This report is presented as received by IDRC from project recipient(s).
It has not been subjected to peer review or other review processes. This work is used with the permission of M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation. © 2004, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation.
Impact of ICTs in Rural Areas (India) Phase II – Information Village Research Project
supported by International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Canada
implemented by M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) Terminal Report [2000-2004]
As momentum builds up around the globe for debating and directing the future of ICTs in society, a key concern that cannot be ignored is the fate of the world’s villages, especially in developing countries, where most of the human population lives. What are some notable success stories on this front? What has been their guiding vision and evolving infrastructure? How can these lessons be captured, exchanged and multiplied?
This terminal report is an attempt to tell the story of the Rural Knowledge Centres [RKCs], its human face, evolutionary path, future directions, trials and tribulations. It is a work in progress, and will undoubtedly evolve as the story of this bold and inspiring human adventure unfolds. How has ICT-blended development impacted the lives of the rural poor? Can such experiments survive after seed donor funding has dried up? What knowledge assets can be created, exchanged and leveraged by rural communities? Why are such knowledge-intensive experiments so few in number around the world? How can policymakers and local community stakeholders sustain this experiment? This terminal report attempts to address a wide range of these critical issues.
Technological divide has been an important factor in enlarging the rich-poor divide both among and within nations since the onset of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. With explosive progress in many areas of technology, like information, space, bio- and nano-technology, this divide is increasing. The challenge now is to enlist technology as an ally in the movement for economic, social and gender equity. Therefore, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation [MSSRF] chose the imparting of a pro-nature, pro-poor and pro-women orientation to technology
development and dissemination as its main mandate when it started functioning in Chennai in 1989.
The foundation launched a series of annual inter-disciplinary dialogues on ICT-enabled development from 1990 onwards, titled “New Technologies: Reaching the Unreached”. The first dialogue in this series was related to biotechnology. The recommendations made at this dialogue resulted in the organisation of the Biovillages initiative.
MSSRF held an Interdisciplinary Dialogue on Information Technology: Reaching the Unreached [Annexure 1] in January 1992 with the support of International Development Research Centre [IDRC], United Nations Development Programme [UNDP], Department of Space, Govt. of India, International Tropical Timber Organisation [ITTO] and Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology [CAPART]. The dialogue output made it clear the future of food security in the developing world especially South Asia is dependent less on resource intensive agriculture and more on knowledge intensity. In the coming years, agriculture will have to be developed as an effective instrument for creating more income, jobs and food and such a paradigm of sustainable agriculture will be both knowledge and skill intensive. The key step in the use of ICTs in sustainable agricultural and rural development is the value addition made to generic information to render it locale specific. It is on the latter that the rural families, particularly the marginal farmers and the assetless can act on to improve productivity of labour and inputs.
It took a while before we could actually move forward to test our ideas on what intelligent and innovative application of ICTs can do in rural development. We went through the route of testing the impact modern biology could have on rural livelihood, largely thanks to the life-long interest of Prof. M S Swaminathan in biology. We set up several ‘biovillages’ and worked closely with the rural population in the villages of Pondicherry. On hindsight, we realize how valuable this experience was. It is through the ‘biovillage’ project that the foundation staff and the rural communities came to know each other well.
The biovillage programme [Annexure 2] helps the villagers use the available resources in a sustainable way as an additional source of income by using biological tools. Some of the biovillage activities are: Fish pond, mushroom cultivation, paper and board from banana waste, rain water harvesting, cultivation of pulses, ornamental fish growing, using water from the
fishpond as manure for the coconut, hybrid seed production, trichograma (biopesticide), fodder and dairy. The main aim of these activities is to stop degradation of existing resource base.
From a Small Beginning
MSSRF – IDRC Information Village Research Project was designed as a test bed for research into how information and communication technologies could be used in rural development.
This project was launched in January 1998 in the Union Territory of Pondicherry with the support of IDRC, Canada, and the first phase came to a close in June 2000. The second phase of the project commenced in February 2001 and came to a close in July 2004. The second phase supported by both IDRC and CIDA. During the interim period, funds from the Ford Foundation grant came in handy to sustain the project activities. We have also used Ford Foundation funds to upgrade our communication technologies in some villages.
The entire project is based on community ownership of technological tools as distinct from personal or family ownership and it encourages collective action for empowering communities.
Information needs assessment
Initially we have conducted two surveys: One is related to information linkages in the rural areas and the other is on the reach of electronic media.
To get a clear picture of the state of existing communication habits and channels in the rural areas, especially among the poorer households, we conducted detailed survey covering 10% of the resident families in the proposed area of coverage in 1998. The predominant sources of information are the local shopkeeper, the market place, and the input supplier. A very considerable amount of information transaction takes place between the rural poor households and this also acts as a primary source of information [Annexure 3].
From our earlier research in 11 villages, we found that reach of electronic media, especially television, is reasonably high when one considers the prevalence of poverty in the villages surveyed. They do not have even 1 phone per 500 people [Annexure 4].
We also collected information through surveys on district and village profiles, economic activity, maps, information needs, education levels and institutes, healthcare, quality of life, information disseminators (primary and secondary), infrastructure, local interaction patterns, problems of
landless laborers, self help group market needs, traditional helath practicioner, artisans and small merchants, and profiles of underprivileged communities [Annexure 5].
Hub and Spokes Model
The Village Knowledge Centres are connected in a hub and spokes model with Villianur as the hub [Annexure 6]. Our project staff operates this. Our field experience shows that community ownership and participation are necessary conditions for success.
Setting up of these Village Knowledge Centres was preceded by large-scale consultation with the local communities. Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) [Annexure 7] was used as a method to identify information needs of the community. PRA was also used to assess how far the community was willing to go in operationalising the local centre, by way of making in-kind or cash contributions. This was also used in the identification of a group of individuals who would be consensually chosen by the community for managing the local centre. In each case, the community provided an accessible rent-free building, electricity and volunteers, many of them women. The project provided all the needed equipment and training and helped in collecting data. The project pays NO money to the volunteers. The rural community has a sense of ownership.
The following rural knowledge centres are established during Phases I and II with the help of IDRC, CIDA, Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of Pondicherry and Volkart Foundation with different models.
Type of Village
Block Development Head Quarters
Private House owner & Village Voluntary Organisation
Women Self Help Group
Agricultural and Milk Production Village
Public temple room
Volunteers selected by traditional panchayat
Panchayat [Village Council] building
Temple Trust and Grampanchayat
Agricultural and Horticultural village Biocentre (Hub of the Biovillage Programme set up by M S Swaminathan Research Foundation)
Public Temple room
Own building of MS Swaminathan Research Foundation
Agricultural labourers village Agricultural and Milk Production Village
Govt. TV Room
Part of the Noon Meal programme Room
Volunteers selected by traditional panchayat
Volunteers selected by traditional panchayat
Socially underprivileged people – Laborers
Volunteers selected by traditional panchayat
Panchayat [Village Council] building
The interface is capable of generating ring voltage needed for the telephone instruments to generate the ring tone.Three knowledge centres [not used in the table] were closed due to irregular operation hours. With the combination of two units of GM300 with the suitable interface board of ST869 in full duplex mode. the maximum speed is only 4.’
Initially. security forces in large campuses. The entire village community – men and women.
Though the range for this wireless channel is up to 20 km across 360 degrees. landed gentry and the landless. We adopted a policy of ‘inclusiveness. With the help of the interface board.8 Kbps and messages could be sent only sequentially. It can store up to 4000 subscribers ID for selective calling. we can combine both Rx & Tx GM300 radio and convert as a loop line interface. discrimination against socially underprivileged people. we can add the intelligent controller to the subscriber in full duplex mode. The controller with two Motorola GM300 base radio makes as a full duplex single channel controller with the capability to connect two telephone inputs. e.
. the walkie-talkie used by police. The intelligent controller of twochannel network. army.g. This loop line can be connected to the Exchange or to a simple telephone. and not donor and recipient. road constructors. This technology is different from telephones in that the two parties cannot speak at the same time. The controller does the primary switching with EPABX/PSDN and diverts the call to the selective subscriber unit. noticeable damage to equipment and attempts made to appropriate the centre’s property using political power. communication links for the RKC network were based on Motorola VHF Business Radios. The interface also has an intelligent system to scan 15 channels.
The subscriber unit is based on Motorola GM300 and GP300. railways. port authorities. The VHF design is based on two major components. etc. capable of interfacing with telephone line is full duplex operation.
The project was participatory right from day one.
The VHF technology is normally used for one-way communication. educated and the illiterate – was consulted and involved. The relation between MSSRF and the village community is one of partnership in progress. Using GM300 and ST869 interface board we have enhanced VHF technology into two-way communication.
The new node. we examined the possibility of using other technologies such as Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA). as each of them recognises that there is just one Ethernet. Spread Spectrum technology allows operation without a license with an output power of up to 23 dBm at speeds up to 11 Mbps (mega-bits per second).4835 GHz.
Coverage distance is 22 km. The radios can be set to operate in either Bridge mode or Router mode. This unique network topology can also be used to provide broadband Internet access by a Service Provider or to interconnect multiple nodes in a private network.
.To overcome these disadvantages. a node at a time. New nodes can be added at any time with the sole requirement that they must have line of sight connectivity to another node already on the VINE. Thirukanchipet. once attached. any station connected to the LAN can see any other station connected to all the other LANs at the remote sites..
The VIP 110-24 is the building block of the UC Wireless proprietary “VINE” Network topology.
The VIP 110-24 is a spread spectrum transceiver that implements the VINE protocol. Periyakalapet. becomes a potential attaching point for other nodes. Koonichampet.400 GHz to 2. Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) combined with Wireless in the Local Loop and Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS). creating a virtual single network. Embalam. After several discussions with experts and analyzing topography maps. but the signal travels only point-to-point and not 360 degrees. particularly inability to transmit large volume of data. into a very large and complex wireless network. In bridge mode. Veerampattinam. No special configuration of the user stations is necessary.
The VINE technology allows a complete wireless network to start with as little as two radios. and gradually grows. we chose Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum technology provided by UC Wireless Inc.
At present six centres viz. The VIP 110-24 is used to interconnect Ethernet LANs (Local Area Networks) and WANs (Wide Area Networks) across large distances. and line speed is much higher with this technology (theoretically 11 Mbps). The radio includes a 10/100 Base T Ethernet port for connection to the Local Area Network (LAN). Nallavadu and Kalitheerthalkuppam are connected with Villianur through Spread Spectrum.
The VIP 110-24 is a spread spectrum radio operating in the “Industrial Scientific and Medical” (ISM) band from 2. We also tested World Space Radio Satellite communication.
we have KU band satellite based Internet connectivity (64 kbps) to our hub at Villianur. Since 2002. one-way communication and short battery life. Larger files were transferred via CD initially.
Many of the databases related to Information Village Research Project are created in the Informatics Division of MSSRF in Chennai. is employed by these institutions. Internet Broadcasting System and Reporting Terminal Experiment with the support of Space Application Centre (SAC).
Fishermen for emergency communications also tried the hand-held Reporting Terminal..
Video conferencing facility is available in all the Spread Spectrum villages.
Now the Veeranam drinking water project (State Government of Tamil Nadu drinking water project) and Neyveli Lignite Corporation (Central Government Mine) have adopted VHF technology after several discussions with our staff. often used for military applications. an experiment in 2001 with Internet broadcasting via the Space Application Centre did not work out due to problems in Internet and satellite connectivity.
Two other technologies were also tested. viz. Smaller files are transferred from Chennai to Pondicherry as email attachments. but there were problems with the heavy weight of the terminals.
Incidentally M/s V Link the company that helped us install these technologies in IVRP.
KU Band Satellite Based Internet Connectivity
Till 2001 the hub was getting Internet connection through three dial up accounts. Ahmedabad.
We use these new technological tools in our effort to bridge the social and economic divide between the haves and have-nots. But the Internet connection is very slow. This Internet connection has been distributed through Spread Spectrum to six villages.
EID Parry (a Private Company) has adopted Spread Spectrum Technology.Poornangkuppam.
. Kizhur and Pillayarkuppam are connected with Villianur through VHF duplex radio.
sanitation. government entitlements.
A key focus was achievable and understandable outcomes: after all.
As per the information assessment surveys.
. "harvesting is believing. healthcare. employment news. market prices. language-sensitive and time-sensitive. and a breeding ground for new entrepreneurs and innovators." The information value adders were trained to ensure that the information products were ideally suited for consumption by rural communities: for instance. Based on the requirement of the local community. exhanging and dissemination of locally relevant knowledge in the local language.
In addition to basic information about agriculture. rural yellow pages. extensive consultations were held with the participating village communities through small group meetings. to fulfill the specific information needs of the local communities. weather including wave height alerts for fisher folk. by rephrasing complex technical jargon into simpler terms. rural technologies. we developed several databases [Annexure 8] to fulfill their requirements. Prior to commencing content-building activity. The RKC was also visualised as a source of information and learning about alternative employment. The Intranet Web page includes the information on local happenings. food prices and education. the content services were designed to be contextsensitive. events. employment. for farmers. recipes. education.
The value addition centre in Villianur generated a number of databases. livestock information. agriculture techniques. and ranged from agriculture and aquaculture to animal health and meteorology. some were also trained to convert research inputs from villagers into more structured and validated forms for research organisations and policymakers. audio clips related to agriculture. government schemes. These are frequently updated. Conversely.Content
Creation and updating of relevant content to suit local needs is a key factor in the programme. A considerable part of information is accessed from the local sources. Codex Alimentarius information for different crops. archiving. surveys indicated that rural communities would also be interested in information services about government financial schemes for the poor. nutrition. Our attempts to use ICTs to satisfy such information needs of the poor ensured that the RKCs would become the hub of generating. questions and answers section. health [both human and animal].
Coir rope making. vegetables in the regulated markets and also the stock availability of bio fertilizers. and bring these two together to reap maximum synergy. Passenger van. Soda/cold beverages/ice cream manufacturing. Ice blocks. Leather products. Mud block making/construction activity.navy. Muslim and Christians. training scheme. Agarbathi & candles.accuweather. cereal and commercial crops – cotton. Battery operated vehicles. Printing & binding/stationeries. Handicrafts. Floriculture. Poultry. We are handling a mix of technologies and the mix has to be smart enough to meet our objectives.The hub provides the market intelligence of various commodities. We also need to train the local volunteers in their use. Fish drying (solar dryer) and Renewable energy works.
[http://www. and seeds in Pondicherry Agro Service and Industrial Corportaion godowns.
Department of Police has provided information on fundamental rights of women. Restaurant/Tiffin centre. Goat rearing.com. as they say.org] to the both farming and fishing community. Vermi composting. Horses for courses. Madagadipet and Kanniakoil.
District Rural Development Agency disseminates / and provides the loan to Self Help Groups to start the following low cost micro-enterprises through RKC. pulses. Fish vending. Milch animal. bio pesticides. wave height
http://edition.regionalmetrological..navo. groundnut etc. schemes of National Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Finance & Development Corporation and non-banking loan cum subsidy schemes to RKC.com].cnn. Vadagam products. We have an open mind on technology. In the beginning we started with
. On day-to-day basis we provide the information on price index on paddy.mil] and agro advisory bulletin [http://imdagrimet..
Based on Dalit [socially underprivileged people] community needs Adidravidar Development Corporation Ltd.
Based on six years Rural Knowledge Centres experience we learnt to use the right technology to achieve specific goals. for three regulated markets – Thattanchavadi. Departmental store. consumer rights and the marriage acts for Hindu. Milk parlor. Floriculture. Horticulture. Food preservation.com/weather/asia.
information [http://www. Mushroom cultivation. Pondicherry provides the information on loan cum subsidy and margin money scheme. Tailoring. Mat weaving. Repacking of grocery. Thus we manage social mobilization on the one hand and technology management on the other. Information kiosk.
The impact of our Knowledge Centres improved dramatically when we launched a twice-monthly newsletter called "Nammavur Seithi" [News of our village] [Annexure 9] in February 2002. Those who did not know about the knowledge centres came to the centres in large numbers and wanted to use the services provided. We encouraged villagers to write articles about several issues. Government officials. The village children also submit several drawings and articles. The information requirements in these villages are different and more focused on the safety of fisherman while at sea and on fish occurrence near shore. employment news. We broadcast the interpreted information through a Public Address System for the benefit of fishermen.
Public Address System
Three of our village knowledge centres are coastal villages with 98% of the families involved in fishing. NGOs and private companies are also providing much useful information regularly. These villages also receive information on wave heights 48 hours in advance. fish market details. news along with regular newspapers. Some people told they had only heard about "Kamadhenu" (the mythical cow that gives whatever one wants). Many villagers find our newspaper refreshingly different from the commercial newspapers and magazines that devote considerable space to news about crime and violence. And the latest and most advanced technology may not be relevant to local needs. we received more than 60 calls.
. politics.somewhat high-end technologies such as interconnected computers and communication technologies. departments and All India Radio have included “Nammavur Seithi” for dissemination of govt.
The impact of this newspaper has exceeded our expectations. downloaded from a US Navy web site [Annexure 10]. The newspaper made our knowledge centres better known in the entire Union Territory of Pondicherry. The PA system is also used for announcing various government schemes related to fishermen on a regular basis.
We conduct several writing and drawing competitions for children at village level and selected articles and drawings are published in “Nammavur Seithi”. but now through M S Swaminathan Research Foundation they obtain development news relevant to the community. The govt. We expanded the community newspaper network to 35 villages based on the demand. Within two days of release of the first issue in February 2002. but we found even traditional technologies have an important role to play. We have learned that simply because something is old we need not discard it. We also use blackboards and billboards at our centres to display the latest news and announcements. and international affairs. especially advertising their products and services.
We are also giving training to rural volunteers through newspaper reporters in collecting and presenting information crisply. We provide training in Basic System Maintenance & Trouble shooting to the village volunteers. We have developed a multimedia CD [Annexure 11] giving information on how to start micro enterprises such as soap oil production.
Training and Content Creation of Village Knowledge Centres
We gave training to village volunteers on the use of computers – for typing. Besides they are taking computer classes for students and conduct computer examinations and issue a certificate. and typing college project work. They also explain the importance of repayment of loans received from the banking institutions. formatting pages. fodder cultivation. Most of the rural community does not know about other micro enterprises. The MSSRF’s Biovillage programme and a few individuals have set up several micro enterprises. In the Lok Adalat program people are educated on the judiciary’s roles and responsibilities. data analysis and presentation.distribution of rice. detergent production. coir making and terracotta idols.
. We are using both traditional and modern technologies to spread the information to the villages. kerosene. After the training each village volunteer submitted individual project reports and brochures [Annexure 12]. sugar etc. in the local fair price shops. Banks and Judicial bench use our PA system and community newspaper for spreading the judicial training programme information to the community. statues from soft stone. invitations. pickles from lemon and mango. phenyl production.
In 2003. We also provide screen-printing training to volunteers. We provide this information to other people. Judicial Bench conducted the first Lok Adalat [Makkal Needhi Mandram] in Pondicherry. mushroom cultivation. Now the villagers are doing job work like designing wedding cards. Later we employed a private software company so the villagers could get a certificate. the banks and district rural development agency in Pondicherry mostly provide loans to start dairy units. All the information sent to the hub is collated and transmitted to all the villages.
Multimedia Micro Enterprises Training CD
At present. ornamental artifacts from coconut shells. whom to approach at the time of any legal issues etc.
We also provide Basic English Knowledge training for knowledge workers. Employment. Income generating enterprises. An encouraging development in this regard is that some village knowledge centres create contents related to Agriculture. the villagers recommended the setting up of a powerful lamp on top of the spread spectrum antenna tower.
The question of content creation is crucial to this project. This has enabled the fishermen to see the light from a greater distance even on a misty winter night. Animal Husbandry. normally the fishermen use the lamp on the temple tower as a lighthouse [Annexure 14]. The village residents are most interested in dynamic and customized information. Many volunteers in village RKCs are capable of creating content and make web pages. Even after MSSRF withdraws from the scene they will create the contents on a regular basis and share the information among them. Each report contains the following: • • • • • • • •
Where is the RKC situated? When was it started? Training details What are the equipments available in the RKC? What are the information available and their details? What are the contents they produce? How do they disseminate the information to the villagers? What are the difficulties they faced? Their suggestions
We are also giving training to rural volunteers through newspaper reporters in collecting and presenting information crisply. Education. Now this facility is available for Nallavadu and Periyakalapet also. General information and Environment. thus increasing the safety factor for avoiding rocks close to the shore. This is a resource-intensive activity and has implications for sustainability in view of the potential of involving more locals to create and manage local and customized information content. announcements. Video conferencing
. Govt. Health.
Focusing light & Video Conferencing
In Veerampattinam. After the spread spectrum antenna was set up. which was higher than the village temple tower.From 2002 all the RKCs submitted their annual report [Annexure 13] created by knowledge workers. All the information sent to the hub is collated and transmitted to all the villages.
masons. Based on our experience we found several SHGs were not maintaining the account properly. agricultural equipment rental shops.
Rural Yellow Pages
We have developed rural yellow pages [Annexure 16] for 12 villages with more than 400 different addresses classified into different categories.
Community Banking Software [Self-Help Group Accounting Software]
Self-Help Groups (SHGs) involved in organizing micro-credit arrangements have expressed willingness to pay fees for using PCs and the network to conduct financial transactions. We are working with a number of partners. hospitals. milk societies. electricians. But they may not be sharing the information with other people. viz.
Role of Partners
In every programme.
We have developed accounting software [Annexure 15] for SHGs with the help of District Rural Development Agency and SHGs to keep their accounts regularly and submit the monthly reports to Banks and District Rural Development Agency. thinking that the information may not be important for others or assuming that everybody knows it. carpenters. rural banks. pharmacies. fertilizer shops. This facility is mainly used by the SHGs and students to clear their doubts with officials and experts. one can know who is renting out a tractor and at what price. and helping them in identification of income generating activities and providing the necessary logistic and management support in starting such micro-enterprises. harnessing the power of partnerships is very important. Now the SHGs are scrutinizing their accounts and we are receiving several letters from different SHGs to keep their accounts in the system. It is only through partnership we can bridge the gap between “Scientific know-how” and “Field Level dohow”.facility is available in all the Spread Spectrum connectivity villages.
Sustainable Agriculture & Environmental Voluntary Action (SEVA). maternity health workers. etc. For example. educational and social institutions. During the “Nammavur Seithi” content collection we
. The RKCs help in forming / assisting SHGs at its project sites. Madurai
Many old people have their own traditional knowledge in various fields. and help to link the SHGs with commercial banks for availing financial assistance under the government schemes.
Rajiv Gandhi College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences. particularly in the area of health. pest control methods for agriculture and symptoms and remedies of animal diseases.
These training programmes also covered how to maintain hygiene and sanitation in the cattle shed and the practices and precautions to be followed at the time of mulching an animal and administering the native medicines. first aid practices. fever. preparation of herbal products. They depend on rearing of livestock for their livelihood.
Based on the above need we also conducted training programmes for sharing of ethno veterinary practices with local healers. The increasing cost of maintenance of animals. use of medicinal plants in the preparation of herbal medicine for treating the animals against selected disease and animal feed. People submitted home remedies for cold. It is also significant that majority of the cattle keepers among the
. These will add value to their animal husbandry practices and thereby increase their income level. identification of medicinal plants. Many people told the project staff that they did not know that so much information was available in the village. Madurai. Students also participated in this workshop. as all the resources are available locally.
Nowadays many poor women have access for credit through women groups or through banks. fodder and nutrition. sudden disease outbreak and high cost of allopathic treatment make the livestock rearing activity uneconomical. So far we have collected more than 600 herbal remedies related to human health and animal health.approached village people looking for traditional knowledge. etc. The need for giving training on First aid and Herbal Healing practices for animals is realized. Such low cost and indigenous practices are eco friendly without producing residual toxicity or side effect. Sometimes they are unable to repay the loan amount availed for rearing animals and become defaulters. They found the information very useful and cost effective. Pondicherry
Cattle rearing are a very important occupation for majority of the landless families in the Union Territory of Pondicherry. it will enable the villages to become aware of low cost veterinary practices and simple but very effective sanitation and management practices which will reduce the risk of uncertainties or input cost in animals. ear pain. pain in veins.. preventive treatment for various infectious disease. This will also ensure clean organic production of animal products.
Based on this experience we conducted several interaction meetings with traditional healers [both human and animal health] along with Sustainable Agriculture & Environmental Voluntary Action (SEVA). knowledge of digestive system in animals.
These meetings found the Live stockowners are looking for information on repeat breeding. tick infestation. 73 Kamarajar Nagar. After the attack of Mastitis. proportion of income derived from livestock. household expenditure. which have serious livelihood implications especially for the poor to prevent and treat these diseases. Rajiv Gandhi College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences is carrying out a research project focusing on animal health knowledge dissemination among the landless peri-urban cattle owners. Under the research project the college organizes several stakeholders meetings to know about important diseases of cattle and various extension approaches. MSSRF also participated in the meetings. Kasthuri. She benefited by attending the training at RGV College. deworming. After the attack of mastitis for her animal. Vimala. source of drugs. time to drug supplier and consumer preferences. One cow is a pregnant.
Smt. Sri. We have also collected several success stories. Embalam She is having three cows.
. foot and mouth disease.landless are women. Sri. 4100/. Sivakumar. abortion.through Insurance. primary problems with livestock. They are now giving milk. Balmurugan Nagar. UK have developed touch screen multimedia modules related to cattle health knowledge. which calls for an understanding of the information systems along with the livestock farming systems. sources of advice/help. Kizhur. diarrhoea. Now they have provided two touchscreen computers [Embalam and Koonichampet] along with modules for RKC programme [Annexure 17]. It is common belief in villages that after artificial insemination cows should not be allowed to sit or lie down assuming that the semen will drop out and the animal will not conceive and hence they tie the animal high in such a way that the animals can not sit or lie down. They have also conducted several training programmes for Rural Knowledge Centre villages. bloat. livestock disease problems. W/o. UK have conducted several studies including investment preferences. through the training she has understood that she can claim Rs. maintaining the animal becomes uneconomical. She has also learnt how to feed the animals properly. Boopathi. W/o.
Based on the surveys the college and University of Reading. After attending the training at RGV College she understood that tying up the animal should not be done.
The college and the University of Reading. There are various ways for extension organizations to influence farmer decision-making. She is now feeding her animal with nutritive and balanced feed. mastitis.
Kantha. She has also learnt that the animal has to be fed with Bengal gram to facilitate the animal to come to heat and the importance of de-worming the animals. Mangayarkarasi. nutritive feed. direction and distance from the landing centres / light houses. Kalitheerthalkuppam She is having one cow. when it is in heat. Pooranankuppam During this training. In these meetings we explain different eye diseases.
. Pondicherry. The board displays the information on potential zones of fish aggregation including latitude. So far six volunteers have been given extensive training. examination of school children and prescription of glasses with simple field equipments. she has understood how to feed the animal with balanced.
Potential Fishing Zone Electronic Board. she is now able to cut down the feeding expenses. She has also understood how to prevent the contagious diseases. This training has helped her to understand the proper timing of inseminating. short sight and cataract. W/o Sri. Hyderabad
Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has provided the Potential Fishing Zone (PFZ) electronic bulletin board for Rural Knowledge Centres programme [Annexure 18] (Veerampattinam). depth. prevention and treatments through diagrammatic presentation. An ophthalmology assistant screens the patient records and finalizes the type of treatment and date. Her animals are now healthy and the yield has increased. we organize village level awareness meetings. She has understood that it should be inseminated within 24 hours after the first sign of heat. Now the Hospital provides training for our village knowledge workers on how to identify long sight.
The questionnaire for ophthalmology patients and list of patients who got the treatment are appended [Annexure 19]. Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry
In partnership with Aravind Eye Hospital. longitude. After that the knowledge workers do the survey in the villages and send the electronic patient record in the prescribed format to Aravind Eye Hospital along with the digital photograph of the problematic eye. Thideer nagar.
We also plan to do periodical eye examination for diabetic patients. By following the advise of the veterinarian.Ms. Kaliamoorthi.
Aravind Eye Hospital. V. East Manaveli.
TRC has provided all the education materials [Annexure 20]. especially victimized women. Now MSSRF and Aravind Eye Hospital are in the process of creating interactive course material for teachers and the general public. They offer shelter.
SAGODARI helps the socially exploited women. Stage. Advisories] to us [Annexure 21]. Main crops. with a view to helping the prisoners become computer literate. between the ages of 18 and 43. significant weather forecast. destitute widows. are staying in the organization. women in moral danger and unwed mothers. The centre has kindly started to provide training for village knowledge workers on identifying TB patients. 2002.
Tuberculosis Research Centre. Chennai
Another initiative is to create TB free zones with the help of Tuberculosis Research Centre. the Financial Express published the following news. IMD also provides Tamil Agro Advisory Bulletin. counseling.”
Based on the news we are also thinking of doing something for people in distress.
India Meteorological Department
IMD has been regularly sending ALL INDIA AGROMET ADVISORY BULLETIN [Significant past weather.
Our women staff visited them and found that they need the following. Short Stay Home for Women & Girls. security. such training courses would be introduced in other jails of the state. “The state directorate of prisons started a computer-training course for the inmates of the Bhubaneswar Central Jail. 30 inmates.We have collected some literature related to different eye problems and the information on treatments. This will be helpful for farmers to make their farm plan. affiliated to the International Abolitionist Federation. According to the Orissa Inspector General of prisons Bidya Bhusan Mohanty. •
Computer training because even in a small shop they look for familiarity with computers
. medical care and rehabilitation to women and girls. Chennai. victims of marital and familial discord or emotional disturbances. We contacted “SAGODARI”.
On July 24.
They want us to spread this information extensively through our network.
Now our village volunteers are providing micro enterprises training through VOLONTARIAT as consultants [Annexure 23].• • • •
Training in accounts software Need for good books particularly books on moral values Health related information Information on starting small scale industries. About eight government schools in seven Rural Knowledge Centre villages are covered under this programme. Bangalore
In collaboration with Azim Premji Foundation. We also include the teachers as our resource persons when we organize village level meetings for women to find out about their problems. We also conducted Coconut Farmers Interaction meeting associated with Ariyankuppam Coconut farmers association [Annexure 24].
Department of Health
Department of Health has base level health data collected by auxiliary nurse mid wives working in health centres. Bangalore we have initiated Computer Assisted Learning Centres programme in RKC villages with the help of Department of Education.
Ariyankuppam Coconut Farmers Association
Ariyankuppam Coconut Farmers Association regularly shares their information with our RKCs. It will help them to assess diseases prevailing in the area and take preventative measures [Annexure 25]. After the completion of training the teachers provide training to the women staying in SAGODARI [Annexure 22]. Every day about 70 children participate in the programme. Our aim is that before being discharged each inmate is provided with vocational skills and empowered to face life’s challenges.
Azim Premji Foundation. Pondicherry.
Now we are regularly inviting the teachers of SAGODARI for our micro enterprises training.
. In Villianur we have trained 200 teachers.
We provided a computer to Kalitheerthalkuppam Milk Cooperative Society to maintain the daily milk account and speed up the communication process to the PONLEIT where the milk collected would be sent. We wrote several letters and met with the Director of Art & Culture regarding the linkage of Pondicherry rural libraries to the knowledge centre programme. Pondicherry
We donated 1500 books received from Friends of MSSRF. The government also provides free electricity to run the knowledge centre [Annexure 27]. Japan to Romain Rolland Library [Annexure 28] of Pondicherry. They also used the knowledge centres to demonstrate to the public how to operate the electronic voting machine.
Mannadipet Commune Panchayat
The Commissioner of Mannadipet Commune Panchayat has allotted space in the community hall at Koonichampet to set up a new village knowledge centre.
. These include biographies. They also provide information on how to maintain coconut trees and fodder. stories. autobiographies. Unfortunately our efforts have not been successful.
PONLEIT (Pondicherry Cooperative Milk Producers Union Limited)
PONLEIT (Pondicherry Cooperative Milk Producers Union Limited) provides several flash cards [Annexure 26] on animal health. novels. etc. preventive methods. history of the world.
The Election Commission has provided us the electronic voters list. major diseases.
Romain Rolland Library. high-level literature books.Department of Industries
Department of Industries shares information on various self-employment opportunities and training details. etc.
Based on that Department of Agriculture started three “Uzhavar Uthaviyagam” (Farmers Help Desk). market information. The Agency constructs low cost toilets in the villages through our network. They have also allotted loans to our women self-help groups. We also shared all our materials with them. to RKC. After that we had several discussion with officials.
We have conducted several fishing community interaction meetings along with officials from Department of fisheries. Veerampattinam RKC continuously provides training and useful information to the society. Development Commissioner and agriculture officials visited our centre. fishing materials details. women in Veerampattinam started the “Sri Sengazhuneermariamman Fisherwomen Co-operative Society” with the help of Department of Fisheries. They also seek our help to set up Port Information Centre at Pondicherry Port [Annexure 29]. The main purpose of the society is to avail any welfare schemes from Department of Fisheries and to mobilize money among the members and give loan to the needy people for self-employment.
District Rural Development Agency (DRDA)
District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) provides information on various social welfare schemes and subsidies to our below-poverty-line self help groups.
Department of Agriculture
Department of Agriculture wants to link their farm clinics and also launch a new web site to provide market information. etc. It is situated in three block development offices. DRDA also seeks our help to set up Multipurpose Income generating knowledge shops in DRDA SHGs building [Annexure 30].
National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development
National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development officials regularly attend our village level meetings and explain about the loan facilities for small-scale cottage industries. Banks and Experts. DRDA regularly allots stalls in exhibitions sponsored by the government to our women village volunteers for selling their products. Based on the discussions.Department of Fisheries
Department of Fisheries shares the information on entitlements related to fishermen.
Handling of PC and answering men’s questions give women new confidence and status in the community. pickle making. Many women have formed Self Help Groups (SHGs) paying monthly subscriptions.
Participation of Rural Women
Gender concerns are central to the project. departments want us to publicize their schemes to rural community through our knowledge centre network and community newspaper. In the evening some knowledge centres (KCs) provide counselling to women. Pondicherry for about 40 days from February 1. More than half the volunteers are women.All India Radio
All India Radio relayed interviews of Thirukanchipet villagers under the programme of “The Voice of the Village (Grammathin Kural)”.
. We also conduct several family counseling interaction meetings in association with SAGODARI. when there is a need. phenol and soap oil production and ornamental artifacts from seashells [Annexure 31]. This has positively reflected in the increase in the number of women users. we collaborate with the All India Radio (AIR). The villagers raised several policy issues such as the minimum wages issue and why the govt. The KCs help women get training related to new economic opportunities like incense stick manufacturing. The rapporteur of each group made a presentation.
Through District Industries Centre (DIC) we provide training on Bakery products for Veerampattinam women SHGs. 2002 to March 10. Pondicherry. Text written by RKC staff at Villianur on envioronmental protection was regularly broadcast for two minutes by AIR. 2002. The interest on the money borrowed accrues to the SHGs. They borrow money from the SHGs.
Many govt. The participants divide into groups and they discuss many issues. Through Department of Technical Education we provide the training in tailoring for Nallavadu and Kizhur SHGs. and provide content for many of their programmes relevant to the rural communities. Each broadcast lasted two minutes. especially for education of children and starting cottage industries. Under the ‘Silicon gramam’ programme the activities of Thirukanchipet and Nallavadu knowledge centres are covered. Under the OKN now we are broadcasting 15 minutes programme for every week. MSSRF and SAGODARI are regularly solving many family problems. is not providing subsidy for education of male children.
ICT-enabled Development: South – South Exchange Traveling Workshop
Last two years we have conducted South – South Exchange ICT-enabled development Traveling Workshop with the support of IDRC. Every year RKC Knowledge Workers make presentations in their own language (Tamil) under the title of Opportunities and Challenges.
The participants from Africa have already initiated a few programmes based on what they had learnt from the workshop. Ministers. distinguished guests from several academic institutions take part in these workshops.
The objective is to learn from one another. officials.
National Technology Day
Govt. govt.the village panchayat meeting decided to form women self help groups in the village.
This year we will conduct the third South-South Exchange ICT-enabled development Traveling Workshop from October 15-22. IICD and GKP.
. Based on an observation made by some African participants – about the lack of active participation by women in the village level meeting held at Nallavadu and the absence of women volunteers at the local knowledge centre . be stimulated by a good example and distinguish which experiences could be used straightaway and which ones need to be adapted to the local situation. Hivos. Malaysia. The Embalam village knowledge centre volunteers not only helped form the Nallavadu women self help groups but also provided the Nallavadu women training in maintaining the rural knowledge centre. of India celebrates technology day on May 11. The purpose of the workshop is the exchange of development perspectives between village communities in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry in southern India and civil society organizations from developing countries with specific focus on ICT-enabled development. 2004 with the support of Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP). media. The end result must be that the participants augment their capacity in ICT for rural development and thus deliver better quality services to their target groups. They raise several questions to the village volunteers. This is to celebrate the nation’s achievements in science and technology as well as to take stock of our strengths and weaknesses.
The local news is produced in Tamil and Swahili and the Meta tags are in English. local culture and practices. OKN is a human network which collects. shares and disseminates information in local language and seeks to contribute knowledge about heath. members of women self help groups. agriculture. education. government schemes. The contents related to traditional knowledge. such as production of medicines from fish and agriculture activities near the shore. During the period fishing community faces severe livelihood problems.
Every week 15 minutes we relayed audio contents of OKN through All India Radio. This is mainly for facilitating reproduction of fishes (growing time for fingerlings).Voice of the Fishing Community
Every year the Government of India implements a ban on fishing for 45 days. They want alternative business opportunities. evaluation workshops and on-site interaction meetings [Annexure 34] through college students.
Open Knowledge Network (OKN)
We launched the Open Knowledge Network [Annexure 33] in collaboration with OneWorld International.
o o o o o
Telecentres Volunteers Workshop Users and Non-Users survey Impact Study of Daily Fish Rates Impact Study of Minimum Wages Fixed by Labor Department Impact Study of Use of Information Centres in Fishing Villages (Veerampattinam and Nallavadu)
Impact Study of Usage of Poornangkuppam Village Knowledge Centre (Coastal and Horticulture Village)
. jobs and markets. etc. They need fishing related courses at Pondicherry University and training for ornamental fish growing. Through this network access points from India and Africa share their local news through a WorldSpace Satellite and Internet. village volunteers. RKC conducted several fishing community interaction meetings [Annexure 32] in association with Fisheries department and fishermen unions and brought out their recommendations.
We have conducted several impact studies.
farmers. landless laborers and govt. This programme will mark the beginning of the Space Age for rural well-being. Swaminathan [Reference: interview with Parshuram Ray]. water. Tele-fishery. literacy and work for all and for ever”. the fish population is reduced considerably. space satellites. fish pickle making and pearl culture. Modern fishermen kill a large number of sea cows. Through this RKC [Annexure 35] we will be providing with near real time charts. In this area Dalits and Muslims are engaged in traditional fishing. It will help to reach every rural household with location. Through this network we will provide the services of Tele-education. departments. based on satellite derived potential fishing zones. livelihood and time specific knowledge (i. Online Decision Support. communication and television. health. PFZ board was also set up with the generous support of INCOIS. all of which have considerable commercial potential. for fishing and information on sea state. we have three alternative activities for fishing families with the support of UNDP. In order to strengthen the above activities and to enhance livelihood security and employment opportunities for the poor fisher folk an RKC was set up at Thangatchimadam [Rameswaram] under the ISRO-MSSRF VRC programme. gender.e. need. In recent times other backward communities have taken up to fishing using big mechanized boats and nets. value added information) [Annexure 36]. SHGs. wave heights and other conditions related to the behavior of the sea. Weather services and Water Management.Replication of Knowledge Centres Concept in Gulf of Mannar Region
Gulf of Mannar is situated in the southern part of Tamil Nadu near the Sri Lankan coast.
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and MSSRF launched the Village Resource Centre programme in Septemebr 2004. Tele-Medicine. Interactive Farmers’ Advisory Services. namely agar production. This programme will cover both farm and fisher families based on the motto: “Food. juveniles and sea grass dragging. traders.
For each block we have formed working committees consisting of representatives from research stations.
Harnessing the tools of the Space Age for Rural Transformation
“We have a great deal of opportunity here because we have great competence in this country in space technology.” according to Prof. Because of catching of pregnant fish. E-governance services. In order to protect biodiversity in this area and to wean fishermen from over fishing. for example in the case of medicinal plants which are the hope of health security systems not only in India but of the world. September 2002. We also have lots of traditional wisdom. We have great capacity in the fields of information technology and bio-technology.
Having managerial responsibility. policy makers and meteorological department. From these registers. Samples of the user register from our coastal villages are appended. for example: community ownership is key to the sustainability of a community communication project. this project has been the source of several success stories. Incidentally.
Fishermen like Pannerselvan of Veerampattinam village now get life-saving weather alerts about sea storms thanks to information relayed by the VKC via a loudspeaker in the street. Sustainable community ownership requires that the community has not only legal ownership. I am appending a few stories. but it is not sufficient to guarantee sustainability. Let us look at ownership. but that also is prepared to take responsibility for the project because it has internalised the sense of ownership.
In the past six years.
In all the Knowledge Centres we have user registers [Annexure 37]. She found information via the local VKC about a government scheme for widows.
Making an Impact: ICTs in Real Lives
The completed project has led to identification of a few key elements that should go into the successful use of ICTs in rural development in the Indian context. Very soon ISRO will provide the Satellite connectivity for RKC hub [Villianur]. The bottom line being if a telecentre or radio station makes money.
Anandi. Sustainability deals with a wider range of issues. control over content. No consideration about social sustainability or the impact on social change. She applied for a loan and now has bought a milch cow.Based on discussions with rural communities we find that they need an integrated advisory system with the help of research institutes. and a say in the project’s future are equally important. we find that most of the villagers use our entitlement database. became a widow at an early age. a young woman of Embalam village. we find greater transparency in governance. However. Having a legal title to the facility is one of these. Maintaining the register helps us how we go further and what kind of information rural community will need. which has given her economic independence and a more respectable life. For many the criteria for evaluating telecentres until now seem restricted to the financial “success”. then it is sustainable. as the programmes become widely known. this ownership can have multiple facets.
set up a women’s cooperative society thanks to support from the VKC. a cotton farmer
Youngsters like Vetrivelan of Nallavadu village have been able to pick up ICT skills ranging from using fax machines to wordprocessing in the native language.000 when the girl reaches the age of 18
Villagers in Thirukanchipet have access to market rates for wages from the VKC. she is now an independent tailor
Kandipan. and Krishnamoorthy. a source of pride for Vetrivelan as well as his aging grandmother
Sheela. learnt via the VKC of a possible loan (worth Rs. a woman from Veerampattinam. identified training sources in tailoring for herself and 20 other women. 500 deposit worth Rs. VKCs have also helped identify pesticide solutions for Murugaiyan. contacted the VKC to tap agricultural expertise for tacking pest problems. Tamil.000) from the Women and Child Welfare department. a cashew farmer in Manavali. 10. 250 members have already signed up
Villagers in Kalitheertalkuppam have even discovered that a computer printout of a civic complaint would get quicker responses from government officials as compared to a handwritten complaint!
Lakshmi. which she was able to obtain for setting up a vegetable shop
Shanmugam of Poornakuppam village contacted experts via the local VKC to find out about intercrops in his coconut and mango groves. an enterprising woman from Embalam. a farmer with urad (lentil) crops. and are able to fetch better rates for themselves from middlemen
The workers union of a cotton yarn factory is using the local VKC to manage its accounts and records
. a 25-year old woman from Kizhoor village. a middle-aged farmer. he now has a job thanks to additional help from VKC volunteers in preparing his job application
Ranganathan of Kizhoor village found out about employment opportunities in the Pondicherry Fire Service through the VKC. has been able to find better prices for his paddy crops in another nearby market via the local VKC. he was recommended banana and snake gourd
A group of women from Kizhoor village were able to leverage the entrepreneurship support groups at the local VKC to help them set up their own business unit for making and marketing incense-sticks
Kasirajan. instead of getting the lower rate from a local trader
A mother of two girls was able to obtain information from an insurance company for a scheme for one of her girl children which would make a Rs. 10.
He started cultivating a hybrid variety ("Ponni") of paddy this year. This is the first insurance ever done in this village. voting cards. all from the assetless labour families. a group of 48 women. thus setting up their own local enterprises
An autorickshaw operator analysed market data available from the VKC to pitch his vegetable distribution services to the Kailash beach resort
Common uses of the VKCs are for printing birth and death certificates. the first time in six years. Earlier. thus better preparing students for the “shock” of seeing 10th standard exam questions in paper instead of blackboard for the first time!
Illiterate fishermen are able to receive information about government loans and schemes via announcements made on loudspeakers. she had to go by whatever the land owner said was the price.
Sundari. during times when they do not fish in order to enable fish stocks to replenish themselves
Village entrepreneurs have been able to leverage the VKCs to contact a mango juice powder provider in Bangalore and a jellyfish preservation company in Chennai.-
Rural teachers use the resources of the VKC to prepare question papers for exams from the 6th standard onwards. registration forms and income level certificates.
A volunteer at Kizhur mentions that a number of users who needed to spend an hour commuting to the nearby sugar refinery to get information on input (fertilizer) availability. a women labourer in Embalam. have been able to save effort and time through placing phone calls to the factory managers
Several farmers in Kizhur have had their sugarcane crops ravaged in the previous years by “Red Rot” disease. Part of her wage is paid in kind in grain. This time he obtained information on the price of seeds and its availability from the Shop at the right time. which would otherwise take several hours and round-trip tickets to the nearest city
In Embalam. was able to negotiate better with a landed proprietor for wages this season. relayed from the local VKC. have obtained insurance for themselves against accidental loss of life or limb. resulting in unbearable losses. Knowledge of grain prices in the nearby markets enabled her to make sure that she got the right quantity of grain as wage. He mentions that two more farmers were enabled to cultivate "Ponni" similarly. Government agencies now send information on such schemes directly to the VKC
VKCs in coastal belts have helped set up cooperative units for the fishing community so that they can make ornaments from shells. and this was brought about because of the information provided by the Rural Knowledge Centre
Janakiraman (name changed) is a farmer in Embalam holding a plot of 2 acres. employment forms. After the establishment of Rural
army. etc. Some of them obtained training in new business opportunities. we need to study and learn from these experiments . Private companies and employee unions are also using our system and preparing their accounts. Obviously their use of the technology has given them the knowledge and confidence to ask these questions.
. It is especially important for empowering women. departments and officials and contest elections to local panchayats and societies. education department. Employment news provided by the knowledge centres is found very useful. so that we learn how to make the next wave of the technology even more useful for productive and sustainable economic development. employee details. With the technology moving so fast. South India The work of this project is the 21st Century equivalent to the introduction of the Public Libraries in the 19th century in the UK
Bruce Alberts President. British Council. Now the village women volunteers and self help group members have established good relationships with govt. We met many women who spoke most eloquently and asked us the most challenging questions. Orange The dissemination of information through computer technology is the best I have seen. etc. subscription details.
Acclaim for Rural Knowledge Centres [a few samples] [Detailed Comments Annexure 38]
Emanuel De Barl Director. Based on govt. salary certificates. they established contact through the RKCs with an entomologist who prescribed easily implemented preventive measures. private companies. it is critical to "learn by doing" in this way. Several people have got employment in fire service department. prior to start of planting. police service. several women have got loans and have started their own businesses. USA As scientists. entitlements information. University of Sydney. National Academy of Sciences.so as to make a science out of connecting the world to knowledge resources.
Kevin Pantan & Basil Baldwin Faculty of Rural Management.Knowledge Centres.
Seattle What you are doing is very inspiring. I hope we at World Corps can learn more and perhaps take some of this information to help us in our efforts. to collect revenues so that the services can continue.
Bo Dar Bergman SIDA. I feel quite impressed by your achievements.K.
. Sweden As SIDA representative. when the flow of aid funds cease
Library & Information Services Association Kalpakkam Chapter Information is power. Chauhan ADC to Governor of Tamilnadu I realize now how front line technology can be used for real empowerment of the poor.
Mark Waschaur University of California.
Hon. Irvine I have traveled around the world and I find your project to be one of the finest examples of IT for community development. The world has much to learn from your work and I will be honoured to have the privilege to help pass on what I've seen here.
Dwight Wilson World Corps.
R.Lieutenant General S N Sihka Governor of Assam I think there is tremendous scope for ushering a social and economic revolution in our rural areas with the use of modern scientific technology. This is really felt in this centre. Uganda This project has demonstrated that with minimal infrastructure one can transform a society through IT. and transparency in government by making people aware of their rights.Dr Webedaya Beatrice Ministry of State for Health. One very important feature of making use of ICT is to make it sustainable.
Ms Barbara Keating One World International. We met many women who spoke most eloquently and asked us most challenging questions. London The generation of local content for local needs. Rockefeller Foundation A good example of telecentres that really care about providing appropriate information to their constituency is the network known as Village Knowledge Centres. their culture and their language. André Manger French TV.
Mr Alex Whiting Panos Institute.
Alfonso Gumucio Dagron Development Communication Expert. both of which have delivered and are appropriate to their contexts. I doubt it will have any positive results for the community. Obviously their use of the technology has given them
. not the opposite.
There is one thing that we can not separate from any ICT project in Third World Countries: the development of local databases and local web pages that are relevant to the people and that take into account their daily needs. If this is not embedded into a project. the Swaminathan “knowledge centres” are like barefoot doctors and the Green Revolution.
Kevin Pantan & Basil Baldwin Faculty of Rural Management. London I have been very impressed both with the way the villages were able to develop the project to meet their needs and with the thoroughness + honesty with which the impact of the project is being assessed. The concept is articulated around community needs. Orange The dissemination of information through computer technology is the best I have seen. University of Sydney. While most telecentres that have failed to deliver are like Cadillacs in rural areas. Canadian Broadcasting Company I strongly believe in communication as a means to create a better world and the Knowledge Centres enhance this belief. supported and run by the local community itself is the best example of social capital I have ever seen.Marie. It is especially important for empowering women. set up by the Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai. This is why the Village Knowledge Centres in Pondicherry (M S Swaminathan Research Foundation) are such an important and coherent experience.
value added information. for the year 1999 – a global contest for the innovative use of two way radio communication. thanks to Information Village Research. Today. reads the citation. India. “They embraced the technologies and basic communication system for supply of useful information in order to improve quality of life”. This concept needs to be disseminated were widely. is supporting this project. The Jury’s Motivation of this project is as follows. Singer.
This project won the Motorola Dispatch Solution Gold Award [Annexure 39]. improving the price of selling rice using market information. Equally important are the ecological benefits that will flow from the BIOVILLAGES.the knowledge and confidence to ask these questions. The focus on a bottom up approach. As a Canadian. finding employment of villagers as fireman using employment information -. She told me she was using the computer to improve her employment prospects.
The project is recognized as a model for the use of information in development. stands an information station with several computers and many schoolchildren inside working away! That says something to me about the future of those children. Sun Life Financial Chair in Bioethics and Director.saving lives of fisherman using weather information. I felt proud that our government. and economic opportunities were obvious . ten villages near Pondicherry. Most moving for me was that in the middle of a Dalit village where 130 families live on about $1 a day and the villagers live in straw huts with dirt floors. The support by IDRC is prominently acknowledged.were very impressive. University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics I was extraordinarily impressed.and obviously effective.
Prof Peter A. It could be an important component of a global sustainability approach. are linked
. through IDRC.
”Project Information Village Research is an outstanding embodiment of the spirit of the Stockholm Challenge to promote inclusion through the use of information and communication technologies.
The project also won the Stockholm Challenge Award in 2001 under the Global Village Category [Annexure 40].
The success stories -. I met one 17-year-old girl whose father was a fisherman doing her homework for her BSc in Zoology. The people on the project seemed extremely knowledgable and passionately committed. The villagers seem to really benefit.
crops. a temple that formerly excluded low-caste people now opens its doors to everyone so they may use computers. Geneva. Washington. April 30.
Observations and Suggestions by Others
A few experts from various organizations and an anthropologist made short visits to the project sites and has discussion with project staff and villagers and gave valuable suggestions [Annexure 41]. and fishing conditions. 2001 o Science and the World's Future. 2004
. Report of the PANAsia Telecentre Learning & Evaluation Group’s Mission to India. City University.with computers. Washington. Because of this project. National Academy of Sciences. some traditional barriers have fallen. Dr Zenda Offir and Dr Lise Kriel. DC. President's Address. 2003 Dr Vedavalli. providing information on such aspects as health. 2001 o Expanding the Institutions of Science. For example. Washington. DECEMBER 1999
• • • •
Prof.C. They are empowering everyone with knowledge and opportunity by an inclusive use of local languages and a multimedia format that allows all to participate. April 2004
Excerpts from talks by Bruce Alberts. Switzerland. and of the power of information and opportunity”. April 19. This project is a wonderful example of the benefits of IT. England – September 10. 141st Annual Meeting. July 17. USA o Science for African Development. The MSSRF Information Villages Research Project – EVALNET (Evaluation for Sustainable Development in Africa). PANTLEG. Grant Lewison. London EC1V 0HB. OneWorld South Asia – 2001 Evaluating Policy Influence of ICTs for Rural Areas. Talk delivered at the Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. D. President’s Address. •
Success Stories of Rural ICTs In A Developing Country. weather. 136th Annual Meeting. 138th Annual Meeting. DC. President's Address. Director. April 26. President. 1999 o A World that Banks on Science. These new technology tools are bridging the economic and social divide between the haves and have nots. IDRC. Anthoropologist First-hand evaluation of the 'Pondicherry Framework' – Dr Basheerhamad Shadrach.
August 18-24. March. Subbiah Arunachalam. G. V Balaji & K Balasubramanian. 20-04-2001 [http://www. Murali and S Senthilkumaran Assessment of Impact of Information Technology on Rural Areas of India.org/oti/articles/0401/balaji. Autumn 2002
Toward a Knowledge System for Sustainable Food Security The information village experiment in Pondicherry By V. OnTheInternet [http://www. 2. Bytest for All.org/stories/articles/Story. Sunday. Current Science. and S. Senthilkumaran and Subbiah Arunachalam. Rajasekara Pandy. Vol. 23.import117] Information Shops: Taking IT to Rural Communities. Venkataraman Balaji and Subbiah Arunachalam.html]
Information and Knowledge in the Age of Electronic Communication: A Developing Country Perspective – Part I & II by Subbiah Arunachalam.iicd. The Hindu.res.org/5TH/arun. Jul 20. As submitted to the Workshop on Equity. K. Volume 6 Creating the instruments for A knowledge revolution in rural India. (10 Oct 2004) Reaching the unreached: How can we use ICTs to empower the rural poor in the developing world through enhanced access to relevant information? Subbiah Arunachalam. S Senthilkumaran. 87. and national and international forums [Annexure 42]. 132-140 ICT-enabled knowledge centres for the rural poor – A success story from India. Senthilkumaran vbalaji@mssrf. ICT Stories. Students Britannica-India. 2002
EXPANDING THE VILLAGE KNOWLEDGE CENTRES IN PONDICHERRY. S.htm]. APWIN March 2001 Vol. /April' 2000
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Fishing with the Web in Veerampattinam. Chennai. No. R. • •
ICTs and Poverty Alleviation. Voices for Change 3(3): 28-29. Shanmugavelan. pp. Regional Development Dialogue. [http://www. Subbiah Arunachalam. Rajamohan. 7.bytesforall. M S Swaminathan. Diversity.in. 2003
. India.isoc. and Information Technology at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. 68th IFLA Council and General Conference. 3. Vol. An essay submitted to the 2002 International Paper Contest on International Digital Libraries and Information Science & Technology Advances in Developing Countries
Information Village. Subbiah Arunachalam. Balaji. No.Articles from MSSRF
The Rural Knowledge Centres staff has written a few papers based on their field experiences and presented their work in several workshops.
JULY 2002 Internet Reaches Rural Poor-Appropriate Technology. DEEPA H RAMAKRISHNAN. Katherine Morrow. vol 174 issue 2341. ANANYA MUKHERJEE.The father of a 'green revolution' that staved off famine in India 40 years ago has a new cause: delivering information to the underclass By SANJAY KAPOOR. Nov. Swaminathan: Brain Food For the Masses . kanungo@gwu. •
The Web 's the way to catch a fish or arrange a marriage.com. CELIA W. page 44
• • •
From Beedees to CDs: Snapshots from a Journey through India’s Rural Knowledge Centres. 1999 Global Village wins Stockholm Challenge Award. 2001 Fischer in the net. 07. 2001. 2001
EXAMINING THE SUSTAINABILITY OF RURAL IT INTERVENTIONS:
FROM THE FIELD. Village-life. Washington.edu. The Week. NZZ Online Canadian program helps cast information net over India's poor. Twenty-Third International Conference on Information Systems • • • • • • • • • • • • The Internet Comes to Rural India.com.com Villagers get cyber savvy. 24 Dec.Articles in the Press about MSSRF’s RKCs
Many outsiders (including from the press. May 28. Martin Regg Cohn. New Scientist magazine. India's National Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU The Rural Connection.Issue 24. George Washington University. academia and research students) have visited the Rural Knowledge Centre project sites and written about the project [Annexure 43]. 2001 Information villages: Connecting rural communities in India. Web access brings promise of better life for underclass. Part 1 Stories for Change. LEISA MAGAZINE. PRESS TRUST OF INDIA. September 28. Shivraj Kanungo. DC USA. InfoChange Changing rural lives.Com. June 29. Vol 27. News Today. 1998 Village wide web. Volume 18 . Keane Shore. Michael Le Page goes online in India. Frontline. The New York Times. thestar. Julie Ferguson.S. ASHA KRISHNAKUMAR. 04/05/2002. IICD. ASIA BUREAU. Asiaweek. 2002 . December 2000
. Rediff. November 5. DUGGER. Information villages' in Pondicherry. Meena Menon. January 2003 Connecting Rural India to the World. 2000. IICD Research Brief – No 4. 2000 M. Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. Fishing for information.
Asian Women in the Digital Economy: Policies for Participation. Current Interventions and Opportunities for Action. Katherine Reilly.itcd. •
Making Waves. November 29-30.net
Prometheus riding a Cadillac? Telecentres as the promised flame of knowledge By Alfonso GUMUCIO DAGRON
[http://www. December 2001
Box Items or Part of the Report
Several articles and brochures include Rural Knoweldge Centre activities as an box item or referred [Annexure 44].• • •
Wiring up a Knowledge Revolution in Rural India. HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 1999 Comparing Approaches: Telecentre Evaluation Experiences in Asia and Latin America. Canada. Senior Program Specialist. BY ALFONSO GUMUCIO DAGRON. Master of Public Administration. Nepal. G. Ravi Mehta. Katherine@reilly. 09 September 2003 Tokyo Connection to E-volution of an Indian village. United Nations Development Programme. Carleton University. A REPORT TO THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION. CANADA. International Development Research Centre IDRC. rgomez@idrc. Robert Chapman and Tom Slaymaker. 117
Telecentres in Rural Asia: Towards a Success Model.net and Ricardo Gómez.com/agumucio/ArtPrometheusCadillac.geocities. January 2001
. M. IDRC.Innovating with the Internet. 2001 • Information and Communication Technology and Poverty: An Asian Perspective. Lalitha Sridhar. Conference Proceedings of International conference on Information Technology.ca. 3. Quibria and Ted Tschang. FORWARD BY DENISE GRAY-FELDER
ICTs and Rural Development: Review of the Literature. 1999
BOX 2.5 . QUÉBEC. SEPTEMBER 28-30. Communications and Development (ITCD 2001). www. OneWorld South Asia.html] • Box 23: NGOs Take ICT to Rural Women. STORIES OF PARTICIPATORY COMMUNICATION FOR SOCIAL CHANGE. FAR HILLS INN. EJISDC (2001) 4. Working Paper 192 Results of ODI research presented in preliminary form for discussion and critical comment
TELECENTRE EVALUATION A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE. Edited by Ricardo Gómez and Patrik Hunt. April 2000 Knowledge Centre inaugurated in Pondicherry. 2001. Canada. THE GLOBAL KNOWLEDGE II WOMEN’S FORUM. Report of an International Meeting on Telecentre Evaluation. Dr Roger Harris. Kathmandu.
PATRICK BURTON. Bangladesh. University of Sussex. Secretary-General. 11 COMMUNICATIONS OF THE ACM
TELECENTRE 2000. January/february 2002. January 27. Irvine. Mark Warschauer -. (DRA-development). United Nations
Leveraging IT for India's development .•
Harnessing the power of information and communications technology for sustainable partnerships . Pondicherry. November 1998/Vol.uk/word-files/ICTs. Robin Mansell. 30 June 1999.Part II. 41. Chronicle Foreign Service. but critics unconvinced. venky@venky.University of California.org . D+C Development and Cooperation (No. Johannesburg
The Rural Knowledge Centre programme has been designed on the Antyodaya principle of Mahatma Gandhi.“Seizing the extraordinary opportunities of the digital revolution is one of the most pressing challenges we face.org.” Kofi Annan. 4-5)
IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF APPROPRIATE AND INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES IN ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT. INK@SPRU. Burkhart. Larry Press. A review of experience. Final Report prepared for the Department for International Development.2: INTERNATIONAL CASE STUDY – INDIA. co-authored by Basheer Shadrach [ http://www. 2003 Information Technologies to Serve the Poor How Rural Areas Can Benefit from the Communications Revolution.doc]
The Internet in India: Better Times Ahead? Grey E. Amol Sharma.enterprise-impact..Access to services touted as benefit. Venkatesh. Seymour E. MSSRF’s experience in bridging the digital divide in rural Pondicherry has provided the following guidelines
. 2(4). 2003
Information Village project of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation. p. Bytes for All. i.Times Computing Columns India starts hooking up villages with Internet . Partha Pratim Sarker. Monday. September 2002 Software Applications and Poverty Reduction. Prof. Section 2. Goodman. Georg Caspary. Oliver Wakelin. Arun Mehta. 1. OFANEWS. San Francisco Chronicle. Universal Access in the Information Society. May 2000. Indian Institute of Information Technology. (Revised 1 October 1999). Report 2: INTERNATIONAL CASE STUDIES. No. Bangalore. London
ISSUES OF DIGITAL DIVIDE IN SOUTH ASIA: ‘IT FOR PEOPLE’ EXPERIMENTS IN THE REGION. 2002 International Conference on the Digital Divide: Technology & Politics in the Information Age
Social Capital and Access. ensure that the poorest person in the village gains from the technology and that technology does not further enlarge the rich-poor divide.e. Jane Millar.
The local population should have a sense of ownership of the Knowledge Centre. Contributions in cash or kind generate a sense of ownership and pride and create an economic stake in the operation of the centre. The state level hub located at MSSRF will be the key knowledge resource that will create and maintain web sites and databases for the local hubs in close collaboration with national and international agencies. • •
The information provided should be demand driven and should be relevant to the dayto-day life and work of rural women and men. since this is an effective method of enhancing the self-esteem and social prestige of women living in poverty.
Jamsetji Tata National Virtual Academy for Rural Prosperity
Out of our experience with Rural Knowledge Centres was born the Jamsetji Tata National Virtual Academy [NVA] [August 23.for harnessing this powerful tool for alleviating poverty and for ensuring sustainable ecological food and nutrition security. The programmes designed to empower rural families with new knowledge and skills should be designed on the antyodaya model. so that the information provided is demand and user driven.
The local population should be willing to make contributions towards the expenses of the Knowledge Centre. Constraints must be removed on the basis of a malady-remedy analysis. so that the long-term economic sustainability of the programme is ensured. This will also serve as the primary data provider tied up with research
. content and sustainability should receive concurrent attention. thereby presenting a win-win situation for all. where the empowerment starts with the poorest and most underprivileged women and men. The approach should be based on the principle that there is an implementable solution for every problem. The main aim of the NVA is that knowledge should reach every home and hut. It should be client managed and controlled. The Knowledge Centres should operate on the principle of social inclusion. for example. which aims to bring together experts and grassroots level people in twoway communication. Also. 2003] for Rural Prosperity with the generous support of the Tata Social Welfare Trust. solar power can be harnessed where the regular supply of power is irregular. Similarly. semi-literate women should be accorded priority in training to operate the centre. wired and wireless technologies could be used where telephone connections are not adequate or satisfactory.
• • •
Knowledge dissemination should be linked to access to the inputs needed to apply the knowledge for economic activities.
four kinds of linkages are being developed. extension departments. Therefore. etc. local government institutions. departments (Space. It will help to create large numbers of
. farmers’ associations. The state level hub links with block level or equivalent hubs in the state. and the Academy facilitates the flow of knowledge. field stations and govt. The rural people need knowledge available with experts. The latter hubs serve a cluster of villages. but also take steps to conserve for posterity dying wisdom and dying crops.
To be effective. financial institutions.
Lab to Lab: This will involve organizing a consortium of scientific institutions and data providers
Lab to Land: This will involve symbiotic linkages between the providers of information and the users. research labs).institutions. Rural Development. the technical experts should not only learn from traditional knowledge and experience.
Fellows of the National Virtual Academy
This Academy aims at reaching frontier technology to the resource poor rural women and men and enabling them to become masters of their own destiny. particularly water.
The Virtual Academy acts as a bridge between experts and the rural communities. Therefore. To be able to do this the Academy has established links with a variety of organizations. on the one hand and self-help groups. Meteorology. on the other. field stations. such learning has high credibility because the knowledge coming from a fellow farm woman or man would have been subjected to an impact analysis from the point of view of its economic and social relevance to the population. Fisheries.).
Land to Land: There is much scope for lateral learning among rural families. land-to-lab and land-toland [Annexure 45]. so that the information disseminated is relevant to the life and work of rural families
Land to Lab: There is considerable traditional knowledge and wisdom among rural and tribal families concerning the sustainable management of natural resources. etc. lab-to-land. we are developing an information system that connects lab-to-lab. Agriculture. These include govt. academic and research institutions (agricultural universities.
knowledge managers in our villages.000 villages in India by 2007. Such an alliance should include the private sector. The investment needs will have to be estimated and business plans prepared. Private and Public Sector Industry. The master plan should help to link technology-knowledge-rural women and men in a symbiotic manner. International Partners and Mass Media to the Nation on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of India’s independence on 15 August 2007. The main aim of this workshop was to sensitize policy makers to critical issues in the use of ICTs to promote human development in rural areas. One of the recommendation of the workshop is “Every village a knowledge centre: There is a need for developing a master plan coupled with a business plan for extending the benefits of ICT to all the 600. which marks the 60th anniversary of our Independence. More than 60 participants took part.
Policy Makers Workshop
We have conducted a Policy Makers Workshop [Annexure 46] on October 8-9.
Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre
We have conducted a Jamsetji Tata consultation [Annexure 47] on forming a National Alliance for Agenda 2007: “Every Village a Knowledge Centre” on May 19-20. NGOs.
. R & D institutions. content development and dissemination. She played an active role in the one world stall and was interviewed by many media persons. Seven task forces were formed. A National Alliance for ICT for Poverty Eradication may be established for launching the Every Village a Knowledge Centre movement. Geneva in December 2003. cooperatives. 2004. Financial Institutions. women’s associations. Agenda 2007 is designed as an offering of the S & T and Academic community. 2004. most of whom will be women. we have selected six Fellows of NVA through a rigorous selection process. mass media and appropriate government agencies”. In the initial step. In this consultation we discussed the issues of technology.
One of them Ms D Usharani was invited by Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) and One World International to take part in the ICT4D events that took place as an adjunct to World Summit on Information Society. Civil Society organizations. network management and servicing. scalability and sustainability of the programme and capacity building.
Ms D Usharani spoke at the launch of the Open Knowledge Network and gave away two GKP Awards to winner in a ceremony. There are 42 initial alliance partners and more will join.
private companies. Rooted in the Gandhian ideal of Antyodaya (i. tele-education. The document circulated to the members of the National Alliance is appended [Annexure 48]. research institutions. has come to stay.
. banks. 2004 at New Delhi. tele-health and ICT based business activities.National Alliance for Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre
A follow up meeting was held on July 9-10. government departments. After the meeting we have formed a General Body and reconstituted the task forces with additional members. pioneered by M S Swaminathan. is now poised to grow into a mighty tree [Annexure 49]. the Alliance will operate rural knowledge centres. From a small beginning the information village has grown into a national mass movement that will cover the more than 600. civil society organizations. We expanded the programme to 12 villages and networked and partnered with many institutions. The seed shown in Pondicherry in 1998. the only way we can achieve our goal is through forging partnerships and forming networks.
We started this research project in a small way. etc. community newspapers. 125 participants took part. with support from 1998. In this venture we will partner with academia. Through ICT SHGs. unto the last) the Rural Knowledge Centre.e. industry associations. Panchayat Raj institutions. As the task we have set ourselves is mammoth and the time is short.000 villages of India. We are greatly indebted to IDRC for coming forward to support this programme at a time when it was not clear to many that ICTs can play a major role in rural development and poverty alleviation. Internet and cable radio.