Friday, February 25, 2005

Farmers' information needs... from NAARM

Dr D. Rama Rao, Head, ICM Division, National Academy of Agriculture Research Management (NAARM) or at this site in Rajendranagar at Hyderabad - 500 030 [Ph: 04-24015394 and Fax: 040-24015912] tells about a project being run in association with Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) and Society for Women Education and Environmental Training (SWEET). It's in Gujja village, Narayanpur Mandal, Nalgonda Dist, AP. Goals include to assess the farmers information needs relevant to internet and build a system using ICT in agriculture technology dissemination for problem solving. Quote from Dr Rama Rao: In phase one, the information needs will be identified through an intense consultation with key informants in the selected village. It will examine, briefly, the current situation and developments in information and knowledge systems. It will also present an initial concise framework for further action. In phase two, local experiences, expectations and the information needs will be acquired, adding rich local content and concrete examples where possible. A workshop will be organised with all stakeholders and contributors, in which the broad set of information will be discussed and the framework will be validated. Endquote

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

What's Jagriti about?

An interesting site Jagriti which describes itself thus: " Jagriti is a platform for application of Information Technology for the masses, with special focus on the needs of rural areas.It aims at deployment of IT Enabled Services for education, agricultural information, health, e-governance and other location-specific needs. Jagriti e-Sewa conducts studies in rural and semi urban areas about the services/product needs of these areas. These studies are conducted by Jagriti on its own or are sponsored through Academic/Research Institutes. If the studies indicate a positive contribution to the lifestyles and economy of these areas, the identified services/products are included in the Jagriti e-Sewa model." Looks neat from a distance! Also runs on GNU/Linux and Free Software.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

BytesForAll: Can IT be relevant to the poor?

BytesForAll: Can IT be relevant to the poor? An interesting update from my friend Niklas Vainio with some relevant insights into Free/Libre and Open Source Software and India. See it at this blog.
At the moment, India is a “net taker” in the open source movement, but in few years it should become a “net giver". Dr. Phatak is currently running a program to get computer science students involved in open source development.
Third day was the most interesting for me. Jitendra Shah spoke about his Janabhaaraati Live CD with localized software. He said a couple of things I hadn’t thought about the use of IT in government offices. For government use, you need: Indian language support, office tools, printing, network, communication utilities, document management, search in Indian languages, name translitteration, GIS and low-cost support (can IBM/Red Hat/Novell do that?). The most interesting session was an ad-hoc session right after the official program about why Open Source still hasn’t gotten off in India yet. This session had the most discussion and argumentation, about piracy vs. free software etc. Somebody from the audience criticized David Axmark (of MySQL) that it’s easy for him to develop software and give it away since he’s from a social democracy. On one hand it’s very true that FLOSS has hidden assumptions on the background of the free software hacker. A large part of free software is software somebody wrote on their free time. Not everybody can afford that. On the other hand, freedom of the software is part of the strategy of MySQL - it wouldn’t have become so great piece of software if it hasn’t been free. Same applies to Linux, gcc, KDE, Firefox and many others.

Indian rail info goes mobile

Send out an SMS saying TRAIN to the number 676747 or type RAILWAY and send it to 7886 for information on * your ticket's PNR status * accomodation available * time table * trains between two stations * train running status * train delay update. This SMS enquiry on 676747 is available on Airtel, IDEA, BPL and the MTNL networks. SMS enquiry on 7886 is available on Airtel, Hutch (Orange), BPL and BSNL networks. For more info newspaper ads promised info on this indrail SMS site. But there was a problem in getting through. The main indrail site works though.