September 2006

Indian Telecentre Forum 2006 (ITF 2006), 23-25 August, New Delhi

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Indian Telecentre Forum 2006 (ITF 2006) along with two parallel events, 'e-Gov India 2006' and 'Digital Learning India 2006' was jointly organised by CSDMS  along with several partners, at Hotel Taj Palace in New Delhi (India), on 23-25 August. This was a result of a number of collaborative steps for creating international understanding of the needs of telecentres in India. The  welcome address was delivered by M. P. Narayanan, the President of CSDMS.


NVA fellows after the convocation with the lead panelists, 23rd August 2006

The convocation ceremony of fellows of Jamsetji Tata National Virtual Academy Fellows (NVA) followed. The fellows were conferred with awards for their grass root initiatives by MSSRF. The welcome address  of the convocation was delivered by Tara Gandhi, Advisor, Jamsedji Tata National Virtual Academy. Basheerhamad Shadrach, Senior Programme Officer, International Development Research Centre (IDRC) explained the outcome of the Third National Participatory Knowledge Management Workshop and Plans for Mission 2007 Training Commons.

Ashutosh Chadha, Manager Education Programme, Intel, announced the launch of Intel Learning Programme to Jamsetji Tata National Virtual Academy (NVA) and NVA fellows.

The key note address was delivered by Professor M.S.Swaminathan, President, Jamsetji Tata National Virtual Academy. Special address was made by Kiran Karnik, Trustee, NASSCOM Foundation and by Adrian Marti, Deputy Country Director, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). At the end of convocation ceremony, the vote of thanks was delivered by Nancy Anabel, Coordinator, NVA.

The well organised exhibition show-casing technology was inaugurated there after.

An eloquent interaction with National Virtual Academy (NVA) fellows was arranged, where they shared their experiences with the fellow participants. The discussion of multi level exchange of ideas was being translated in regional languages by facilitators to overcome the barriers of interchange and communication in various languages.
The session was followed by Mission 2007: The way forward under the lead of DC Misra, NIC, Government of India  reiterated 'content' being king.

The convergence group led by Aruna Sundararajan of IL&FS, Tarun Malik of Saksham, Microsoft and V.V. Rajasekhar of ITC talked of the major telecentres models planned in India. The capacity building discussions were led by Ankhi Das of Microsoft and Namrata Bali of SEWA. The session was moderated by B. Shadrach, telecentre.org/IDRC.

The day concluded with the Dinner Panel honoured by Mani Shankar Aiyer, the Hon'ble Minister of Panchayati Raj and Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India. There was an award ceremony for three innovators in the field of i4d, egov and Digital Learning (see page 32 for detailed coverage).

From the second day of the conference, there were parallel sessions, tracked conveniently to hold the specific interest of speakers as well as the audience. The  session 'Telecentre Models: Global experience' was moderated by Mark Surman, Managing Director of telecentre.org/IDRC. The  panellist were divided into distinct groups of representing nations who have proved their innovative potential in running the telecentres. The participants were divided into groups of seven to share the experiences by each of the representing nation. Accordingly, Aminata Maiga of Afrilinks, Mali; Subbiah Arunachalam of MSSRF, India; Zulfikar Mochamad Rachman of the National Development Planning Agency, Indonesia; Harsha Liyanage of Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka; Marianna Posfai of 4CLI, Hungary; Tess Camba, Commission on Information and Communication Technology, Philippines; Phonaphasit from Laos; Klaus Stoll from Latin America; and  Michael Gurstein from Canada narrated their experiences gathered in operating telecentres in the goodwill of the communities.

The UN Solution Exchange Workshop on Knowledge Management was also held parallely that highlighted the activities of UN Solution Exchange and its online communities.

The second session of the day was on 'Rural Connectivity', chaired by Deepak Maheshwari of ISPAI. Vipul Sharma of Nortel made presentations on wireless technologies and enabling e Governance applications, Rakesh Radha Krishnanan of Sun Micro Systems made a demonstration on e-Connectivity for PURA, Patrick Veron of Alcatel talked on WiMax- Access Connectivity, enabling a world of broadband wireless opportunities, Prof. U.B.Desai of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay discussed on Wireless Mesh Networks for Rural Areas, Senthil Ayyasamy of Bharati Airtel discussed the scalable architecture for rural kiosks, Ashish Duggal of Gilat focused on rural connectivity options with a focus on telecentres. Morten Falch of DTU discussed his paper 'National Strategies for Promoting Broadband Access'. Dr.Avinash Joshi of Tech Mahindra focused on the rural connectivity issues in the session.


International Telecentre thought leaders sharing their experties to the Indian Telecentre Community, 24 August 2006

There was a parallel session on 'Indian Telecentre Networks: The Next Steps', chaired by Rufina Farnandes, NASSCOM Foundation. The speakers in this session were V.V. Rajasekhar from ITC, Satyen Mishra from Drishtee, J.S.Sandha from Jagriti eSeva, Capt K.J.S.Brar from Designmate, Surendra Rana from Tarahaat, Rama Hariharan from National Informatics Centre (NIC), Government of India, Shantanu Sengupta from Grasso and Dr. Ashok Jain from AISECT. After the presentations, the participants discussed important issues like government's role in telecentre initiatives, sustainability issues of the telecentres and also the sensitive issue of social responsibility for telecentres.

The post-lunch session was on Government Rural ICT initiatives and IT Secretaries Panel. Shefali Dash of NIC, Government of India, N S Kalsi, Secretary IT, Government of Punjab, Sivasankar, Director of IT Mission Kerala State and Alok Bhargava were the representative members from government.

It was followed by International donors Forum 'Investing, Engaging, and Impacting the Telecentre Movement for Poverty Reduction and Achieving the MDGs'. Introductory remarks were made by Richard Gerster and San Ng of the Asia Foundation, USA facilitated a marketplace session after taking the participants' inputs and questions to the donors. Hyunjung Lee of ADB of Philippines, Adrian Marti of SDC, Mark Surman and B.Shadrach of telecentre.org/IDRC, Jody Mahoney of Tech Soup, USA, Jocelyne Josiah of UNESCO, and Maxine Olson of UNDP.

The third day of the panel discussion focused on Telecentres: Where can India be in 2010.The discussion panel went eloquent with DC Misra of NIC, Government of India on e Governance efforts on Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in various states. N. Subramanian, a research scientist from CDAC, Bangalore focussed on research and training methods that to be repeated between lab and ground to bridge the digital divide and Tarun Malik of Saksham, Microsoft.

The second parallel session was held on 'Relevant technologies with impact in the telecentre movement', chaired by Michael Gurstein. Four papers were presented in this session by Deepak Menon, Microsoft Research India, Zulfikar Mochamad Rachman of  The National Development Planning Agency, Indonesia, Prashant Chaudhary of Computer Associates and Hyunjung Lee of Asian Development Bank (ADB). After the presentations, an interactive discussion was held among the participants and presenters regarding the issues like partnership in telecentre initiatives, corruption problem, strategies for assisting telecentres, etc.


Rural connectivity session with eminent panelists in progress, 24 August 2006

The session on 'South Asian Telecentre Experiences' was  chaired by S. Abbasi of DIT, Government of India. Md Shahid Uddin Akbar, ICT for Development Programme, Bangladesh outlined the challenges of Telecentres: an increasing trend of content divide in developing countries. He raised the question, why at all a teacher, farmer or student from a rural area should go to telecentre! A H M Sultanur Reza, A M M Yahya of Grameen Phone Ltd., Bangladesh shared a feasibility study on telecentres for sustainability, Prof Lutfor Rahman, Founder Vice Chancellor,  Pundra University of Science and Technology, Bangladesh viewed telecentres from livelihood and job creating potential and as a resource centre for community development in rural areas. Shagun Dhakhwa of Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya (MPP), an NGO in Nepal working in the preservation of Nepali language and literature, besides FOSS in the respective language, made his presentation on 'Sambad'. Shikha Shrestha of Bellanet, Nepal in her presentation wanted ICT's to become a medium of voice for the voiceless. The telecentres, should work on ICT4D network promotion, research and capacity building, localisation and technological innovations and advocate for ICT policies, she remarked. Sharad Babu Shrestha of READ Nepal shared his success story of rural libraries becoming telecentres.


The International donors marketplace highlighting 'Investing, Engaging, and Impacting the Telecentre Movement' strategies

The session on 'Case studies from India' had Roger Harris from Roger Harris Associates, Hong Kong, T.K.Omana from RASTA (an NGO in Kerala, India), Ashish Saboo from Association of ICT Tools Access Providers and T.N. Anuradha from OneWorld South Asia sharing their valuable experiences in India in the field of telecentres. With the international telecentre specialists, another session was held to collate the recommendations.


Telecentres: Where can India be in 2010? Panelists deliberate

A discussion on work plan for the telecentre movement to move forward was held in the post-lunch session on the third day of the conference. The session was entitled as '2010 roadmap and vision: How do we get there?' Implementable and thought ideas were shared with a group of international experts like Radhika Lal of UNDP, New York, B. Shadrach of IDRC/telecentre.org, Veena Joshi of SDC and Ankhi Das from Microsoft.


The ITF 2006 delegates in rapt attention during a session in progress, 25th August 2006

All the sessions concluded with valedictory session, chaired by Dr. M. P. Narayanan, President of CSDMS. The panellists were Adrian Marti, Deputy Country Head, SDC, Piti Premotedham, Managing Director, Asia South, Computer Associates, Subhash C Khuntia, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. There was an interactive discussion on the conference outputs among the participants and panellists. The triple conference concluded with a vote of thanks by Ravi Gupta, Director of CSDMS.


Collating the recommendations to the Indian Telecentre Forum 2006

A detailed conference report with recommendations will be soon available on the web. log on to
www.i4donline.net/indiantelecentreforum

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