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‘i4d innovation of the year 2006’ award goes to Hansdehar Smart Village

Kanwal Singh, the innovator of the first Smart Villages Project in India was awarded the first i4d innovation award at a Gala Awards Ceremony on 23rd August 2006 as a part of Indian Telecentre Forum 2006 conference held in New Delhi.

A webshot of Hansdehar Village website www.smartvillages.org

Kanwal Singh was recognised for his remarkable efforts in initiating a web presence for village Hansdehar in Haryana State in Northern India. Inspired by the Gandhian philosophy and the views of the President of India, Kanwal Singh goes beyond his day to day business of serving as the Chief Techical Officer with Haryana State Electronics Development Corporation. Mobilising the community to have a virtual presence has meant that the community participates and contributes to the content. The village named Hansdehar, located in Haryana (India), has uploaded itself onto the Internet, giving the outside world a glimpse of life in rural India.

Kanwal Singh receives the i4d innovation award from Mani Shankar Aiyer, Minister of Panchayati Raj and Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India

Visitors to Hansdehar village’s website (www. smartvillages.org) can see the names, jobs and other details of its 1,753 residents, browse photographs of their shops and read detailed specifications about their drainage and electricity facilities. Most of the residents can’t yet surf the Hansdehar website as the village is not yet connected to the Internet. Now Hansdehar farmers hope they will be able to get better prices for their crops by trading online through the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Ltd., cutting out middlemen. But younger villagers plan to use the Internet to help hasten their exit by searching on-line for college places and jobs in big cities. The village council-or panchayat-is pictured on the website. Carpenters and masons will tout their services online. Others will upload their resumes to job-hunting websites. But the grand aim is to encourage more of India’s 640,000 villages to upload themselves and unite in online networks to advance the cause of rural India, home to a tenth of humanity.

The award winners (awards in their hands) and their families with the minister Mani Shankar Aiyer and President of CSDMS M P Narayanan (in blue shirt)

During the Gala Awards evening two other awards were given away by Mani Shankar Aiyer. The innovation in egov award was presented to the Dakshin Kannad Police Blog and received by B Dayananda. The Digital Learning innovation award was School Camera Programme of Seva Mandir and was received by Neelam Khetan.


Internet-based agribusiness in an up swing in India
In agriculture, Internet-based applications hold the key in answering questions and solving problems regarding production and management, and many others in the field to the dinner-plate process.

The adoption of technology is slowly benefiting the end consumer. For instance, the Internet today has become an important source for buying products and services for end customers. Consumers can also get information on prices of all the major markets in India from agmarknet. Sericulture department of India has a website to provide price details of silk cocoons across various silk exchanges in India for the benefit of sellers and buyers. Internet portals such as Agriwatch.com bring together various participants in the agribusiness sector such as the farmers, traders, food processors and raw material suppliers by providing latest information. This also enables e-Commerce in agricultural products through this vertical portal.

Community Radio

Bangladesh: Play for community radio
After a ten days workshop on ‘Forum Theatre’, volunteers of the UNESCO-supported Youth Community Multimedia Centre (YCMC) produced two interactive plays explaining the role of community media and contextualising it to the lives of the rural poor in Bangladesh.

These plays are now regularly being performed in rural areas to raise awareness and public demand for community radio legislation in Bangladesh. This unique characteristic of Forum Theatre was explored to create a virtual community radio platform in many villages in Sitakund. YCMC has discovered that the importance of this kind of an approach is manifold: first, it reminds people of existing local negative practices; secondly, it raises awareness about the lack of access to mainstream media and demonstrates how local communities can use community radio and other media to change their society.


Almost 80 percent SMEs use e-Commerce to shop online
According to a new survey from Jupiter
Research almost 80 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are using the Internet to shop online.

The survey found that using the Internet to shop was almost as common as using email for SMEs and this usage has created an entire market for suppliers. It was also discovered that SMEs often stay loyal to certain companies online. David Schatsky, president of JupiterKagan, comments that companies looking to grow online shopping for relationship-intensive products and services should target small businesses with tenure of less than two years.


NIIT, Intel and MP join hands on ‘Gyanodya’
NIIT, Intel, the Madhya Pradesh (MP) State Electronics Development Corporation, and the MP government in India have joined hands on ‘Gyanodya’, an ICT enabled education project in the government schools.

The pilot project is being rolled out in the Government Excellence Higher
Secondary School, Budni. The Madhya Pradesh government has decided to enable its youth with the best of technology and education. The government hopes to extend this initiative to the students across all the socio-economic strata, including the rural and inaccessible corners of the state. Madhya Pradesh State Electronics Development Corporation (MPSEDC) will oversee the successful implementation of the project. The NIIT will deploy ‘eGuru’, its most popular and widely accepted virtual computer based teaching solution, besides providing faculty, teacher training and courseware. Intel will provide necessary infrastructure in schools.

ADB suspects India of acheiveing MDG targets
The Asian Development Bank said India would not meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets as in the case of other countries in the Asia Pacific region, despite making significant improvement in access to primary education.

ADB in its annual statistical publication, Key Indicators 2006 said the MDG targets for universal primary enrollment and a two-thirds reduction in child mortality were unlikely to be met unless governments rapidly intensified efforts to improve basic education and access to primary health care for the poor. ADB said India along with Bangladesh had made significant progress in improving access to primary schooling but concern remained regarding the quality to basic education and inequalities in enrollment rates. It also said India was in danger of falling short of the target to reduce the under-five child mortality rate to two-thirds of 1990 levels by 2015.

India to establish G-2-B portal for investors soon
India will soon establish a government-to-business (G-2-B) portal to provide easy communication and service linkage to foreign and domestic investors.


The department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), in a mission mode project (MMP) under the national e-Governance programme, has tentatively decided to award a Rs 20-crore pilot project to a consortium of companies led by CDAC. Based on the success of the pilot project, the exercise would be expanded to a larger-scale covering all departments. The exercise would cover business-government interface in selected departments, including ministries of company affairs (for issue of certificates of incorporation and commencement of business), excise and customs, environment, as well as RBI (for filing of forex transaction report), director general of foreign trade (for issue of importer exporter code), CBEC and a few chosen services in the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Haryana. This initiative would result in speedy, transparent and hassle-free information.


Singapore plans for IT system  to manage patient records
The government of Singapore has unveiled a new programme aimed at helping general practitioners (GPs) in the island-state manage patient records and related information via a common IT system.

Some S$15 million (US$9.4 million) will be invested over four years into the programme, says the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), the country’s infocomm regulator. From Oct. 1, GPs from 1,400 clinics in the country will be able to update and retrieve their patients’ health records through integrated clinic management systems. They can also perform other related functions, such as managing billing charges and patients’ insurance claims. IDA added that the centralised system would in future facilitate GPs to submit mandatory information, including infectious disease reports and alerts, to the country’s Ministry of Health (MOH).


Satyam Foundation initiates IT training for streetchildren
Satyam’s corporate social responsibility arm Satyam Foundation and Society for Integrated Development in Urban and Rural Areas (SIDUR) have made it possible for streetchildren to dream of a career in the IT sector.

An IT training centre will initially train a batch of 30 street children in basic computer skills, MS Office and data entry. English speaking and development of communication skills will also form a part of the training. Secretary, SIDUR, T. Nanda Vardhan, told that computers means modernisation, a sense of adventure and an opportunity to explore another world. SIDUR will initially focus on children from shelter homes. The organisation also plans to train children having monthly income of less than Rs. 2,000. Satyam Foundation has facilitated 10 computers and has plans to increase the number to 30 in the near future. Satyam employees will also volunteer for training and counselling sessions of children.

Open Source

Patent law may stifle open source growth in India
Patent laws, if adopted, may block the growth of open source software in India, a market where 20 per cent of the software used is now open source as against 80 per cent proprietary software.

In fact, some large MNCs which are using open source software (and proprietary too in some measure) are reportedly investing up to $100 million in legal fees to fight patent threats. At a recent knowledge symposium, organised by Red Hat Inc and IIT Delhi, Michael Tiemann, V-P, open source affairs, Red Hat, asserted that patents the act of granting ownership on the applicability of the software or the process, which the software performs, would hurt the Indian software industry. Open source software (OSS) and patents are in conflict with each other, underlined Vijay Kumar, academic director, MIT. He added that the basis of OSS model was free sharing of source code and the right to use other’s work unrestricted. Govern-ments view open source as a way to move away from US-based software company products that costs millions on implemen-tations and another hefty amounts for regular updates or security upgrades. Unless, the lacuna in the IPR laws in India are addressed, the issue will continue to be a grey area for companies that market open source services and in our endeavour to become a digital economy.


Bar-coded SMS to be launched in India
Now, you may not have to bother about collecting ticket from an airline office or carry a printout of the ticket downloaded from the Internet. Even going to a cinema hall to book a movie ticket could be a thing of the past. Bar coded SMS will now verify details of your tickets.

After booking ticket on the mobile phone, the customer will receive an SMS carrying a seven-digit number in bar code form. This bar-coded SMS could then be scanned by readers at airports and movie halls. The bar code SMS also provides a 120 character text messages describing the offer. Technology company Value First is already undertaking a pilot test, with the service expected to be launched next month. The bar code SMS is compatible with both GSM and CDMA handsets, provided it has a picture display facility.  The company is in talks for tie-ups with airlines, cinema halls, banks, major retail outlets, advertising agencies, online portals and a few state governments for m-Governance (mobile governance).

HP tops PC market in India

Technology solution provider Hewlett Packard India Pvt Ltd has emerged as the overall leader in the personal computer (PC) market in India with a total market share of 20.3 percent.

It continues to lead the notebook and desktop markets in Q2 2006. ‘HP India has achieved a massive market share of 37.1 percent in the notebook segment, which was more than double the share of its closest competitor, according to IDC’s Asia/Pacific Quarterly PC Tracker, 2Q06. The company also emerged winner in the total desktop segment with a market share of 16.6 percent (by volume).


Microsoft launches digital village in Akwa Ibom State
Microsoft Nigeria, in collaboration with the Foundation for Community Health Education, a non-governmental organisation has commissioned its digital village in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

The digital village, donated to Obonganwan Skills Acquisition Centre and commissioned by President Olusegun Obasanjo is expected to promote skills development and economic empowerment of the people of the state. According to Gerald Ilukwe, Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria and Ghana, the initiative was part of Microsoft’s drive to give something back to the communities in which it operates. The digital village is the second out of nine such facilities to be sited across Nigeria.

ADB signs MoU with UNESCAP to establish CeCs in South Asia
The Asian Development Bank and UNESCAP have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the establishment of 20 pilot Community e-Centres (CeC) in South Asia.

As part of ADB’s South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program, the project will be jointly implemented by ADB and the Information and Communi-cation Technology Applications Section of the Information, Communi-cation and Space Technology Division (ICSTD) of UNESCAP. The project is funded by the Japan Fund for Information and Communication Technology (JFICT) of ADB. The project aims to reduce poverty, empower communities and improve the quality of life in rural areas in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal by providing communities with access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). CeC will provide shared facilities for the public to use basic telecommunications services access the Internet and use various ICT applications for socio-economic activities.

ADB and UNESCAP signs MoU to establish CeCs in South Asia
The Asian Development Bank and UNESCAP have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the establishment of 20 pilot Community e-Centres (CeC) in South Asia.


As part of ADB’s South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program, the project will be jointly implemented by ADB and the Information and Communication Technology Applications Section of the Information, Communication and Space Technology Division (ICSTD) of UNESCAP. The project is funded by the Japan Fund for Information and Communication Technology (JFICT) of ADB. The project aims to reduce poverty, empower communities and improve the quality of life in rural areas in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal through providing communities with access to information and communication technology (ICT). CeC will provide services to access the Internet for socio economic development activities


Ryanair plans to allow mobile phones in planes
Ryanair plans to install a system on its planes to allow the use of mobile phones during flights.

The system will allow passengers to be able to call, text and e-mail using their mobile phones and BlackBerrys charged at rates that mirror international roaming charges. Users will be charged by their mobile service providers on their monthly bills and Ryanair will receive a commission from OnAir. The system is still to receive regulatory approval from the Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT), which is expected in November. Each of the 23 European countries that Ryanair flies to would then need to issue a license for the system.

Telecare for older and vulnerable people

The Scottish Executive is using technology as a selling-point for older and vulnerable people.

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