting space and
concessional rates for internet access to the development sector
organizations in Pakistan.  The existing email accounts will remain
operational along with online services. They will now be provided at
drastically reduced rates. With the launch of new services, not only meant
for the development sector, SDNP looks ahead to serve its clients even
better with increased and more meaningful access to the Information

Info courtesy: Krishan J Bheenick <>

The Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Mauritius has set up a
prototype Agricultural Information System for use by the rural community
in Mauritius. Our innovation, and the main issue we are testing, is the
use of audio files in two local spoken languages on a website that offers
advice on potato growing, as a means of overcoming the illiteracy barrier
and adding user-friendliness for a rural community. The big question we
are asking ourselves is: "How can the non-computer-literate farmer benefit
from the empowering tool that the Internet is through access to
information?"  Information, which is usually available in print form or in
technical reports have been placed onto a website with additional graphics
to facilitate communication. One of the first interesting challenges has
been to develop icons representing cultural practices in potato
production. A series of icons were drawn and have been tested with the
agricultural community, as we expect them to be able to navigate through
the use of graphics rather than clicking on text hyperlinks and through
accompanying audio files that will tell them what clicking on the icons
will do. The results of the assessment of the appropriateness of the icons
are reasonable but we would like to suggest further investigation of
global icons through the creation of such a clip-art collection, targeting
the agricultural community, world-wide if possible (there must be more
creative and better graphic artists than us around!)  Krishan J Bheenick
is a Lecturer in Agricultural Systems at the University of Mauritius'
faculty of agriculture. University Website:

Info courtesy: Deccan Herald, Bangalore

A WEBSITE ON malaria has been launched by IPCA Laboratories Limited of
India. Besides general information on malaria worldwide and types of
malaria, the website also provides detailed information on clinical
presentations, care of malaria patients and the required drug treatment. 

Info courtesy: Development Research Insights

MANY DISEASES THAT MOST endanger public health are now being dealt with by
private sector providers rather than public sector or not-for-profit
agencies. This shift is specially marked in South and Southeast Asia where
even the poor usually choose private services. Policymakers can no longer
afford to ignore parivate healthcare's potential for achieving -- or
undermining -- public health goals. Studies in Surat, India by researchers
from the Government Medical College of Surat and the London School of
Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have forged new cross-sector linkages for
better malaria control.  Details from Anthony Zwi
<> or Ruairi Brugha <> or
Daniel Chandramohan <> of the London School
of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, or Vikas Desai of GMC-Surat

Info courtesy: Developments

STEP, Intermediate Technology's award-winning Sustainable Technology
Education Project, has launched an interactive website. The website will
illustrate sustainable technology in action and will provide high-quality
case study materials for teachers and pupils ranging from rickshaws in
Oxford to honey- making in Zimbabwe. Visit Intermediate Technology through

Info courtesy: FN

HIMAL, the magazine with a South Asian perspective, is now available on
the Internet at For circulation details write to

Info courtesy: EPW

ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY's special issue on the 'Internet 
in South Asia' dated November 20, 1999 is available for sale 
to those interested. Articles contained include:
* Promoting the Internet in South Asia by Arun Mehta and 
Shahid Akhtar
* Telecommunications Infrastructure: A Long Way to Go by 
Vickram Crishna, Noor-ud-Din Baqai, Bhoop Raj Pandey and 
Fazlur Rahman
* Struggling with the Digital Divide: Internet Infrastructure, 
Policies and Regulations by Madanmohan Rao, Sanjib Raj 
Bhandari, S M Iqbal, Anjali Sinha and Wahaj us Siraj.
* Online Content in South Asia: Opportunities and Realities by 
Madanmohan Rao, Imran Rashid, Hasan Rizvi and Rajib Subha.
For copies write to the Circulation Manager, Economic and 
Political Weekly, Hitkari House, 284 Shahid Bhagatsingh Road, 
Mumbai 400001 India. Email 

Info courtesy: FN

We take it so much for granted. It's hardly as glamourous as the World
Wide Web. In fact, e-mail is widely seen as the poor cousin on the
Internet. Yet, next to the telephone and the fax machine, electronic mail
is the most popular of today's communication tools.  'From Workplace to
Workspace -- Using Email to Work Together' is the title of a new book
showing how to use e-mail lists to work together. Published by Canada's
International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Bellanet
International Secretariat, this slim volume aims to build skills among the
non-profit sector of the Third World. Visit IDRC's catalogue of books
online at Further details can be had from
Steve Song of IDRC

Info courtesy: WebVisition

IN A MOVE TO enhance the reach of secondary school education in India, the
Bombay(Mumbai)-based image Macintosh Computer Academy is in the process of
developing and hosting the country's first secondary educational portal.
This portal is designed keeping in mind the tenth standard
(school-leaving) student and will offer both standard and value added
services.  Visit Aspiring Indian students wanting
to prepare for the prestigious IIT engineering degree courses can
meanwhile visit the site below that gives information on all aspects of
the IIT-JEE joint entrance exam. Visit

Info courtesy: Development Alternatives, New Delhi

Facilitation Centre that functions as a 'clearing house'. It 
offers its database on expertise, database on technologies, 
and services the information needs of both host country 
parties and investing country parties. Contact the 
organisation at

Info courtesy: Maharashtra Herald, India

POLICE IN PUNE (formerly Pune) have undertaken the task of digitally
mapping the city. Rotarians agreed to sponsor the biggest software project
ever undertaken for the police. As it turned out, a button click could
open up vistas of information whether it is for tackling a kidnaping or
nipping the growing crime rate.

Info courtesy: CSIR News,newsletter of the Council for 
Scientific and Industrial Research. Email:

GRAMNET is a compact tool for resource network modelling, viz.  routing,
location and allocation of facilities. GRAMNET has wide applications in
facility location, emergency planning, public works, route planning,
infrastructure management and traffic engineering. Currently, it has been
installed at a few centres of the Indian Natural Resource Data Management

Info courtesy: CSIR News 

A CD-ROM that provides information on food processing machinery
manufacturers in India has been compiled by the Indian Central Food
Technological Research Institute (CFTRI). Information compiled covers over
750 manufacturers and 70 categories of machinery. Details from The Head,
Food Engineering Centre, CFTRI, Mysore 570013 India. email:

Info courtesy: Terivision,

Geographical Information System (GIS) is today offering India solutions to
issues as complex as monitoring and management of sustainable development
and utilization of natural resources, and has brought about a new
perspective to managing information. It is more than just creating maps,
and has the capacity to affect policies and decisions regarding the
environment. It also makes a difference to social scientists, marketing
professionals and the municipalities.  TERI, the Tata Energy Research
Institute, has used the GIS application with "great success" in the mining
areas of Goa, the Yamuna sub-basin and the Shivaliks to access the
changing environmental scenario. The GIS activity in TERI took birth about
three years back, with the establishment of a GIS laboratory. Slowly the
group geared up in using the GIS technology integrating satellite
imageries for resource mapping and monitoring. Currently, the GIS group in
TERI is actively involved in projects ranging from wind energy to forestry
and biodiversity related issues, covering most of the research areas of
the institution.  Information from

Info courtesy: The Hindustan Times, New Delhi

MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS who are interested in continuing their studies but
do not have the time to go back to school now have another option. If they
cannot go to the classroom, the classroom is coming to them. A virtual
university is being launched on the Internet in association with the
Christian Medical College, Ludhiana (North India).

Info courtesy: Modular Systems, Pune

SHREE-LIPI SAMHITA is a toolkit for application developers who want to
develop applications in Indian languages on the Windows platform.
Shree-Lipi Samhita can be integrated with applications developed in VC++,
Delphi, Power Builder, Visual Basic, Visual FoxPro, etc. It supports about
70 API calls to seamlessly integrate Indian languages with your
applications. These calls enable typing Indian languages in any Windows
based applications, sorting data on Indian language strings,
transliterating names from English to Indian languages and vice versa.
Thus, developers can very easily develop applications to give good Indian
language interface to users who are more comfortable with their mother
tongue than English. Modular Systems, Pune

Info courtesy: Sources, Journal of the UNESCO

THERE ARE ABOUT 120 million people throughout the world using the
Internet. Experts estimate that five million more come online every month.
You can bet that most of these are in industrialized countries. Rich
countries have more resources to invest in the equipment necessary for
access to the Internet.  But the information rich-information poor divide
is not based on economic differences only. Repressive regimes -- even in
relatively rich countries -- often want to restrict the availability of
information to their citizens. Asian countries in particular view the
Internet as a threat to their national security because it has served to
organise protest movements by linking dissidents at home and abroad.
Inequalities may also result from differences in languages. Copyright
laws, and laws relating to the protection of databases, computer software
and trade marks, all limit information availability. The ever-expanding
scope of proprietary rights in information does not make it easier to
ensure that the information society remains genuinely available to all.
People may end up paying for information from library archives that once
were open to all.  -- Comments by Professor Suman Naresh of the Tulane
University School of Law, Louisiana (USA) in an article titled 'Ethics and
the Digital Divide'. 

Info courtesy: Maharashtra Herald, Pune-India

SO, YOU THOUGH THAT THE Internet was an elitist phenomenon catering only
to the interests of the Netizens and the cyber- savvy? That this medium
was going the television way with games and pornographic sites ruling the
roost and entertainment dominating information by far? Well, think again
and log in to the site the next time you're surfing
the Net. Indev is a project initiated by the British Council in India to
address the problems faced by development managers in accessing
development-related information in the country. This Development
Information Network is also meant for the benefit of academics,
researchers, think-tanks and anyone interested in India's development. or

Info courtesy: The Indian Express

INDIA'S FEDERAL MINISTRY OF Science and Technology has picked the Indian
Institute of Technology (IIT) of Delhi as the National Collection Centre
for CD-ROMs, published in India and on India, to act as a single window
information service centre for India-related CDs. CD-ROMs on cricket, the
Mahabharata, fine arts, patent applications, health and everything under
the Indian sun will be available under one roof at the IIT in New Delhi.
All one has to do is to walk into the IIT campus and head for its
Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT) unit to use any
CD-ROM you choose, at no extra cost. 

Info courtesy: Kobita Desai <>

For the Indian telecom to rapidly extend its network and reach, the
implementation of the Wireless in local loop (WLL) technology will be the
most cost-effective solution. But there are various hurdles -- financial,
technological, and political -- faced by private and public sector telecom
companies in doing this.  Wireless in local loop, also known as fixed
wireless access, replaces all or part of the traditional hard-wired
segment of the telecom network between the local exchange and the
subscriber premises with connections based on radio or microwave
technology.  Wireless communication plays a pivotal role in the blueprint
of India's telecom strategy. The country has been testing WLL- based
systems over the last three to four years.  Qualcomm had conducted field
trials for a 1000 lines capacity system in Delhi. Introduction of WLL in
India in the 800 MHz band was delayed for over two years due to the
frequency issue. The Indian military has since vacated the 800 MHz range,
paving the way for Indian telecom operators to offer WLL services in that
frequency band.  The remaining bottlenecks to larger WLL deployments in
India are to do with the procurement processes adopted by DoT/MTNL
(government telecom companies), and limited financial ability by the
private telcos. The six private telcos have grandios ambitions to
introduce up to 150,000 WLL lines each, but the scarcity of their
financing is delaying equipment investment.  (The author is a consultant
and director for telecom programs at AMC, a leading Indian analysis,
measurement and consulting organisation.) 

Info courtesy: Developments

THE IMPACT OF THE INTERNET on Africa is the subject of continual debate.
Now a new report has been written which seeks to throw more light on the
subject. 'The Internet in Africa -- A New Assessment' has been produced by
Article 19, the International Centre Against Censorship. Article 19
Director Andrew Puddephatt said: "The Internet offers Africans a new
possibility to participate fully in the democratization process... However
there is the danger that it could also widen the gap between those with
access to technology and information and those, for example, who continue
to rely on state-run radio." The report is available from Article 19. 

Info courtesy: India Abroad News Service

An information revolution is sweeping through the backwaters of Madhya
Pradesh, in central India, spearheaded by what the villagers simply refer
to as the "magic box". This "magic box" tells them what the price of
potatoes is in the "big town" nearby and even provides them with copies of
their land records, revenue maps and other documents they may require to
get bank loans for the new harvest season.  Dehrisaria is just one of 600
villages in Dhar district that is now wired to a computer network. The
network, which went on a trial run on new year's day, has 21 computer
centres manned by local youngsters trained to work as operators. The
centres, funded by local village councils, are expected to eventually
subsist on user charges.  Villagers have to pay a small fee of Rs 5 (about
12 US cents) for daily market rates of locally produced foodgrains and
vegetable crops available at the nearby wholesale markets as well as
markets in big cities like Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad. The
computer centres also provide villagers with important documents for Rs 15
(approx Us 36 cents). Banks in the region have agreed to accept the
documents issued though these centres which are now even authorised to
notarise them if required.  Local officials say the computer network,
inspired by an experiment carried out successfully in the neighbouring
state of Maharashtra a year ago, will ensure that the hapless villagers
will not have to run around local government offices needlessly, like they
have in the past. "They can now send applications for income, caste and
domicile certificates as well as requests for land demarcation and
landholders's loan passbooks on-line. These will be prepared within 10
days and the applicants informed online," the top official in Dhar
district, Rajesh Rajoria, told The Indian Express.  Villager Shankar Lal,
who has used the new system successfully, declares happily that it works.
Lal had applied for a certificate stating his backward status and received
a reply on-line within three days, asking him to collect it. "I spent only
Rs 10 and three days to get what would have cost me weeks of running
around," says Lal who still finds it hard to believe that the whole
process was so easy.  The network has also connected a hospital in the
city of Indore, 60 kms away, with the Dhar district hospital and three
primary health centres to make specialist medical advice and referral
services available to villagers. A dozen patients in remote areas were
referred to Indore in the first fortnight of the network's trial run
itself. The computer centres also act as communication links between the
government and the villagers, allowing complaints about non-delivery of
services under government schemes, absent teachers, non-functioning pump
sets, among other things. 

Info courtesy: Katherine Morrow <>

Three new ITrain Internet training modules are now available for free on
the web. ITrain is a collection of Internet training materials for
instructors and students. The materials offer an interactive approach,
engaging students in the learning process and supporting instructors in
the customization and planning of the courses. New courses are offered in
(i) website construction (ii) effective internet searching and (iii) list
facilitation.  The documents can be downloaded in either PDF or Word
formats.  Feedback to Steve Song For the three new ITrain course modules, visit

::::::::::::::::::::CRITICAL VOICES:::::::::::::::::::::::::::
          bYtES For aLL attempts to create space for 
       alternative views that run counter to the tide: 

Jagdish Parikh <> comments: 

Today I had some brain storming session with a friend. I shared my
hypothesis. Would love to read your first reaction. My hypothesis is NOT
based on well researched documents or direct participation in GK
dialogues. So you may find it full of potential pitfalls. Yet I would love
to pursue if it is worth following.  My hypothesis: The World Bank and all
other major players fail to include major debate on issues surrounding
Open Source and Free Source based IT development. One of the key reasons
for it is potential for these debates to raise some fundamental issues
like Intellectual property rights, challenging potential market-driven by
needs to expand and sale at any cost - for commercial products. Though
agencies like UNDP and few other partners of this initiative did show some
concrete commitment to Open Source products (like Linux and other freeware
like Pegasus mail etc...) on the whole debate surrounding these issues and
its potential implications for govt's investment policies in IT and
related social policies seem missing. What do you think? 

PHIL GRAHAM <> of the Faculty of 
Business, Economics, and Law at the University of Queensland 
writes in response to the earlier article titled 'Slum-Kids 
Speedily Take to Computers':

Thanks for your mail. No need to apologise for your delay. We are all busy
these days. I am subscribed to BytesForAll. I'm a bit short of time at the
moment, so excuse my hasty reply. You say that "If people of different
backgrounds get access to computers, and can work on them, there's a
greater chance for them to gain access to the benefits of infotech". But
that is just a tautology: "if people can use computers, they can enjoy the
benefits that they bring". But what are these benefits?  More information?
Also, infotech abilities vary as much as any literacy, if I can use the
increasingly perverted term.  Wertheim's post from The Age is utterly
nonsensical but provokes an interesting insight: she is saying that
poverty stops people from enjoying infotech (which is an inversion of the
relation she is trying to express).  What a surprise! The inverse is
exactly what I'm saying: Until everyone is fed and comfortable,
information technology is useless, at best a distraction; at worst, a
waste of precious resources. You can't eat information, otherwise books
would be the most nourishing food of all (also adds fibre to your diet). I
have yet to imagine anything other than, say, wartime propaganda that has
had such a profound effect on the popular consciousness as that generated
by the techno-utopianists.  I am not criticising your intentions,
Frederick, and I also respect and admire your hopeful point of view. But I
think that utopian perspectives on the ability of people to use the
internet is merely evidence of the successful effects of a global
propaganda that has, unfortunately, taken people's eyes "off the ball", so
to speak. And, if you think I am speaking from a comfort zone, you are
right. But I have starved, and I know what it feels like to have my teeth
falling out of my mouth because of malnutrition, and to be too weak to
walk. ICTs cannot help people in this state. I'm sorry, but it's true. I
am fortunate enough to have a forgiving family and to live in a country
that hasn't been raped and pillaged to the extent that mother India has. 

bYtES For aLL * Compiled jointly by 
Frederick Noronha, Journalist 403511 Goa India 
and Partha Pratim Sarker, Drik Multimedia, Dhaka 1209
Compiled in public interest * CopyLeft
May be freely circulated provided entire message is left 
intact. Please draw our attention to any incorrect links 
noticed above. Updates, earlier issues and more at

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