The Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India has been supporting the research and development effort in the areas of electronics and information technology at various institutions. To disseminate information on these technologies and products developed through this effort among the users and the industry, the Department has been organising, an annual event, Electronics and Information Technology Exposition (ELITEX), which is now an eagerly awaited event in the calendar of technology meets. ELITEX-2005 was held during April 25-26, 2005 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India. The theme for ELITEX-2005 was 'Grassroot Applications using ICT'. The Hon'ble Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Government of India, Dayanidhi Maran inaugurated the exposition on April 25, 2005 and Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission delivered the keynote address.
Focus of conference
Besides creating awareness about technologies, ELITEX'2005 also promoted Research and Development (R&D) units and industry linkages essential for the absorption of indigenous technology by the industry and for stimulating innovations. The seminar sessions were related to the theme 'Grassroot Applications using ICT' and included sessions on grassroot applications, next generation broadband communication technologies and systems, ICT for medical and disability applications, grassroot deployment, e-Governance applications, trends in Internet technologies and application, human computer interface, tele-medicine and its applications, emerging technologies and e-Education.
ELITEX'2005 also focused on presentations from the States in India both in terms of participating in the seminar and exhibitions. These presentations covered the opportunities for the industry to participate in the e-Governance initiatives in different States.
A compendium of 391 technologies and products developed under the Department of IT during the past years were exhibited at the event. Special arrangements were made to facilitate discussions with the scientists involved in the development of these technologies.
The scope of the ELITEX-2005 was enlarged to include official participations from all countries which was earlier restricted to only Asian countries. The official delegations from participating countries and resident representatives from local embassies/high commissions in India were available for discussions on the tie-up possibilities on the technologies/services available from India. All member countries of Asia Electronics Info-Communications Union (AEIU) were specially invited to participate in the event.
Session: Grassroot applications
The chairman of the session was Dr.N.Vijayaditya, Director General, National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the co-ordinator of the session was Dr.Gautam Bose of the same organisation. T.R. Raghunandan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India highlighted that there is a need to create a demand pool for ICT applications. Dr. B.Shadrach of OneWorld South Asia explained the Open Knowledge Network (OKN), an initiative that promotes knowledge sharing among rural communities. The last speaker of the session, Ms.Sukanya Rath of NASSCOM Foundation emphasised the need for ensuring equal access to information for undeserved and underprivileged communities. She highlighted the need for building capabilities and establishing participatory processes at grassroot level.
Session: Next generation broadband communication technologies and systems
The speakers of the session were Vijay Madan of Centre for Development of Telemetics (CDOT), Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi of IIT Chennai, Prof.Girish Saraph of IIT Bombay, Rajan Joseph of CDAC, Thiruvananthapuram and S.Ravindran of Broadband Pacenet. B.M.Baveja of Department of IT was the co-ordinator of the session and R.K.Arora who is an advisor of the same department chaired the session. The speakers brought out the various emerging broadband technologies and their applications in extending the reach of ICT amongst the rural masses.
Session: ICT for medical and disability applications
Substantial development work is now being carried out at various research and development (R&D) organisations and academic institutions for ICT applications in the disability sector with Government funding. Dr. KSK Sai, of Department of IT, Deependra Manocha of National Association for the Blind, Amol Bhagwat of SAMEER, Sudha Kaul of Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, Dr. Amit Banerjee of G.B. Pant Hospital and Dr. USN Murty of Indian Institute of Chemical Technology were the speakers of the session. All were of view that information about the latest ICT applications for disabled should be made available on a centralised basis to enable interaction among the concerned organisations as also the feed back from people at large. For this purpose, all such information could be posted on a website.
Session : Grassroot deployment
The coordinator of the session, Dr. Ramaraju, Member of Legislative Assembly flagged the issues of grassroot deployment and mentioned that there is a need for a framework for the issues. The chairman of the session Dr. Ashok Khosla of Development Alternatives said that rural problems require special attention and special development efforts. Hence cost of solving problems of rural areas are high and returns are less.
Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty of Narayana Hridayalaya, Bangalore said that technology can give better health care to poor. Telemedicine can address and solve the health issues even like cardiac care.99 percent of the cardiac problems do not require surgery and can be solved by telemedicine/teleconsultancy. P.K. Madhav of Byrraju Foundation talked about the initiatives taken by the foundation in the project 'ASHWINI' in partnership with Media Lab Asia and National Institute of Smart Governance (NISG). About 32 villages would be connected to a hub with wireless network to offer value added services on education, health care, livelihoods and training. V. Rajasekhar of ITC said that the kiosks need to be at walking distances and they are upgrading the kiosks for providing value added services. Prof. Ananda Krishnan of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi spoke about the initiatives taken up by AIIMS with Media Lab Asia in the healthcare management information systems.
Session: Global Internet policy
This session was exclusively organised for the international delegates and was chaired by S.N.Zindal of Software Technology Parks of India (STPI). A presentation was made by a leading software company from Serbia. The discussion reflected the approaches adopted by the various countries. It remained, however, inconclusive on account of the initiatives yet to be taken by the various countries on the strategy to be adopted for the Internet applications and connectivity.
Session : e-Governance applications
The session on e-Governance Applications was chaired by S.P.Singh, Senior Director of Department of IT. The speakers shared their thoughts, experience and the issues that concern e-Governance implementation and the initiatives that need to be taken to take the e-Governance initiative to the grassroot level.
The salient suggestions that emerged from the presentations are that there is a need to enhance access of government services and availability of the same in local language and there is also a need to put in place a common framework, national standards and enforcement of the same.
Session: Trends in Internet technologies and application
The session on Internet technologies was chaired by Shri Pankaj Agrawala, Joint Secretary, Department of IT. There were six speakers covering the areas of Internet governance, emerging Internet technologies, IPv6, broadband, National Internet Exchange of India and .in Internet domain name registry. The speakers emphasised on the enabling role played by Internet in taking ICT applications to the grassroots.
Union IT Secretary of India Brijesh Kumar delivering the inaugural address
Session: Human computer interface
The highlights of the session and issues raised were the need for development of multi-modal input and output technologies for intelligent human computer interface, need for development of technologies so that people with disabilities are able to interact on the web, issue of limited availability of linguistic resources and urgent need for smart/expert inputting mechanism for predictive multi-tap entry for Indian languages.
Session: Tele-medicine and its applications
The session was chaired by P.Venkat Rangan of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. The speakers were L.S.Satyamurthy of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Prof.Saroj Mishra of Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences and Dr.Vikram Chhatwal of Apolo Hospital. The issues that were brought out during the session were usefulness of telemedicine to Indian conditions, issues to be addressed for setting up of an e-National telemedicine network and the importance of public-private partnership in realising it.
Session : e-Education
In his opening remark Prof. Phatak of IIT Mumbai, the chairman of the session emphasised the need for overhauling the education system keeping in mind the utility of ICT based tools of education to reach the under privileged sections of the society. Successive presenters from Azim Premji Foundation, Vidya Deep Foundation and from Motorola discussed some case studies on various e-education experimental projects across the country.
The two day conference ended on the mode that ICT applications need to be modified for development in grassroot level. For this public-private partnership is the urgent requirement.
Reported by: Ram Gopal Gupta, firstname.lastname@example.org