Pick a Free OS

User login


Report from the IT and Empowerment conference, India

grass-roots NGOs -- begin addressing the challenge and possibilities of IT

and the Net," Sood said.

"Given its mix of good IT skills and yet poor human development indices,

India has a lot of responsibility towards the rest of the developing world

in exploring such new IT frontiers," said Sood.

At a time when over 100 FM radio licenses have been issued in the country,

commercial and community radio can help overcome the "last mile" problem by

facilitating Internet access via facilities at the radio station. Elsewhere

in South Asia, a rural community initiative in Kothmale in Sri Lanka uses

community radio as a bridging device to facilitate online information flow

to rural communities; sites like InterWorldRadio.org also provide online

content for use by radio stations.

"The Net can help NGOs in communicating across borders and time zones, and

also assist in coordinating projects. NGO Web sites can give their funders

direct access to accounting and activity information," said K. Gurumurthy,

consultant at e-finance services company iFlexSolutions.com (formerly

called CITIL).

Successful and timely project management for IT ventures will be key

concerns for NGOs, he said.

Everybody is entering villages today with computers - companies, government

agencies, research groups, and NGOs, observed Sunil Abraham of

Bangalore-based Web solutions firm IndiaCares.org, which designs Web sites

for NGOs free of cost.

While providing local training in IT skills will entail significant

resources, several experiments (like NIIT's observation of learned surfing

behavior among slum kids) show that many of these skills can be refined


Device and costs need to come down; donations of older and used PCs by

Indian corporates and software companies could play a significant role

here. "Unfortunately, because of legal loopholes, the Software Technology

Parks of India are not allowed to donate their older machines to NGOs. This

needs to be changed," Abraham urged.

Organizations like WorldComputerExchange.org are playing a prominent role

in this regard, by re-circulating used PCs.

As for citizens' rights to information, the Net can be a democraticising

medium, said Bangalore-based advocate Lawrence Liang, who runs a law site

called IndiaLawInfo.com.