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Bytes for All, Feb. 2002 (South Asia)

February 25, 2002: This message was distributed by Papyrus News. Feel free to forward this message to others, preferably with this introduction. For info on Papyrus News, including how to (un)subscribe or access archives, see <>.

Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 14:58:43 +0530 (IST)
From: Frederick Noronha <>
Subject: BYTESFORALL: Feb 2002 (Focus: South Asia)

_/ B y t e s F o r A l l ---
_/ Making Computing Relevant to the People of South Asia


E-TAPAAL, A SOLUTION FROM INDIA: is a new email service in Indian languages and English for individuals, businesses, institutions and governments. The service is being launched first in the south Indian language of Kannada and English. Besides email, the service will feature a bilingual Kannada and English Messenger for live chat and discussion in the near future. Eventually, the email and messenger service will be launched in 10 other major Indian languages: Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya and Assamese. Bilingual Indian language and English facility will be available within each email. In addition, e-tapaal will have a solution for businesses, institutions and governments from the tiny with, say, 2 users to the gigantic. By using an inexpensive software package developed wholly in India and based on the Linux operating system and other freeware, e-tapaal will offer businesses a very cost-effective solution. Email:

ONEWORLD NEWS VIA YAHOO.COM: OneWorld, the leading online network for human rights and sustainable development has launched a daily news syndication to the World News section of Yahoo! News (, the most popular news site on the Web. The syndication agreement between OneWorld and Yahoo! Inc., a leading global Internet communications, commerce and media company, is the first daily non-profit world news syndication to a major corporate Web portal. OneWorld news stories will focus on events relating to human rights, world poverty, social justice, the environment and sustainable development. OneWorld has over 1000 media partners made up of non-government organisations (NGOs) and international bodies.

WEB KIOSKS FOR INDIA's VILLAGESS: For millions of Indians living in villages, making a phone call, let alone connecting to the internet, is a distant dream. But a new, cheap and robust wireless technology could bring the information revolution to rural areas.

C-IT AND CYBERPARKS: Cyberparks is a unique Network developed by C-IT to take benefit of Information and Communication Technologies for employment and empowerment. Cyberparks will provide large scale employment, business and investment opportunities to IT and non IT professionals. Cyberparks will compliment Govt. of India's initiatives to make "India a best IT destination". Cyberparks will help small-scale entrepreneurs to develop business on the strength of the Network. Entrepreneurs can avail multiple benefits by joining the Network and avail opportunities offered by IT bandwagon. These Cyberparks will provide various IT products, IT enabled services, training packages and software services. Cyberparks are aimed to promote a new socio-economic and business culture.

INDIA -- DEPT OF POSTS SET FOR ONLINE MAIL-TRACKING (Newsbytes) In what could give the private courier companies a run for their money, India's Department of Posts is ready to set up an online track-and-trace system at all its existing Speed Post centers. The system -- christened "Speednet" -- would enable customers to track Speed Post consignments online. Even customers who do not have Net access would be able to track their parcels.
Posted via [from UNESCO OBSERVATORY ON THE INFORMATION SOCIETY Newsletter - No 114 - November 2, 2001]

INDIAN INCOME TAX DEPARTMENT has put the names of 13,000 taxpayers in Delhi on its website (, whose refunds have come back in the last few years due to wrong address etc. These taxpayers must have been running from pillar to post for the last so many years. Now, they can see the website. Details from Parivartan

VILLAGE IN THE CLOUDS EMBRACES COMPUTERS: Mahabir Pun is a Nepalese educational pioneer who is trying to break the cycle of poverty in his mountain village of Nangi by taking it into the computer age. Having founded Himanchal High School, he sees the internet as the way to improve the children's education.
* Mahabir Pun's Nepal site
* Nangi village school project

PAKISTAN: 10,000 police officials to be imparted IT training

SIMPUTER NOW 'TALKS' BANGLA: Gholam Mortuza Hossain <> reports that the Simputer <> now has a screenshot of displaying text in the Bangla text. "So Simputer is now one step closure to the people of eastern India," says Hossain. To keep abrest with what's happening on the Simputer front, send an email to and join the mailing list.

NEW LINUX LOCALISTATION INITIATIVE IN INDIA; Mahendra M from Bangalore <> tells us about a new Linux Localisation INitiative. Says he: Our main aim is to translate all Linux Documentation, available from the Linux Documentation Project (, into Indian languages. Thanks to Venky <> for forwarding this. Volunteers needed from across India (and beyond!) . Harnessing the Free/Open Source Software Movement for India

UN TASK FORCE ON ICTs: United Nations Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force. The ICT Task Force is mandated by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to find new, creative and quick-acting means to spread the benefits of the digital revolution--from which four billion of the world's people are currently excluded. The members of the Task Force come from the public and private sectors, from civil society and the scientific community, and from leaders of the developing as well as the most technologically advanced countries.

REFORMING TECHNICAL COOPERATION: E-discussion forum on reforming technical cooperation for capacity development. The emerging hypotheses as well as other supporting documentation (TORS, framing papers) can also be viewed on the project web-site (, via the "Focus Studies" sub-page. If you don't have Internet access please send a message to Please mention your First Name, Last Name and Country

HELPING PEOPLE ON DROUGHT: From: Balaji V <>: "There is an idea relating to using ICT to help ordinary people address the recurrent problem of drought. As you would know, close to 42 per cent of India's land area is highly drought-prone. The public arrangements worked out in a large measure during the colonial rule and the early 1950's do not take into account the growing aspiration of rural families to overcome drought as a problem. I believe contemporary ICT can help them address this issue effectively. There is a whole range of products from NASA (to cite an example) which are useful in assessing the vulnerability of a small area (say, 150 sq km) to drought. When tools like this are readily available to rural communities, there is a possibility that mitigatory measures can be better planned or worked. The very considerable public expenditure in drought relief etc can be rendered timely and more effective. I would like to seek your guidance in elaborating this."

HINDI VERSION OF SOFTWARE TO COPE WITH IRREGULAR RAINFALL: Vikram Vyas <> informs that a long-awaited Hindi version of the Jal-Chitra software is ready! It is freely available to the community at large. "If you need a copy then please get in touch with me," says Vikram. (Earlier edition in English already available). Vyas says he will be shifting over the development of Jal-Chitra from Windows to Linux and FreeBSD, which are "all free and open operating systems". Jal Chitra software has earlier featured in bytesforall, and it's aim is to help make life less trying for villagers in the poor, drought-prone regions of the globe by helping them forecast their water-supply situations in the months ahead. Contact Dr. Vikram Vyas The Ajit Foundation Jaipur & Associate, International Centre for Theoretical Physics Trieste, Italy <>

MILK COOPERATIVE KEEN ON ICTs: From: Ujvalparghi <> Hi! pls visit Can u tell me from where we can get financial support for milk cooperatives which cannot efford to pay for technology after looking at the ICT model that we offer.

EDUCATION SITE: Check out this site...

FREE SOFTWARE FOR TRANSLITERATION: A new website just launched from the central Indian city of Nagpur called offers a trilingual dictionary of commonly used words in 'ghazals'. It is also accessible via the site. To enhance the popularity of this site and help the 'ghazals' get a wider reach, the Urdu text is written in Devnagri, the widely-used script of Hindi and other North Indian languages. Urdu is spoken by an estimated 104 million worldwide, and like Hindi have proceeded from the same Khariboli speech source from the areas sorrounding Delhi. This software is available for free download from <> . It is provided under LGPL, or the Lesser GNU Public License. A user is free to use the software even in his commercial products. But if any modifications are made to the original code, then the new code also has to be made public under LGPL. Contacts: Dr Sani can be contacted at

ESPOTS.ORG: is a volunteer based inititive with the following mission: to bridge technological divide especially digital divide at the local, national, and international levels with right-based community development approach.

EFFECTIVE USES OF ICT IN NEPAL: Sangita Khadka <> recently wrote in from Nepal (via the GKD mailing list), to say: I would like to inform you of some effective uses of ICT that are taking place in Nepal. Old records used to lie in dusty corners in Kanchanpur, a district in far-west Nepal. Now they have become part of the digital revolution. Kanchanpur is one of the areas in this mountainous country most dedicated to using information technology to modernize public administration and promote local development. Further information from: Sangita Khadka, UNDP, Nepal, OR Trygve Olfarnes, UNDP Communications Office.

ICTs IN BANGLADESH, A STUDY: Sirajul Islam, a lecturer of a University ( in Bangladesh who is teaching courses related to Information and Communication Technology (ICT), is working on an interesting field. Says he: "Currently, I am working on the research as titled 'National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy process of Bangladesh with special reference to India's experence'." He seeks information that would help his research. Contact details: M. Sirajul Islam 69/C green Road, 3rd Floor Panthapath, Dhaka 1205 Bangladesh Email:
Website: Fax: 00880-2-8612930

INDIA SLATES $2Bil PLAN FOR IN-SCHOOL INTERNET: India's government plans to invest $2 billion to improve Internet access in schools across the country. While $1 billion will be spent on providing Net connectivity, another $833 million has been proposed for upgrading Education and Research Network (Ernet). The blueprint drawn up by the Ministry of Information Technology shows that multilateral funding agencies like the World Bank would be recruited as a partner. The $1 billion project called "Schoolnet" proposes to provide 128 kilobits per second connections in 60,000 schools in the first phase. In its second phase, the government proposes to add another 40,000 schools, taking the total number to 100,000.

CONTINUED MEDICAL EDUCATION THROUGH TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Madhya Pradesh is a large India state full of natural resources. But it is still unfortunate to have the highest Infant mortality rate in India, i.e., 97/1000 birth. The early neonatal mortality rate is 47 which constitutes 49.4% of the infant deaths. Hence, there is an urgent need to train the paramedical workers about essential neonatal care mainly concentrating on care at birth. The conventional training programs conducted by expert trainers, are useful. However, it is not possible to organize these programs more frequently to cover a large number of paramedical personnel. Such training programs also require time, money and immense efforts on part of the trainer. Satellite transmission can be good cost effective alternative to train such a large number of audience simultaneously

RAILWAYS, BANKING, ETC: Prof Ken Kenninstone (of MIT, who recently completed a long study of ICT-for-development projects while in Bangalore on an extended stint) comments: "Thanks for your mail about Indian Railways. There is another big success story, the computerization of the Indian banking system. Incidentally, the [another railway network in India that has effectively used ICTs -FN] work was done by Harsh Kumar, a friend who is also the author Bharath Bhasha. Small world! He is now doing something else in the public sector." Dr Kenneth Kenistone is Andrew Mellon Professor of Human Development and Director MIT India Program Massachusetts Institute of Technology Contact: E51-163, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA Phone: 1-617-253-4055 Fax: 1-617-258-8118 Email: Web:

>From Bangalore in South India, Preeti Ramanathan <> explains her plans thus: "We are an agro-industry accelerator in India, deploying a mix of technology and grassroot development to increase productivity and improve living standards of farmers. In our first phase, we have established linkages in rural Karnataka. We hope to go online soon with our local language online platform, an interactive tool to link the villages with market centres and information outlets."

WORKING GROUP ON IT FOR THE MASSES: The Working Group on Information Technology for Masses was constituted by Government of India vide a Notification dated 10/05/2000 with the purpose of formulating a set of policy initiatives to be implemented by the government, industry and entrepreneurs in the country to achieve wide spread application of IT in all possible areas in the shortest possible time. The group deliberated on issues like Infrastructure and Services, Electronic Governance, Education and Mass Campaign for IT Awareness and invited suggestions through this Web Site from people across the world who evinced direct interest in faster economic growth of this large nation. Based on the suggestions received, the working group gave its recommendations. Consequently, a National IT Mission has been set up vide a Ministry Notification dated 12.06.2001 to implement the recommendations of the Working Group. The web site of the Working Group is closed now. However, the background report and recommendations are kept for reference purpose. For the latest information on IT Mission & its activities, please visit at

DEVELOPMENT LABORATORY: In Nov 2001, 'Development Laboratory' set up a stall at consisting of four entities -- Centre for Knowledge Societies, Madhyam, VOICES and MAHITI. They showcased a "bouquet of projects and technologies" that made the point that ICTs for rural development is possible, and already being done. Some of the products showcased included
- [Multi-lingual computing]
- ChennaiKavigal [Multi-lingual computing]
- n-Logue [Wireless Local Loop]
- VXL [Thin Clients]
- MAHITI [Content Management Systems]
- VOICES [FM Radio Station] M
ore details from: Sunil Abraham Team Leader - MAHITI Info-tech for the Voluntary Sector Vijay Kiran, IInd Floor 314/1, 7th Cross, Domlur Bangalore
- 560 071 Karnataka, INDIA Ph/Fax: +91 80 5352003. Pager: 9624 279519 Yahoo Pager: golisoda E-mail: Web:

FILM FROM NEPAL: In Nepal. a film has been made with donated money raised from all over the world by email. The film is about the Maoists and was scheduled to also be screened in Film South Asia documentary festival. The film 'Raktamme Pahad' (English title: The Killing Terraces) director is Dhruba Basnet. What's probably unusual is that the film is the first made about the Maoist movement, and also the funds were raised, in part, through an e-mail campaign.

JIVA IN NORTH INDIA: Steve Rudolph <> announces that Jiva has recently put together their first book on Social Studies for Kids I (for Class I), and more are scheduled to go to the press in recent weeks. Says Steve, who works out of North India: "The books have a nifty feature in them called 'Edulinks'. Next to each topic in the book, we have a small code (e.g. SC102). At any time, the student can go to our website, type the code into a search box, and find quality activities and web resources directly relevant to the topic and at the student's age level. Saves time searching the net or CDs endlessly." Steve also informs that two of Media Lab Asia's projects have been formally approved. Jiva's Ayurvedic website has been re-done at It offers some e-learning courses, and a new service called Ayunique -- personal ayurveda. The attempt is to try "to preserve the integrity of the science (keeping Ayurveda "personal" rather than make it an over-the-counter affair like some folks are doing)".

KANNADA BENCHMARK SOFTWARE: Dr. U.B. Pavanaja <> tells about a FREE benchmark Kannada Script Software (Kalitha) developed by Kannada Ganaka Parishat for Govt of Karnataka that has been released. This takes Kannada further along the road to standardisation for computer usage. More details from Dr. U.B. Pavanaja Editor, Vishva Kannada World's first Internet magazine in Kannada

CORRUPTIONFREEZONE.ORG: Four Indian companies viz. STAR, Ejourno, Sony, Manas have come forward to take a public pledge against corruption that infests the country. The objective of creating corruption-free zones in commercial enterprises is to start small, but finally create a movement to eradicate this evil from the country. CorruptionFreeZone is a non-profit and non-political movement that solicits organizations, citizens and the government to stand up in solidarity and eradicate corruption. CorruptionFreeZone has formally contacted 90 Indian organizations to declare themselves as CorruptionFreeZone. Details of the movement can be read on the organization s web site: CorruptionFreeZone.Org.
For further information contact: Amit Malik Founder Tel: +91-98201-36382 Email:

PRAGATI, AN INDIAN NEWSLETTER ON EDUCATION: Pragati (which means "progress" in Sanskrit) is a newsletter from Jiva's Education department. It provides updates on educational trends, IT in Education, useful learning resources, methods to enhance teaching, the development of ICOT (India's Curriculum of Tomorrow), and more. It is meant for teachers, principals, educators, parents, administrators, policy makers, and anyone concerned about the state of education in India and internationally. To unsubscribe, send a blank email to:


bYtES For aLL is a voluntary, unfunded venture. CopyLeft, 2002. bYtES For aLL e-zine volunteers team includes: Frederick Noronha in Goa, Partha Sarkar in Dhaka, Zunaira Durrani in Karachi, Zubair Abbasi in Islamabad, Archana Nagvenkar in Goa, Arun-Kumar Tripathi in Darmstatd, Shivkumar in Mumbai, Sangeeta Pandey in Nepal, Daryl Martyis in Chicago/Goa, Gihan Fernando in Sri Lanka, Rajkumar Buyya in Melbourne, Mahrukh Mohiuddin in Dhaka and Deepa Rai in Kathmandu. To contact them mail

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