International Conclave on Digital Inclusion for Development
The Manthan Award South Asia 2009 Summit NCUI Complex,August Kranti Road,New Delhi 18-19 December 2009
This brief report is intended to give everybody a broad idea of what happened during the Power Sessions (Inaugural session + Award gala session).
These Power Sessions were strategically designed to bring the leaders together to inspire the Manthan Award nominees, finalists and awardees. centric service which helps the citizens of Odisha to provide solutions to their problems. Citizens can register grievances through toll free number, fax, e-mail and through Sanjog Helpline portal from their villages. Here one can post scheme wise grievances and demography wise grievances. One can also check the status of grievances posted by him or her. It provides detail report of the grievances on the basis of district, block and gram panchayat. The ICT tool of Sanjog Helpline ensures that the grievance of complainant is sent to the right office to the right officer in real time. It is developed on a web enabled multi-lingual platform which will receive complaints through its 9AM to 5PM Call Centre. He said at present Sanjog Helpline caters to 5 schemes, namely NREGS, Rural Water Sanitation Scheme (specific to Tube well), PMGSY, Orissa Flood 2008 (Panchayati Raj) and SAMS (Students Academic Management System). Apart from these, there are initiations by other departments viz., Women & Child Development (WCD) Departme
The response to last month’s Manthan Award Summit has been overwhelming, with over 700 participants in attendance, including 95 presenters vis-à-vis shortlisted projects. A recurring theme seems to be that there is a significant need for recognising best digital practices in the South Asia. So in that respect alone, the Manthan Award was a great success, in its 6th year.
The annual Manthan Award South Asia 2009 function was held at New Delhi, India on Dec 18 & 19, 2009. The event began with the inauguration session where the crème de la crème of the Indian and South Asian developmental experts were present on the dais. All the speakers came and edified the audience on the defining theme of the digital content and inclusiveness with the communities.
The Inaugural Power Session was a high level deliberation on how to link the ICT, digital content and technology tools and devices for reaching the masses and creating livelihoods. The session also provided the right warming to the next two days of intense discussions where about 100 of the best digital content experts participating from South Asian countries namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal & Sri Lanka and India presented their works in various domains and interacted with each other personally, benefitted from each other’s experiences in the process and projected a combined face of a vibrant South Asian digital diaspora to the rest of the 1400 odd Manthan fraternity and to the outside world.
The next Power Session was the Manthan Award South Asia 2009 Gala which was a rousing affair this year. In the 600 seat capacity NCUI Auditorium, not only was it housefull, but at least 20-25 people were standing in the aisles. It showed the amount of interest the Manthan Awards have carved out for itself in its 6 year-long digital journey. And it definitely is reflective of the impact Manthan is having.
The profile of various stakeholders present in the arena was also one of the highlights of this year’s function. Apart from Minister of State for Communications & IT in the Indian government, Mr. Sachin Pilot, there were various state secretaries, including Mr. Anurag Jain, IT Secretary with the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh. Various other officials holding high posts were also present in the auditorium. The big corporate bodies like Nokia-Siemens Networks, Intel, edurite, Oracle, TCS, Apollo, Star Health, nComputing, and many more such stakeholders through their presence indicated that the private sector also believes in the philosophy of Manthan Awards where innovative digital practices and practitioners showcase their achievements with huge amount of interest and potential tie-ups.
So it proved to be an occasion where passion for information communication technological tools and their utility for the general masses was at its most vibrant and engaging form. The Manthan Award is termed as a unique repository of ideas, all of them using the ICT tools for empowerment in one form or the other. Now in its 6th year in 2009, it won’t be priggish to say that Manthan Award arrived on the big stage and now is being seen, as one of the awardees was to term it later, akin to ‘Nobel Award in e-Content Development’.
Launch of eNGO & Digital Panchayat
The Digital Empowerment Foundation’s (DEF) mission to take ICT to the remotest corners of the country and the South Asian region was reflected when two of its ambitious programmes, eNGO & Digital Panchayat were launched during the opening session in association with National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), a government of India body and couple of other partners. eNGO is an ambitious nationwide programme through which DEF is giving the non-governmental sector a chance to make the best use of Internet and expand their areas of work and collaborations. DEF is facilitating all the jobs with the help of NIXI with a token amount of Rs. 1500/-. For eNGO, visit – http://engo.in.
Through Digital Panchayat programme, DEF is determined to take digital knowledge to the numerous Panchayats and Talukas of India. Already work had started on both the projects and results are there to see on some of the websites uploaded through these challenging projects. In fact, during the opening ceremony there were 40 Sarpanchs present on the dais mainly from Maharashtra. For Digital Panchayat, visit – http://epanchayat.in.
So, all in all, DEF is championing digital empowerment of the rural masses in India through its various signature programmes like the two above mentioned and besides that its flagship venture Manthan Award platform is open to all such like minded organizations and individuals who are willing to partner with DEF in making this ICT campaign started since its inception in 2002 to its logical conclusion. Manthan Award Conclave & Gala just happens to be the celebration of the same, it can be safely said.
The whole event was webcast LIVE on www.24FramesDigital.com. The link can still be seen on http://manthanaward.org on the right bar. It also marked the 1st such occasion where the company approached the organizers to webcast the whole event LIVE. Other mainstream media houses were also present in good numbers including co-presenters, business newspaper mint with its web arm http://livemint.com.
Apart from the stakeholders, this year’s function also had a good number of people who do not belong to digital domain and associated paraphernalia. They were there just to applaud and be witness to the digital development taking place in the country and indeed in the whole of South Asia. It showed in a way, the rapid progress of the digital brigade.
So all in all, it was a milestone year where not only did Digital Empowerment Foundation get record nominations and accredited the best work in the field of ICT, but the Manthan as a platform where quality ICT innovations are recognized became a proven fact. To summarise, it can be said that it proved to be a live case of Digital Inclusion for Development.
A Word by Manthan Award Chairman
The Manthan Award’s Chairman, Osama Manzar, reiterated the event’s success. “The personal feedback to date has been excellent, with all sectors of people having been represented on the day. It is worth noting that a number of representatives from IT based companies were also in attendance, and their support was greatly welcomed. I hope the forthcoming Manthan Awards, receives the same levels of interest, participation and enthusiasm from all potential stakeholders.”
“My personal goals for the Manthan Award were to promote networking and knowledge-sharing amongst peers and to provide an informal environment for this to occur. Given the number of laughs heard throughout the day and the number of introductions and handshakes sighted during the breaks, the Summit was a tremendous success. FYI, Manthan Award celebrates every year the “digital inclusion” efforts through Award Gala, and Summit/Conclave known as “International Conclave on Digital Inclusion for Development.”
The Summit programme promoted the theme of digital innovation and understanding, with presenters comprising young innovators, experts and government representatives. Osama expressed his thanks to the presenters for their valuable contribution to the Summit’s success. “I would like to thank all of the presenters, especially the young entrepreneurs who rose to the challenge of Manthan Award in front of the experts of the sector and truly excelled in doing so. A special acknowledgement is also made to our corporate sponsors for their valuable support of the Digital Inclusion for Development, event.”
In his closing remarks, Osama made a point of emphasising that the longevity and the success of Manthan Awards is now firmly in the hands of its attendees and participants. “With the success of the Manthan Award Summit to reflect upon, we can now shift our focus to a platform where exchange of ideas and networking can be taken to realistic conversion into action & partnerships. Managing and creating digital content is a big challenge and we should look at this summit as a valuable learning opportunity and I would therefore encourage all to contribute and share ideas in creating digital content with your professional development programmes going forward.”
People @ Power Session
The Manthan Award event, very consciously designed the Power Sessions to include highly relevant people from all sectors necessary to boost the ceremony of India and South Asia through the use of right ICT tools and new media platforms. For example, please have a look at the names who were present during the Power Sessions. They were:
Mr. Sachin Pilot, Hon’ble Minister of State, Ministry of Comm. & Information Technology
Guest of Honour:
PadmaShri SR Rao, IAS, Additional Secretary, DIT, MoCIT, Gov of India
Mr Nazrul Islam Khan, Additional Secretary & PS to Prime Minister of Bangladesh
PadmaShri Prof. Anil Gupta, IIMA & Vice Chairman, National Innovation Foundation
Ms. Iskra Panevska, Communication & Information Advisor for South Asia, UNESCO
Padma Shri Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala, IIT Madras, Lead – TeNeT Group
Dr. Ganesh Natarajan, Chairman IT & ITES, Confederation of Indian Industries
Mr. Mohd. Haleem Khan, IAS, Director General, Council for Advancement of People’s Action & Rural Technology (CAPART) India
Mr. R. Sukumar, Editor, MINT, Newspaper for “Indian Dream”
Mr. Wasantha Deshapriya – Director, ICTA, SriLanka
Mr. Sandeep Girotra, Head of Sales, Nokia Siemens Networks
Dr. Stephen J. McGurk, Ph.D., Regional Director, International Development Research Centre, Regional Office for South Asia and China, New Delhi
Mr. Subhash C Khuntia, IAS, Joint Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, MHRD, Gov. of India
Mr. Srinivas Tadigadappa, Head, South Asia, World Ahead Program, Intel
Mr. Urs Pennanen, India Head, Nokia Siemens Networks
Dr. Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, Managing Trustee & Research Director, India Development Foundation
Mr. N. Ravi Shanker, IAS, CEO – NIXI, Joint Secretary, DIT, Ministry of Comm. & IT, Gov of India
Speeches from the Power Sessions ( Excerpts)
Mr. Sachin Pilot, Minister of State Govt. of India : “I am very happy the way this particular platform has progressed over the years and I am really very happy the way in the last few years this platform has been utilized to applaud, identify and appreciate the kind of programmes, initiatives, innovative ideas that people, companies, government, agencies come up with across the country. I think, it’s not like the award ceremony that we see on television on Saturdays. I think it is really important to see the impact all such activities are having on us. Here at Manthan people working in small small areas and small small ideas are recognized. I am glad what this Foundation is doing. It is quite imperative that content creation is continued in India which is famous for it and it is great that that they are encouraged and recognized here particularly at such forums. Unless the IT movement is taken to small villages and towns, it wont serve the purpose. It is good that people have congregated and exchanged ideas here. I wish everyone a happy 2010. I thank Osama for inviting me and everybody else.”
Padamshri Prof. Anil Gupta, IIMA & Vice Chairman, National Innovation Foundation
“There are many grassroots innovative practices in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and to some extent Pakistan besides India. The challenge is to include today’s youth to know these innovations. India has a major role to play in this initiative. There is an utter lack of local language content on Internet and now that Government of India is establishing Common Service Centres across the country, they can be a focal point for these local content. I would give an example of how when I went to Bangladesh in 1985, a villager knew that a sapling of lady’s finder around a cotton field could save the cotton field There is need to spread such knowledge. I appreciate Digital Empowerment Foundation’s Manthan initiative as a repository of innovations and innovators during the last six years of its existence. There is a need to help each other through Manthan platform. How little known knowledge can be disseminated to others. I was going through some of the Manthan nominations of this year and I was saddened by lack of nominations in the e-Culture category. Culture is very important, I think. The cultural richness is very important. DEF can help disseminate this knowledge. What an irony that NAREGA is all about physical labour and not intellectual powers? I hope that the government officials present here are taking note of this lacunae in the system. As I am a teacher, I implore all the teachers to use technology to teach students, use technology more to make learning more fun. During the recent Solar eclipse, I thought how many of you have learnt about Solar eclipse through a diagram.”
Mr. S.R. Rao, Additional Secretary, DIT, GoI
“As you all aware about global meltdown and how stable India has been. India and China have sustained themselves amid this global crisis. Lack of information is accentuating all the problems that poor people have. Private sector has been made as equal partners in the information Bill. Common Service Centers are changing the face of rural India. All the public information that is in public domain could be centralized and inter-connected”.
Padamshri Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, IIT Madras
“Thanks Osama for broadening Manthan out of India. I sometimes think that there should have been more impact of computers and Internet than what seems to be happened. It seems to have touched far less number of people than should have been touched by this. I see that we have been able to implant cell phones deep among the populace. I have observed that as soon as people get a hand on a cell phone they seem to able to call, this amazes me and leads me to think, can digital voice Internet be established? This way digital gadgets would have more impact. Voice in local language and local dialect as if a person is there to assist you, can be the future of the Internet. I think, it will be the growth pattern in immediate future. Empowering through local language and dialect can be the answer to the digital divide question. Thank you all.”
Md. Nazrul Islam Khan, PS to PM of Bangladesh
“The Bangladesh government has taken this initiative of ‘Digital Bangladesh’. The initiative is to serve the rural folks, empower them with connectivity at lower level offices. All the 64 districts and local councils have been connected in Bangladesh. The Purji system of Bangladesh where sugarcane growers get SMSes when mills are ready to take in their product with mobile phones. As schools are very closely situated in Bangladesh, they can be connected through mobile phones and the Internet. The district portal is up and running. Bangladesh is preparing a system whereby teachers can collect tuition fee through mobile phone. This should be ready in the next 3-4 months. Bangladesh is developing content in Bangla through private sector participation. Manthan initiative can help Bangladesh in a great way. Now because of global village, communication is very fast. The proverbial tortoise and hare can now live together in this global village.”
Ms. Iskra Panevska, Communication & Information Advisor for South Asia, UNESCO
“I deeply appreciate Manthan Award Grand Jury, its transparent modus operandi. I am announcing here DEF-UNESCO partnership for Community Media. Why? Because UNESCO has a special place for community media and community radio in its programmes, it evolves around information economy, addresses crucial social economic issues, it catalyses democratic process and all development processes. Community media is for the community and by the community. UNESCO has a rural communication prize and Manthan Awards and UNESCO IPDC Rural Prize is hereby associated as there are many synergies in both these events. This partnership can bridge the digital gap.”
Dr. Ganesh Natrajan, Chairman IT & ITeS, CII
“When I was chairman of NASSCOM, it registered a growth of 16% despite all the global slowdown. I see art & culture as custodians of culture. Mobile can be an empowerment tool. I sometimes wonder how digital tools can empower them? How do people in remote corners use mobile phones to empower themselves? When I went to visit J&K and NE, I was amazed by people’s aspirations and thoughts digital devices could help them out, put them at par with people living in Delhi or Mumbai and other cities. I am trying to find out how rural India can be transformed? How mobile and computers can help these young people?”
Mohd. Haleem Khan, IAS DG of CAPART, India
“I will address you all as Change Agents. How we bring out change? I wonder how digital technology is enabling people. RTI is empowering. I am reading quotes from the RTI Act how IT is embedded in it in various acts. I wonder how RTI is not in the public domain. CAPART can help anybody willing to work in rural India, I can assure you all.”
Mr. R. Sukumar, Editor, mint
“I met Osama about 4-5 months back and immediately forged a synergy. Access and governance are important. I think digital technology is greatly influencing governance. When I was going through some of this year’s nominations, I thought they all fulfill the given criteria. Thanks Osama.”
Mr. Sandeep Girotra, Head of Sales, Nokia Siemens Networks
“ I think all the speakers before me have emphasized on how technology can help realize all the goals that is laid out. Nokia can help everybody achieve those.”
Mr. N. Ravi Shankar, CEO of NIXI:
“Thanks Osama. I think digital inclusion for development is made possible with the partnership of DEF & NIXI in a small way. They have come together to empower people at the grassroots and that’s where the Digital Panchayat concept has come into being.
Mr. Osama Manzar, Founder & Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation
“ I will tell you how Digital Panchayat concept has taken place and NIXI, DEF, Intel and SMSOne have come together to realize this dream. Now I may invite Panchayat representatives to come on stage. All the Taluks of Palus in Maharashtra are Online, it is a first in India and all the content is in local language which have been assembled and uploaded by local people only.”
Any expressions of interest for nominations/participation at the Manthan Award South Asia 2010 should be forwarded to the Manthan Award South Asia Secretariat at – email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Name of the Session: GOVERNANCE, PUBLIC SERVICE DELIVERY & DIGITAL CONSTITUENCY
Date: 18th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 1)
Time: 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM
About the Session: The session covered the important topic of affordable, quality and accessible content and services for enhanced government until the last mile. Content regulation, medium of content services delivery and putting in place the right kind of ICT infrastructure were other areas of focus. A special focus was held on how various constituencies like, rural administrative constituencies, Assembly and Parliamentary could be e-enabled to link with people. About 50-60 people attended the Session and contributed towards realizing the importance of ICT in governance.
Chairperson: Mr. Anurag Jain, IAS Secretary IT& Secretary to CM, Madhya Pradesh
Moderators: Mr. Abhishek Singh, IAS, Direcor, DIT, MoC&IT, GoI &
Mr. Ashish Sanyal, Senior Director, DIT, MoC&IT, GoI
List of Presenters:
- Sanjog Helpline, Panchayati Raj Department, Govt. of Orissa, INDIA – Mr. R.N. Dash IAS
- Empowering India, Liberty Institute, New Delhi – INDIA – Mr. Barun Mitra
- E-Gram – A reality Check, NIC Rajasthan State Unit, Jaipur, Rajasthan, INDIA – Mr. Prashant K Mittal
- Jaankari, Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Patna, Bihar, INDIA – Mr. Chanchal Kumar, IAS
- E-Scholarship, NIC Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. S. B. Singh
- The m-Governance Mantra for Forest Management, MP Forest Department, INDIA – Mr. Anil Oberoi
- m-Governance using ICT for PRI’s WBPRD, NIC West Bengal, INDIA – Mr. R.K. Maiti
- E-Lokshahi, Office of Collector & District Jalgaon, Maharashtra, INDIA – Mr. Kunal Kumar
- National Web Portal of Bangladesh, Access to Information Programme, Prime Minister’s Office, Dhaka, BANGLADESH – Mr. Nazrul Islam
- Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) in Madhya Pradesh East Discom, MP Poorva Kshetra Vidyut Vitran Co. Ltd., Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. S. K. Yadav
When the Session started, the moderator Shri Ashish Sanyal gave a background on the rapid progress on e-Governance in India and South Asia of late and the important position it has come to occupy in the domain of governance and how it is done now compared to earlier times since the arrival of ‘e’. He urged all the presenters to adhere to the scheduled time line of 5 minutes and be crisp and to the point in their presentations to make it receptible to all others attending the session. He wished all the best to all of them. The e-Governance Session comprised of some significant presentations on best practices from India and also one from Bangladesh.
The first presentation in the Session was given by Shri R N Dash on the project named “Sanjog Helpline”. It was an initiative of Panchayati Raj department of Odisha Government to facilitate web-based Grievance and Redressal system. Shri Dash informed the audience that “Sanjog Helpline” is the first web-based initiative in the country, the main feature of Sanjog Helpline – a Single Window Centralized Grievance redressal system for Government of Odisha. Sanjog Helpline is a citizen centric service which helps the citizens of Odisha to provide solutions to their problems. Citizens can register grievances through toll free number, fax, e-mail and through Sanjog Helpline portal from their villages. Here one can post scheme wise grievances and demography wise grievances. One can also check the status of grievances posted by him or her. It provides detail report of the grievances on the basis of district, block and gram panchayat. The ICT tool of Sanjog Helpline ensures that the grievance of complainant is sent to the right office to the right officer in real time. It is developed on a web enabled multi-lingual platform which will receive complaints through its 9AM to 5PM Call Centre. He said at present Sanjog Helpline caters to 5 schemes, namely NREGS, Rural Water Sanitation Scheme (specific to Tube well), PMGSY, Orissa Flood 2008 (Panchayati Raj) and SAMS (Students Academic Management System). Apart from these, there are initiations by other departments viz., Women & Child Development (WCD) Department and Health Department. The Orissa government has also issued a notice statewide for Sanjog Helpline to be used as the State Grievance Redressal forum.
The second presentation was given by Shri Barun Mitra from Empowering India on a web-based portal which empowers citizens with information about political candidates, constituencies, MLAs, MPs and political parties. Shri Mitra mentioned that the information is presented in the portal in a simple and comparative manner, so that the voter can make an informed choice on suitability of any candidate during the election. This presentation evoked many interactions about the IPR-related issue, acknowledgements on source of information etc. as it was informed that Google had used information from this pitiative “Jaankari” of Government of Bihar wortal under its own name during the Lok Sabha elections.
The next presentation was on an initiative named “e-Gram” of National Informatics Centre, Rajasthan Unit, implemented for Rajasthan Government, which was presented by Shri Prashant K Mittal of NIC Rajasthan. A website for a real-time check-up of various facilities in different villages of the state. The site offers a microscopic view of the various civic and other facilities like hand pumps, schools, transformers, aganbari kendras, fair price shops, hospitals that are provided by the government at villages. It also lists officers in-charge of these facilities and a monthly update is done of the site so that even from the capital a strict check can be maintained as to which are the facilities that are working and which are not. A web-based application was deployed to get the village-wise amenities and monthly status of these amenities directly from the grassroot level. The website is being directly monitored by the chief minister’s office and has been christened Chief Minister’s e-gram. The site also offers access to the chief secretary, the additional chief secretary, the district collectorate, block officers besides the nodal officer for each district.
The initiative “Jaankari” of Government of Bihar was presented next by Shri Chanchal Kumar, Secretary to the Chief Minister, Bihar which facilitates the use of state-and art technologies to make information available to the people in an easy and hassle free manner under the provisions of RTI Act. Jankari is the first effort of its kind in the country where technology has been used to bring RTI to the masses. There was no additional cost and no fresh appointments were made for the project, Shri Chanchal Kumar said. He pointed out that Jankari is an additional mode for seeking information under RTI apart from the conventional way of giving applications to the office concerned. The Government of Bihar has collaborated with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited for this purpose. The general number 155311 can be dialled to reach “Jaankari”. The call can be made either from the residential telephone or from PCOs. In first case Rs. 10/- would be charged in the bill each time a call is made on this number. While dialling from PCO the required card has to be purchased for paying the fee. The operator then gathers information from the caller and asks few questions and a RTI application to the concerned official is generated. Ever since its introduction Jankari has received 22,600 calls. Out of this 7,070 were applications under RTI, 3,016 calls for filing first appeals and 1,400 calls for second appeals.
e-Scholarship portal in Uttar Pradesh is designed to utilize the inherent strength of Internet and its excellent outreach and feedback capabilities for the transparency in the disbursal of scholarship fund. The presentation given by Shri S B Singh, DDG and State Informatics Officer, NIC, UP on e-Scholarship portal described this online solution for awarding scholarships to deserving students in the State of Uttar Pradesh. Shri Singh mentioned that about 3.90 crore students are benefiting out of this statewidViews on M-governance using ICT fe Scheme and a single portal is facilitating the entire process. The e-Scholarship portal provides a common platform to all concerned departments and facilitates sharing of data amongst the stake-holders. Existing government processes have been simplified and made easier for the general public and the application software has been designed to work both in an offline as well as online mode to reduce duplication of efforts. New-age banking systems such as ECS & e-banking have been integrated to directly transfer the funds to the beneficiaries and banks have opened “no-frill accounts” of students with zero balance facility as a step towards financial inclusion. The Scheme has been appreciated as a definite step forward in delivery of a welfare scheme through the use of Information and Communication Technology. Shri S B Singh also shown the way forward- a separate database is under preparation for all the registered schools including infrastructure details, faculty, drinking water facility, rooms etc. and planning has been done to interlink these databases with other central and state government schemes and projects.
Shri Anil Oberoi from Madhya Pradesh, Forest Department, in his presentation of m-Governance mantra for Forest Management, on use of GPS for better field operations, presented the insight how forest department has gone beyond ‘e’ and adopted ‘m’ applications. The Forest Department of MP is using GPS-enabled PDAs, to capture real time data with geo-spatial details. This data is further being used for effective planning, management & implementation of various field operations. With the embedded fire alert and messaging features in the system, now the department can easily track any fire in the forest within few hours as compared to the situation which used to take 3-4 days earlier to make the forest officers aware about fire. The forest department receives satellite imagery from the University of Maryland and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, in the US. Thermal sensors on satellites detect fires by scanning the earth for abnormal increases in temperature. For its part, the forest department has mapped the beats of forest camps and guards. Once a fire is pinpointed, the system sends out SMS and email alerts to guards in the area, giving them the fire’s exact location. The guards track down the fire and relay real-time information to the system through their devices enabled with global positioning systems. According to Shri Oberoi, the system has been very successful, reducing damage by fire by 5% in 2007-08, and halving man days spent combating fires. The system also helped cut funds spent on fire fighting, from Rs12 crore in 2006 to Rs7.56 crore in 2008.
Views on M-governance using ICT for Right to Information were next shared by Shri R K Maiti, Joint Secretary, Panchayat & Rural Development Department of West Bengal. The project is aimed to provide information on real time basis to Government Departments, their employees, social groups and general citizens and also to generate information on a regular basis through SMS and simple mobile handsets providing a flexible, scalable, cost effective platform. Aim of the project is to build a strong MIS on monitoring and administrative system, to strengthen the compliance machinery, to disseminate information to citizens through PUSH-PULL SMS mechanism.
In order to provide direct information to villagers and getting their grievances solved, the district collector office of Jalgao, Maharashtra started a project named E-lokshahi (IVRS Based). Shri Kunal Kumar, Collector and District Magistrate, Jalgaon, Maharashtra said that so far 1300 complaints have been registered in six months. In the view of citizen centric and transparent administration the District collector and District Magistrate of Jalgaon has developed an integrated voice response system to provide the primary information & registration of grievances using widely used telephone and mobile. It is an innovative and ambitious project of District collector office of Jalgaon to have a direct conversation between citizens and administration. Using these projects citizens can listen the primary basis information or can register their grievances sitting at home. The officer will listen the grievances and record his opinion/answer to the system which citizen can listen sitting at home. This system is a complete system for making and addressing grievances without human intervention so it is made operational 365x24x7. Shri Kunal Kumar said presently there are 42 types of grievances and 57 types of FAQs services are provided which can be increased.
The next presentation was from Bangladesh by Shri Nazrul Islam, Director, Agriculture Information Service (AIS), Government of Bangladesh on the country’s National Web Portal of Bangladesh, which is a one stop online platform of government services. The National portal of Bangladesh is the first citizen service oriented government website of Bangladesh. It aims to provide updated information about Government services through a one-stop online portal. Using this portal citizens get the information related to banking system, entrepreneurship, passport, driving license, trade license, health issues, government holidays, agricultural and education system and so on. Information on current national issues or any important public notification is also available. One can get most frequently used Government forms from here by clicking on “Quick Forms” from the homepage. Through the project, all the government websites came under one roof for citizen’s welfare, said Shri Nazrul Islam.
The next unique project on Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) was presented by Shri S K Yadav, which is being run in the eastern districts in Madhya Pradesh. The process in this project replaces human element in the meter reading, which ultimately benefits all stakeholders. It was informed that implementation of the project resulted in a direct benefit of not less than 25% to 30% revenue gain to the power distribution company. Through the AMR and Remote Meter Reading (RMR) technology with further adopting a GSM based intelligent model, the meter reading can be done remotely and thus human element can be entirely replaced.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
While discussing on presentations people raise question on e- lokshahi grievance handling model and ask Shri Kunal Kumar that 57 FAQs are long list generally nobody is having such a patience to listen all. Shri Chandan Sen from NIC Rajasthan raised a question on CSCs and Shri Ashish Sanyal answered to his question that implementation of project is not as difficult as attitudinal change both at government level and at beneficiary side. Through the interactions during the presentation of several best practices, it was generally opined that while various projects have very well meaning objectives, the implementation of the projects need to be strengthened in terms of timelines and ultimate delivery of objectives. It was also considered that transparency and end-to-end monitoring are very much needed to meet the end objectives. Some observations were made that Government process engineering is yet to take place in the core system of governance, which is delaying the overall successful implementation of e-Governance.
Name of the Session: ALTERNATIVE NEWS & COMMUNITY BROADCASTING
Date: 18th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 1)
Time: 2:00 PM- 5:30 PM
About the Session: This session had a consolidated focus on all aspects of issues around localization so that India’s and South Asia’s oral society have multi-lingual option of accessing and exercising their participation in accordance; The focus of this session was on role, impact and importance of content services in alternative news, localization, and community broadcasting to facilitate better, enhanced and outreached news and other vital information in meeting basic needs of the common man using ICT applications.
Chaiperson: Ms. Iskra Panevska, Communication& Information Advisor for South Asia, UNESCO
Moderator: Mr. Rajen Varada, Resource Person, UN Solution Exchange, UNESCO
List of Presenters:
- Mppost.org, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. Sarman Nagele
- Grey Cells, Grey Cells, Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA – Mr. Santosh Shintre
- Groundviews, Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), SRI LANKA– Mr. Nigel Nugawela, SRI LANKA
- Tarakash.com, Chhavi Media & Communication Co, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, INDIA – Mr. Pankaj Bengani, Ahmedabad, INDIA
- TopNews.in, G. D. Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Patiala, Punjab, INDIA – Mr. Gagandeep Singh
- Video Volunteers, Video Volunteers, Bardez, Goa, INDIA –Ms. Mahima Kaul
- Sangham Radio, Deccan Development Society, Hyderabad, AP, INDIA – Ms. Algole Narsamma
- Radio Connect, Nai Supporting Open Media in AFGHANISTAN–Mr. Mir Abdul Wahed Hashimi
- Doko Radio Mobile Media Mela, Antenna Foundation Nepal, NEPAL –Mr. Madhu Acharya
- Vasundhara Vahini 90.4 MH.Z, Vidya Pratishthan’s Institute of Information Technology (VIIT), Baramati, Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA – Mr. Deepak Rajmane
- Gram Vaani (GRINS), Gramin Radio Inter Networking System, New Delhi, Delhi, INDIA – Mr. Aaditeshwar Seth
At the outset of the assembly, the Session moderator reiterated the role of Alternative news media and particularly Community Broadcasting since the dawn of the digital age in effective citizen partnership in governance affairs leading to a vibrant democracy in the process. The community broadcasting mainly community radio, in particular, is leading to a revolution in India and South Asia. In all 40-50 people attended this important session.
The session began with a presentation from Video Volunteers, a Goa based organisation using the power of video at ground level to create a global ‘community media network.’ Ms.Mahima Kaul explained that Video Volunteers works to help establish community video with marginalised groups in India, including dalits, adivasis, slum dwellers and women. The help establish Community Video Units (CVUs) that are staffed by members of the community, informed by members of the community, and screened in the community. They give 12-18 months training to small community for making socially relevant videos, and in turn empowering people to help them stand up for themselves. The presenter explained that the organisation prepares communities as driving agents.ESSIBLE DIGITAL SOLUTIONS IN HEALTH
The next presenter was Mr. Sarman Nagele, the editor of Mppost.org, India’s first Hindi online daily publication. Launched in 2005, the site aims at promoting Hindi as a major language in online news dissemination. In his presentation, Mr. Nagele also explained the intricacies and technicalities of alternative media and community broadcasting.
Mr. Santosh Shintre, the producer of Grey Cells was the next to present. Grey Cells produces Marathi E-Learning modules with Marathi as the medium of instruction. Marathi e-learning programme targets audiences which are non-literates, semi literates, or neo-literates. The site aims to impart functional literacy to help the downtrodden overcome inertia using the rural dialect of the Marathi tongue. With broadband connections rapidly increasing in the rural areas, the barrier of ‘no connectivity’ is rapidly vanishing. The low-cost multimedia training in regional languages can really enhance the permeation of uniform education to the people level. Introduction of multimedia in informal public education and integrating it with Government Information dissemination and social service scheme is now cost effective and educationally sound. The need is there, the technology is there, the economics is favourable. Rather than typical ID companies targeting clients abroad, charging USD 7000 and above per learning hour and with little or no knowledge of the local culture, ethos and language, niche specific organizations like Grey Cells who know it are better equipped for creating ID/E-Learning modules in Marathi.
The next presentation was from Mr. Nigel Nugawela from Groundviews, Sri Lanka’s first citizen journalism website. Launched in 2006, the site has grown by leaps and bounds, registering over 1 million hits in 2009. The initiative has received accolades from the international community and quoted by mainstream media organisations like BBC, Al Jazeera, New York Times, etc. Mr. Nugawela also stated that they do not reproduce any content and stay away from political and controversial statements. In a country that is increasingly under fire for clamping down on media freedom, citizen journalism initiatives, like Groundviews, are important sources of information on issues related to war, peace, democracy and human rights in Sri Lanka. This is a pioneering effort in Sri Lanka to create a channel through which citizens in civil society can be heard. Content includes thoughts on life in conflict zones, impending humanitarian emergencies, and information on security and ground conditions.
This was followed by the presentation of Mr. Pankaj Bengani from Tarakash.com, India’s first and only Hindi infotainment portal which focuses on science, technology and IT. He said that the site gets 20,000 views daily and aims to have a database of 100,000 articles in the near future. He explained that the reason for choosing Hindi as the language was to reach out to the masses. Tarakash.com is the world’s first and only educational, informational and entertainment portal in Hindi. There are over 1500 informative articles already published on the site and all are in Hindi, the third largest spoken language of the world. It’s written in simple Hindi to enable common people to understand the subjects with ease. Tarakash.com makes money through advertisements. Tarakash.com has potential to grow, as the site has witnessed over a 300% annual growth in the last two years. According to research, online marketing is growing in numbers and Tarakash.com is confident to grab a share of it.
Mr. Gagandeep Singh of Topnews.in followed with his presentation. The website offers latest news and has main focus on business news, stock markets and company information. It also provides updates on Technology, Health and Sports. In the last one year, the website has made a significant development in News and Media sector. Topnews is a business and macro-economic website to help farmers with information. Working with a staff of over 80 reporters, engineers, editors, etc; it is a registered news magazine with the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) and reaches out to 35,000 registered members in India, UK, USA, UAE and New Zealand. With 3.3 million visitors per month, it is among the top 5 news sites in India, Mr. Singh claimed. He also added that all their services are free of cost. They generate revenue from Advertising. Soon the website will be offering paid memberships.
Ms Algole Narsamma of Sangham Radio followed with a video presentation. It is an initiative of the Deccan Development Society (DDS), a non-profit that focuses on food security, ecological agriculture, and alternate education. Sangam Radio that is owned, managed, and operated exclusively by Dalit women. She informed everyone how it was India’s first community radio starting with narrow-casting through a cassette in 1999, and moving to broadcasting through radio waves in 2008. It currently runs 2 hours a day focussing on agriculture and local issues. It is solely run by rural women. The station, broadcast everyday from 7-9 PM on 90.4 FM, The aim: to give Dalit women an autonomous forum to express themselves and articulate the issues that they face as a marginalized group. Major themes include agriculture, women’s health, utilization of natural resources and education.
The next presentation was from Mr. Mir Abdul Wahed Hashmi of Radio Connect, an organisation to help and support Afghanistan’s community radio stations through web advertising. Formed in 2004, the organisation links Afghan Diaspora and all of Afghanistan’s 40 odd community stations together. Through this information and communication technology (ICT) media development project, Afghanistan’s 33 independent local radio stations are offered an online presence through the interactive Afghan Radio Connect web platform. Since 2003, Internews and Nai have built 30 of these radio stations and have jointly trained their staff. In January 2007, they began using the internet to connect the local network of local independent stations in Afghanistan and to support them in achieving financial independence.
Mr. Madhu Acharya of Doko Radio was the next in line to present. He explained how his initiative was actually a mobile radio station with open frequency where a 5-6 member team travels to remote locations to give the locals a feel of community radio. Doko Radio reaches out to local communities a project of the Antenna Foundation, an NGO that is dedicated to public service broadcasting in Nepal, Doko Radio aims to take democracy to the doorsteps of local people living in remote areas across a difficult terrain. In Nepal, the word doko refers to the baskets that women use to carry water, firewood etc. Madhu Acharya, the head of Antenna Foundation, describes Doko as a mobile radio station that brings information to areas that might otherwise not have access to it. Doko staff travel across Nepal, stopping at locations for a few days where they create and broadcast local programming that residents can tune in to on their existing transmitters. In radio-shadow region, which have no transmitters at all, Antenna Foundation distributes cheap devices, allowing the local population to tune into their programming. He described it as an outlet for reaching the locals and technological integration.
The next one to present was Mr. Deepak Rajmane from Vasundhara Vahini, an 8 hour a day community radio in Maharashtra, India focussing on religion & spirituality, agriculture, rural development, animal husbandry and related local issues of the people. Vasundhara Vahini station at Bharamathi, is amidst of farmer community who are the prime target audience. The main objective is provide information to improve agricultural techniques such as implementation of best and improved seeds; improve the farming practices, use of advanced technology in farming, use of organic pest and herbs instead of chemical pesticides. Sugarcane is the major crop that is cultivated along with mixed cropping and vegetative cropping, diary and animal husbandry are also the main occupation of the people around the vicinity of the station. He emphasised that the interactive nature of community radio was essential for its success. Mr. Rajmane also informed that the radio also organises events and special celebrations.
The final presentation of the session was from Mr. Aaditeshwar Seth of Gram Vaani on GRINS, Gramin Radio Inter Networking Systems, a community radio network and support system. Gram Vaani empowers rural communities India through participatory media services. Graam Vaani seeks to provide information that inspires people, empowers communities, brings knowledge and awareness for equitable development, and streamlines the interaction of villages with governments and external agencies to enforce responsible politics. He complained about the amateurish working pattern of community radio in India and emphasised on the need for a more systematic and organised working style. He said that GRINS was working along the same lines by providing a single console for all the needs of a CR station viz. telephony, etc. It also offers guidance for programming, he added. The best feature of the project, according to Mr. Seth is its open source nature.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
In conclusion, the Mr. Rajen Varada, on behalf of the Chair, thanked all the presenters for their work in the field. He also added that community broadcasting is something we all should look at. A cross-country comparison of community broadcasting in areas including people’s participation, regulatory scenarios, human resource development, technology usage trends, financial practices etc. shows a wide variety of Community Broadcasting applications and challenges. He summed up by saying that both India and her neighbours had a lot to learn from each other in this field, although the work done so far had been indeed commendable.
Name of the Session : ACCESSIBLE DIGITAL SOLUTIONS IN HEALTH, SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION
Day: 18th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 1)
Time: 2:00 AM- 5:30 PM
About the Session: This session delved on the importance of ICT and digital content in health and environmental services delivery with affordable quality and accessible content and services overcoming time, geographical, economic and social limitations. The focus was on how ICT and content can facilitate promotion and sustenance of environment with larger attention on local ecosystem. Besides, what initiatives we have where science could be reached to the scientific temper level through the use of digital media. Altogether 40 to 50 persons attended this session.
Chairperson: Mr. Srinivas Tadigadappa, Head, South Asia, World Ahead Program, Intel
Moderator: Mr. Osama Manzar, Chairman & Director of Digital Empowerment Foundation
List of Presenters:
- Rajiv Aarogyasri Community Health Insurance Scheme, Aarogyasri Health Care Trust, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. Babu Ahamed, IAS
- Custodial Health Care Through Satellite (Telemedicine), Prison Department, Gujarat State, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, INDIA – Dr. Ranendu Ghosh, Scientist – ISRO & Mr Keshav Kumar, IGP, Gujarat
- Hospital Management Information System, Commissioner of Health, Medical Services and Medical Education and Research, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, INDIA – Mr N B Dholakia
- Low Cost Teleradiology, Teleradiology Solutions, Bangalore, Karnataka, INDIA – Dr. Sunita Maheshwari
- E-Clinician, Coresys Infotech Pvt. Ltd, Cochin, Kerala, INDIA – Mr. ES Rajendran
- SaveTheHills Blog, SaveTheHills, Kalimpomg, West Bengal, INDIA – Mr. Praful Rao
- Ideawicket Open Innovation Portal, Ideawicket Innovations Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi, Delhi, INDIA – Ms. Amar Aujla
- BIOTIK, French Institute of Pondicherry, Pondicherry, INDIA – Mr. BR Ramesh
- Monitoring of Vehicle Movement using GIS/GPS, Corporation of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, INDIA – Mr. Rajesh Lakhoni, IAS
- Nirog.info, Nirog.info, Bokaro Steel City, Jharkhand, INDIA – Mr. Ravi Mishra
- Pregnancy, Child Tracking & Health Services Management, National Informatics Centre, Jaipur, Rajasthan, INDIA – Ms. Indu Gupta
When the session began, the moderator Mr. Osama Manzar enlisted the priorities of the topic in the current scenario and gave the usual instructions of the discussion going to be to the persons sitting in the audience and briefed the presenters about the timelines to be kept in mind etc. He then invited the first presenter. Mr. Manzar emphasised that the session was not about “who wins the award. It’s about the platform given to showcase the best practices available”.
The first presenter was Mr. Babu Ahamed, IAS who represented the Government of Andhra Pradesh for the Rajiv Aarogyasri Community Health Insurance Scheme. This scheme envisages a universal healthcare scheme, a system which is currently based on a digital platform with 5000 users and runs around the clock for 24 hours. This scheme is in great demand among the rural poor who end up selling 70% of their assets to procure healthcare. It proposes to give patients a cashless package where screening, testing and medicines will be covered. 942 major procedures have already been incorporated under this scheme. Aarogyasri Health Trust gives hospitals the responsibility of organizing one healthcare camp a week, provide personnel and cover transportation costs for the patients. The payment would be made to the hospitals within 7 days of receiving the claim online to remove corruption and commissions. Mr. Ahamed also gave a demo of how the system works online and showed that in the past 24 hours, Rs. 2.79crores worth of cases were undertaken. A total of 9476 cases have been taken care of since the inception of Aarogyasri.
The second presenters were Dr. Ranendu Ghosh from the ISRO and Mr. Keshav Kumar, IGP from Gujarat who presented on Custodial Health Care through Satellite (Telemedicine) in Gujarat. Under this programme, village resource centres have been set up where the technological aspect is covered by the ISRO, the Government of Gujarat is the service provider and the knowledge providers are various experts. So far, 473 such centres have been set up in the state and 37 are in the process of being set up. Recently, Telemedicine was introduced in the Sabarmati Jail. A growing need for this system is felt as taking prisoners out of their cells can prove to be a security hazard, and telemedicine can save resources. A teleconsultation was recently conducted on a 60-year old inmate who had spent 10 years in jail, by using an online ECG and accessing information through VCON software. Keshav Kumar spoke of the future of custodial health care through satellite as quality healthcare is very rare in jails. Prisoners only get interns to consult them at hospitals whereas through this system, experts will examine them. It also removes the distance barrier and promotes the better monitoring of chronic diseases.
Dr. NB Dholakia, Deputy Director – Health & Family Welfare Department of the Government of Gujarat made a presentation on Hospital Management Information System. He stressed on how the quality of healthcare provided must be improved and how the government structure should be made more efficient and effective to promote such improvement. The Hospital Management Information System includes patient care services, clinical services and structured hospital administration. Two hundred thousand certificates have already been handed out to hospitals through this system. Under the HMIS, patients’ history will be preserved and readily accessible, thereby diminishing paperwork, increasing transparency and research and development. It is hence a consolidation of data online along with a comprehensive stock of drugs available. This system also helps rate hospitals according to their efficiency. The hierarchical structure of the system has the Health & Family Department at the apex followed by a Commissionerate which is responsible for Hospital Managers who in turn monitor the Users of HMIS in Hospitals.
Dr Sunita Maheshwari from Telaradiology Solutions (TS), Bangalore made her presentation on Low Cost Telaradiology. Telaradiology transfers diagnostic images over a LAN or WAN (Wireless Access Network) for interpretation. TS was conceptualized in 2002 to provide radiology services to 75 hospitals in the US. It follows the hub and spoke model where one radiologist reports for multiple hospitals. The Ministry of Health in Singapore too has given accreditation to TS. In India, for every 100000 patients, there is one radiologist, thus the need and application of telaradiology is the greatest here. TS reports about 2000 X-rays per day and also offers Pediatric Telesonographs for terminally ill children. 5053 CT scans have been received and examined in Bangalore itself since TS branched out in India. Telaradiology Solutions works in conjunction with the Swami Vivekananda Memorial Hospital and the Rama Krishna Mission Hospital in Itanagar. Dr Maheshwari said that at TS, they follow a “Robin Hood Model” by charging clients in the US and Singapore and using the profits earned for Indian patients in need. The organization has been given no government assistance despite its pro-bono work in India.
The fifth presenter was Mr. ES Rajendran from Coresys Infotech, Cochin. He explained to the audience the concept of E-Clinician, a clinical decision support system (CDSS). EClinician is the best CDSS in India with over 3000 users. It was developed over the span of 8 years and uses differential diagnosis from signs and systems, for which it has a patent pending. The support system works like an encyclopedia and is the most usable solution for primary care. It has a database of 4568 diseases and adds value to clinical suspicion. Mr. Rajendran gave the delegates a trial run of how the system works by choosing varied symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis for a disease.
Mr. Praful Rao presented next on his blog, SaveTheHills which looks into landslide prevention. Owing to the lack of coverage given to the natural calamity, Rao began his blog. He chose this medium as a BlogSpot is dynamic, free of cost, requires low maintenance and can incorporate multimedia formats. According to Rao, statistically inaccurate damage caused by landslides is often recorded as cyclones, rainfall and hurricanes as landslides are often accompanied by them. Thus SaveTheHills blog aims to provide an interactive forum to inform the public about the hazards of landslides and warn the general public of landslide prone areas.
Ms. Amar Aujla was the 7th presenter. She represented Ideawicket Innovations for the Ideawicket Open Innovation Portal (IOII). IOII houses 10000 registered innovators- scientists, researchers, college students and the like under one portal. It provides a platform to showcase non confidential ideas and programmes. TREMAP or the Technological Refinement & Marketing Programme is another tool used by Ideawicket Innovations to encourage ideas and projects by driving the prototypes up the commercialization cycles towards the market.
Mr. BR Ramesh made his presentation on BIOTIK, a programme envisioned to generate knowledge and information on tree species in the Western Ghats. It serves as a knowledge base for biodiversity conservation and promotes the rejuvenation of taxonomy. Biotik uses computer aided identification software called IDAO, which is a software with a graphical interface. Thus technical jargon may take a backseat as drawings are used for identification. The software also allows one to construct a virtual plant and permits missing data allowance, thus identifying an incomplete sample too. The Biotik database currently has 528 species of trees. Its long term uses include capacity building and conservation efforts. The descriptions can be obtained in English, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam.
The ninth presenter for the session was Mr. Rajesh Lakhoni who made his presentation on the Monitoring of Vehicle Movement using GIS/GPS in Chennai. This project was undertaken by installing GIS/GPS devices on garbage collecting trucks and their movement was monitored. The programme has been running for two years now and has reduced the use of diesel from 80,000 litres earlier to 60,000 litres per annum now. This in turn has reduced the cost of running the trucks from Rs. 120 crores earlier to Rs. 98 crores. The objectives of the project were achieved through monitoring the vehicular movement and thereby route optimization to facilitate the decrease in the number of trucks required to cover the same area.
Mr. Ravi Mishra from Jharkhand presented next on Nirog.info, a site which provides health information in Hindi. According to Mishra, health literacy leads to preventive care whereas illiteracy leads to disability and death. He reiterated his point by using the example of cervical cancer, in which 20% of the cases are caused by unawareness, social inhibition, incorrect information and the language barrier. At Nirog.info, the content is written by physicians themselves, and it requires a low bandwidth for usage. The site requires no registrations and can run without using special scripts.
The last presentation for the session was made by Ms. Indu Gupta on behalf of the National Informatics Centre, Rajasthan on Pregnancy, Child Tracking & Health Services Management. Rajasthan is rated as the fourth most backward state in terms of healthcare facilities. The Pregnancy, Child Tracking & Health Services Management is thus a government to government or a government to consumer tool to improve healthcare surveillance. It provides an online directory of healthcare institutions, online trend analysis and SMS alerts to beneficiaries. Before the system was introduced, tracking would approximately take 21-25 days but through Pregnancy, Child Tracking & Health Services Management, the time frame is reduced to 3-5 days. The programme has not been released in the public domain as yet.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
The presentations were followed by an interactive session between the participants and the floor was left open for comments, and suggestions. Dr Maheshwari raised a question about how to work with government agencies and gain their support. A unanimous agreement was made on the need for e-governance to bolster questions development as opposed to just ICT. A road show was proposed to bring more representatives from the government together with private players from different sectors to interact and find solutions. Mr. Manzar suggested a blueprint or anthology of the best practices or ideas that came up in such forums to be published for the government to study and validate. Ms Aujla also offered to put Manthan Awards on Ideawicket as it too is an innovative idea that supports the congregation of innovators to find developmental solutions. There are several best practices among different states in the areas of technology enabling for delivery health services. There can be a framework that dovetails all these best practices that give a roadmap to a state for implementation of technology for accelerating healthcare delivery technology – A Model State Health Delivery platform.
The session was concluded at 5:30 pm with a vote of thanks by the moderator.
Name of the Session : PEOPLE’S EMPOWERMENT & MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES: UNITING COMMUNITIES THROUGH 3 G NETWORKS
Date: 19th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 2)
Time: 9:30 AM- 1:00 PM
About the Session: Since Mobile is one of the fastest penetrating devices across the India and South Asia, especially after reaching to almost 500 million, it was just appropriate that the discussion centred on the larger implications of this device, since it is oral, multimedia, and has reach in rural areas also. This session showcased some of the best mobile based applications and initiatives where the device has proved to be highly effective in serving the masses. The session also delved in discussing policy issues as how various government and business services could be reached to the masses through mobile devices in local languages and in oral medium. About 60-70 persons were in attendance in this important session.
Chairperson: Mr. Sandeep Bhargava, Head Corporate Affairs, Nokia Siemens Networks
Moderator: Dr Subho Ray, President, Internet & Mobile Association of India.
List of Presenters:
- Pocket Travel Assistant, mobilewish.com – Rourkela, Odisha, INDIA – Mr. Samir Kumar Dash
- Multilingual Text Renderer for Mobile Phones, Tata Consultancy Services, Thane, Maharashtra, INDIA – Ms. Adya Shankar
- FarmERP Mobile, Shivrai Technologies Pvt. Ltd., Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA – Mr. Sanjay Borkar
- Mutho-Sangbad, M/S Hridi – Mr. Saleh Zillur Rahman, Dhaka, BANGLADESH
- Mango Application Framework, Bangalore, Karnataka, INDIA – Mr. Manohar Bhangera
- Tata Consultancy Services & Tata Chemicals Ltd. – Mr. Dinesh Kumar Singh
- MAT, mobapps.org, Surat, Gujarat, INDIA – Prof. Kiran Trivedi
- SMS based Complaints Tracking System for ‘Turant Chovis’ Scheme (CTS) Nasik Rural Police, State of Maharashtra, Nasik, Maharashtra, INDIA – Inspector Parag Jhadav
When the session assembled, the chairperson, Mr. Sandeep Bhargava, initiated the attendees into the topic at hand straight away and enlightened them with the current scenario vis-a-vis this fast growing sector. He gave a knowledgeable insight into the telecom sector and then the moderator, Dr. Subho Ray complemented him by delivering further inputs to the issue to be discussed. The, moderator played his usual role of a duty bound time keeper and informed everybody accordingly to do their best in maintaining sanctity of allotted time and refrain away from many other side things on this vast topic.
The first presentation was made on the Pocket Travel Assistant (PTA) by Mr. Samir Kumar Dash from mobilewish.com to showcase the potential of mobile technology. The PTA is a mobile with a travel oriented application which serves as a one-stop solution for weather details, images of specific locations and addresses of places. It is integrated with Google Maps and Wikipedia and can also provide location specific news along with world headlines from BBC, Yahoo.com and CNN. The application also has a language translation function for English, Dutch, Czech, Finnish, French, German and Greek, currency conversion and M-books. The Hindi version of the PTA is still at the planning stage and the application can be downloaded free of cost. The PTA is different from regular palmtops as it is software with an open OES and the mobiles can be varied devices. A drawback for the PTA however is that there is no data available from non mobile specific open APIs and the memory capacity is small.
The second presenter was Ms Adya Shankar from Tata Consultancy Services, Thane. She made her presentation on Multilingual Text Renderer for Mobile Phones (MLTR) to provide for mobile penetration in rural areas. With the increase in the number of rural wireless subscribers at 125.95 million today, there is an increase in the need for content delivery and communication in local languages. MLTR is Internet based store house, displays content in local languages which include English, Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi, Tamil and Malayalam. The display works through a Unicode input which in processed, then the language is processed followed by layout management which gets converted into display text. MLTR paves the way for easy integration, dynamic content, can be used on all mobile handsets, leaves a small footprint and can accommodate different fonts per language. Direct application of the MLTR can be seen in mKRISHI- an agricultural advisory system for farming in Marathi and GappGoshti- social networking for farmers. Micro blogging can also be done as the input is voice-based. In brief MLTR is a Internet based store house, mass appeal, and challenge to push content, phones restricted to voice memory.
The third presenter was by Mr. Sanjay Borkar from Shivrai Technologies on FarmERP Mobile. The focus of FarmERP is the use of IT applications in agriculture for the past 7 years. It is a computer software solution that keeps details about farm management. As there is an increase in the rural mobile users with the telecomm revolution, FarmERP can be used to store agro content, applications and utilities. Size of the FarmERP is small ie.62 kb. For example, two mobile utilities were introduced specifically for grape farmers: a grape pesticide selector and grape MRL (maximum residue level) values which are calculated based on specifications provided. FarmERP is free, simple to download, install and use. It has a user friendly display and eliminates paper. It gives instant on-farm availability of information. In the future, regional language versions will be introduced for different crops and agricultural calculators for daily activities on the farm. As most wastage happens in the cotton and tobacco sectors, this application’s full potential can be exercised in that sector in the future.
The fourth presentation was on Mutho-Sangbad (MS) by Mr. Saleh Zillur Rahman from Dhaka. MS aims to bring news to its users’ fingertips. According to Mr. Rahman, there is very low information dissemination about Bangladesh and it is given little coverage in the world news. As there is a low literacy rate and infrastructure is poorly formed in the country, the MS has faced a lot of challenges in the past. Among the Bangladeshis, 64% read Bangla only; English has little scope in the country. Thus MS follows an English-Bangla approach. The application is independent of the handset manufacturer, telecomm operator and geographical location; there is no need to download any fonts for the display. MS also aims to be interactive as users can comment on news articles. With a population of 160 million in places with no newspaper, television or radio, mobile technology has great untapped potential. By partnering with local news partners and TV channels, 12 million Non Resident Bangladeshis will be able to receive Bangla news on their handsets.
Mr. Manohar Bhangera from Mango Application Framework, Bangalore presented next about Mango Application Framework, an innovation for low cost computing frameworks for application development content delivery. The organization partners with hardware vendors and OEM/ODM Carriers. The USP of the MAF is that it has a good user interface, requires the least time to market, has high performance on a single chip solution, has the lowest total cost of a handset and is localized as it offers market specific applications. The architecture of the framework was explained by Mr. Bhangera. Mango hosts net book applications, farming communication applications, telemedicine, e-learning and m-banking solutions. The overall aim of MAF is to enrich one’s mobile experience. The future of MAF lies in the enhancement of server solutions which is context based content delivery. The MAF thus helps in bridging the digital divide, creating opportunities and provides greater access to information and in turn empowering people.
The sixth presentation was made by Mr. Dinesh Kumar Singh on behalf of the Tata Consultancy Services & Tata Chemicals Ltd. Mr. Singh explained in great detail the functioning of mKrishi, an agricultural advisory system. mKrishi aims to give personalized advice to farmers. The system had a soft launch with a pilot run in Punjab and UP among other states. According to Mr. Singh, “The agricultural industry in India is a knowledge based industry,” and so mKrishi will have a great impact on all farmers alike. The programme acts as an “umbrella of solutions” as it enables two-way interaction, access to unified view of information, provides dynamic information from individual rural farmers to experts; in other words “the farmer and farm are brought to the experts digitally”. The system reduces inefficiencies and increases the farmers’ productivity, making farming affordable and thus creating wealth in rural economies at a marginal rate of Rs. 15 for 3 months. This system addresses the key issues of rural India like internet penetration, power availability etc.
The following presentation was made by Prof. Kiran Trivedi from mobapps.org, Surat. Professor Trivedi introduced various sensors for mobiles to “bring data directly to the device”. He developed these sensors using open source hardware and software. Data may be transferred via Bluetooth over the air or a USB Cable. He envisaged two-way communication between a headset and mobile device where the headset could also send information to the device instead of just the device sending information to the headset. Professor Trivedi developed a Sensor Cap along the same lines which detects gas, temperature, humidity, distance and smoke. The application reads environmental data from its sensors and then displays it on the mobile screen. As it uses an external hardware, it is handy to access. The current status of the application, MAT is that it is 90% functional and since it is an open source project, it will work on all S60 2nd and 3rd edition phones. The programming language used is PYTHON and the application can be made available for the cost of Rs. 75 only. He is also developing an ultrasonic sensor for visually impaired people to calculate distance and send it as a voice message. This can be very innovative for people with disabilities and special needs.
The last presentation for the session was made by Inspector Parag Jhadav from the Nasik Rural Police on “Turant Chovis” or SMS-based Complaints Tracking System (CTS). CTS provides the residents of Nasik with a quick redressal system through the use of SMS. Once the police station receives a complaint from a citizen, action will be taken within 24 hours and completed within 30 days. The system is a GSM based SMS communication. An SMS is sent from the police station to the system based on the action code entry sent; tracking is done on the steps being taken within the stipulated time frame. In case of inaction, alert messages will be sent to the station concerned. Thus far 96% of the cases received have been resolved within the time limit. The conclusive reports include the station involved, its daily action to resolve the case and periodic action followed by a summary report. This system also helps gauge the performance of police employees. On being asked if the complainant can file their complaint from home, Inspector Jhadav replied that they can in fact file a complaint from home but for lodging an FIR, the person would have to visit the station personally. The cost of the software is Rs. 20,000 and the running cost of the system is just the SMS rate. There is no maintenance required barring the cell phone number updates.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
To summarize the session, the Chairman, Mr. Sandeep Bhargava reiterated that Mobile Technology must be used to address the mass community in India as mobiles are the best device to penetrate to the grassroot level. The usage of the vast potential is too low currently. He also informed the delegates that more bandwidth will be made available by BSNL and MTNL by Diwali to take the reach of 3G networks further.
The last section of Question answer came out with following conclusion: that DEF should have a web based platform to exchange and sharing of ideas. HCL agrees to help to reach out community in rural market etc like NREGA. There should be innovation forum under MIT.
The session concluded at 1:30 pm.
Name of the Session : Digital Approach for Education, Learning and Human Resource Development
Date: 19th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 2)
Time: 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM
About the Session: The biggest challenge for nations like India remains to meaningfully provide education to masses, make them skilled for employment to engage them fruitfully, and use various digital media, ICT tools, and create policies where each and every educational institution and government machinery should take advantage of ICT infrastructure, e-application, e-learning platforms, and growing penetration of mobile, internet, and other digital media platforms, like radio and TV. This session showcased some of the best practices on the subject and came out with some recommendations for the Ministry of HRD.
Chairperson & Moderator: Mr. Subhash C. Khuntia, IAS, Joint Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, MHRD
List of Presenters:
- Empowering Underprivileged Youths in BANGLADESH, D.Net – Mr. Ajoy Kumar Bose
- Wikigoviya, Audio Visual Centre (AVC), Department of Agriculture (DOA), SRI LANKA – Dr. Rohan Wijekoon
- e-budhani, Rohini Science Club (RSC) – Ranchi, Jharkhand, INDIA – Mr. G V S R Prasad
- ThinkQuest.Com, Oracle Education Initiatives – Mr Ajay Kapur
- upscportal.com, Kalinjar Technologies, New Delhi, Delhi, INDIA – Mr. Rahul Gupta
- EasyNow, CEMCA, New Delhi, Delhi, INDIA – Ms. Savitri Singh
- “Tiger’s Job”, Kolkata, West Bengal, INDIA – Dr. A. K. Banerjee Choudhury
- Gujarat Common Entrance Test, (GCET) 2009 – An online computer based testing system for admissions in Professional Courses (MBA & MCA), Gujarat Knowledge Society – Mr. Manish Bhardwaj, Former GKS Director & GKS Representative
- CAPnic, The Commissioner For Entrance Exam. Thiruvananthapuram, Govt of Kerala, Thiruvanathpuram, Kerala, INDIA – Mr. Asir Edwin
- e- Samvad, Office of Commissioner, Higher Education, Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. Sanjay Jha
- MP State School Education Portal- Use of ICT for Responsive and Transparent Governance, Rajya Shiksha Kendra, School Education Department, Govt. of MP, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. Manoj Jhalani
- Implementation of Shared Computing Technology in 5,000 Govt. Schools in AP, India, NComputing, Inc, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, INDIA – Mr. Amit Khanna
Mr. Subhash C Kuntia, IAS, Joint Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, MHRD, moderator-cum-chair for the session ignited the session by stating – ICT offers a huge advantage to an emerging economy with scarce resources and a large constituency. It is the knowledge economy that enables the maximum utilization of available factors of production especially where labour as an input is abundantly available. ICT is not just Internet and computers, it also includes writing and telephones and that is what makes ICT a special policy tool.
Some of those excellence in learning and Human resource development has been presented in the session of Digital Approach for Education, Learning and HRD, chaired by Mr. Subhash C. Khuntia, IAS joint secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, MHRD, showcased such best practices.
The project titled “Empowering Underprivileged Youth in Bangladesh through Computer Literacy” undertaken by Volunteer Association for Bangladesh is such an effort. The project started in 2005 is intended to facilitate access to knowledge of ICT by the rural disadvantaged people particularly the youth to help them able to face global challenges. Mr. Ajoy Kumar Bose said as of December 2009, the CLP has established 107 CLCs primarily in selected rural educational institutions in 39 districts of Bangladesh. Internet connection has been provided to 59 of these institutions. Computer Literacy Program (CLP) is a trendsetter initiative of Volunteers Association for Bangladesh, New Jersey, USA and D.Net. Its aim is to explore the growth potentials of underprivileged youths in rural Bangladesh by providing them with first basics of computer know-how and then computer aided education.
Another effort was Wikigoviya, a participatory and interactive web tool for agriculture development in Sri Lanka through the participation of Agriculture Community. Dr. Rohan Wijekoon had given insight that the project provides information related to agriculture as a web based solution to reach rural population. It is an ideal tool to meet the needs of the farming community as a whole as 14.6% of Sri Lankan population depends upon agriculture. The literal meaning of Wikigoviya says Wiki means Web and Goviya means Agriculture. A web based encyclopedia for Sri Lanka agriculture. Updated and nourished by the Agriculture Community. Resulted in a complete participatory encyclopedia for Sri Lankan agriculture. Till now Indian government has provided full support in all possible means.
E–Budhani presented by Mr. G V S R Prasad of Rohini Science Club, Ranchi is an effort in making learning elementary science concepts easy and more fun. E-Bhudhani multimedia CD-ROM has been developed for the multi-grade and multi-level class-room students of classes III, IV and V. It is based on the concept of education with entertainment. It is an interactive CD-ROM for learning the concepts of Environmental Science. If content is simple and designed keeping local context and language in mind, there will be more takers for it. This has been the base while developing E – Budhani. This organization Rohini Science Club was started in 1973.
Think Quest by Oracle Education Initiatives, is just another example. At the time of its launch, it was called Think.com. Mr Ajay Kapur, Director, Oracle Educaton Foundation told, the idea was developed by Oracle Education Organization – an NGO run by Oracle. ThinkQuest.com is a website seeking to inspire students to think, connect, share and create innovative and educational websites. Students are supposed to work in teams to build websites, and along the way learn how to research, write, teamwork, and technology skills and compete for incredible prizes. The topics of the websites must be within the educational field. They provide a kid-friendly online environment. The teams who create the winning websites are eligible for prizes, and entries may be published in the popular ThinkQuest Library.
Ms. Savitri Singh enlightened the members present there with Easy Now developed by CEMCA, which is a collection of software that is commonly used for easy e – content uploads. It is an open source library which enhances the learning experience by providing different learning styles. It is basically meant for teachers. CEMCA’s EasyNow is a platform that brings together easy-to-use technologies that enable teachers to create learning materials in an array of delivery modes. EasyNow also integrates into formats for learners with visual impairments. EasyNow offers fast downloads, which is particularly important for those with low bandwidth Internet connections.
“Tiger’s Job” by Dr. Asesh Banerjee Choudhury ,an application of multimedia CD for children to support ‘inclusive education’, Computer literacy, Promoting child development, Increase of general knowledge and I.Q level. CD project of twenty-four animated nursery rhymes in Bengali, English and Hindi with interactive Question-Answer session (text, picture and audio). Fantasy, rhythm and style in nursery rhymes attract children as inevitable part of their growing up. Innovative rhymes on to-day’s child’s surroundings are therefore used for development of the natural talents of all categories of children through a joyful process. Underlying objectives: strengthening imagination, learning moral values, developing consciousness of the socio-technological environment and acquiring skills through various activities. Question-answer-part/activities can be changed for a particular child or group of children recognizing their potential. The child can also be taught to navigate/learn independently and gather information from Internet. This CD, apart from study materials, will equip the class-teacher with options/activities to engage children of varying abilities in an ideal class-room environment of ‘inclusive education’.
Gujarat Common Entrance Test – an online computer based testing system for admissions in professional courses (MBA & MCA) organized by Gujarat Knowledge Society for the first time. First time in India that any State Government level entrance exam was conducted online. Insight to GCET system was given by Mr. Manish Bhardwaj, Former GKS Director, how the entire system from registering at the test centre till students get the score cards is indeed commendable. The functioning is user-friendly and smooth. The online test system is devised in the most considerate way, with one question appearing on the screen at a time, facility for going back and forth and also an option to mark a particular question for review later, along with question numbers catalogued on a side panel whereby the candidate can jump to any question as required. A meticulously developed and a well maintained system for online aptitude examination. It was proved to be a very cost saving procedure. University was able to save Rs. 9000/- per candidate in a total savings of 27, 35,640 man hours. Hence, was proved a very cost effective examination.
e-Samvad was the next presentation by Mr. Sanjay Jha of Higher Education Department, MP, he said this project is self developed, unaided by any financial agency. No external agency made software modules are used, under coverage the complete state is covered and beneficiaries are up to an extent of cent percent, as site is accessible to all the sectors of the department. To strengthen the system, colleges at regional level were linked for realizing information in electronically accessible format. The practicality of this project can be estimated by the study of hit counter attached with the site. The information gathering at Apex unit of the department is done via college situated at Regional head quarters. As the information collected from various units is in the same format, compilation is done electronically without manual typographical exercise. At government level, time and labour was saved for ease of working in implementation of policies & schemes. He also stated that this new system has almost eliminated expense on postal charges, time delay in information collection and simultaneously ensured reliability of data through checks and validations. Instant availability of updated information, time efficient and time bound information flow for execution of policies.
Mr. Sunil Jain, technical director NIC,MP, has given the insight that MP State School Education Portal. MP School education department is one of the largest departments in terms of engagement of human resources in the govt. sector in MP. The portal facilitates the department to administer more than 1.10 lac schools, 3.5 lac teachers and monitor the competency levels of more than 1.60 crore students. The portal also acts as a sign-on for various process automation applications and facilitate a common platform for the dissemination of information and collaboration between departments and agencies working for school education. The application stack includes Content Management, Payroll, HR Management, Civil Works, Inspections, Monthly tests to assess the subject-wise competency level of students and performance of staff and schools.
Next presentation by Mr. M Asir Edwin, Technical Director, NIC Kerala, that the NIC state centre has developed a software application named CAPnic to allot seats for the professional courses in Kerala. It is an open-source solution based on Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP). The candidates’ choice of the colleges and courses are received online. The same options are used for the allotment/re-allotment of seats. About 28 lakh options have been received from 55,000 candidates. The system handled transactions for an amount of more than 60 crores of rupees. Unlike previous years, the current system has the advantage that the candidates can send in their options from anywhere. Colleges and courses can be added even after counseling is started. A candidate can change or rearrange the options at any point of time. He gave insight that the government, colleges and citizens save a lot of money and time by adopting the new system.
Next sharing was from Mr. Rahul Gupta on his work upscportal.com– India’s First IAS, UPSC, IFS, PCS, Civil Services Community Website, this website is the product of Kalinjar Technologies. Website is having more than 74000 registered members. It is having 1.8 million hits per day which is more than UPSC official website. Its core features are repository of study material, free help to aspirants, hindi content for north Indian rural member, online community forums, polls, free resources for all, always. He told under this portal they also provide online magazine, free for all its online members and also they have online store for all the UPSC related stuff, in which shipping is free all over the India. He told that they are engaged in this work because they are passionate about building online communities.
N – Computing presented by Mr. Amit Khanna, business development Manager of NComputing said that it has become the largest shared computing deployment in India. In this CPU is shared through a device called Access Device (Rs. 4000) which has reduced the upfront and hardware cost by 40% to 50% as well as the ongoing maintenance and electricity usage by 90%.The NComputing solution is based on a simple fact: today’s PCs are so powerful that the vast majority of applications only use a small fraction of the computer’s capacity. NComputing’s virtualization software and hardware tap this unused capacity so that it can be simultaneously shared by multiple users. The NComputing virtualization software is loaded onto a standard Windows or Linux PC. Each user’s monitor, keyboard, and mouse connect to the shared PC through a small and highly reliable NComputing access device. The device itself has no CPU, memory, or moving parts so it is easy to deploy and maintain. Over 500,000 NComputing systems have been deployed by 15,000 organizations to slash their computing costs as much as 70%.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
The session was reasoned out at 1:15 PM with the following discussion with Mr. Subhash C Khuntia and the knowledge experts present there – Though these technologies have proved themselves but now the question arises as how to relate these technologies – internet and computers with the places where there is no electricity, no proper schooling, places such as tribal areas. The only answer to these queries is that not only computers but radio and mobiles can also be used as the ICT tools. LPG generator sets can be used as an alternate to power supply. People from Tilonia, Rajasthan also participated in the discussion by giving the factious scenario at the ground level.
It is very well said that Impossible is Nothing but the efforts are required to achieve the success and those efforts, innovations an alternates to our small hindrances will have to be found so as to come out as a single power and grow as a nation. It is always with us, the people, that the nation progresses.
With this there was an exciting inaugural on Self Learning Kit by Mr. Subhash C Kuntia. All the people present there applauded the joint efforts of Micro Associates, CORE Technologies, Bhugol GIS & Digital Empowerment Foundation. This Self Learning Kit is a collection of digital learning materials and software application for Geographical Information System study.
The session was concluded with vote of thanks to Mr. Subhash C Kuntia by Mr. Sandeep Bhargava , Head Corporate Affairs, Nokia Siemens Networks.
Name of the Session : E-COMMERCE & BUSINESS & ECONOMIC INCLUSION
Date: 19th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 2)
Time: 9:30 AM- 1:00 PM
About the Session: This session delved on the importance of affordable, quality and accessible content and services for enhanced business processes until the last mile putting the right kind of ICT infrastructure. Showcasing some of the best practices, who are already doing great linking work with the masses with brilliant business logic and entrepreneurial adventure – in other words, the session got deep into, e-commerce, e-business, and entrepreneurship where the final beneficiary is the people and masses. In this session, there were 20-30 people in attendance.
Chaiperson: Dr. Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, Director, India Development Foundation
Moderator: Dr. Madanmohan Rao, Member, Grand Jury
List of Presenters:
- EGMM, Employment Generation and Marketing Mission (EGMM), Department of Rural Development, Govt. of A.P. Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, INDIA – Ms. Meera Shenoy
- Campus Fever Online Application Forms, Campus Fever, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. Kaustubh Verma
- iXiGO.com, Le Travenues Technology (P) Ltd, Gurgaon, Haryana, INDIA – Mr. Aloke Bajpai
- KHETI – Rural e-Services in India, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA & Sheffield Hallam University, UK – Dr. S. M. Haider Rizvi
- Dynamic Market Information, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, INDIA – Dr. N. Anandaraja
At the start of the session, the moderator of the session Dr. Madanmohan Rao gave a brief background on the topic at hand and then informed all of the need to honour the scheduled time limit and other disciplines of the session. He then called the first presenter to showcase his work to the audience.
The session began with Mr. Aloke Bajpai of iXiGO.com, a travel search web portal launched in 2007. iXiGO is an infomediary that aggregates searches for flights, hotels and buses, by searching across 50 different websites to compare prices and information across multiple travel search criteria. They do not handle booking of tickets (unlike Online Travel Agencies) but instead redirect the user to book directly from the travel provider’s page.iXiGO.com was founded by Le Travenues Technology Pvt Ltd. He stated that the site has 12% of its user base as NRIs and foreign nationals. iXiGO’s revenue model is based on pay per click advertising, tie ups with prominent airlines and hotels in India and selling advertising space on their website. They work with over 40 hotel aggregators such as Travelguru.com and hostelworld.com and all the leading airlines in the Indian aviation sector such as Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Indigo Airlines. They have been voted as India’s fastest growing travel search engine. He emphasised on more government support for such initiatives.
This was followed by a presentation from the Employment Generation and Marketing Mission (EGMM). The producer of the project Ms Meera Shenoy explained how the project identifies and trains the youth for employment/employability. She then introduced two youngsters who were the products of the programme. Ms Shenoy explained how the programme had trained 260,000 youth in 5 years with over 70% placements; and that now 83.6% of those remit money back home. This displays the success of the programme. She also added that since it used transaction based software, total transparency was ensured. Before ending her presentation, Ms Shenoy insisted on a government IT programme for more transparency.
Mr. Kaustabh Verma of Campus Fever was the next to present. It is a website for online sale of application forms and payment of fees of educational institutions. Mr. Verma said that since its inception in October 2008, the site had had 4 partners for application forms and several big names for organising and sponsoring events e.g. Amity University, IIT-B, BITS Pilani, etc. He clarified that the site did not charge anything extra over the cost of the form. He also recommended that more functional Entrepreneurship Development Cells be facilitated by the government to help aspiring young entrepreneurs of the future.
The fourth presenter of the session was Dr. S M Haider Rizvi from KHETI: Rural e-Services in India. Kheti is a user developed communication concept combining cell phone camera software and web 2.0 services which provides the user with an interface to create a multimedia package, known as SDS, consisting of 6 pictures and 1 video. It enables the experts to view the uploaded package on the website and offer their advice on a variety of issues like health, agriculture, etc. He informed everyone that since July 2008, over 300 SDSs had been uploaded on the website, which uses the local language of the masses- Hindi.
The final presenter of the session was Dr. N Anandaraja from Dynamic Market Information. He explained how his site is a collection of market data and information and sharing of content for promoting collectivism among members. The website, he explained, partners with Apple iPhone for creating and disseminating SDS; and also organises buyer-seller meets. It is also offering free services to 5000 farmers and 200 scientists through SMS in mobile phones.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
In the end, the chair concluded by applauding the initiatives of the presenters in doing great linking work with the masses with brilliant business logic and entrepreneurial adventure. He emphasised on the need to make it easier for start-ups and NRIs; and paying more attention to business models.
Name of the Session : Social Inclusion, Localization and New Media and Digital Tools
Date: 19th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 2)
Time: 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM
About the Session: This session looked into some of the best practices in inclusion in areas facilitating empowerment of the differently able population, women, tribal communities, minorities through digital content and medium. The focus was on tools, mediums, content services delivery for information and knowledge empowerment. The focus remained on ICT and digital approach towards localization. Altogether 40-50 persons attended the session.
Chairperson: Dr. Arun Mehta MD of Radiophony & Manthan Awardee 2008
Moderator: Mr. V K Madhavan,- Executive Director, Chirag
List of Presenters:
- Daisy Forum of India, Saksham Trust, New Delhi, Delhi, INDIA – Mr. Dipendra Manocha
- Farmsoft, Rareworld Technologies, Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA -Mr. Ashok Rawal
- Online hearing Screening, AYJNIHH, Mumbai, Maharashtra, INDIA – Mr. P.J. Mathew Martin
- Chhattisgarhi KDE 4.2 Program Suit, http://raviratlami.blogspot.com, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA –Mr. Ravishankar Shrivastava
- Hindi Wordnet and Associated Software Programs, Center for Indian Language Technology, IIT Bombay, Mumbai, Maharashtra, INDIA – Prof. Pushpak Bhattachrayya
- www.comjagat.com, Computer Jagat, BANGLADESH – Mr. Md. Abdul Wahed Tomal
- Peer Water Exchange portal, Peer Water Exchange, Bangalore, Karnataka, INDIA – Mr. Rajesh Shah
- Messages in-a-box & Mobiles-in-a-box, Tactical Technology Collective India, Bangalore, Karnataka, INDIA – Mr. Allan Stanley
This session on was chaired by Dr. Arun Mehta of Radiophony & Manthan Awardee 2008 and moderated by Mr. V K Madhavan, Executive Director, Chirag. It looked into some of the best practices in inclusion in areas facilitating empowerment of the differently able population, women, tribal communities and minorities through digital content and medium.
Bringing the differently – abled people at par with others is a challenging task. Mr. Dipendra Manocha from Daisy Forum of India is involved in production of books and reading materials in accessible formats for the print impaired. They have evolved a central and common book cataloguing and distributing system and providing cost effective book reading / playback devices and systems, their ‘Buddy player’ the world’s cheapest DTB Player. They are promoting the use of standards in book production process (DAISY standards provide maximum accessibility for all).They are also accumulating all content prepared in accessible formats (such as audio, Braille & e-text) throughout the country and abroad.
Next presentation was made by Mr. Ashok Rawal from Rare World Technologies, Ujjain about the FarmSoft which has enabled backward integration of the supply chain management process for a contract farming company covering all its field activities. It is a mobile-based application used by field workers, who can collect almost every information from the farmer. This includes personal details, sowing pattern for the season, inventory, seed, fertiliser management, etc. The users are trained to overcome their lack of computer literacy and for the using the application. Contract farming activity by its very nature is a widespread activity and data collected earlier was being provided manually in hand-written formats. The solution offered applications over a hand-held device that helped the digitisation of data at the grassroots level.
With the rapid spread of the internet in India, Ali Yavar Jung National Institute For The Hearing Handicapped (AYJNIHH) has developed an Online Hearing Screening to ascertain whether or not someone requires hearing. Mr. P J Mathew Martin Co-investigator of the research told that it was launched in December ’06 and is the first and only website in itself in India. This wallenging task. Mr. Dipendra Manocha from eb based programme is one of its kind which will facilitate screening for hearing of any age group and provides information on the places where facilities are available for further diagnosis and intervention for the same. The main objective of this project is to adopt, design, and device the information technology to reach out to all, in terms of screening, professional guidance and referral services for professional help in India. The report generation facility designed through computerized calculations and logic after screening aims to provide the user with the knowledge of his/her hearing sensitivity. The project also aims to check the utility of the website devised and designed. The users of the website are also given further solution through referral service facility with a provision to upgrade the referral system.
Another example of localization was presented by Mr. Ravishankar Shrivastava the KDE Chhattisgarhi project aimed to remove Digital Divide from native Chhattisgarhi speaking people of Chhattisgarh. With this users need not know English language to work on computer anymore. Chhattisgarhi KDE 4.2 Program Suite is a localization project aimed to remove digital divide from native Chhattisgarhi speaking people of Chhattisgarh state in India. More than 100,000 strings of KDE 4.2 had been translated in to Chhattisgarhi. The Chhattisgarhi-localized applications are available for Linux, Unix, Windows, and Mac. It is a first of its kind applications suite for the Windows platform, in any Indian regional language. The applications suite will allows users not knowing the English language surf Internet, email, work on office suite, and play games in their native Chhattisgarhi language.
A presentation on bringing Indian languages on the global map through making computational translation easier was held. Prof. Pushpak Bhattacharya from CFILT, IIT Bombay through his presentation encouraged a bit of research that revealed more about WordNets in general and the Hindi WordNet in particular. Simply put, WordNets are vocabulary databases. Based on the concept of the English WordNet, the Hindi WordNet is a system for bringing together different lexical and semantic relations between Hindi words. The ultimate goal of Wordnet is to capture words of all Indian languages, facilitate translations and help in creating better Indian language search engines.
Next presentation was by Mr. Md. Abdul Wahed Tomal, CEO www.comjagat.com, he said this portal has given an unique platform for the IT companies and SMEs to creat a organizational profile page in Bangla, which is actually enriching the local content in the Internet. And there exists no such Bangla Content Management System which allow user to archive all types of content free of cost and gives option for customized searching. This is the first and only complete IT portal in Bangladesh that contains all the archive of its print magazine and all the contents has customized searchable option both Bangla and English.This portal gives the opportunity to the user to publish latest ICT news to the portal of their own through SMS from anywhere in Bangladesh.
The Peer Water Exchange (PWX – www.peerwater.org) – an online platform to foster collaboration, raise funding for high-potential projects, and share experience and project data – is Blue Planet Run’s answer to this challenge. Mr.Rajseh Shah creator & head of PWX has given the light on, what global online network aims to: It connect people working on water and sanitation projects at the grassroots level to the other actors in order to empower their initiatives and increase capacity through a collaborative process of peer review and project monitoring. It generate an open, growing database of sustainable water solutions, including project descriptions, challenges, impact, and lessons learned in order to promote replication, success, and increased funding. Also leverage information among funders, researchers, scientists, and service providers in order to increase the cost effectiveness and sustainability of providing safe water for all.
Message in-a-box: Tools and tactics for communicating your cause is a set of strategic guides to using communications tools for social change, together with a suite of open source tools to get you making your own media, presented by Mr. Allan Stanley from Tactical Technology Collective India. The toolkit is designed for small and medium-sized NGOs, advocates, and citizen journalists to help them create and distribute content for their advocacy efforts while exploring the constantly evolving world of campaigning and communications. Message in-a-box provides accessible and effective training materials on selected free software tools and web applications with a focus on giving people what they need to know in order to create and distribute content. The materials cover print publishing, using images, internet, audio, video and mobile phones. Despite the fact that these tools are free, there are still obstacles to NGOs using them effectively to make a difference to the marginalised communities they are working with.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
The session was concluded with the discussion on what exercises like the Manthan Awards reveal is the sheer number of great ideas out there in the field of digital inclusion. The unlikeliest people from the unlikeliest part of the country come up with digital solutions that can touch millions of rural and urban people. And because their ideas are digital they don’t need machineries, factories, licenses, assembly lines, supply chains or human resource departments. All they need is sometimes a stage on which to talk about their ideas and find believers. These were the thoughts shared in the social inclusion and localization session by Dr. Arun Mehta, Mr. VK Madhavan, and the practitioners present there.
Session was adjourned at 5:30pm, with many of the people networked to the practitioners of the similar idea that would leverage the efforts they are doing in the same arena. Mr. Tomal from Bangladesh has purposed to Mr. Allan Stanley to mutually work in the area of youth empowerment.
Name of the Session : DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES & PRESERVATION OF CULTURE & HERITAGE
Date: 19th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 2)
Time: 2:00 AM- 4:30 PM
About the session: This session looked into some of the best in terms of what is happening across the country on how local culture heritage and entertainment is reaching out through the digital content and medium. This provided for an opportunity on deliberating how we can globalize the national treasure of culture, heritage, tourism and local entertainment. About 30-40 persons attended the session in all.
Chairperson: Mr. Rajen Varada, Resource Person, UN Solution Exchange
Moderator: Mr. Sidin Vadukut, Managing Editor of LiveMint.com
List of Presenters:
- Grassroutes, Grassroutes, Mysore, Karnataka, INDIA – Mr. Keerthikiran K
- MAM Movies, MAM Movies, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, INDIA –Mr. Madhusudan Agrawal
- MyWebERA, MyWebERA, Kolkata, West Bengal, INDIA – Mr. Surjyadeb Goswami
- BurialsInindia.net, Computax Consultants, Kolkata, West Bengal, INDIA – Mr. Arijit Mitra
The session was managed jointly by the two grand jurors of the Manthan Award South Asia 2009, Mr. Rajen Varada and Mr. Sidin Vadukut; Mr. Rajen started the session with the opening remarks -“Digital technologies and the Internet are opening the door to new forms of expression, changing the roles played by cultural institutions, and placing the audience and user increasingly center stage” the session saw 4 wonderful and lively presentations from organisations and individuals who are working day and night to use the digital media in preserving the national treasure of culture, heritage, tourism and local entertainment. He then dutifully called on everybody to respect the slotted time limit and called on the first presenter.
The session was managed jointly by the two grand jurors Mr. Rajen and Mr. Sidin; Mr. Rajen started the session with the opening remarks -“Digital technologies and the Internet are opening the door to new forms of expression, changing the roles played by cultural institutions, and placing the audience and user increasingly center stage” the session saw 4 wonderful and lively presentations from organisations and individuals who are working day and night to use the digital media in preserving the national treasure of culture, heritage, tourism and local entertainment.
The first presenter was Mr. Keerthikaran K, from Grassroutes.in, a fellowship programme for youth which encourages them to go on road trips across rural India to help and work with local organisations to create significant impact at the grassroots. He explained that the one year old programme started by students from BITS, Pilani; packaged the trips into stories in the form of travelogues, photos, photo essays, blogs, etc. and took them to public forums like Facebook, Twitter, etc. for the world to see. Grassroutes is passionate about bringing people together and sharing experiences that enrich lives. Our philosophy is founded on respect – for the environment, the culture and the community. Grassroutes provide opportunities for travellers to engage with local communities by working in partnership with the people whose lives; stories and experiences make our authentic journeys so unique. Grassroutes fosters positive and effective communication to bridge boundaries and open up possibilities.
Next, Mr. Madhusudan Agarwal from MAM Movies presented his unique approach to philanthropy. MAM Movies brings out and showcases untold stories of unlikely, everyday heroes to the mainstream, with the sole purpose of positive mood building. Mr. Agarwal emphasised that this project was a non-profit venture relying totally on voluntary contributions. He also highlighted a few of the pivotal projects the organisation has undertaken in the past including the “I am the Change” film project, which had 101 filmmakers making 101 short films on 101 social causes; and the “She Creates” film project which focussed on empowering rural and underprivileged women as Citizen Journalists. A community of young filmmakers and artists, who use media, the arts and technology to inform, inspire and empower others to create positive action in the world.
MyWebEra, a web portal launched on August 15, 2008 focussing on building an online platform for creativity in the fields of painting, animation and gaming; was the next organisation to present. Its founder Mr. Surjyadeb Goswami explained how the portal is open to all users and nurtures the young talent of children through reaching animation and art schools across India, and organising competitions from time to time. MyWebERA is a product from Chennai based start-up with three of its online entities is providing a platform for not just to create their your own community, write blogs and network with friends across the globe, but to ’share’ their own creations and share it with other users of same interest be it Gaming, Animation or Art/Painting. Gamers/ games developers can upload their own games to get appreciation or boo from other users, similarly Animators and painters can share their creations to share it online with viewers all around the web. One can also sell their creations i.e. designed games, paintings. or animations online with desired price and at the same time brush up their skills via interacting with gamers, painters and animators across the globe & gain more exposure to your like minded people.
Lastly, Mr. Arijit Mitra presented his project- a web portal called Burialsinindia.net, which keeps a record of all the graves in all the cemeteries in the city of Kolkata. He emphasised the importance of the portal as a track of the Anglo-Indian history of the city and enabling several commoners to locate and pay homage to their departed ancestors. He also added that it also serves as an e-commerce gateway for enhancing “graveyard tourism.” Mr. Mitra stated that he had plans to venture into other towns and cities of India after finishing his job in Kolkata. Soon, a click of the mouse will reveal the exact location of a grave in the major cemeteries of Kolkata. The process of digitizing records of more than 100,000 burials and 20,000 graves has begun .Once the process is completed, Europeans can easily find out where their ancestors who were part of the British East India Company are buried. Then, not only would Europeans love to visit the tombs of their ancestors, but even domestic tourists may like to see the last resting places of their dear ones. Over 2 million Europeans are buried in India. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission takes care of four cemeteries in the east, including the one in Kohima. There are many more cemeteries here like the old Scottish Cemetery which are in a bad shape. “The British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia (BACSA) has tied up with Computax Consultants to digitise the Bhowanipore Burial Registers”
Recommendations & Suggestions:
In conclusion, Mr. Sidin Vadukut, the stand-in Chairperson summed up the session by appreciating the efforts of these organisations in preserving the culture of the region and urging more people to do the same. He said ”The Internet and digital media have an impact on how artists and culture-makers express themselves, how our cultural heritage is presented and made accessible, how libraries make information accessible to the public, and how the media present the news, public debate and culture”. He, however, also added that there is a difference between preserving and promoting culture, which the current users of digital content have to understand.
Inauguration of ‘ICT Mela Connecting Masses’ (Exhibition)
The Manthan Award South Asia 2009 also saw a two day exhibition where about 55 exhibitors showcased their products and services in various stalls. Elaborating the purpose behind the showcasing, Osama Manzar, the Manthan Award South Asia Chairman says, “Showcasing is also one of the ways to bring good innovations and practices from the remote areas to the wider world and in front of media, that’s why we organize this exhibition per year as another way of encouraging Manthan fraternity apart from the Manthan Award Gala.”
The exhibition saw constant footfalls during both the days. More than 700 people had a look at the various stalls up and enquired from the stall owners about products and services they are showcasing and also about their others activities. So it was a meaningful niche show where the best of ICT4D community converged and had a first hand look on the latest ICT innovative practices and happenings in the sector.
Many private companies also saw this opportunity to showcase their works to a direct and readymade audience and participated in a very enthusiastic manner. Some of the prominent companies to showcase were – NokiaSiemensNetworks, Intel, edurite, nComputing, Oracle, nCode Solutions, besides loads of other names. Many state governments also put up their stalls to showcase what they were doing in IT enablement in their regions in their respective pavilions. Govt. of MP, Govt. of Rajasthan, Govt. of Bihar, Govt. of Odisha were the prominent ones to display at this year’s exhibition named ‘ICT Mela Connecting Masses’. Following are some of the snapshots from this two day ICT Mela.
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