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Frederick Noronha: bYtES For aLL ISSUE #1 JULY 1999

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Date: Fri, 02 Jul 1999 01:09:25 +0500
From: Frederick Noronha <>
Subject: bYtES For aLL ISSUE #1 JULY 1999

01010101  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
0101010101            Issue No 1 * July 1999
1010101010     AN OCCASIONAL NEWSLETTER TO MAKE   0101010101
0101010101          COMPUTING AND TECHNOLOGY                 1010101010
1010101010    FRIENDLY TO NEEDS OF THE MILLIONS          0101010101
1010101010  Compiler: Frederick Noronha          0101010101

An edited book, "The *First* Mile of Connectivity: Advancing 
Telecommunications for Rural Development" is now available from 
the website of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.  
and the book is highlighted on the top of the homepage.  If you 
have any difficulty with the long URL, simply go to 
and click on "Sustainable Development" from the main homepage.

BASIC-NEEDS LIBRARY ON A CD offers a "basic 
needs library" with 1,240 publications, free online. The best 
description of the Humanity Libraries Project is: a low cost 
vaccination campaign against lack of knowledge similar to a 
universal polio vaccination. 
The Humanity Libraries Project offers a model for an information 
resource developed at low cost and made available to all for free 
or very low cost. This model is important because a huge "base" 
of essential knowledge has already been gathered and produced by 
the UN and World Bank, and other publicly funded agencies at very 
high subsidized cost by the international taxpayers, yet this 
knowledge is not being disseminated and combined as it should be. 
Individuals in Third World countries might also get a copy of the 
same on CD. Contact Dr Michael Loots <>

Information Poverty Research Institute is a US based think-tank  
that studies the long-term effects of information technology on 
world poverty. The institute's research is concerned with the 
fact that almost 99 percent of the world's population has no 
access to information technology. The economic, political and 
cultural repurcussions of this fact are the basis of a new form 
of poverty -- information poverty -- one of the greatest issues 
confronting individuals and nations in the 21st century. 
IPRI's board of advisors will consist of technologists, 
journalists, and activists from all over the world.
Contact us:

Beginning with the launch of satellite TV in the form of Star TV 
in the early 1990s, India has seen a boom in electronic media.  
Millions continue to have no access to clean water or basic 
education; however access to TV and radio has increased 
dramatically.  This, coupled with the transition to a market 
economy, has fueled a consumerist, entertainment-driven media 
culture.  Development agencies, once dependent on state-
controlled radio and TV, now have to define their own space in a 
media environment that is competitive and market-driven.

"Our Voice" (Namma Dhwani), a pilot community radio project, was 
conducted in Chitradurga district, Karnataka, to assess the 
possibilities for local participation and programme content.  A 
monthly 30 min. programme was produced and aired on the local FM 
station of All India Radio in 1998.  The project involved 
participation of local individuals and groups. Themes included 
watershed management, girls' education, women's health, women's 
self-help income-generation schemes and the impact of adult 
literacy programmes on rural life. Experimental broadcasts using 
a portable briefcase-size radio station from UNESCO will be 
starting June 1999.  Contact Sucharita Eashwar

Jhabua Development Communication Project -- This satellite 
transmission project was launched in 1997 by the Development 
Education Communication Unit of the Indian Space Research 
Organisation (ISRO) in the Jhabua district, Madhya Pradesh, one 
of India's economically poorest states.  The project uses 150 
direct reception systems in selected villages with 12 talk-back 
terminals plus a studio and earth station.  Programmes on health, 
education, agriculture, forestry, panchayati raj (local 
governance) and cultural heritage are broadcast in evenings, 
supported by afternoon training programmes for development 
functionaries.  Contact SR Joshi

SW-Asia-IT is a list-server for Information Technology 
developments in South Asia. It seeks to expand the impact of 
Internet initiatives and enhance coordination among development 
actors in South Asia.  

India Development Network (INDEV) is a British Council supported 
effort working to increase access to relevant and timely 
information about, for and by the development sector.  It 
includes: an NGO directory, project database, document database, 
statistics database.  INDEV also trains NGOs on web publishing.  
Contact Neena Jacob

It is widely feared that computerisation of government activity 
without creating database in Kannada will drive away Kannada as 
the language of administration. C V SRINATH SASTRY gives an 
account of the efforts being made by the Kannada Ganaka Parishat 
to fill up this lacuna and render the Kannada language as a 
modern tool.

The State government plans to link 40,000 villages in the State 
with a specially developed software package for farmers. The 
unique package -- Agronet -- aimed at providing the farmers with 
the latest information on agriculture, including cropping 
pattern.The scheme will be given final shape within a month.

The Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University (MPBOU) signed an MoU 
with IBM, the global leaders in Information Technology to set up 
a virtual university in the State. This is the first time in 
India that an Information Technology (IT) major is associating 
with an academic institution to set up a virtual university. IBM 
will facilitate the development of the curriculum and provide 
training to the faculty.

A loan from the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF) is set to 
expand the telephone network and put phones in 50,000 rural 
villages currently unconnected to the network.  

Dr Arun Mehta, a Delhi-based communication engineer and activist, 
and his colleagues are in the process of setting up the Society 
for Telecom Empowerment, intended as a voice for the formulation 
of sensible telecommunication policies. The Society also plans to 
showcase some grassroot projects based on leading-edge 
technologies. For instance, the community radio project -- using 
Internet radio to take health, literacy and other messages to a 
populace that is illiterate or does not know English -- which 
will demonstrate the use of the Internet for the poorest. 
Under the community radio project, it is envisaged that a village 
would have a community information centre, with a multimedia PC 
connected to the Internet. On this community PC, a Real Audio or 
equivalent server could be installed, which in effect would 
convert this PC into a radio station, which villagers could use 
to tape and disseminate audio content. Output of the sound card 
on the computer could be fed into an amplifier, and distributed 
over ordinary copper wire to surrounding houses, each of which 
only needs a loudspeaker. Or, audio signals can be distributed 
from the community PC using either twisted-pair telephone wires, 
or the coaxial cable used by cable TV operators. Homes would need 
a small Internet Radio, consisting of a simple embedded 
microcomputer, a loudspeaker, a microphone and a couple of 
buttons for channel selection. 
One point might be added: radio is currently a very restricted 
and centralised medium in India, and the government is still to 
open up community radio licences to a wide range of groups, as 
expected.Details from Mehta's web-site

Indira Gandhi National Open University is considering the use of 
satellite-based multimedia technology to reach the large number 
of people residing in the rural areas of India. In collaboration 
with UN-ESCAP, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and 
the Pacific.

The Internet is increasingly used for broadcasting radio 
programmes. The Kothmale Internet Community radio project in Sri 
Lanka demonstrates that this a particularly interesting approach 
in rural areas. It uses community radio as an interface between 
the Internet and rural communities. 
Officially inaugurated on April 30, the official opening took 
place after three months of trial period during which a WEB site 
database was developed and community 
volunteers were trained to handle various elements of the 
project. Nearly three thousand rural people attended the opening 
ceremony, and for many of them it was the first exposure to 
computers and the Internet.
This project combines new information technologies with 
conventional radio medium. It includes (i) Radio programme to 
"Radio Browse" the Internet. Information is interpreted in local 
language, with community broadcasters interpreting information 
from selective Internet sites. This makes the Internet accessible 
to those who do not understand English (ii) Community radio 
function as a mini Internet Service Provider to the community 
with free Internet access. Besides its own Internet Cafi the 
community radio has provided two free Internet access points at 
Gampola and Nawalapitiya community libraries. (iii) The community 
radio also develops its own computer database (Internet WEB site ), deriving information, which are often 
requested by community members, from the Internet. Much of the 
information in this WEB site is available in local language. A 
collection of CD-ROMs will be made available at community radio 
for community use.

The Village Knowledge Centre enables farming families to produce 
more without associated ecological harm and create a hunger free 
area.  The Knowledge Centre is designed to promote the monitoring 
of the impact of information empowerment on the health, food, 
drinking water and livelihood security of rural families. village/knowledge-system-info-

Under the aegis of Project Vidya, Intel India, in association 
with the National Science Centre, today launched the first mobile 
computer awareness programme, 'Computers for you', for rural 
India. Under this programme, a van equipped with multimedia 
computers, software and a trainer will cover 60 villages in the 
next 12 months, reaching out to over 4,000 children per village. 
Bhimtal, Uttar Pradesh, will be the first halt for the van. 
Intel has already set up 'Cyberskools' at the National Science 
Centres in Bombay and New Delhi. Over 50,000 children and 5,000 
teachers are given exposure to computers annually through the 
Cyberskools. The Cyberskool also organises a weekend parent 
training programme where children teach their parents how to use 
computers and share knowledge of multimedia and Internet.

Doctors at the Rajkot Civil Hospital 'referred' an emergency case 
to the U.N. Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre, 
Ahmedabad. But the patient did not have to go to Ahmedabad since 
the two hospitals are linked with an Online Telemedicine System.
The Rajkot doctors recorded the patient's ECG using an Event 
Recorder, a small electronic equipment resembling a TV remote 
control. It can record live the ECG data within a minute and 
transmit it over the telephone. Simultaneously, videos of the 
patient's condition were taken by a tiny camera and the doctors' 
comments recorded by a microphone attached to a computer. Then 
they dialled the telephone number of a transmitting centre which 
passed on the data to the specialists in Ahmedabad. The 
specialists analysed the ECG, viewed the patient on video, heard 
the Rajkot doctors' comments, and jotted down their advice on an 
electronic pad, which was transmitted back to Rajkot. All this in 
a matter of minutes. And on ordinary telephone lines. 
Using indigenous technology, the team developed the system with 
expert advice from a panel of eminent physicians and surgeons 
from India and abroad. It can be used to transmit online ECG, CT 
scans, magnetic resonance imaging, Cathlab reports, pathological 
reports, doctors' prescriptions, typed and even handwritten 
notes, and moving images.
But the most important innovation, is the Event Recorder (ER). 
The ER has no cords attached to it. The patient simply has to 
place it on his chest, push a button and wait for a minute for 
recording the ECG. This done, he has to dial the telephone number 
of his doctor and place the equipment on the mouthpiece as per 
directions given, and press the same button again. The ER 
converts the electronic signals into audio signals which again 
get converted into electronic signals on the doctor's personal 

Madras-based Lastech Systems Private Ltd has launched its e-mail 
Software - "IndoMail", which facilitates sending e-mails in 12 
Indian Languages. The languages covered by IndoMail are 
Assamesse, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, 
Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu.  
IndoMail, priced at Rs 400, ensures that any Email client 
software like Netscape Mail, Microsoft Outlook, Eudora can be 
used to read the Indian language mail. 
The range of products offered by the company include Indoword, 
Indovision, Indobase, Indoweb and Exact. All the products are 
available in 10 Indian languages including Tamil.

A web-based e-mail service [] offers 
e-mails in Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashtoo, and 
Baluchi -- all are written in the Arabic script.
NEW YORK -- The idea that the Internet is the fastest-growing 
communications medium is false, said a Syracuse University 
professor. "It could take a hundred years for the Internet to 
reach diffusion levels similar to that of the telephone," said 
Milton Mueller.
The growth of the Internet in the United States overshadows the 
reality of the rest of the world, especially in developing 
countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, Mueller said. It's 
the nature of a technology that is based on services in contrast 
to television or radio, which can be used after being plugged in.  
"When you buy a service, there are long, extended diffusion 
curves," he said. "There is a distinction between that andbuying 
equipment." The struggles in the developing world are more basic.  
"If you don't have roads or electrical power, it's hard to do 
anything with a computer," he said. "Americans are just not 
appreciative of how early it is in the development of this 
technology."  Part of the barrier to the spread of the technology 
is political and closely tied to monopolies in the 
telecommunications industry, he said.  
In Haiti, Mueller said, ISPs are skirting the country's telecom 
monopoly by building wireless local-access networks and using 
satellite and microwave technologies.  
Haitian Internet providers are also servicing a largely rural 
population by opening small telecenters -- central points where 
users pay small charges for short periods of access to do things 
such as download and send e-mail.  
"This a model that may be imitated elsewhere," Mueller said. If 
developing countries can remove the political and economic 
barriers to the growth of the Internet, the economic 
opportunities for growth will be huge, he said.

The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) 
[] is hosting a meeting of the Information and 
Communications Technolgy Study Group on 7 July 1999 at SDPI, 
Islamabad.  Dr Mohammad Afzal will present his paper, 
"Development of Urdu Software: Current Status and Future 

Spurred by the computer-savviness of other state leaders, Assam 
Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta is making an attempt to 
bring about an 'information-technology revolution' in this 
otherwise underdeveloped region.  With 'computer revolution' 
becoming the new mantra, the Assam government has embarked on an 
ambitious scheme to computerise all the district headquarters and 
link it directly to the chief minister's office. This is the 
first time that a northeastern Indian state has decided to link 
its districts with the capital through computers.  

Mobile cellular phones have their own significant 
contribution to uplifting the lives of the rural poor. This was 
the conclusion of a field study completed by the Centre for 
Development Research (ZEF) of the University of Bonn in Germany 
on the impact of mobile cellular phones called Village Pay Phones 
(VPPs) on a rural community in Bangladesh.  
The study covered specifically the beneficiaries of the VPP 
project of the Grameen Bank and indicates socio-economic benefits 
of VPPs as an alternative and cheaper medium of communication to 
the villagers, especially the poor ones.  
VPPs reduce fares and time spent on road transport, with a user 
saving as much as Tk55-or more than the cost of six kilos of 
rice-from one phone call. They provide poor producers and traders 
an easy and fast way to check prices of their commodities, thus 
helping increase the villagers' bargaining power.  
One-fourth of the total phone calls were made by the poor segment 
of rural population, implying more frequent phone use. The study 
also shows that women make 35 percent of all calls made.  
Source: Dr. Bayes, E-mail: <>, Arun Mehta, B-
69, Lajpat Nagar-I, New Delhi-110024, India, Tel: 6841172, 
Website: <>  

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