Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Baramati 10:29 March 9, 2006

I've lost all sense of time, but my mobile phone (which fortunately works 800 kms away from home) tells me it's 10:29 am on March 9, 2006. Have reached Baramati... after many years.

Later today, the 6th Annual Baramati Initiative on ICT and Development (focussing on The Potential of e-Agriculture) gets underway at this rural, but education-oriented island two hours away from Pune in Central India.

On reaching, I couldn't recognise the place. It has been a return to Baramati after five (or is it six?) years. The place has greened in the meanwhile... while this diarist has greyed ;-) Another change: bandwidth has improved considerably here. I could have been in some part of metropolitan India at these speeds. And so has the Baramati knowledge of GNU/Linux and free software. When I was struggling to get onto the wireless network (I'm no techie, as you know) a staff member from the institute helped me in a few minutes to get online. Despite the fact that they're more into Red Hat and this is Mandrake. (I prefer the volunteer-crafted Debian, but the student supporting me has installed Mandrake on my laptop, and there's no arguing with him!)

Instead of spending the day at Pune, I thought of bussing it down to Baramati, in the rugged, rough but fairly efficient and functional bus service that connects this state of 96 million (Indian sizes tend to be huge, except perhaps that of my home state, Goa, 1.4 million!). And as I look at the Wikipedia for the background figure on Baramati, I find that Kerala, another Indian state not far from Goa to the south, is featured on the home-page at today.

The actual event opens tomorrow, Friday, March 10. Among other things, there's a report launch on 'e-Agriculture: Empowering India', talks, a field trip to a sugar-cooperative (this is the heart of Indian sugarland), and more. Given bandwidth, I hope to keep you updated with inputs. Let's see how it goes.

As the students talk about organising (mainly) the event and technology (a bit, amidst all the bustle today) in Marathi (the local language) and Hindi (India's national language, but not uniformly understood across the country), it's nice that we had to learn a bit of either in school -- so one can understand what's going on... and even converse. What's also interesting is the high rate of women participation among students here. But will they be able to break the glass ceiling over time? -- ---------------------------------------------------------- Frederick 'FN' Noronha | Yahoomessenger: fredericknoronha | Independent Journalist | +91(832)2409490 Cell 9822122436 Currently blogging from Baramati on the 6th Annual Baramati Initiative ICT&Development "The Potential of e-Agriculture" See ----------------------------------------------------------