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Date: Sun, 8 Apr 2001 01:23:52 -1000
Subject: BYTESFORALL: April 2001 issue
Organization: Freelance Journalist


b . y . t . e . s . f . o . r . a . l . l. april 2001
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******************************** is a civil society initiative launched to develop IT (Information Technology) solutions for socio-economic uplift of the poor and the disadvantaged. It also extends policy advice on the structures and enabling environment for pro-poor policies addressing the need and importance of using ICTs’ (Information Communication Technologies) for poverty reduction and good governance.
As a matter of fact, just as paving roads in forests often leads to accelerated deforestation likewise socially insensitive incidence of IT may inject de-skilling phenomena leading to increased unemployment, disequilibria and inequity in supply and demand of IT, and reinforced zones social and economic exclusions in societies. This sort of IT penetration in developing countries like Pakistan would multiply the socio-economic problems and further deteriorate the social fabric to further disadvantage, alienate, and marginalize the poor amid a vibrant global IT revolution. While there has been a phenomenal growth of IT at the global level, in Pakistan, less than one percent of people have the possibility even of being connected to information technology as consumers. Most of them are not in a position of benefiting economically by using the technology to improve their earnings or quality of life leaving aside the possibility of becoming producers of IT.
The philosophy of is to work on the demand side of information, namely by enhancing peoples' capacity to use knowledge (through creation of social capital), rather than purely on the supply side of the process (of which a good example is the creation of IT training schools without attention to creating the demand for such information in rural areas). This builds upon the rural community development approach, which has focused similarly on the demand side of other interventions. Visit

FREE WEBSITES FOR Indian doctors living anywhere in the globe.
Check Also: global brain scan library available for free. Visit the site for details.

ADITYA DEV SOOD <> from Bangalore, India is working on an ICTs for Development Guide. He says this is for an upcoming conference in Bangalore, and it covers different areas of IT and ICT applications for development, primarily in India.
Aditya is with the Bangalore Centre of Knowledge Societies and is also a Doctoral CAndidate at the University of Chicago, besides being a 2000-1 Fullbright Scholar. His contact details are B-014 Natasha Golf View, Domlur Bangalore Karnataka India 560071 Tel: 509-7187 Fax: 535-0181 Mob: 98440-87663 Web: Email OR

Madhya Pradesh C.M. Digvijay Singh has stressed the need for developing Hindi software.He was addressing a function organised by the Forum for creating awareness among the people about Information Technology. Narendra Nahata listed the achievements of the state and said that use of computers in governance has increased. Some departments like commercial taxes have been computerised. Land records have been computerised. For further information contact: Alok Awasthi, Joint Director, Madhya Pradesh Information Centre. Tel 22.2184860 Fax 22.2180614

ESCAP cautions against over-dependence on IT: The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has cautioned against over-dependence by some economies on information technology (IT) for export revenues, saying this new economy sector may be heading for an external slowdown, says a report from New Delhi by P. Jayaram of India Abroad News Service.

VIRTUAL VOLUNTEERS ON THE WEB: Two years ago, Sun Microsystems software developer Nipun Mehta decided he wanted to use his knowledge and technical skills to help others. With a group of friends, Mehta, now 25, started CharityFocus, Inc. (, an online organization that builds Web sites for nonprofits

INFO HIGHWAYS promised around Pakistan's major cities. Federal Minister for Science and Technology Prof Atta-ur-Rehman said highspeed internet fibre rings would be laid around all major cities and linked together by early next year.

SWAGATO SARK IS a student of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), in Mumbai and is studying Social Work. Presently, he is doing his internship with a TV software production called UTV at Mumbai-India. It produces Indiadotcom for CNN International (Saturdays, 2200 IST). In this it has a section called NationWatch, where the IT application in the developmental sector is highlighted. If you know of any such stories, please inform Swagato at <>

PARTHA PRATIM SARKAR <> informs about some proposals received by the BytesForAll team:
(1) The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) invites submissions for authorship in the Knowledge Series. This ( ) is an ongoing sequence of single-subject, start-up guides on topics in distance education management for practitioners.
(2) Worldbank InfoDev grants is now open to to promote innovative projects on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for economic and social development.Worldbank InfoDev's next grant competition will close on June 1, 2001. Proposals are invited from the development community.
(3) The World Computer Exchange is looking for used PCs for schools in the developing countries. Founder Timothy Anderson said the group will take "anything that will get the kids online." The only requirement is that equipment be in working order and Internet-accessible. According to Mr. Anderson, the Exchange ( has so far signed up more than 700 schools, orphanages and learning centers in 22 countries. The first shipment of equipment -- about 380 PCs and monitors, along with some printers, routers and other gear -- is scheduled to depart for Cameroon in early April. MandrakeSoft has donated Linux operating-system software and accompanying handbooks as well as CDs.

INDIAN GOVERNMENT BODY develops five software: Press Trust of India reports from Panchkula (Haryana, North India) that the Haryana unit of National Informatics Centre (NIC) has developed a package of five softwares to "improve efficiency of various departments of the state government". These five softwares are payroll system, personnel information system, court cases monitoring system, diary or despatch (DAK) monitoring meetings information monitoring systems, state informatics officer. (Information received through S-Asia-IT mailing list/Irfan Khan).

INDIA- PROGRAMMING AMID POVERTY. The Financial Times of London writes: The global digital divide is perhaps nowhere better demonstrated than in Calcutta. Here in India's literary capital, a city built to accommodate about 300,000 people that is home to 10m, cutting-edge information technology is juxtaposed with some of the starkest scenes of deprivation anywhere. It is a commonplace that India is a dynamic centre of IT, the locus of a technological revolution by which India's software writers act as intermediaries to the world. But India also remains a place where only 50 per cent of adults are literate, with only an estimated 4.5 personal computers per 1,000 people.
You can see this divide in Calcutta's Salt Lake "software complex", made up of 30 or 40 acres of land let out to IT industries. Crows alight on heaps of roadside rubbish where dogs sprawl with puppies. Cows sacred to Hindus wander or doze in the potholed streets, seemingly untroubled by a steady stream of passing auto-rickshaws and battered vehicles belching diesel fumes. Yet this impoverished setting is the home of Caltiger, an Indian internet service provider. Orange mock tiger-paw prints set in the marble floor of Caltiger's lobby direct visitors to reception. Once behind those glass doors, you could as well be in Seattle or Tokyo.

Interesting article from WIRED magazine, online at Nicolas Negroponte writes on one-room rural schools: Will the information-rich get richer and the information-poor get poorer? Will the divide shrink, or expand? The question might also be phrased in terms of the education-rich and the education-poor. The latter category includes some 200 million children who do not complete their primary education.

THE TIMES OF INDIA newspaper reported on March 27 how the Indian telecom body, the BSNL, is going in to make a "poor-man's cellphone" a reality. It is starting limited-mobility telephony in Haryana's Gurgaon city (in North India), with a monthly rental of Rs 400, free incoming calls and Rs 1.20 for a three-minute outgoing call. This is far lower than mobile telephone calls provided by others, though the range of mobility will also be limited. The department is offering wireless fixed and wireless mobile connections using wireless in local loop (WLL) technology with a refundable deposit of Rs 10,000 in case of fixed connection.

PAKISTANI NEWSPAPER JANG reported from Lahore that the website of the Punjab government was launched. It is

ZUBAIR FAISAL ABBASI <> OF BYTESFORALL.ORG writes: The implementation of Government of Pakistan's Universal Internet Access programme leaves much to be desired. The number of lines allocated for this service is pitifully low - there are only 5 for the whole Makran Division - and users there were unable to access many ISPs in Karachi, including SDNP. This problem affected all ISPs operating from PTCL exchanges manufactured by Alcatel.
However, SDNP has achieved a milestone through the dedicated hard work of the SDNP Karachi team and some of the prospective users in Makran. Users from the Makran division (Turbat, Gawader and Panjgoor) can now access the SDNP online Internet services. Credit goes to the SDNP team's efforts and follow ups with PTCL (Karachi) and Alcatel offices. Mr. Naveed (DE Pak Capital exchange, Karachi) and Mr. Azhar Ali Shah (Senior Operations Engineer) Alcatel also worked really hard to actualize this task. Mr. Ubaid Shad, who works in Makran resource centre, Turbat has also been actively involved by advocating net access for remote areas and who had written several letters to Prof. Atta-ur-Rehman/MoST for this purpose.
With this effort spearheaded by SDNP, other ISPs in Karachi using Alcatel exchanges have also benefited

FROM BANGLADESH, we learn from Drik-founder Shahidul Alam about a new portal for human rights in Bangladesh. a Human Rights Portal for Bangladesh has been recently launched. The site was the outcome of a week long workshop organised by Drik Picture Library and Pathshala, The South Asian Institute of Photography. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provided financial support for the workshop while The British Council Bangladesh provided management support. Bangladeshi journalists from leading media organisations provided the content.
Less than 24 hours after the launch of the site, all outgoing telephone connections of Drik, including voice, fax and data lines were blocked by the BTTB (Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board). BTTB has denied any connection between Drik's activism and the blockade, claiming instead that it was in response to general ministerial directives regarding Internet companies. No prior warning was given to Drik before the disconnection.
According to BTTB, connections cannot be restored until 'investigations' have been carried out. Amongst other issues, the site includes an article criticising the government's handling of the recent kidnapping of Western consultants in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Contacts: Shahidul Alam
Drik Picture Library,,

FROM NEPAL, Dikendra Kandel <> recently wrote to the GKD mailing list, about a recent effort directed towards bringing Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to the rural areas through rural schools as entry point. "Our cooperation with has been very crucial in this endeavor", he writes.
Says Kandel: "It has been about ten or twelve years since television began to enter widely into the Nepali living rooms. The invasion of this technology validly raised eyebrows as it was going to Westernize and so spoil the purity of the culture and society of this 'exotic' Himalayan kingdom. It was suspected to be accessible only to those who have money and power and the majority of the people will be left behind and away from what television might have to give to. Yes there are a lot of things that this technology has brought about, and, as predicted, some have been detrimental to the traditional ways and practices in our society. However, would it help us to fare better if we were not bringing this technology to the rural areas since the urban areas would be using it profusely anyway? Interestingly, telephone, Internet and e-mail seem to invade with even more speed and force."
Says Kandel: "Lots of the development organizations are flashing their computer screens in the remote hills, many businesses and administrative offices are computerizing their operations, majority of job advertisements put computer and IT knowledge as part of the application eligibility, and most of the rural people are doing what they can to send their children to schools where they can have their children learn computer and IT." Why cannot Nepal, he asks, find a way into the new possibilities that have been opened up by the information technology?
Dikendra Kandel, COPPADES,

PAKISTAN -- CHASING THE NEIGHBOUR: Karachi recently saw the launch of a local chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), a California-based lobbyist network set up by south Asian software engineers-cum-entrepreneurs. TiE wants to achieve in Pakistan what it has accomplished in neighbouring India: a relaxation of venture capital rules so that wealthy south Asian IT professionals may invest back home. There is indeed a business-like attitude towards creating an information technology industry from scratch in Pakistan, and much of the credit goes to Dr Atta-Ur-Rahman, the science and technology minister. Dr Rahman, a noted organic chemist, still oversees some PhD students,but most of his time is spent on a massive IT drive. Pakistan's IT sector is minuscule. Its IT ambitions are all the more daunting given its neighbour's success. Salman Ansari, who has advised several Pakistani governments on technology, says the country is 15 years behind India. Yet the success of (software firms like) Align has convinced many in Pakistan that it can make up for lost time.
>From Financial Times;itle=Pakistan&pagetag=2ctpaks&sectiontag=na/ctyind&gaid=010306001327

PAKISTAN POST OFFICERS TO GET CYBER CAFES: MULTAN: The Postal Services Corporation has signed an agreement with Paknet to establish cyber cafes at major post offices in that country.

BRAZIL ATTACKS DIGITAL DIVIDE WITH A $300 VOLKSCOMPUTER (AP): Hard disk? Who needs it? Floppy drive? Surplus! Windows? Send to trash! The small, transparent acrylic box sitting in Sergio Vale Campos' office at the Federal University of Minas Gerais has none of the above basics, but it is still a computer.What's more important in Brazil, where the digital divide is a gaping abyss, the machine's lack of frills should mean it can be produced for about 600 reals, or $300. It is a PC for the people, a Volkscomputer.

RURAL CONNECTIVITY: In its goal to connect rural India to the Internet and promote livelihood generation through e-commerce and access to information, faced the fundamental problem: connecting rural villages to the World Wide Web in the first place. Many villages in the Bundelkhand region where TARAhaat is in its pilot phase do not have access to telephone lines. The quality of the lines reaching other villages is not sufficient to transmit data. TARAhaat therefore had to come up with an alternative if it was to achieve its mission: that alternative was the use of VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) complete case study at

SURFING VILLAGES: Can Indian villages be logged on to the infotech highway? Are they for real and do they stand to benefit from artificial intelligence? Can India's villages ride on the infotech highway to development? To a certain extent this is already happening but it is a knotty situation. Can IT evolve to serve rural India’s needs? The dairy cooperatives of Anand in Gujarat are using IT applications to streamline procedures, making a significant difference to the lives of milk producers in surrounding villages. There are several other positive examples. An important reason for their success is the fact that their IT solutions service the rural market. People take to IT only when they are convinced that IT serves some purpose in their lives. If that happens, they don’t wait for government assistance.
Government IT schemes, however, have done poorly. The e-governance scheme of Rajasthan state government has failed to deliver because of extremely centralised planning that did not take local infrastructure conditions into consideration. Despite the fact that the software is easy to use and the content is in Hindi, the scheme not only alienates villagers but also lends credence to the view that IT in villages is hogwash. (Thanks to S-Asia-IT/Irfan Khan for this link.)

PRAKASH SHETTY <> announces the launch of the official site for FreeBSD in India. This site has news reviews,articles,tutorials,forums, etc. Says he: "We also have a Mailing List to help freebsd users in India The site has recieved almost 10000 hits in the past 20 days of its existence."
CONTACT DETAILS: Prakash Shetty, Webmaster, FreeBSD Foundation India

bYtES For aLL is a voluntary, unfunded venture. CopyLeft, 2000.
bYtES For aLL volunteers team includes: Frederick in Goa, Partha in Dhaka, Zubair in Islamabad, Archana in Goa, Zunaira in Karachi, Arun-Kumar in Darmstatd, Shivkumar in Mumbai, Sangeeta in Nepal, Daryl in Chicago and Gihan in Sri Lanka. To contact them mail
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