Bytes for All
December 2004

Bytes for All

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Bytes for All discussion group observed the month of November 2004 with very interesting and moving discussions. The deliberations ranged from technological developments to FLOSS movement, governance, accountability to gender issues and education to Internet standards. Following is the summary of that discussion.

ICTs for development
Shobha Warrier interviewed Prof. Jhunjhunwala where he discussed various issues and solutions to transform rural India using ICTs. This interview that was forwarded to the list triggered up a great deal of intriguing discussion.

Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala an internationally reputed professor on connectivity design particularly for WLL technology has also incubated many ideas that cater to rural Indian market. In his interview he talked about, Bloomba, the search-based e-mail application which has been taken over by Yahoo recently and iSoftTech the team behind development of Bloomba, including other significant matters. He believes that until the Indian rural population (around 700 million people) is not mainstreamed in the development process development objectives cannot be achieved. Prof. Jhunjhunwala has presented vision 2010.

He maintains that telephones and the Internet can have an amazingly positive impact in the development of rural India and the GDP of rural India can be doubled in the next 8-10 years. He suggested developing the rural micro enterprises by developing, the Internet kiosks, ATM machines, the medical diagnostic kit, etc.

Responding to this interview most of the members appreciated Prof. Jhunjhunwala's ideas for rural development however; there were many who did not agree with his optimistic views. Many believe that technology is not yet hassle free, and people in the rural area are not very much receptive towards change. Making ICTs work in the rural areas needs a total social re-engineering and social dynamics cannot be assessed with a set of formula. Others believe that proper capacity building initiatives for the rural communities will certainly help the development agenda forward.

Surveys for India
Dr D. Rama Rao has informed Bytes for All readers that a survey on IT needs of farmers in a remote village in Nagonda district is being carried out. The results will be available in a book accompanied with CD and on a dedicated website as well.

Transparency and accountability
Kris Dev (Krishnan) suggested launching a 'Transparency & Accountability' (TRAC) movement worldwide to invite people voluntarily to give up all cash transactions and make their dealings totally transparent and accountable. In his opinion, this can change the mindset of people and the society can be liberated of all evil thoughts and actions. In response to this call Mr Peter B shared information regarding another such organization, Transparency, Accounting and Accountability, and effective Monitoring and Evaluation (TAAME). The TAAME strives to bring all organisations under a system that allows good accountability, and as a substitute for the prevailing high cost way of doing monitoring and evaluation.


Agri Info Online
Frederick Noronha shared this piece of information about an interesting initiative called isapindia and the site that Sunil Khairnar has been running, which provides links to agri-related info via cyberspace. To get agriculture-related information via simple, effective and low-cost e-mail, this is the place to check out.

Free/Libre software

I Firefox 0.9
Firefox 0.9 is an award-winning preview of Mozilla's next generation browser. Firefox keeps the computer safe from malicious spyware by not loading harmful ActiveX controls. Firefox is the most customizable browser.

The new Easy Transition system imports all settings – Favorites, passwords and other data from Internet Explorer and other browsers. Firefox comes with a standard set of developer tools including a powerful JavaScript and CSS error/warning console, and an optional Document Inspector that gives unheard of insight into how your pages work.

II Novell launches desktop Linux for enterprises
Sayeed Rahman shared the news that Novell Inc. has build a desktop version of its open-source Linux operating system aimed squarely at enterprise users. Linux Desktop 9 is built on the same code base as SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, a product used by a growing number of enterprises to run their back-office computers. Novell has been intensively promoting Linux as an alternative to Windows ever since the company acquired Germany's SUSE Linux AG last November.,4814,97337,00.html

III Realizing the promise of Open Source in the non-profit sector
Partha shared this article by Jonathan Peizer of Open Society Institute, an initiative of Soros Foundation on Open Source Software for Non-Profit Sector. The article covers various aspects of FLOSS in Non-Profit organisation e.g. its usage and need assessment of non-profit sector, investments in training, joining with technology buzz, linking social source, and financial implications. To read this interesting article please visit: publications/articles/realizing_20030903

IV UNESCO and Free Software
Partha shared this piece by Richard Stallman, who is founder of the Free Software Foundation and the author of the GNU General Public License. Richard lauded the role of UNESCO towards FLOSS movement and its support to the extension and dissemination of human knowledge. His article briefly covers the development process of GNU Project and its contribution to Open Source movement. The complete article is accessible at:

Internet standards in South Asia

APNIC signs an MOU with ISPAK & ISPAN
Kapil Chawala shared this news with BytesforAll members that APNIC has signed an MOU with Internet Service Provider Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) and Internet Service Provider Association of Nepal (ISPAN).

Under the MOU, ISPAK, ISPAN and APNIC will cooperate to promote domestic and international Internet standards, infrastructure, and service developments exchange information; provide assistance to each other in organizing meetings, seminars and conferences; and provide training opportunities for ISPs in Pakistan and Nepal.

Events and announcements

I First Annual SANGONeT “ICTs and Civil Society” Conference and Exhibition
The Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT) will host its first annual “ICTs and Civil Society” conference and exhibition from 1-3 March 2005 at the Indaba Hotel in Fourways, Johannesburg. The conference will focus on ICT-related issues to the CSO sector. The conference is aimed at senior staff and technical employees in the CSO sector as well as individuals who work with these organisations, including international funding agencies, the private sector and government. Approximately 300 people will attend the event.

II Women in e-Governance
A conference on Women in E-Governance is to be held at Annamalai University, Tamilnadu, India on December 20-21, 2004. It is being organized by the Department of Library and information Science at Annamalai University in association with Anitra Trust, Chennai. The thematic background as well as the sub-themes of the conference are available at the conference website

III Google's new news service for scientists and scholars
Omi Azad shared this valuable information with BytesforAll that Google is rolling out a new search service that will index academic research such as books, technical reports, and peer-reviewed papers. The Google Scholar service offers unique access to a number of publications and publishers. It is an excellent initiative giving the flexibility to find the research papers, and conference proceedings. One can access the newly launched search engine for researchers and academicians at

IV SciDev.Net launches new news service for South Asia
The SciDev.Net South Asia gateway offers free daily news, features and opinion about the links between science, technology and development aimed at India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Maldives. For more information please visit

V UNESCO website on Caravanserais
The UNESCO's website on Caravanserais aims to be a forum for exchange and discussion and a gateway to free information about fascinating monuments dotted over a large part of the world stretching from Central Asia over the Middle East to North Africa.

The site will mainly be of interest to researchers, art and/or architecture students, but it will also reach out to tourists and other lay people keen to learn about these monuments. It contains names, plans, photographs, maps and architectural details of various monument.

VI World Summit Awards (WSA) in Bangladesh
Omi Azad shared the news about The World Summit Award (WSA) in Bangladesh giving details about its launch, national selection process and the names on national expert panel. His message called for those interested to know/participate/sponsor/jury member for WSA-Bangladesh initiative to contact

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Compiled and summarized by Shahzad Ahmad
Bytes for All, Pakistan


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