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<nettime> BytesForAll June 2000 issue

_/  B y t e s   F o r   A l l ---
_/  Making Computing Relevant to The Common (Wo)man JUNE2000
_/  Editors: Frederick Noronha (India) Partha Sarkar (Bangladesh)

               In this issue
               * Web site for Pakistani drought
               * Computers for the blind in Bangalore, India
               * Malaria surveilance software
               * Life-saving blood online
               * Knowledge sharing and tech-coop in the Third World
               * Word Processor costing over a year's income...
               * Vagaries of Internet democracy
               * Nepal seeks ICT info for mountain development

PAKISTAN IS IN THE PROCESS OF launching a website on the drought 
situation in the country. It will provide and link information 
resources about the drought incidences in different areas. Its 
aim will be to keep maximum track of information published in 
national and international newspapers and journals, track 
initiatives (government, civil society and business) for 
alleviating the drought situation, host field reports from local 
populations or journalists on site.
It will also attempt to link information and knowledge websites 
on sustainable development practices (water management, food 
security and drought alleviation) the world over, facilitate and 
exchange of information through e-mail, and create electronic 
linkages amongst those fighting drought. 
Send in all useful information to
Source Zubair Faisal Abbasi, SDNP Islamabad

IT'S ALMOST NOON AND the computer class is already in progress. 
When you enter the room you see the students bunched around 
monitors, their hands flying over their keyboards. On closer 
inspection, you will realise that the students are actually 
listening to the computers, not looking at them. For they are 
blind. With the support of Intel, US-based Asha Foundation and 
NIIT, Karnataka's National Association for the Blind has opened 
new career options for the blind by starting these computer 
training classes for them. JAWS is a speech software by Henter-
Joyce, Inc, and was created by individuals who themselves were 
blind. It costs Rs 45,000 and comes with a security disk, to 
prevent piracy. The three-month long course is conducted on the 
NAB campus at Jeevan Bima Nagar in Bangalore.
Source Rehmat Merchant in Bangalore, and S-Asia-IT

MALARIA SURVEILLANCE SOFTWARE: Researchers at the Federal 
University of Rio de Janeiro's (UFRJ) biomedical engineering 
department have developed a computer software program called 
SIG-MALARIA, designed for malaria surveillance. It uses a 
microcomputer-based image information system to evaluate malaria 
in municipalities.
Source IDRC

FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS, FARMERS IN India's central tribal belt 
were locked in a battle against three seemingly invincible foes --
drought, poverty and corrupt middlemen. Now, thanks to a new 
computer system, they are on their way to bypassing the third 
evil and are better equipped to combat the other two. Earlier 
this year the government of central Madhya Pradesh state launched 
an experimental computer network in the remote farming district. 
The intranet system gives villagers access to everything from 
copies of land titles -- a must for securing yearly bank loans -- 
to rural water supply schemes. No bribes, no queues, just 10 
rupees (about HK$1.70). The pilot project covers 600 villages in 
Dhar district, one of dozens of dirt-poor tribal areas in Madhya 
Pradesh. It is part of a push by the state's reformist chief 
minister, Digvijay Singh, to find low-cost ways of overcoming the 
state's lack of infrastructure and improving conditions in rural areas.
Source Marion Lloyd <> South China Morning 
Post & Irfan Khan <> South-Asia-IT list

LIFE-SAVING BLOOD ONLINE: A few months after Pankaj Som 
Chaturvedi lost his grandmother because blood was not available, 
he pledged to ensure the same fate doesn't befall others. 
Chaturvedi has launched The Web site 
brings together people looking for blood and willing donors. 
"There was a sort of helplessness that I was carrying around 
which, I hope, no one will need to experience now," said 
Chaturvedi. The site he has launched is not commercial and that 
is how it plans to stay. The Web site offers information about 
blood types, some of the diseases that require blood transfusion 
as treatment and about voluntary donors. It has already attracted 
4,000 donors from 11 countries. If a person from a country that 
has not appeared on the site wishes to donate blood or is looking 
for blood, he or she can register online instantly.  
Source Anisha Sodhi, India Abroad News Service

WIDEFORUM-L IS PART OF WIDE Initiative internet-based services 
and efforts set up by the UNDP's Special Unit for Technical 
Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC). TCDC was 
established within UNDP by the United Nations General Assembly in 
The WIDE Initiative is designed to give more visibility to 
developing country expertise, foster communications and promote 
more effective technical cooperation among developing countries. 
Details can be found at: or 
directly at 
WIDE Initiative services include WIDE Online, a public access 
database for collecting and locating experts' bio-data 
(expertise, location, contacts, publications, etc.) and 
information on institutions, products, services and best 
practices. The WIDE Online database currently has over 40,000 
entries. It is run in partnership with CESAR in Recife, Brazil, 
and can be reached via or directly 
TO JOIN WIDEFORUM-L, a discussion area, and forum for policy 
dialogue for strengthening knowledge sharing and technical 
cooperation among developing countries please visit Or send an email to:
with a single line in the body of the email saying:
subscribe WIDEFORUM-L "Your Name here"

Knowledge is now the critical component to production, and access 
to it represents a key divide between rich and poor. 
Increasingly, information and tools for manipulating and 
communicating information are controlled ("owned") by individuals 
or corporations rather than being public goods available to 
everyone. The Oxfams should work to change policies of 
governments, multilaterals and companies which are driving this 
appropriation, in order to avoid the creation and exacerbation of 
inequalities in access to information.
Source/contact: Ronni Martin <> acting advocacy 
coordinator, Community Aid Abroad Oxfam Australia; or Danny Yee 
<> or George Grisancich <>

people's organizations are often forced to utilize illegally 
copied proprietary software, leaving them vulnerable to 
intimidation and manipulation through corporate and government 
threats to 'enforce software licenses'.  Such software also 
creates long-term dependencies for support, maintainance and 
upgrades.  With free software, in contrast, users have the 
freedom to make modifications to suit their own needs, to build 
new tools using existing ones, and to share with others.  The 
free software movement has demonstrated, through the creation of 
systems such as GNU/Linux and others, that there are alternatives 
to proprietary software systems that force users into relations 
of dependency.
Source Oxfam

weekly _Der Spiegel_ [1], almost 17.000 individuals have 
registered for the election of the ICANN Board. About half are 
Americans (6915), the other half are Europeans. 
This reminds one a bit of municipal votes where the turnout is so 
low that the results reflect more the ability of special interest 
groups to mobilize their member on single issues, than the 
opinion of the public. 
and Nettime-L mailing list

LINUX IN INDIA: Prakash Advani says he has been on a personal 
crusade to bring Linux to the Indian masses. One of the problems 
is that English is not native to most Indians. More than 90 
percent of the population cannot read or write English. "I had 
been thinking about it for long, when I met Venkatech Hariharan. 
He has been involved with Indian languages for a long time as he 
helped develop the project where they 
developed free Indian language fonts for Linux. I discovered that 
he had similar goals. Since he understood the language issues and 
I had an understanding of Linux, we started the Indian Linux 
project. Our goal is to make Linux available in all Indian 
languages. Since then, we have received thousands of responses 
from people interested in helping us with this project. We don't 
have anything ready as yet but we are working towards it with our 
The Indian Linux project is at
Source Prakash Advani

KNOWNET WEAVER: A Tool Kit developed by SDNP India based on its 
experience to catalyse Knowledge Networking KnowNet Weaver 
enables you to create your own interactive website, give it a 
domain name and host it on the World Wide Web (WWW) absolutely 
free-of-cost using freeware or shareware available on the 
internet. You do not have to look elsewhere for any other support 
to become a part of the information superhighway and reap the 
advantages of knowledge networking.
Source SDNP NITs News, 27 April 2000 and

CYBER-ACTIVISM: The Rise of Civil Accountability and Its 
Consequences for Governance.  By Allen Hammond and Jonathan Lash. 
"Never in history have so many people been able to communicate, 
exchange information, and interact with each other -- via e-mail 
and cellular phones and Internet chat rooms -- so readily on a 
global scale. . .Could this process temper the excesses of 
economic globalization, creating a kind of civil accountability 
that imposes novel checks and balances on the power of global 
corporations, providing new ways of articulating and enforcing 
social values -- in effect, give rise to new forms of 
Source: iMP: The Magazine on Information Impacts

ITNTI, NEPAL: Operating in Nepal and the United States, ITNTI, a 
multidisciplinary communications group, was founded in 1996 to 
integrate business with technology for development. The GKP 
representative is  ITNTI's President, Shashank Kansal. For more 
information, visit the website at
Source: GKP (Global Knowledge Partnership) Partners & S-Asia-IT

THE PROPOOR INFOTECH CENTRE, India. Founded in 1998, this not-
for-profit centre's mission is to promote the use of the Internet 
and information technology in development in South Asia. Its 
website, is a portal of information on South 
Asian non-governmental organizations. ProPoor's president is 
Jayesh Parekh. 
Source: GKP (Global Knowledge Partnership) Partners & S-Asia-IT

EDURITE.COM IS A new portal for the exam-taking student 
population. Its founders are targeting students in standards 10 
and 12 as well as in engineering colleges. "We hope to cover 140 
subjects developed by hand-picked faculty; educational material 
will be validated by experts. Portal content, including video 
lectures, will also be available on affordable CDs," said D. 
Jawahar, managing director of Edurite Technologies and professor 
at the People's Empowerment School. The language of instruction 
will be in English; Indian languages may follow later.
Source Dr Madanmohan Rao

Coordinator/Research Assistant in Information Communication and 
Outreach Division of the International Centre For Integrated 
Mounatin Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu. He is involved in a 
team that is preparing for E-conference on the Asia Pacific 
Mountain Network and also trying to identify relevent information 
on ICTs with a special focus on mountain development and help 
develop a focussed section on the ICIMOD Homepage.
Please contact Mahesh Kumar Malla at

BYTES FOR ALL's fifty issue is now online at This is a special edition on 
'education'. Also gaining mention are * BytesForAll becomes a 
Greenstar Premium Partner * names 
BytesForAll as the project of the week. 
Source Partha Sarkar

ERICA:  THE ERICSSON INTERNET Community Awards is offering five 
prizes of $100,000 USD in web development services to any 
registered non-profit organization anywhere in the world with an 
innovative idea for a web-based application.
The ERICA program is designed to help non-profits use the 
Internet to realize their missions and share visionary ideas for 
community building in today's technology-driven world.  Full 
details at
Source Helen Simpson, Social Marketing

LINKS TO BANGLADESH government organisations...
Source Partha Sarkar

Development Programme (UNDP)and the International Development 
Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada in collaboration with Ministry 
of Environment and Forests (India) has launched the portal site 
of Sustainable Development Networking Programme, India (SDNP-
India) at mirrored at
Source Vikas Nath, SDNP-India

INDEV E-MAIL DIGESTS and old issues of the same... The complete 
issue of e-mail digest can be found at  
or  The Web version includes hot links to 
the complete text of cited articles, a fully searchable archive 
and easy access to recent issues.
Please access recent issues at
Source INDEV, New Delhi 

"Readiness for the Networked World: A Guide for Developing 
Countries" is a practical tool that will help to spur dialogue 
and cooperative action in addressing Digital Divide issues in the 
developing world. It is online at
To make the Guide more accessible in the developing world, its 
publishers are intent on localizing both the printed version and 
the website into many more languages in the near future.  Please 
contact them if you are interested in participating in or 
supporting this important process. Questions or feedback to
Source Tariq_Mohammed/FS/ ITG-Center for 
International Development at Harvard University Cambridge, MA  

Unit has published a consultation framework for a National 
Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal. Proposals include improving 
IT in deprived neighbourhoods by ensuring at least one publicly-
accessible, community-based facility in each deprived 
neighbourhood by 2002; and encouraging people to use them by 
employing local champions and offering user-friendly courses.
Source Colin J. Williams &

COMMENTS MUHAMMAD MUKHTAR ALAM of Terre des Hommes(G) in New Delhi: 
"BFor us, Internet connection has miraculously enhanced the speed of
message transmission.... ICTs offer faster communication of 
actions and experiences along with the sharing of the skills. For 
our work with the people in slums and villages it does not appear 
to have much meaning as yet, because there is an urgent need for 
better housing, food security and health. But those things may 
change for the better if all people are given access to ICT.
Source Muhammad Mukhtar Alam <>
Recent discussion on a mailing-list

OXFAM RECENTLY PUT OUT its international campaign proposal 
recently. It said: "You will note that this document is written 
in plain ascii,rather than being a Word document as requested.  
If there is to be genuine grass-roots participation in Oxfam 
International campaigns, all the communications and information 
required for such participation must be available to everyone -- 
not dependent on access to word-processing software which costs 
more than the annual income of a quarter of the planet's 
Source Oxfam

MADHYA PRADESH,  a province in central India, has so far launched 
two projects using IT. The first is a network in the tribal 
district of Dhar which could serve as a forerunner to e-
governance. Through a network of computers that connects 
villages, people can access vital information regarding land 
records, file complaints with officials and also get routine 
information. The other project is a website,, to mobilise resources for schools 
under the Education Guarantee Scheme in far-flung areas. One can 
adopt a school by contributing as little as Rs 16,000, or $400.

MORE INFOKIOSKS PLANNED IN INDIA: Encouraged by the success of 
its information kiosk project in Gujarat, Bangalore-based Shonkh 
Technologies is now thinking of setting up these infokiosks in 
the states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan (all 
locations in India). Ravi Krishnamurthy, director of business
development at Shonkh Technologies, said the Gujarat infokiosk 
project provides information on schemes, policies and regulation 
of the state government. The kiosks will be linked to the 
districts and the central secretariat, facilitating a one-point 
interaction between the citizens and the government.
Source Hari Menon, India Correspondent,

ATTEMPTS ARE UNDERWAY to prepare a telemedicine project in rural 
areas of Nepal for dial-up system. Organisers would appreciate if 
somebody could tell of their experience in developing a system 
at low cost as a dial-up system.
Contact Mohan Raj Pradhan HealthNet Nepal

talk about the Internet's great potential for democratising 
society. But so far traffic over the information superhighway has 
been monopolised by the United States. More than 90 percent of 
the world's information flows pass through the United States, 
whose hegemony over Internet is so strong that it even exceeds 
its influence over the global film-making industry, for example 
-- a matter of concern to the International Telecommunications 
Union (ITU). The language issue is also crucial, given that 85 
percent of the information posted on the Internet is in English.
Source Debra Guzman <>

THE MAY/JUNE 2000 ISSUE OF TechKnowLogia (theme: Technology and 
Basic Education for All) has been posted on the 
Contents include * Technology for Basic Education: A Luxury or a 
Necessity? * A Vision for Basic Education in the New Century
Carol Bellamy, Executive Director, UNICEF * Basic Education for 
All: Global Report Card * Literacy, Technological Literacy and 
the Digital Divide Daniel A. Wagner, Director and Professor, 
International Literacy Institute, University of Pennsylvania & 
UNESCO * Multi-grade Schools and Technology, by Laurence Wolff 
and Norma Garcia, Inter-American Development Bank * TechKnowNews 
etc, etc, etc
Source Wadi D. Haddad <>

WARM WELCOME TO THE NEW MEMBERS of the BytesForAll volunteers 
team: Archana Nagvenkar <> and Shiv Kumar 
<> We look forward to support and 
participation of all those sharing the goals of this important 
task. Let us know how you can volunteer!

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