Date: Mon May 15 2000 - 20:28:41 PDT
From: "partha sarker" <email@example.com>
Many of you may know that we also publish off-line dispatches via
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ahead of our online versions. These stuffs and few more will also
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_/ B y t e s F o r A l l --- http://www.bytesforall.org
_/ Computing and Internet for the Majority of the World
_/ Editors: Frederick Noronha (India) Partha Sarker (Bangladesh)
WRITES INDIAN COLUMNIST Praful Bidwai: Nothing qualifies India as
an IT superpower -- no more than winning a few tacky Miss World
crowns warrants the title beauty superpower, with India's
appalling indices of maternal and female health. India is and
will probably remain a modest global IT power. It is unlikely to
transform Indian society unless attention is paid to the core
issues of literacy, education, health and employment, as well as
agriculture and industry.
The current IT hype is a hot air balloon driven up by reckless
speculation, in which price-earning ratios of 300 (against an
average of under 30) are considered natural for IT companies, and
their market capitalisation can be higher than that of
established blue-chip brick-and-mortar companies which have 20
times their turnover and profits.
This is not to deny that India's IT has burgeoned at a rate five
times higher than the country's industrial growth as a whole in
recent years. Software exports have zoomed from $150 million in
1990 to $4 billion. Computers are making inroads into small
cities. The number of Internet connections has rocketed from
under 100,000 four years ago to about 800,000 today. The hardware
market has crossed the one-million-PCs-a-year mark. There is some
real IT entrepreneurship too. Most important, computer-based
services are providing mobility to some young people from
However, despite all this, the turnover of the domestic IT
industry is less than one per cent of India's gross domestic
product (compared to, say, eight per cent in the U.S.). That is
not all: Indian software exports are just about 1/70th or less
than 1.5 per cent of the world software market. India's share is
growing slowly in a sector which has recorded 15 per cent-plus
India has just been ranked 54th of 55 countries in an IT survey
by International Data Corporation-World Times. Its score is 871,
compared to China's 915 or the U.S.' 5,041. (The highest is
Sweden's 5,062, the lowest Pakistan's 719.) The penetration of
Indian households by PCs is under one-fifth the world average.
Today, it stands at three machines per 1,000 people.
When it comes to Internet access, India firmly remains a
backwater -- 0.1 per cent household penetration, or the same as
sub-Saharan Africa's, as compared to Taiwan's 14 per cent. A
computer costs the equivalent of the average Indian's income for
two years, but only a month's American salary. More than 90 per
cent of India's IT transactions are in English, which is spoken
by five per cent of the population.
This IT penetration is extremely uneven, more than two-thirds in
western and southern India, mainly in the big cities, with the
Hindi belt hugely lagging behind and with a high gender bias.
Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org
WRITES IRFAN KHAN <KhanIA@super.net.pk> : Bhutan is one of the
least "connected" South Asian countries. here are some URLs from
a BBC news story
Bhutan home page http://www.bhutan-info.org/index.htm
Kuensel newspaper web site http://www.kuensel.com.bt/
Bhutan tourist information http://www.kingdomofbhutan.com/kingdom.html
THE INTERNET SOCIETAL Task Force (ISTF) has been set up under the
auspices of the Internet Society to examine ways in which the
Internet could be employed to address societal issues, and work
towards their implementation.
Recognising that considerable useful Internet content, such as
radio, shareware and newspapers, could be broadcast via satellite
at very low cost per end user, this group has set itself a short-
term objective of enabling this. Towards this end, this group is
on the lookout for: 1) existing technologies that allow low-cost
data broadcasting via satellite 2) companies that make
appropriate products and provide satellite services 3) experts
that can put such projects together 4) people/companies
interested in selecting and managing the flow of content thus
delivered. [Courtesy Dr Arun Mehta email@example.com]
Details at http://www.istf.isoc.org/
SAYS PRAKASH ADVANI: "Based on our situation here in India, which
I believe applies to other developing countries, Linux has a
tremendous potential and is very cost effective in that it not
only lowers cost but reduces developing countries' dependence on
any other country or organisation.
"We are currently developing an Indian version of Linux for
support of Indian Languages under Linux, so that Linux can be
made accessible to the masses. The Indian Linux project is at
CLICK! THAT'S THE MAGIC cyber sound that could help you light up
the alphabet for an illiterate, impoverished child in a Madhya
Pradesh village. Welcome to fundaschool.org., a Web site launched
by the state government in the capital today that could help you
fund an entire primary school, under the famed education
guarantee scheme (EGS) in Madhya Pradesh, for a mere Rs.16,000
($400). [Courtesy India Abroad News Service]
OPEN SOURCE DEMOCRACY: A Dutch-led research consortium has put in
a bid for European funding to develop non-proprietary, open-
source software for large-scale democratic debate, potentially
supporting discussion by more than a million participants at a
The ISSUE consortium, led by the Dutch new media company Spirit,
has entered the proposal under the European Commission's 5th
Framework for research and technological development, which
includes a specific programme for a user-friendly information
The proposal includes plans for industry-led technical research
and development combined with research by social psychologists
and political scientists; test beds in Rotterdam, Belfast
(supporting the peace process), Nuremberg and Vienna, with a
working prototype planed by year two of the project; and all
research to be 'open source' and Linux-based (although some
business prospects are also expected).
A spokesman told E-Government Bulletin: "We feel that there is
mileage to be had from getting people sharing ideas, experiences
and software to counter the inevitable attempts by proprietary
software developers to control this market. ISSUE will have an
impact on professional lobbyists, on pressure groups (one is
never certain if they have the public backing they claim to
have), and on the discussion about referenda." See:
www.issue.spirit.nl [Courtesy Dan Jellinek <firstname.lastname@example.org> ]
EXILED TO CYBERIA? "Knowledge" is the new buzzword in some
development circles, applauded as a weapon to fight poverty. But,
warns Kunda Dixit, there is a danger that this jargon will just
deflect attention from the persistent economic problems which
prop up global inequality. [Courtesy www.oneworld.org]
THE PROGRESSIVE TECHNOLOGY Project (PTP) is a new collaboration
that seeks to raise the scope and scale of technology resources
available to grassroots organizing groups working for
environmental, economic, and social justice. PTP provides
technical assistance and makes grants to develop the capacity of
grassroots organizing groups to use information technology to
strengthen their social change efforts.
[Courtesy: Zubair Faisal Abbasi <email@example.com> ]
WORLD VIEW Information System (WVIS) is for basic education
organisations in Africa and South Asia.
A user-friendly information system for local non governmental
organisations (NGOs) involved in basic education in Africa and South
Asia has been developed by World View Literacy Information Research
(WVLIR). WVLIR's broad objectives are to reinforce evaluations and
research among NGOs. Its founding members come from the market and
opinion research industry. During the Annual Conference of European
Society for Opinion and Market Research (ESOMAR) at Davos in September
1994, WVLIR's constituting meeting focused on providing information
systems to basic education NGOs to initially share existing research.
WVLIR is poised to connect all individuals and organisations,
involved in spreading literacy in the form of basic education
and/or primary education.
World View Information System (WVIS) is a process based around
Databases which integrates details about Organisations,
Materials, Projects & Individuals on most aspects about literacy
and basic education.
WVIS Edition 1 is available for MS Access 97. Please download it
from the internet on http://www.wvlir.com/wvis1.html or ask for
its distributable CD-ROM version, available at a token price.
Further suggestions welcome. Contact the Delhi office: Kalyan
Mitra, Database Coordinator, World View Delhi Office, F-2,
Maharani Bagh, New Delhi - 110065, India firstname.lastname@example.org
WRITES UNDP IT FOR DEVELOPMENT Programme director Dr Hans d'Orville:
ONE RECENT N.U.A. Internet survey offers a glimpse of the
magnitude: in January 1999, there were worldwide 153.25 million
people online, ie. with Internet access. Of these, a mere 1.14
million were Africans, 26.55 million were in Asia and the
Pacific, 4.5 million in South America, 33.39 million in Europe
and in North America 87 million. What a skewed distribution!
What can and should development co-operation do in such circumstances?
To delineate the key areas for action and intervention, I suggest a
simple formula: A+6C.
The A stands for awareness and advocacy. The Cs stand for
connectivity, capacity, content, creativity, communications and
cash. More information at UNDP's INFO 21 Website
which contains also a wealth of information on the programmes of
other organisations and sectoral and regional needs as well as
dedicated sites on Y2K, electronic commerce and human rights.
[Courtesy Hasan A. Rizvi email@example.com ]
FOR A WHOLE LOT OF LINKS of official Bangladeshi web sites, visit
LINUX IS BEING favoured by some of Asia's Third World nations,
said a report in IDG News Service in early April. David Legard
reported that the open-source Linux operating system is being
enthusiastically looked at by companies in Asia's developing
nations like India, China, Korea and Malaysia, but is less
popular in wealthier countries such as Japan and Singapore.
In a presentation at Comdex Asia Lau picked out India and
Malaysia as two countries especially keen to take advantage of
the potential cost benefits of using Linux.
"With Linux, you can save $500 Singapore ($290) per seat when you
consider all the server and client licenses you would otherwise
pay," he said. "Linux has been proved to be stable, its ease of
use is improving very quickly, and all the major industry players
except Microsoft have endorsed it."
A TRUE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY is like a perfect system where the
knowledge gets recognised and valued and also ends up benefiting
the society from where it originates. So, it is not just a
question of people accessing information but also about
information finding its way to the probable users and that is
exactly what is lacking before we can call a society as a perfect
The problem with many developing countries so far has been their
inability to recognize the knowledge they possess, put a value to
it and use the power of knowledge to their growth. Ironically,
the value of the vernacular knowledge gets noticed in developing
countries only after its value is recognized and put to use in
the developed nations.
Further, there are a lot of other barriers which impede the
transformation to perfect knowledge societies such as Northern-
centric content, linguistic barriers, and lack of skills.
An abridged version of the paper in form of an editorial has been
placed by One World Europe Think Tank at their website at
[Courtesy Vikas Nath Programme Officer, SDNP India]
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org URL : http://www.vikasnath.org
RECYCLING COMPUTERS: A Simple Solution for a Complex Problem. By
Sonia Jurich, this article describes ways by which outdated
computers in government and business offices can be recycled into
schools. The issue, however, is that most computers that are
being discarded no longer have software installed, and newer
software packages do not work on them. The article describes
software that restores the core functionality of old computers.
GREENSTAR WORLD Development Library is developing a core library
of software reference and instruction programs for use in
education programs in rural communities worldwide. Greenstar will
fund a qualified individual or group, with qualifications in
international education, to identify existing educational tools
which exist as tutorials, interactive lessons, game-based
learning, graphics, databases and Website extracts of articles
and manuals. All materials must be in digital form, or
convertible to digital form, and easily usable with standard
tools on a Windows 95 computer system. Audiocassettes and
videocassettes will also be accepted into the Library.
By way of background: Greenstar is placing self-contained, solar-
powered community centers in remote locations around the world.
Each center has health facilities, including telemedicine, a
classroom complete with distance learning equipment, and a
business center, through which we will operate ecommerce in
native cultural products. The solar array powers the unit and
also purifies water for up to 2,200 people.
[Courtesy Paul Swider <email@example.com> ]
UK DEPARTMENT FOR International Development (DFID) and OneWorld
are having an online consultation on information technology and
knowledge for development. You're welcome to join in.
Consultation website is live at
Q1. Is there any evidence of ICTs actually reducing poverty?
To join this discussion email firstname.lastname@example.org
with the word 'subscribe' in the subject line
Q2. How can the Internet and increased globalisation enhance the
value of traditional media for development? To join this
discussion email email@example.com with the word
'subscribe' in the subject line
Q3. How can the international community help to harness the power
of knowledge to meet its development targets? To join this
discussion email firstname.lastname@example.org with the word
'subscribe' in the subject line
Q4. How can e-commerce and other new forms of commercial
interaction facilitated by ICTs be used to promote sustainable
development? To join this discussion email dfid4-
email@example.com with the word 'subscribe' in the
subject line [Courtesy media@ONEWORLD.NET]
READINESS FOR THE Networked World: A Guide for Developing
Countries from the Information Technologies Group is aimed at
spurring dialogue and cooperative action in addressing Digital
Divide issues in the developing world. Visit it at
Interested in localizing the printed version and website into
your language? Contact Tariq_Mohammed/FS/KSG@ksg.harvard.edu
Or eDevelop@ksg.harvard.edu [Courtesy firstname.lastname@example.org]
BRITAIN'S SOCIAL EXLCLUSION 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. [Courtesy Colin J Williams
PAKISTAN'S DRAFT "Software Protection Ordinance" is available on
the Pakistan Computer Bureau's website http://www.pcb.gov.pk
Comments may be sent within one week to email@example.com
from May 11 [Courtesy Irfan Khan KhanIA@super.net.pk, S-Asia-IT]
ANOTHER POLICY: The Information Technology Commission
[http://itcomm.gov.pk ; http://itcomm.org.pk] of Government of
Pakistan has posted the draft IT Policy at
http://itcomm.gov.pk/policy/it1.htm for feedback and comments.
Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org [Courtesy s-asia-it]
ISPs IN INDIA ARE planning to come together to set up an Internet
exchange that will help them interchange data directly.
Presently, ISPs in India are having to route data through
international gateways and depend on servers located outside the
country. For instance, an e-mail sent from one ISP to another is
currently routed through the US through an international gateway
and is routed back through another gateway. [Courtesy: India ISP
News Weekly, May 9; S-Asia-IT mailing list]
KARNATAKA, THE SOUTH INDIAN province, has launched a new IT
policy called 'Mahiti'. It includes the issue of bonds worth Rs.
3 billion to finance people-friendly IT-enabled services,
generating jobs and building state- and district-level databases.
Incubation centres for start-up companies, computerisation of
land records, land registration and promotion of the local
language Kannada in IT are part of the plan. [Courtesy: IANS]
Contact the Editors
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