CIO

News Review

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India

Rs 100 crore BMC investment on e-Governance next fiscal

A total investment of Rs 100 crore (USD 23 million) would be pumped in by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Maharashtra to boost e-Governance during the next fiscal. During the current fiscal, BMC would be spending Rs 70 crore on e-Governance projects. The e-Governance sectors to be covered under the plan include Geographical Information System, Global Positioning System, Voice Over Internet Protocol, web-enabled email system, ERP solutions, and Biometric Access Control System (BACS).

According to BMC officials, registration of births and deaths, payment of taxes, registration of vehicles and filing of complaints would soon become online. Satish Bhide, Joint Municipal Commissioner, disclosed, “The BMC is working in close coordination with central government authorities, like NIC and Survey of India, for creating a database with the help of a digitising map of Mumbai. GIS will aid in planning and development of the island city.”

Karnataka, Intel introduce “Gyanodaya” for effective e-Governance

In order to bridge the digital divide and help employees work more efficiently, the government of Karnataka has joined hands with Intel to introduce “Gyanodaya” – a government assisted PC purchase programme for encouraging PC adoption among State Government employees.

Through “Gyanodaya”, the first initiative of its kind in south India, state government employees would avail of a home PC from leading companies such as HP, PCS, HCL, Microsoft etc, under simple financing options duly available from public sector banks and other financial institutions. Customised PCs would be available at an EMI of as low as Rs 399 for four years. It may be recalled that similar projects have been successfully implemented in some 14 countries worldover. Even in India, states like Delhi, West Bengal and Uttaranchal have witnessed similar efforts.

Karnataka chief minister Dharam Singh said that the initiative is likely to boost PC penetration in the state giving it a competitive edge, with a skilled and better-informed workforce.

US$1bn investment for e-Choupal in 7-10 years

India’s leading tobacco company ITC Ltd has announced that its e-Choupal business would witness an investment of US$1bn in 7-10 years. The investment is aimed at creating village level infrastructure through the establishment of business hubs called ‘Choupal Sagars’ in some 25 villages where e-Choupals are already operating. With the establishment of ‘Choupal Sagars’, the farmers would be able to avail of services like health care, credit services, soil testing, education services, agri input supply etc. By mid-2007, about 30 ‘Choupal Sagars’ would come into existence.

Currently, the e-Choupal movement is spread into seven states and 31,000 villages covering about 3.5 million farmers, and is targeted to spread to 100,000 villages covering 1 million farmers and draw them into the click and mortar channel.

APSWAN attacked by hackers in Andhra Pradesh

In an attempt to steal information, hackers unsuccessfully attacked Andhra Pradesh government’s e-Governance project, the AP State Wide Area Network (APSWAN), recently. APSWAN – the mail server of the Andhra Pradesh Technology Services (APTS) – links the State Secretariat to all District Collectorates with fibre  optic lines.

Cyber Crime Police of CID, who is handling the case, suspect the involvement of cyber terrorists in the hacking. According to preliminary inquiries, a dangerous computer virus, spybot, was detected. Attempt by the hackers to steal the information has reportedly failed, the police disclosed.

Tiruchi Corporation’s e-Governance system become more people friendly


Kerala’s Tiruchi Corporation, in an attempt to provide effective and efficient governance, has made its e-Governance system more people friendly by updating its website, extension of online tax collection system for collection of underground drainage charges and facility to pay taxes through credit cards. Until now, the online payment system was only available for payment of property tax and water charges.

Tiruchi Corporation, the first urban local body in the State, had launched its own website, which however continued to remain inoperational over the past few months owing to certain technical difficulties. The website has now been relaunched with a changed address www.trichycitycorporation.com, and includes several new features like application downloads, file/application tracking and online grievance registration.

MCA 21: 53 India-wide e-Governance centres to facilitate e-filing

Companies may now heave a sigh of relief, finally!! Visiting government offices for filing documents and returns may soon become a thing of the past once the MCA21 project of the Ministry of Company Affairs (MCA) is implemented.

During a CII-organised conference on ‘Good Corporate Governance Practices’ at Chennai on 20th December 2005, Union Company Affairs Secretary Komal Anand in her inaugural address said, “The government was also entering the era of e-Governance and the implementation of the project was aimed at “transforming” the way of doing business in the country. Once the project was implemented, companies would no more have to visit government offices. This would enable the government also to be more responsive to the need of the corporate sector and take “real-time” appropriate action. The complete process of the initiative would be in place by April 2006.”

In order to facilitate e-filing of documents and returns, some 53 stations would function as front offices across India. For a 3-year period Corporate India would be assisted so as enable it to understand the nuances of e-filing. The portal www.mca21. gov.in is expected to be operational in January 2006, which will facilitate  e-Filing, inspection of company documents and requisition of certified copies.

…MCA to use DIN for keeping tabs on directors

With the Ministry of Company Affairs (MCA)’s e-Governance system taking off this month, its directors will come under the penetrating gaze of an electronic tracking system. All directors on the boards of companies would be issued mandatory identification numbers called the director identification number (DIN) by MCA after a thorough verification of their credentials and antecedents.

DIN would enable the government to keep track as to whether a director sits on the boards of more than 15 companies or whether a director on the board of a company, which has defaulted on its statutory obligations, is violating the law by sitting on the board of another company.

According to a MCA official, “DIN will be an effective tool in nabbing executives in case the company vanishes after raising money from the public. Such offences will be immediately detected as all the 20 offices of the registrars of companies (RoC) will be networked by April. Introducing DIN will induce a sense of discipline as the threat of penal action will look more real.” Also, MCA would use the e-Governance project to identify and send notices to companies that default in filing statutory documents.

…MCA to digitise RoC’s 6 crore pages of documents on Indian industry

Thanks to the e-initiative of the Ministry of Company Affairs (MCA), any investment banker would not have to undergo the duress of physically visiting a particular office or branch of the Registrar of Companies (RoC) in order to access the records of a registered company. Undoubtedly, the very process of accessing had been a painstaking and tedious one.

A whole world of data on Indian industry could now open up, courtesy the MCA’s ongoing e-Governance project, after making the necessary payment for online inspection of RoC’s 6 crore pages of documents that it seeks to digitise.

Termed the ‘MCA21’ initiative, the project is expected to become functional by April 2006 and would cover all MCA locations across India. The 6 crore pages of documents would include certificates of incorporation, Form 5, Form 18, Form 21, 23A, Forms 37 and 39, routine mandatory documents such as annual returns, balance sheets, and charge documents. Besides, annual reports of 2003-04 and 2004-05 are also expected to be found into the systems. A note on MCA’s website indicates that the records of any company can be viewed from any where through the Internet on payment of the necessary RoC fees.

Asia

Dubai considering e-Government reappraisal

In Dubai, a reappraisal of e-Government is being actively considered owing to poor or negligible participation of citizens in the Emirate. Salem Khamis Al Shair, Dubai government’s eServices Director, disappointingly said, “Currently, we have managed to offer 81% of services online but the number of people using them is not as high as it should be. We are going to re-evaluate all services offered online beginning next year to check the standard and quality of the services and to study what is stopping people from using them.”

Al Shair commented, “Dubai eGovernment had seen more success in attracting businesses to use online services than individuals.” At present, Dubai has a population of 1.2 million, only 200,000 being Dubai citizens while the rest of them being expatriate workers mostly from South Asia. However, Dubai government expects that information on 90% of government services would be online by 2007, with half of government transactions being carried out online by the same period.

South Korea exports e-Government technologies worth US$85.2mn

In an attempt to help domestic companies venture into overseas e-Government markets, South Korea is actively promoting its e-Government services abroad. Until now, South Korean companies have exported e-Government technologies worth US$85.2mn, while negotiations are already underway for some 42 contracts estimated to be worth US$847mn.

A team focused exclusively on helping companies to export e-Government technologies has been set up by South Korea’s Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs. Currently, the importers of Korean e-Government services include a US port administration, a centre for small and medium-sized businesses in Indonesia and the City of Saga in Japan.

Malaysia’s Penang Municipal Council launches eLAMS

Malaysia’s Penang Municipal Council has said that it has become the first local authority in the country to use the electronic system for all of its services by launching eLAMS – Local Authority Electronic Management System.

Datuk Ahmad Phesal, Penang Municipal Council chairman explained that eLAMS is an integrated processing system based on information and communication technology that contains electronic equipment, data infrastructure and data content to implement the function of the council according to ISO certifications, and has been primarily designed for the public and planning agents such as architects, surveyors and engineers to submit their development plan applications to the council. The eLAMS services comprise e-Enquiry, e-Guide, e-Submission, e-Services, e-Payment and e-Report Card.

Philippines Supreme Court unveils ePayment system

As part of a massive computerisation initiative, the Supreme Court (SC) in Philippines has introduced an ePayment System that would enable lawyers and litigants to pay various legal fees online besides enabling the judicial hierarchy to electronically assess and monitor payment transactions.

Developed in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines, ePayment System features a “real-time and secured” payment process done via the Internet, allowing the transfer of funds from a Landbank account to the SC account. The ePayment System allows the reviewing of the status of assessment and payment transactions anytime, and also the generation of daily or monthly reports of collected fees.

Finally, China’s official website www.gov.cn launched

After three months of trial operation, the Chinese government officially launched its website www.gov.con on January 1. The website is organised by the State Council, China’s cabinet, and conducted by Xinhua net. Information about government affairs at the provincial levels across the country as well as online services for net users would be provided by the website.

Available in traditional and simplified Chinese versions, the website has four sections which respectively provide information about government affairs, online services for citizens, enterprises and foreigners, interactive communi-cation between governments and citizens, and other applied functions. Besides, the English version of the website also provide commercial and traveling information services for non-Chinese speakers.

The first government website was launched in 1997, and ever since Chinese government departments have developed more than 10,000 websites. Significantly, for the first time the Chinese government has integrated all those websites into one place thus making available more transparent information for any net user.

World

France readies for e-Politics, e-Campaign, e-lection

With the French presidential elections yet to take place in 2007, political parties and leaders in the country have started taking initiatives and testing tools that promises to be a major component of the next e-Campaign. Clearly, it seems that e-Politics has taken France in its stride with a vengeance.

Famour French newspaper Le Monde in its 4th January edition reported that as per its estimates between 6 and 7 million (one French to ten) people created a weblog in recent months thus placing France at the head of European countries, behind the United Kingdom (900,000 weblogs) and Russia (800,000).

The French webzine O 1 Net, which published an article on political parties web-marketing at the end of December 2005, said that some 45,000 net users had signed an e-Petition supporting Nicolas Sarkozy, French Minister of Interior and chairman of the UMP Party, during the suburbs crisis, and that 200,000 people, of which 60% were unknown UMP Party’s databases, had come on the party’s website. Besides, for 2007 elections, UMP has prepared a new website. A webTV broadcasted on mobile phone and an alarm system by SMS tools would also be launched by Front National Party at the beginning of 2006.

2005 Digital Cities Survey names top 10 digital cities

The Centre for Digital Government has named the most technology-advanced cities in the United States as per its 2005 Digital Cities Survey. The first-place cities in their respective population categories are Corpus Christi, Texas; Madison, Wisc.; Roanoke, Va.; and Delray Beach, Fla. The annual study examined the utilisation of digital technologies by city governments in order to better serve their citizens and streamline operations.

More than 600 city mayors, managers and chief information officers were invited to participate in the survey, which was developed by the Centre and the National League of Cities. The survey grouped cities into four population categories: 250,000 or more, 125,000-249,999, 75,000-124,999, and 30,000-74,999. A set  of 22 questions was provided to the officials for responding. Survey questions focused on implementation and adoption of online service delivery; planning and governance; and the infrastructure and architecture that make the transformation to digital government possible.

Botswana to formulate e-Government strategy

Even though the Government of Botswana has its official website www.gov.bw, it still does not have a proper e-Government in place. The government is in the early stages of moving towards e-Government and the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology has initiated the process of establishing an e-Government framework. Various ministries and departments in the country already have scores of programme specific information communication technology (ICT) applications awaiting implementation.

FAO, EC unveil Online Export Helpdesk for developing countries

UN’s FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation) and the European Commission (EC) jointly launched the EC’s Online Export Helpdesk for developing countries to FAO member countries at Rome.

The Export Helpdesk has several sections like Requirements and taxes section; Import tariffs, Customs documents and Rules of origin section; Statistics section; Market Place section; Links section; and Contact section.

Initially launched in 2004, the Export Helpdesk was primarily launched aiming at enhancing the economic growth of developing countries by facilitating the access of their exporters to the European Union (EU) market. Ever since, the online service has been providing free and comprehensive information to exporters from developing countries on how to export a product into the EU.

Microsoft partners with Mozambique and Macedonia governments

Computer giant Microsoft and the government of Mozambique signed a plan of action that would enable the Mozambican government to implement its computerisation programme. Implementation of the Plan of Action for the 2006-07 period is likely to incur an estimated cost of US$500,000, and covers the areas of education, electronic government, and the computer industry. Microsoft would fund and provide computer products to the government.

As part of a two-year-old partnership agreement for giving IT a boost in the Eastern European country, Macedonia and Microsoft (Profile, Products, Articles) Corp. recently announced the launching of several e-Government websites. Microsoft would also provide free training and donate software licenses besides providing Macedonian language support for Windows XP and Office XP among other commitments.

Among several of the e-Government websites include a portal that allows users to search for government information and services, while another helps small and medium-size businesses start e-Commerce websites. Again, another website is an intranet portal for government officials to keep track of decisions at government sessions and queries between ministries and parliament.

ICT for Development

Courtesy Grasso, West Bengal villages get connected Grameen Sanchar Society (Grasso), an NGO run by Rajya Sabha MP and CPM leader Nilotpal Basu, has worked wonders for the state of West Bengal. An ambitious pilot project to introduce rural mobile services called the Grameen Sanchar Sewak (GSS) scheme, kickstarted in 2002 by BSNL and the Department of Posts, is now ready to be regularised and implemented nationwide.

An elated Basu said, “Ninety per cent of the GSS scheme is in West Bengal, and 90 per cent of that is being run by Grasso. The results have been spectacular. Grasso — subsidized by BSNL for the GSS scheme — has provided mobile reach to 93 per cent of West Bengal’s 34 Blocks, 46 per cent of its Gram Panchayats and 14 per cent of its villages. The only limitation is that BSNL’s network does not work in certain shadow areas, which has stopped Block coverage from being 100 per cent.”

Initially, the GSS scheme began with the idea of employing rural postmen to carry mobile phones from door-to-door in 12,001 villages but eventually became a logistical nightmare for the BSNL regarding billing and collection. Later, Grasso engaged 7,000 self-employed people to carry phones to far-flung locations and finally succeeded.

Now, Basu has different new plans for Grasso. He said, “Grasso is in talks with Microsoft, IBM, Wipro and TCS to support the common service centres (CSCs) in the state’s 3,357 gram panchayats. The plan is to have 3 GSS phones in each panchayat, totalling 12,000 phones, resulting in 100 per cent telephone coverage. The CSCs are to be a hub for about 20 services, ranging from electricity bill payment, tea and coffee to commodity trading, warehousing and cold storage. Each centre will cost Rs 1,000 to run every month and Rs 35,000 for all people manning them. West Bengal plans 500 such centres by 2007.”

ICICI Bank developing low cost ATMs for villages

ICICI Bank CEO KV Kamath recently said that the time has come when ATMs should be taken into villages for handling soil cash and acting as cash dispensing machines. Kamath said, “The Bank is in the process of developing an ATM that may cost less than Rs 1 lakh as aginst the conventional cost of Rs 6-7 lakh for an ATM to cater to the villages in the country. The effort is to develop a village delivery model taking into account micro-credit initiatives, corporations and self-help groups together.”

“As part of its e-Governance initiative, ICICI Bank has also undertaken a pilot project at Guntoor in Andhra Pradesh. The e-Governnace initiative will subsequently be adopted in 600 districts across the country in six months to a year’s time. The Bank is also developing smart cards, which would act as one stop shop for all financial information about an individual,” Kamath said, and added, “ICICI Bank is also into talks with the National Informatics Centre for developing e-bidding for tendering through a transparent manner. Efforts are on to make all tax payments online to avoid delay.”

Community PC to be launched by Intel

Intel India intends to launch its community PC, which is currently in prototype stage. The community PC is being developed keeping in view the prevailing condition of Indian villages, and that it is able to withstand the ruggedness and erratic power supply. The pilot projects are being implemented in 10 locations across the country. The PC is designed to provide wireless Internet access to village communities and rural areas.

R K Amar Babu, Director, (S Asia) Sales & Marketing group, said, “The pilot project in 20 villages to see how the system works is already underway. By the year-end, ODMs would be sent to Taiwan for designing the box. The system would then be handed over to our national and local PC partners like HCL and Zenith for further assembling and manufacturing of the PCs. The PC will have the option to use car battery in case of a power failure.”

“Free up airwaves,” urges President Kalam

Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam, while addressing ‘The India Empowered Conclave’ recently organised by Indian Express at New Delhi, made an impassioned appeal and urged, “It is bandwidth, we need more of it, and it has to be free. It is the demolisher of imbalances, the source of all freedom and a great leveler of the knowledge society,” and added, “We need connectivity. The technology to provide connectivity is already there, but on this technology we need high speeds.”

Dwelling upon his prized theme of PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) extensively, President Kalam said if the fruits of technological advancement is to reach the rural poor in order to make their lives easier then bandwidth has to be made free at all costs so as to make this happen. Kalam said, “Bandwidth is like a road. Just like anyone can use a road, everyone should be able to use bandwidth too.”

Talking about e-Governance, President Kalam commented, “Where do all our problems start? There is a need for transparency, which is why e-Governance is such a great tool. It is a myth that e-Governance – delivered through phone lines, computers and the Internet – is not taking off. My own (President’s) website has a ‘hit rate’ of 250,000 on an average day. The number goes up to 1 million a day on special occasions like August 15 and January 26.”

Geo-Informatics

Census Bureau in US updates geospatial data

The Census Bureau in US awarded Avineon Inc. of Alexandria, Virginia, US a $3 million contract through the vendor’s partnership with Harris Corporation to provide GIS support to improve the accuracy of the bureau’s address database. The end dataset will be more spatially accurate, which will let Census Bureau field personnel better locate streets and addresses to conduct the 2010 census. Avineon will update data for 266 counties in 2006; last year, it delivered data for 242 counties.

GPS to monitor kerosene tankers

The movement of kerosene tankers from storage tanks to wholesalers in sub-divisions in India will now be monitored through GPS to avoid any pilferage or diversion of fuel to the black market. It has been observed that maximum diversion and adulteration of kerosene takes place during transportation, and if it is monitored through GPS the driver would be answerable for any unnecessary stops or diversion from the designated route. By March this year, the supply of kerosene to over 500 sub-divisions would be monitored through GPS to keep a check on the movement of tankers and avoid any diversion from the specified route to retail outlets. On completion of the pilot project, the NCAER (National Council for Applied Economic Research) would conduct a feasibility study and the project could subsequently spread to almost all 6,000 sub-divisions.

Getmapping launches software for urban planning

Getmapping.com, a supplier of aerial photography in UK has recently announced the launch of SIMurban, a 3D World Simulator that promises to revolutionise the future of sustainable planning and development. Getmapping business partner Simmersion Holdings Ltd has developed the SIMurban World Simulator, which is a suite of software designed for 3D visualisation and real time interaction with any real world built environment. Organisations and businesses using digital map information are today placing increasing importance on the use of aerial geographic imagery to better manage activities and assets associated with land-use, people, transport and communications. By combining Getmapping’s ultra-detailed aerial photography and height data to create a visual context ‘wallpaper’, SIMurban enables users to place 3D objects into an authentic ‘on screen’ terrain to generate a photorealistic 3D world from anywhere in the UK – all at accelerated speed on standard desktop hardware.

Village Resource Centers in India to use satellite technology

As many as 250 Village Resource Centres (VRCs) in India aimed at providing locale specific information to rural population by effectively using satellite technology will be set up in the country by March end this year. The focus of Research and Development in ISRO would be to use advances in the field of space technology for the benefit of masses. The launch of Edusat had thrown open a wide scope for rural education and by the end of 2006, as many as 10,000 virtual classrooms would be set up across the country.

Mapping project to be developed for Ahmedabad

The National Informatics Centre in India will design, develop and implement a utility mapping project for six cities beginning with Ahmedabad. The project will then be replicated in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. Very soon a map based on the GIS will show Ahmedabad city. The map would cover 510 sq kilometres, including the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation area and Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority area. It would be a three dimensional map. This map will also display all water connections, drainage connections, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) telephone lines and Ahmedabad Electricity Company (AEC) connections. The inputs will come from various sources like satellite imagery, aerial photography, digital photogrammetry, GPS, field survey equipment, existing databases, census and administrative records. The data, both graphic and non-graphic, will be stored in a specific database where the relations between entities could also be stored.

Online satellite maps to be launched in Thailand

A system has been developed to conduct satellite mapping specifically for Thailand. Starting from next month, Digital Thailand would begin distributing satellite maps in the form of compact discs to interested public and students on request. The on-line version of the map also being launched next month, would also be made available to the various organisations. Both services would be free of charge for maps taken of the general terrains. The map distribution involves a cooperation between Chulalongkorn University and the Office of Space Technology Development and Geographical Information Technology which supplies the maps. Digital Thailand would work similarly to Google Earth, only that the maps are more customised to the needs of local users. The CDs are designed for target group such as the grassroot users and schools in the remote areas with limited or restricted access to the internet. The maps displayed in the internet service would have a much finer resolution than those contained in the CDs. Digital Thail and would block out security-sensitive areas. The system is currently being experimented before its official launch next month. ICT for Development

Courtesy Grasso, West Bengal villages get connected

Grameen Sanchar Society (Grasso), an NGO run by Rajya Sabha MP and CPM leader Nilotpal Basu, has worked wonders for the state of West Bengal. An ambitious pilot project to introduce rural mobile services called the Grameen Sanchar Sewak (GSS) scheme, kickstarted in 2002 by BSNL and the Department of Posts, is now ready to be regularised and implemented nationwide.

An elated Basu said, “Ninety per cent of the GSS scheme is in West Bengal, and 90 per cent of that is being run by Grasso. The results have been spectacular. Grasso — subsidized by BSNL for the GSS scheme — has provided mobile reach to 93 per cent of West Bengal’s 34 Blocks, 46 per cent of its Gram Panchayats and 14 per cent of its villages. The only limitation is that BSNL’s network does not work in certain shadow areas, which has stopped Block coverage from being 100 per cent.”

Initially, the GSS scheme began with the idea of employing rural postmen to carry mobile phones from door-to-door in 12,001 villages but eventually became a logistical nightmare for the BSNL regarding billing and collection. Later, Grasso engaged 7,000 self-employed people to carry phones to far-flung locations and finally succeeded.

Now, Basu has different new plans for Grasso. He said, “Grasso is in talks with Microsoft, IBM, Wipro and TCS to support the common service centres (CSCs) in the state’s 3,357 gram panchayats. The plan is to have 3 GSS phones in each panchayat, totalling 12,000 phones, resulting in 100 per cent telephone coverage. The CSCs are to be a hub for about 20 services, ranging from electricity bill payment, tea and coffee to commodity trading, warehousing and cold storage. Each centre will cost Rs 1,000 to run every month and Rs 35,000 for all people manning them. West Bengal plans 500 such centres by 2007.”

ICICI Bank developing low cost ATMs for villages

ICICI Bank CEO KV Kamath recently said that the time has come when ATMs should be taken into villages for handling soil cash and acting as cash dispensing machines. Kamath said, “The Bank is in the process of developing an ATM that may cost less than Rs 1 lakh as aginst the conventional cost of Rs 6-7 lakh for an ATM to cater to the villages in the country. The effort is to develop a village delivery model taking into account micro-credit initiatives, corporations and self-help groups together.”

“As part of its e-Governance initiative, ICICI Bank has also undertaken a pilot project at Guntoor in Andhra Pradesh. The e-Governnace initiative will subsequently be adopted in 600 districts across the country in six months to a year’s time. The Bank is also developing smart cards, which would act as one stop shop for all financial information about an individual,” Kamath said, and added, “ICICI Bank is also into talks with the National Informatics Centre for developing e-bidding for tendering through a transparent manner. Efforts are on to make all tax payments online to avoid delay.”

Community PC to be launched by Intel

Intel India intends to launch its community PC, which is currently in prototype stage. The community PC is being developed keeping in view the prevailing condition of Indian villages, and that it is able to withstand the ruggedness and erratic power supply. The pilot projects are being implemented in 10 locations across the country. The PC is designed to provide wireless Internet access to village communities and rural areas.

R K Amar Babu, Director, (S Asia) Sales & Marketing group, said, “The pilot project in 20 villages to see how the system works is already underway. By the year-end, ODMs would be sent to Taiwan for designing the box. The system would then be handed over to our national and local PC partners like HCL and Zenith for further assembling and manufacturing of the PCs. The PC will have the option to use car battery in case of a power failure.”

“Free up airwaves,” urges President Kalam

Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam, while addressing ‘The India Empowered Conclave’ recently organised by Indian Express at New Delhi, made an impassioned appeal and urged, “It is bandwidth, we need more of it, and it has to be free. It is the demolisher of imbalances, the source of all freedom and a great leveler of the knowledge society,” and added, “We need connectivity. The technology to provide connectivity is already there, but on this technology we need high speeds.”

Dwelling upon his prized theme of PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) extensively, President Kalam said if the fruits of technological advancement is to reach the rural poor in order to make their lives easier then bandwidth has to be made free at all costs so as to make this happen. Kalam said, “Bandwidth is like a road. Just like anyone can use a road, everyone should be able to use bandwidth too.”

Talking about e-Governance, President Kalam commented, “Where do all our problems start? There is a need for transparency, which is why e-Governance is such a great tool. It is a myth that e-Governance – delivered through phone lines, computers and the Internet – is not taking off. My own (President’s) website has a ‘hit rate’ of 250,000 on an average day. The number goes up to 1 million a day on special occasions like August 15 and January 26.”

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