Monday, June 30, 2008

Report of the Workshop on Science Commons

On January 18th, 2008, Knowledge Commons, Delhi Science Forum, IIT Delhi, Red Hat and Sun organised a workshop on science policy for a very select group of 20 policy-makers. Participants included members of the Planning Commission, which drafts India's Five Year Plans; the National Knowledge Commission, a high-level advisory body that reports to the Prime Minister of India, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of IIT Delhi and some of the most respected scientists in the country.

The objective was to look at the Free and Open Source model of knowledge creation and examine the impact it can have on India. The highlight of the event was the session on Open Source Drug Discovery, a $34 million programme to fight diseases like tuberculosis, that are prevalent in India.

Prabir Purkayastha of the Delhi Science Forum and the brain behind the event, set the ball rolling by giving a brief overview of how the patent system evolved as a trade-off between the inventor and society, with society granting a temporary monopoly to the inventor in return for disclosure of the invention, which ensured that inventors did not take their creations to the grave. He pointed out that the era of the individual inventor is over and most innovations are now done by corporations. Prabir also pointed out that the myth about patents leading to innovations was not always true and cited the example of James Watt's patent over the steam engine which led to 30 years of stagnation. It was only after Watt's death that the efficiency of the steam engine was improved. Even during this era, collective innovation flourished as can be seen from the invention of the blast furnace and the improvements in the steam engine within the Cornish mines. He added that science is not purely for profit and the current scenario, where patents are seen as a metric of innovation could lead to a situation where sharing is hindered. This could be dangerous in areas like medicine and agriculture. In this context, the Free and Open Source model has emerged as an important paradigm that generated advances that are outside the proprietary domain. Therefore, the question in front of the group was – Can we look at alternate ways of doing research and can these be harnessed for the public good? He said that it is possible to do collaborative work without going for proprietary software. He informed that the new paradigm named 'open source' is not new. He said that patenting of science was absent in the past. Science or knowledge systems always had an open model. Regarding patents, he asked for public disclosure of invention. He said that R&D (research and development) can be done either by corporate or public funding. He placed four questions before the audience: Can we really allow companies to go for serving only those who can pay? Can we do scientific research in a different way? Can we have an alternative way of doing research? Can we stop corporate funding and go for state funding in R&D?

Prof. VS Ramamurthy, Chairman of the Board of Governors, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and one of the veterans of the Indian scientific establishment said that knowledge is important for socio-economic development and today, knowledge has become multi-disciplinary. When multi-disciplinary groups are involved, secrecy will only increase the cost of doing research. In science, failures are as important as successes but the patenting system encouraged only the recognition of success and not the process by which a particular result was arrived at. He said that there is need to look at knowledge management in totality and examine whether answers given in the past are relevant anymore. He said that the open source model has enormous relevance for countries like India which has limited resources but unlimited human resources. Dr. Ramamurthy informed that R&D is done to attract investment in R&D. He said that knowledge has become important to economic and social development. Scientific research is not an individual initiative, he added. Scientific research and knowledge creation has today become a total enterprise. Innovation at the grassroots level do not need specialisation, he emphasised. Innovation do not need structured research, which is corporatised, he said. Knowledge management, knowledge sharing and knowledge creation should be seen in totality, he added.

Prof. Abhijit Sen, member of the Planning Commission and one of India's leading economists asked a succinct question, "Do patents deliver?" Prof. Sen pointed out that patents create private property through exclusion, increase the cost of communication and therefore escalate the cost of the production process in science. In areas like climate change, which involved a whole range of technologies, the free flow of knowledge was extremely important. "Property rights are not an unalloyed virtue if the externalities are very large. If patents do incentivise, do they do so in the right manner?" he asked. Prof. Sen pointed out that two of the world's poorest countries, India and China, are now becoming more important globally and for those managing money, it becomes important to invest in these countries. Therefore, these countries should re-examine patents in the light of the new realities of the commons and growing economic clout. Prof. Abhijit Sen (from the Planning Commission of India) reiterated whether patents could deliver what it wanted to deliver. He asked about the production process in science. He asked whether patenting is the right way in getting innovation. He said that patenting may not lead to creation of knowledge for the right kind of people. He said that global warming and climate change are big issues before humanity. He said that technology can play a big role in combating climate change. He asked for looking at the TRIPs issue in this context. He asked for the need to have a relook at externalities, when one is dealing with climate change. He said that inequalities are increasing in India and China, despite facing economic growth. He informed that inclusive economic growth is opposed to patenting.

Dr. Nagarjuna informed that free software is a economic, social and political movement, which is somehow related to copyleft. He said that 'hacking' is exploring new means in a constrained environment. He said that 80% of the Internet runs on free software. He informed about the existence of free hardware. He said that reputation is important for free software developers. He informed about the release of a new book on hacking culture. He said that there is no lack of elitism in this model. The government protects proprietary companies, he added. He said that free and open source software is given along with coder and decoder. He said that opening up of spectrum is essential, as it can help the FOSS movement. He said that the electro-magnetic spectrum is controlled by the government and the industry. The frequencies are currently being sold, he added. The control on spectrum is a crime, he informed. He said that nowadays, biological inventions are being controlled. All institutions like Pentagon etc. have now switched to free software, he said. Free software do not have loopholes in comparison to proprietary software from say Microsoft. He said that mathematics cannot be patented. He said that one cannot separate code from decode.

Jaijit Bhattacharya from Red Hat spoke on patents. He informed that the patents system is not working. He said that colonisation means the extraction of economic benefit from an area of influence through manipulation of the rules of engagement by either force or deceit. He informed about social colonisation, politico-military colonisation and digital colonisation.
Intellectual Property--> International Standards-->Unfair Rent on IPR/ Anti-trust
Digital colonisation happens in DVDs, camcoders, televisions, word processing, WiFi vs. Wapi, WiMax, Processors etc. Every PC has US$ 150 amount of proprietary software. He said that IPR protection and standards are required but it should not be based on: (i) frivolous patents; (ii) monopolistic practices; (iii) beating the system by incrementally modifying patents and getting extensions on the IPR etc. While speaking on the future of technologies, he said that (i) local industry will suffer; (ii) digital divide will increase; (iii) the present generation will teach children those technologies that are proprietary and hence forever condemn them to tech-slavery; and (iv) digital colonisation will happen due to the colonial mindset.

Venkatesh Hariharan said that small libraries cannot access proprietary journals. So, there is need for open content which can be freely accessed by the students and teachers from developing and third world nations.

Prof. V Kumar, Senior Associate Dean, Director, the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology, MIT, said that 'Commons' is not a destination. It is a process. The rules and equations will change overtime. He informed that MIT has launched open content for students and learners worldwide. He informed that MIT open courseware has content for 1800 courses, which has site highlights, syllabus, course calender, lecture notes, exams, problem/solution sets, labs and projects and video lectures. He also informed about Richard Hall. He said that open courseware need to be efficient and should be of good quality. He talked on lab space, e-Science initiatives, Faulkes Telescope Network, access and various digital library initiatives. He said that nowadays sharing of tools is also taking place. He said that although there is cost associated with producing open courseware, but if that is not done, then there is the opportunity cost. The opportunity cost is by failing in competition in today's knowledge economy. He spoke about the interconnectedness between creation, sharing and usage. While talking on value proposition, he talked about proximity, visibility, adaptability, flexibility and interactivity. He also spoke about the iLab Vision. When multi-disciplinary groups are involved, secrecy will only increase the cost of doing research. In science, failures are as important as successes but the patenting system encourages only the recognition of success and not the process by which a particular result was arrived at.

T Jaya Raman from the Tate Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) talked on the defending/expanding of the scientific commons. While talking on knowledge production, he said that historically this has been dominated by the labour of the individual scientist. However, the public dissemination of this knowledge is critical, which means intricate system of verification/peer review/rewards/ peer recognition. He also talked about 'co-operative rivalries'. He said that due to the growth of 'big science'/'big lab', there has been dilution of the role of individual scientist. He said that team work cannot be undermined. He gave extreme examples of big accelerators and space-based astrophysics. 'Large labs' even in areas where infrastructure does not necessarily force teamwork. He talked on the reward/ peer recognition process. He said that large network work together even on theoretical problems. He talked on the conference format evolving into more co-operative research activity beyond simple result sharing/dissemination. He also talked about the rise of multi-author paper. He said that access to 'tacit knowledge' helps in knowledge management. He said that availability of the Internet helps in the development of 'big lab' model. He emphasized on the larger role of tacit knowledge and scientific publishing. He explained the manner of scientific knowledge production in the USSR and the USA/ Europe, which was recognisably the same-despite the profound differences of the institutional structures of the economy and productive activity. He said that the inherent tendency in scientific knowledge production is open knowledge. He asked for developing 'democratic' acceptance of excellence.

Prof. Deepak Pental, Vice Chancellor, Delhi University, talked on biotechnology from an Indian perspective. He said the key question in the case of Indian agriculture is how the market can provide common good. He said that the situation of agriculture in India is critical. He said that agriculture is not like drugs and vaccines. He spoke on the technological aspect of genomics and scientific research into agriculture, which is both publicly and privately funded. He said that African agriculture is suffering from lack of productivity. He said that Indian politicians always believe that agriculture is vital. He informed that the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was opened by none other than Lal Bahadur Shastri during the 1960's. He said that Indian agriculture is currently suffering from stagnation in terms of low productivity. He talked on the importance of Bt varieties of seeds and evergreen revolution, which is propagated by Prof. MS Swaminathan. He also talked about the issue of subsidies and technology starvation in Indian agriculture. He informed that China is utilising technology far more efficiently compared to India. He asked for intervention of the corporate sector in Indian agriculture. He said that public-private partnership is a new tool to intervene in agriculture and raising its productivity. He also talked on the inefficiency of the official institutions pertaining to agriculture. He said that scientists are not paid well in government sector, so they move towards private sector where they are well paid. There is also the need for open source plant transgenic breeding. There is also the need for profit free interventions in the area of agricultural R&D, he added.

Dr. Samir Bramhachari, Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), informed about unveiling of a US$ 34 million plan for Open Source Drug Discovery. CSIR is one of the world's largest publicly funded R&D organisations which has got 38 laboratories working on a range of subjects from molecular biology to road research to Himalayan bio-resources. The Council has more than 4,000 scientists working in these 38 labs. Dr. Bramhachari noted that there was very little R&D money being spent by MNCs on the typical diseases that afflict Indians because of the relatively low purchasing power in the country. At the same time, MNCs are aggressively scanning Indian academia for research being done by Indian students and adding this knowledge to their database. He also pointed out that collaborative R&D networks like 'Innocentive' had a lot of Indians contributing to it. Therefore, he had proposed to the Indian Government the creation of an Open Source Drug Discovery framework which will harness the collective minds of Indian scientists. The OSDD project will kick off by focussing initially on the Tuberculosis bacilli and the web site will be launched once CSIR finalises the legalities of a "Pharma GPL" share-and-share-alike license. Prof. Brahmachari talked on "Can open source drug discovery address global health care challenges in infectious disease?' He talked on Open Source Drug Discovery model in the area of tuberculosis, which is patent-free and collaborative (; This workshop demonstrated that there is remarkable understanding of the potential of open source within the highest echelons of the Indian policy-making elite. Prof. Ramamurthy summed it up best when he said that in the Government system, change is always a very slow process. However, open source is inevitable and will be the norm 10 years from now. There is need to accelerate the change in favor of open source, he concluded.
--Reported by Shambhu Ghatak, with inputs coming from Prof. V Kumar, MIT
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has recently launched a new initiative in order to develop low cost drugs for infectious diseases like tuberculosis (TB). Generally the poor in India and other developing nations gets afflicted by TB. Since there is want of adequate returns on R&D costs in discovering new drugs for TB, that is why big pharmaceutical companies do not spare much resource. The initiative is in the form of a web portal, which would provide a platform for researchers in the academia, industry and institutes across the world to share their knowledge and ideas and conduct collaborative research on a voluntary basis.
The ‘open source drug discovery’ programme took inspiration from the success of the open source movements in software (including wikipedia) and the Human Genome Sequencing Project, which happened in the West. The website is based on the popular Wiki-based model and is designed to enable anyone to contribute or modify content in a collaborative mode. The ideas will be reviewed by experts and the contributors can get certificates and even monetary rewards if their contributions prove useful. The initiative makes use of the recent developments in bioinformatics, which have enabled research to identify potential drugs by comparing on computer, potential disease targets against large chemical databases. The website will host different types of data on the pathogens and the various tools needed for data analysis. Further, it will have a discussion forum for members to share ideas. A core committee of expert scientists would monitor the process closely. The website would be open to all–scientists, researchers, academicians, doctors, software professionals, traditional healers, and industry. Even lay persons, who had some useful idea or the other to contribute could share them on the website. Among others, the Global Research Alliance, which comprises government and non-profit research organisations around the world, Jawaharlal Nehru University, University of Hyderabad, Delhi University, Sun Microsystems, TCG Lifesciences and LeadInvent Technologies have already extended their support for the programme.

The discovery of new potential drugs would be in the public domain, thus precluding any monopoly. The CSIR in collaboration with international philanthropic agencies such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would then provide resources to conduct clinical trials and other such steps required to bring the medicines to the market place. The potential drugs would be made generic as soon as they were discovered to ensure that the drug prices were kept low. However, the idea of getting funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation can be frowned by some since there are many anti-trust cases put against Microsoft, a monopoly, in the US and EU by its rivals. Presence of private corporate firms will be always be opposed by people who are against the policies which supports liberalization, privatization and globalization. The programme would initially focus on tuberculosis, since though it was a leading cause of death from bacterial infection in the world, no major advancement in treatment had emerged over the past half a century, particularly since market forces discouraged big pharma firms from developing drugs for such diseases as they had a long gestation period, heavy research and development costs and low returns. It can be recalled here that TB is an infectious disease that is not confined to HIV+ individuals. However, those infected with HIV are at high risk of developing active TB because of low level of immunity. Although TB is curable, poor case detection and patients' lack of adherence to treatment make it the leading cause of death among HIV+ people particularly in Africa. Intensive TB case finding must take place in areas severely affected by HIV through coordination of TB and HIV services. According to the data released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) 1/3rd of the world’s population is currently infected by TB. The estimated incidence of the disease in India is 1.8 million new cases annually and 3,70,00 deaths take place due to it every year, thus making it an average of two deaths every three minutes.

Source: The Hindu,
Family Health International
The above image has been taken from:

State of agriculture in India


Agricultural development is vital in a developing country since a vast majority of the workforce derive their livelihood from it. During the Tenth Five Year Plan, the gross domestic product (GDP) emanating from agriculture and allied activities in India registered a growth rate of 2.3 percent, which was lower than the growth rate observed in the industrial sector (8.0 percent) and services sector (9.5 percent). Growth in agriculture and allied activities averaged 2.3 percent during the 10th Plan period, lower than 3.2 percent during the 1990s and 4.4 percent during the 1980s. Hence, it is felt that a big push to the 'agricultural sector' is urgently required via the second green revolution, by implementing the National Agricultural Innovation Project. When one is talking about agricultural development, one cannot neglect food security, nutrition security and livelihood security, since these are related concepts. It is important to point out that per capita foodgrains production has come down to the 1970s level since per capita production of cereals has declined from 192 kg in 1991/1995 to only 174 kg in 2004/2007. Net production of foodgrain has declined from 183.6 million tonnes in the year 2000 to 173.6 million tonnes in the year 2005. However, production of milk has increased from 84.4 million tonnes in 2001-02 to 97.1 million tonnes in 2005-06 as per the Economic Survey 2006-07. Production of eggs has increased from 38,729 millions in 2001-02 to 46,231 millions in 2005-06. Production of fish has increased from 5,956 thousand tonnes in 2001-02 to 6,510 thousand tonnes in 2005-06. It can be recalled that the growth rate in real gross domestic product (7.6 percent) at factor cost has far exceeded the growth rate in agriculture (2.3 percent), during the Tenth Five Year Plan. The revised estimates of the CSO (Central Statistical Organisation) too show that real gross domestic product (GDP) emanating from agricultural and allied activities decelerated from 6.0 percent in 2005-06 to 2.7 percent in 2006-07. During the South-West Monsoon (1, June 2006 to 30, September 2006), India received 886.6 mm of rainfall against the normal rainfall of 892.2 mm, with a deviation of (–)1 per cent. The states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh faced drought/drought-like situation of varying magnitude during 2006-07. Such a pathetic and dismal situation in agriculture is believed to have led to not only the miserable plight of the farmers but also inflationary pressures in the economy. As a result of the higher order of increase in food prices, various measures of CPI inflation rose from 4.9-5.3 percent in March, 2006 to an intra-year peak of 7.6-9.8 percent in February, 2007, before coming down to 6.7-9.5 percent in March, 2007. Inflation mainly happened in wheat, pulses, milk, oilseeds and raw cotton during 2006-07. After improving steadily from 1980 to 1997, the terms of trade turned against agriculture between 1999 and 2004, and reduced profitability of farming. Public investment in agriculture too has declined from 3.4 percent of agriculture GDP in 1976-1980 to 1.9 percent in 2001-03. Although budgetary subsidies to agriculture have risen from around 3 percent of agriculture GDP in 1976-1980 to about 7 percent in 2001-03, the agricultural scenario does not look positive. Food subsidy as percentage of GDP (new series based on 1999-00) too has risen from 0.48 percent in 1999-00 to 0.66 percent in 2005-06. India's total exports of agricultural and allied products including plantations at US$ 10.5 billion in 2005-06 constitute 10.2 per cent of its export share. Developed country markets have continued to account for nearly 35 per cent of India's agri-exports. Total farm power availability is estimated to have increased from 0.295 kw/ha in the year 1971-72 to 1.502 kw/ha in the year 2005-06. As a result of the joint efforts made by the Government and the private sector, the level of mechanisation has been increasing steadily over the years. Tractor sales increased from 2,54,825 in 2000-01 to 2,63,146 units in 2006-07. Power tillers sales have increased from 16,018 in 2000-01 to 13,375 in 2006-07.
Kindly, look at the figures and graphs above in order to check the trend growth rates in production of rice, wheat, pulses and coarse cereals.
Policies and programmes for agriculture

Some of the institutions/ authorities that have been newly created are: National Rainfed Area Authority, Mini Mission-II of Jute Technology Mission, scheme on micro-irrigation, National Bamboo Mission, Forecasting Agricultural Output Using Space, Agri-Meteorology and Land-based Observation (FASAL), Terminal Markets under the National Horticultural Mission, National Bee Board Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, and Central Institute of Horticulture (Nagaland). The National Water Development Project in rain fed areas (NWDPRA) is being implemented in 28 states and 2 Union Territories. Under the Watershed Development Fund, the Department of Agriculture and Co-operation and NABARD have contributed equally to establish a corpus fund of the amount INR 200 crore at NABARD.

The Approach Paper to the Eleventh Five Year Plan has undertaken the following strategies to raise agricultural output: (a) doubling the rate of growth of irrigated area; (b) improving water management, rainwater harvesting and watershed development; (c) reclaiming degraded land and focusing on soil quality; (d) bridging the knowledge gap through effective extension; (e) diversifying into high-valued outputs, fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs and spices, medicinal plants, bamboo, bio-diesel, but with adequate measures to ensure food security; (f) promoting animal husbandry and fishery; (g) providing easy access to credit at affordable rates; (g) improving the incentive structure and functioning of markets; and (h) refocusing on land reforms issues. Emphasis has also been promised on research and development (R&D) in agriculture. A National Strategic Research Fund has been created within the Agricultural Research System (NARS) so as to see the adverse impact of climate change. Various schemes that have been implemented under Technology Mission on Oilseeds and Pulses (TMOP) are: (a) Oilseeds Production Programme (OPP); (b) National Pulses Development Project (NPDP); (c) Accelerated Maize Development Programme (AMDP); (d) Post Harvest Technology (PHT); (e) Oil Palm Development Programme (OPDP); (f) National Oilseeds and Vegetable Oils Development (NOVOD) Board; and (g) UNDP Sub-Programme on Maize based Cropping System for Food Security in India. Under the resolution on agriculture undertaken by the National Development Council (NDC), there have been plans to amend the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act apart from more allocation of resources for the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP). There have been talk on the use of bio-fertilizers, organic manure and micro-nutrients, to enhance soil health. The Government of India is also promoting soil test-based, balanced and judicious use of chemical fertilisers, in conjunction with bio-fertilisers and organic manures to maintain soil health and its productivity, under the programme of Integrated Nutrient Management through various schemes. The NDC has also given a thought on launching a Food Security Mission. Although the Government of India has undertaken several steps to ensure agricultural development, but it is essential to cross-check how the projects are running at the ground-level. Ground-level credit flow for agriculture and allied activities has increased from the level of INR 1,25,309.00 crore in 2004-05, to the level of INR 1,67,775.00 crore in 2005-06. As against the credit flow target of INR 1,75,000.00 crore during 2006-07, INR 1,49,343.16 crore was achieved up to December 2006, thereby forming 85.34 per cent of the target. The Kisan Credit Card Scheme has been extended to the borrowers of long-term cooperative credit. A rehabilitation package of INR 16,978.69 crore has been announced for 31 suicide-prone districts in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala (India).


India hopes that the policies and programmes that have been undertaken are going to produce the desired results. But the issues related to the trade-related distortions, access to international markets, and tariff and non-tariff related barriers need to be mitigated at the right forum with the right kind of spirit. India should also ensure right to food, apart from striving for agricultural development.

Reserve Bank of India, Annual Report 2006-07
Economic Survey, Ministry of Finance, 2006-07
Agriculture Strategy for Eleventh Plan, Planning Commission
Recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers
Resolution of the National Development Council of the Prime Minister of India
2006-07 Annual Report of Ministry of Agriculture, GoI

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tale of the dragon and the elephant

The focus of the current article would be on India and China, which are considered as two of the fastest growing economies of the world. According to the newly released report titled 'Asian Development Outlook 2007 Update (ADO Update)' by the Asian Development Bank, developing economies from Asia are expected to register impressive economic growth in 2007, driven by fast growth in the People's Republic of China (PRC) and India. PRC and India, which together account for 55.3 percent of the total gross domestic product (GDP) in developing Asia, recorded their fastest growth in 13 years during the first half of 2007, and the fastest in 18 years in the fiscal year 2006, respectively. The present analysis, would cover the existing economic scenario in India and China—internal as well as external, in the backdrop of economic reforms, which are associated with the openness to foreign trade and (long-term) investment. In China, the merchandise trade ratio to gross domestic product (GDP) exceeded 60 percent, which was more than double of India's. China attracted direct foreign investment of US $ 79 billion a year, about 13 times than that for India.
'The heat is on'
In India, the balance of payments (BoP) data show that FY 2006 has seen growth of exports by 20.9 percent, and import by 22.3 percent, and the trade deficit widened to US $ 64.9 billion. The current account deficit rose marginally to US$ 9.6 billion from a year earlier. The capital account surplus nearly doubled from a year earlier to US$ 44.9 billion. The balance of payments surplus has escalated to US $ 36.6 billion from US$ 15.0 billion. The net direct investment flows as a whole doubled to US $ 8.4 billion. Net portfolio investment fell to US$ 7.1 billion from US$ 12.5 billion. In China, high trade surpluses and capital inflows have boosted foreign exchange reserves. Foreign exchange reached US$ 1.3 trillion by end-June, 2007 up by US$ 266 billion in 6 months. The trade surplus (US $ 122.5 billion) and actual foreign direct investment (up 12.2 percent to US$ 31.9 billion), accounted for 54 percent of the total foreign exchange accumulation in the first half of 2007, while non-FDI capital inflows contributed 46 percent (against just 3.0 percent in 2006). During the year 2006, India's international reserves amounted to US $ 1,76,105 million (as end of the period); whereas for the same year, Chinese international reserves amounted to US $ 10,72,564 million (calender year), which is almost six-times than that of India. The following table 1, provides a detailed picture of the balance of payments scenario for both India and China. From the table 2, one can find about the economic growth faced by India and PRC during the last four years. The PRC has registered higher economic growth in the recent years compared to India.Economies in transitionIt can be recalled that both India and PRC, historically, have very restrictive regimes, including outright prohibition on foreign direct investments (FDI), which got opened up only during the past 20-25 years (see table 3). The reforms process in the PRC started in the year 1978, thanks to the efforts of Deng Xiaoping (one can remember the term 'Four Modernisations'), which got further consolidated in the late 1980s, and again in 2002 upon its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) (because of the support coming from the United States). The PRC's successful effort to bring foreign direct investment (FDI) in the special economic zones (SEZs), needs to be mentioned here. Special export processing zones (EPZs) along China's southern coast allowed it to exploit its comparative advantage in low-wage labour. Due to the ongoing reforms in the state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in China, there was substantial reduction in the workforce. The loss of manufacturing sector employment could be felt more in the state sector. Under the new competitive climate, starting from the mid-1990s, SOEs and the agricultural collectives started adopting the capital intensive technologies in China. However, services still continue to be constrained by high entry barriers, excessive state involvement, opaque regulatory process and overly burdensome licensing and operating requirements. China has promised that by the year 2006, it will drop all form of discriminations against the foreign firms. China has become the final processing and assembly platform for a large volume of exports originating from its Asian OECD neighbours but destined for European and North American markets. Despite the processing exports in China being less value-added and more labour-intensive, the expansion of manufacturing employment has slowed down in China. The intellectual property rights regime in China is considered as weak, which is a major stumbling block before China's trading partners. The year 1991 is regarded as the key reform year for India, following which phase-wise reforms started in terms of fiscal reforms, monetary reforms, trade reforms, banking sector reforms, currency and foreign exchange related reforms, etc. However, in the case of India, it is said that the labour market reforms is yet to be carried out, in the backdrop of labour market militancy, which exists in certain states of India. The labour laws are considered to be restrictive in India. India reduced its trade barriers since the 1990s, along with an expansion of exports of mostly capital and skill intensive products. It is perceived by some economists that too much openness of the economy can be a bane instead of a boon, since this can lead to flight of capital, de-industrialisation and massive unemployment. The Indian growth process has been termed as service sector-led growth, whereas Chinese growth process has been described as manufacturing-centric. However, the unorganised services constituted two-thirds of the service sector output in India, during the last decade. Among sectors attracting high cumulative FDIs, electrical equipments retained the first spot, to be followed by services and telecommunications, in India.
ICT scenario
The IT (Information Technology)-enabled services and business process outsourcing (ITES-BPO) in India have shown their superiority, sustained cost-advantage and fundamentally-powered value proposition in the global market, according to the Economic Survey 2006-07 (Government of India). The IT industry's contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) rose from 1.2 percent in 1999-2000 to an estimated 4.8 percent in 2005-06. The value of the electronics hardware exports has increased from US$ 1.2 billion in 2000-01 to US$ 2.12 billion in 2005-06. The value of the computer software exports has increased from US$ 7.8 billion in 2000-01 to US$ 25.8 billion in 2005-06. The total number of professionals employed in the IT and ITES sector has grown from an estimated 2,84,000 in 1999-2000 to 12,87,000 in 2005-06, in India. In the year 2005, Chinese ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) spending is estimated at US $ 118 billion, following growth of 22 percent a year in current US $ since 2000. According to the Information and Communication Outlook 2006 (OECD 2006), India and China account for 6.5 percent of exports and almost 5 percent of imports of computer and information services and other business services. In 2005, ICT-related FDI inflows in China valued US $ 21 billion. China is ranked as the sixth largest ICT market in 2005. During 2007, China's rapid growth continued to be largely investment led, although net exports have been contributing a growing share. India's domestic demand gained further momentum, taking growth there to more than 9 percent. Chinese share of world total trade in ICT goods was worth less than US $ 35 billion in 1996. However, by the year 2004, Chinese ICT goods trade reached almost US $ 329 billion. Since the year 2002, China has become a net exporter of high-technology goods to OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. Chinese ICT firms do not merely assemble and re-export to OECD countries, but also compete in aspects of production process that utilise skilled labour, and absorb higher technology inputs. Rodrik (2006) finds that the Chinese exports is not merely about the volume of exports or its large pool of labour that allows the country a huge labour cost advantage, but it is also about what it produces and sells, which is associated with a productivity level that is much higher than a country at China's level of income. Research also shows that the worst weaknesses of China’s state-led capitalism are—excessive reliance on creaking state companies rather than more efficient private ones, a weak financial sector, pollution and rampant corruption.
There are risks before the two emerging economies, namely India and China, unless they take bolder steps to reforms, which aims at both internal and external macroeconomic stability without affecting the medium-term growth rate and rate of employment generation. The strengths and weaknesses need to assessed by both India and China, before they move into another round of reforms, and openness. Lastly, it must be mentioned that globalisation has also seen rise of Multi National Enterprises (MNEs) from the emerging market economies (EM) such as Brazil, China, Korea, India, Malaysia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei and Turkey. These MNEs are termed as the 'second wave MNEs', who appear to be driven directly by firm-to-firm contracting in a global setting. Firms in the developing economies now manufacture for others, which allow them to capitalise on their cheap labour while avoiding the expense and risk of marketing, distribution and research and development (R&D). Another feature of globalisation has been the vertical fragmentation of manufacturing production into discrete activities that can be performed in different locations by different firms for producing wide range of products. EM-MNEs utilise various types of strategic and organisational innovations in order to establish a presence in industrial sectors, which is already populated with world class competitors. These firms have also invested in brand-building. At the end, one can say that China and India can become economic superpowers provided the growth experienced by them is inclusive in nature.
References and statistics:
Divergent Asian Views on foreign Direct Investment and Its Governance', by Douglas H. Brooks and Hal Hall, Asian Development Review, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 1-36
'Poverty and Inequality in China and India: Elusive Link with Globalisation', by Pranab Bardhan, The Economic and Political Weekly, September 22, 2007, pp. 3849-3852.
'Key Indicators of Developing Asian and Pacific Countries', The Asian Development Bank, pp. 91-95, pp. 98-102, pp. 202-207 and pp. 230-236.
The Economic Survey 2006-07, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, pp. 139-147.
Information Technology Outlook 2006 Highlights, pp. 3-15.
'Regional Economic Outlook, Asia and Pacific', April 2007, International Monetary Fund
'Asian Development Outlook 2007 Update' (ADO Update), The Asian Development Bank
'Jobless growth in Chinese manufacturing', by Jayati Ghosh and CP Chandrasekhar, 'Strengthening Productive Capacity in Emerging Economies through Internationalisation: Evidence from the Appliance Industry', by Federico Bonaglia and Andrea Goldstein, Working Paper No. 262, July 2007, OECD Development Centre
'China's Trade and Growth: Impact on Selected OECD Countries', by Malory Greene, Nora Dihel, Przemyslaw Kowalski and Douglas Lippoldt (Unclassified), Working Party of the Trade Committee, OECD Trade Policy Working Paper No. 44, 28-Nov-2006.
'What's so special about China's exports?', by D Rodrik, NBER Working Paper 11947, Cambridge, MA, January 2006.

Hindustan Times Mint SME Summit 2007

The Hindustan Times Mint SME Summit, which was hosted by Hindustan Times along with National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), Aveya Global Connect Ltd., Global Trade Finance Ltd. (GTF), Tata Telecom, SMERA and SAP, was held in Hotel Crown Plaza, New Delhi (India) on 21st February 2007. Sandip Ghose, Head New Ventures, Hindustan Times Media Ltd, delivered the welcome note, where he informed about IT’s (information technology) positive role in transforming not only big but also small and medium enterprises. He asked for enabling policies on the part of government to provide incentives to SMEs for usage of IT. Jawahar Sircar, Additional Secretary and Development Commissioner (SSI), informed that the number of SMEs is around 12.4 million headcount-wise in India, which include village and cottage industry, micro and small industry. He said that the total number of registered companies is 0.9 million which is miniscule. He said that some of the vision of Government of India is archaic in terms of providing protection instead of promoting them to become competitive at the global level. He informed the audience about the National Manufacturing Competitive Council (NMCC), Limited Liability Partnership Bill, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Bill and OP Bhatt and Gupta Committees Report, which are oriented to strengthen the SME sector. Soum Mukherjee, Director, Aveya Global Connect Ltd., informed that SME contribute to a fair chunk of the GDP, and industrial output. IT usage could help SMEs in doing better business, with cost efficiency, he said. During the first session, HP Kumar, Chairman, NSIC informed about the India’s Finance Minister’s decision about increasing lending support to the SMEs by twice. He welcomed the credit guaranty fund to support SMEs. He informed about the credit linked capital subsidy scheme of the government. Rajesh Dubey, CEP SMERA, said that credit rating helps in cost efficiency and innovation to be undertaken by SMEs, and helps the bank to go for less riskier lending venture, provided the credit rating is done in a scientific way. J Ahluwalia, Head, Business Development, GTF, informed about Exim Bank of India’s financial solutions to the SMEs. During the second session, Anirudh Kalia, GM-SME, Tata Teleservices, talked about SMEs’ potential in transforming Indian economy. He said that companies, which have registered could go to the stock exchange to raise capital. He also informed about the various IT-based products and services, which Tata Teleservices is offering to Indian SMEs. He said that IT or Internet-enabled environment helps in fast decision-making by the SMEs as this leads to mobility. Deb Deep Sengupta, Vice President–Mid Markets and Channels, SAP India, said that service providers could provide various kinds of IT enabled services to raise the productivity of the SMEs. Amit Gupta, CEO, S Chand and Company, talked on how usage of IT by the SMEs raises productivity of the sector in particular and the economy in general. He mentioned about product, leadership, operational excellence and customer relationship, which SMEs look at while using IT-based solutions. He said that SMEs have to be good decision-makers, planners and strategy-makers regarding the type of technology, which it is adopting. He informed how technology has changed the face of mankind from the days of industrial revolution to the post-Fordist era. Rajiv Chawla, President, Faridabad Small Industries Association, mentioned about the need for best manufacturing practices in the SME sector. He emphasized on innovation, design development and validation by the SMEs in the face of globalisation and rapid technological advancement, to stay afloat during competition. He said that instead of IT use being limited to accounting or some in-house activities, there is need to use IT to look at inventories and capacity utilisation. He also mentioned about TQM, TPM, 6 sigma, benchmarking ISO et al for effective standardisation of the SMEs. He added that the framework has to move beyond built to print to art to part, where ERP (enterprise resource planning) has a possible role. The emphasis should be not only on cost efficiency and quality, but also on speed and innovation. He asked for investing in youth for the IT sector to sustain and the key role entrepreneurs can play to bring change. The sessions were moderated by Josey John, National Coordination Editor, Mint (promoted by the Wall Street Journal).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Budgetary Allocation for e-Gov, India

CSCs have been envisioned under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) as change agents which are going to change the socio-economic fabric of rural India. According to the Annual Report 2006-07 of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Department of Information Technology (DIT) has a annual plan budget of INR 1500 crore for the period 2007-08. Of the total amount of INR 1500 crore, INR 800 crore has been earmarked for Electronic Governance, which is almost 53 percent of the entire budget of the Department of Information Technology (DIT). Similarly, the figures for 2005-06 and 2006-07 are INR 300 crore (32.3 percent) and INR 440 crore (40.37 percent) respectively. This shows that e-Governance is the most prioritized area for intervention by the Government. Under the NeGP, the CSC scheme has been approved at a total cost of INR 5742 crore over 4 years. For the CSC scheme, the Government of India is estimated to contribute INR 856 crore, and the State Governments will contribute INR 793 crore. The balance resources (amounting to INR 4093 crore) would be mobilized from the private sector. Hence the CSCs scheme would be implemented in a public-private partnership (PPP) mode. Under the NeGP, the CSCs would be designed as ICT-enabled kiosks having a PC along with basic support equipment such as printer, scanner, UPS, with wireless connectivity as the backbone and additional equipment for edutainment, telemedicine, projection systems, etc. The Government has approved a scheme for establishing State Wide Area Networks (SWAN) across the country in 29 states/ 6 UTs at a total outlay of INR 3334 crore with Central Assistance component of INR 2005 crore over a period of 5 years, which is going to operationalize the CSCs. The Annual Plan 2007-08 of the Department of IT, reveals that of the INR 1500 crore, INR 238 crore (15.87 percent) has been allocated for R&D programmes and INR 884.70 crore (58.98 percent) has been allocated for infrastructure development. The Annual Plan 2006-07 of the Department of IT shows that of the INR 1090.00 crore, INR 218.50 crore (20.05 percent) has been allocated for R&D programmes and INR 530.10 crore (48.63 percent) has been earmarked for infrastructure development. The Annual Plan 2005-06 shows that of the INR 929.30 crore, INR 192.00 crore (20.66 percent) has been allocated for R&D programmes and INR 424.50 crore (48.68 percent) has been earmarked for infrastructure development. Hence it can be seen over the years that infrastructure development had been the focus of the Department of IT. Proposals for 11 states have been sanctioned by the Empowered Committee at a total cost of INR 877.63 crore and the first installment of Government of India contribution of INR 109.71 crore has been released to these States. According to the Annual Report 2006-07, three states have floated the Request for Proposal (RFP) for selection of Service Centre Agencies (SCAs) and the other States are in the process of finalizing the RFPs.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Report on panel discussion titled “Global Food Crisis and Inflation”

A panel discussion titled “Global Food Crisis and Inflation” was organized by Anvesha on 31 May, 2008 at VP House (near Planning Commission, Government of India). Prof. Arjun Sengupta[1], the first speaker talked about speculation in commodity markets and rise in food prices at the world level. He spoke about the implications of price inflation in a global market economy. He said that it is difficult to change the current trend of inflation in food prices. He informed that bio-fuel production is extremely subsidized in the US, which is not the right kind of economic policy. Prices of crude oil are going up, he added. There is a need for the right kind of technology to increase agricultural production, he emphasized upon. He said that increase in investment in irrigation do not necessarily lead to higher agricultural production, unless farmers think that agriculture is a profitable venture. Although the Indian economy is growing but few are enjoying the benefits of economic growth. People at the marginal level are pushed into destitution level, he added. Majority of the poor are not gainfully employed. They do not have earning (purchasing) power, he informed. Prof. Sengupta said that there is need to look at how to increase employment. He said that employment has definitely increased in the unorganized sector but there is a need to think about job security. He said that there are different methods to calculate unemployment. It is essential to look at whether people employed in the unorganized sector get minimum wages. There is need to consider about ‘gainful’ employment. The process of economic growth is highly unequal. There is need for industrialization, which is job oriented. It is required to have a relook at: employment, credit, technology and investment policies. Social security should be immediately provided to the poor. Small and marginal farmers who constitute a major portion of the agricultural workforce, should be provided a foothold. The Reserve Bank of India and the government do not have enough facts and figures on what amount of credit is actually provided to the poor, he said. The public distribution system (PDS) should look at the poorest of the poor. There is need for universalisation of the PDS, he claimed.

Mr. Prabir Purakayastha[2] said that there is a serious problem associated with R & D at CSIR and ICAR.

Prof. Abhijit Sen[3], second speaker said that the prices are not going to come down. One has to look historically at the inflationary trend. He said that INR 200,000 crore is the loss to the Indian economy due to rise in international prices of crude. Fertilizer prices are going to increase due to rise in crude prices. There will be trade-off between subsidies (for keeping prices down) and rise in administered prices in India. Food prices increase is not a big issue in India, as compared to the world level. Both WPI and retail prices of food have increased. Food prices at the world level are rising sharply compared to India. There is crisis with global capitalism. World capitalism has also seen bubble burst in early 2000s. India and China are growing faster since last 4 years. So their growth is not leading to inflation, which was being alleged by President Bush. In the US, majority of the people believe that speculation is leading to inflation, he added by referring to George Soros. He asked for rethinking on saving oil and fertilizer. He asked for reducing the number of cars on roads. He asked for a good public transport system, which can save petroleum usage. He said that India has enough wheat stock presently, which can be distributed via the PDS. There is a need to oppose targeted PDS and accept universal PDS. There is also a need to increase the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy, said Prof. Sen. Fiscal discipline should not lead to contraction in expenditure on important programmes like National Rural Employment Guaranty Act (NREGA). While the Sixth Pay Commission is providing huge salary increase to non-poor people, enough is not done for programmes like NREGA which serves the poor.

The third speaker Sitaram Yechury[4] asked the question how should see inclusive growth. He said that neo-liberal policy is deflationary in nature, which allows for speculation. Economic inequalities are rising due to the current economic policies, which are being pursued. There is jobless growth being faced by India, he said. He asked for looking at global financial capital flows. There is a need for looking at trading in derivatives (from the website: He asked: If NT Rama Rao government in Andhra Pradesh can provide rice at Rs. 2/- per kg, then why the same can’t be done by the present UPA government. There is a need to provide social security to the poor, he added. He said that the windfall profit earned by Reliance on gas production from Andhra Pradesh’s Godavari delta region needs to be taxed. Government should provide helping hand to the poor and not the companies, whose owners are rich. There is a need to check the conspicuous consumption practices of the big industrialists. He said that in between 1996-2004, India faced stagnation in agriculture. After that agricultural production has gone up. There are uncertainties in a globalised economy. The government should not lose its public sector units, he emphasized. He said that India should have enough buffer stock. Organized sector rely upon capital-intensive technology. So he asked for labour-intensive technology, which can provide jobs.

After a brief consultation among the speakers and the audience, the panel discussion ended.

[1] Prof. Arjun Sengupta is a former professor at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and currently an adjunct professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Chairman of the Center for Development and Human Rights in New Delhi. He is the former UN Independent Expert on the Right to Development and current Independent Expert on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty. He is also the Co-Director, with Professor Stephen Marks, of the Right to Development Project at the Fran├žois-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center at The Harvard School of Public Health. Professor Sengupta has held numerous positions of high office in the Government of India. In the 1980s he was Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of India. Subsequently, he was an Executive Director of the IMF in Washington DC, and India's Ambassador to the European Union. In his capacity as Independent Expert on the Right to Development, Dr. Sengupta reported to the Open-Ended Working Group on the Right to Development at each of its sessions on the current state of progress in the implementation of the right to development as a basis for a focused discussion, taking into account, inter alia, the deliberations and suggestions of the Working Group.

[2] He is from Delhi Science Forum (

[3] Prof. Abhijit Sen has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Cambridge. He has joined Planning Commission on leave as Professor of Economics in Jawaharlal Nehru University. He earlier held teaching posts at the Universities of Sussex, Oxford and Cambridge and is currently on the Senate/Executive Committees of University of Delhi, IIT (Delhi) and National Centre for Agricultural Policy. In the past, Prof. Sen has been on a number of official Commissions/Committees; including: Chairman, High level Committee on Long Term Grain Policy, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Government of India, 2000-02 Chairman, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, Govt. of India 1997-2000 Member, State Planning Boards of West Bengal and Tripura Chairman, Tenth Plan Subgroup on Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Planning Commission, government of India, 2001 Member, Prime Minister's Task Force on Agriculture and WTO, Government of India, 2000-01 Member, Expert Committee on Rural Credit, NABARD, 1999-01 Prof. Sen has also been Adviser/Consultant with International organisations, such as the United Nations Development Programme, New York; International Labour Organisation, Geneva; Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, Rome; OECD Development Centre, Paris; the UN University World Institute of Development Research, Helsinki; International Fund for Agricultural Development, Rome; Asian Development Bank, Manila. Prof. Sen has authored /Co-authored more than 30 papers in the areas of: Agriculture, Employment, Economic Reforms and Poverty

[4] Sitaram Yechury was born on August 12, 1952. After school education in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, he had to move to Delhi due to disruption of academic life as a result of the separate Telengana movement in 1969. At Delhi, in 1970 he completed Higher Secondary (one Year Course) standing first in the All India merit list. In 1973, he completed B.A.(Hons) in Economics, first class, from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University. In 1975, he completed M.A., first class, in Economics, from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi. Subsequently, he joined JNU for a Ph.D. degree which he could not complete due to his arrest during Emergency. He joined Students Federation of India (SFI) in 1974, while at JNU. He joined the CPI (M) in 1975. He was underground for sometime, organising resistance to Emergency, before his arrest in 1975. After Emergency, he was elected as President of JNU Students' Union thrice during one year (1977-78). In 1978, he was elected as SFI's All India Joint Secretary. He left SFI as its President in 1986. In 1984, he was invited to the Central Committee of the CPI (M). He was elected to the Central Committee in the CPI (M) XII Congress in 1985, to the Central Secretariat at the XIII Congress in 1988 and to the Polit Bureau at the XIV Congress in 1992. He is currently a member of the Polit Bureau, Head of the International Department and Editor of the CPI (M) Central Weekly, Peoples' Democracy.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Report Review: World Development Report 2008- Agriculture for Development

The World Development Report 2008- Agriculture for Development is being prepared under the guidance of Francois Bourguignon in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Network. Team members for the WDR 2008 are: Derek Byerlee and Alain de Janvry, Irina I. Klytchnikova, Elisabeth Sadoulet, M. Paula Savanti, and Robert Townsend. The team was assisted by Harold Alderman, Beatriz Avalos-Sartorio, Julio Berdegue, Regina Birner, Lynn Brown, Luc Christiaensen, Klaus Deininger, Peter Hazell, Karen Macours, Michael Carter, Marie-Helene Collion, Michael Morris, and Dina Umali-Deininger, all of whom contributed to drafting parts of the Report, as well as Noora Aberman, Corinna Hawkes, Jorge Aguero, Shahrooz Badkoubei, Sarah Baird, Leandre Bassole, Tidiane Kinda, Melissa Klink, Claudio Montenegro, Eija Pehu, Catherine Ragasa, and Antti Seelaff. The WDR 2008 has 11 chapters namely: Chapter 1: Growth and poverty reduction in agriculture’s three worlds; Chapter 2: Agriculture’s performance, diversity, and uncertainties; Chapter 3: Rural households and their pathways out of poverty; Chapter 4: Realising gains from trade, price, and subsidy policy reforms; Chapter 5: Bringing agriculture to the market; Chapter 6: Supporting smallholder competitiveness through institutional innovations; Chapter 7: Innovating through science and technology; Chapter 8: Making agricultural systems more environmentally sustainable; Chapter 9: Moving beyond the farm; Chapter 10: Emerging national agendas for agriculture’s three worlds; and, Chapter 11: Strengthening governance, from local to global. The purpose behind coming out with the World Development Report 2008-Agriculture for Development is to place agriculture afresh at the centre of the development agenda, in a vastly different context of opportunities and challenges. The World Bank released a first draft of its latest World Development Report on 'Agriculture for Development' on 9 April, 2007. On 25 and 26 January, 2007, the World Bank thus held a civil society consultation on the WDR in Toronto, Canada. When the WDR's first draft was released, a subsequent e-Consultation process involving academics, national and sub-national government officials, small producer organisations, business sector and civil society groups was coordinated by Rimisp (Latin American Centre for Rural Development). The aim behind it was to identify any key issues missing from the report. The WDR's three-part structure addresses the following questions: 'why use agriculture for development', 'how to use agriculture for development' and 'how to formulate and implement tailored agriculture-for-development agendas?' The WDR Report 2008 thus calls upon action to bring out the smallholders from the poverty trap, in the Sub Sahara Africa, Latin America and Asia. There is call for addressing income disparities in transforming countries, which requires a comprehensive approach that pursues multiple pathways out of poverty shifting to high-value agriculture, decentralising non-farm economic activity to rural areas, and providing assistance to help move people out of agriculture. Instead of arguing for invisible hand (where market forces plays a decisive-role) as was dictated by Adam Smith, the WDR 2008 asks for the visible hand of the State for growth, poverty reduction and environmental services.

Message of WDR 2008
The Report emphasises upon market-based approach towards poverty reduction and agricultural growth. This however makes the recommendations contradictory since the same Report accepts market failures in the Southern nations. In this Report, agriculture comprises of crops, livestock, agroforestry and aquaculture. It does not include forestry and commercial capture fisheries since they require vastly different analyses. In agriculture-based countries, agriculture generates on average 29 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 65 percent of the labour force. The Report accepts that domestic agricultural production is essential for food security. Agriculture is also accepted as a source of livelihood. The Report informs that the large decline in the number of rural poor (from 1,038 million in 1993 to 890 million in 2003) has been confined to East Asia and the Pacific. In South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of rural poor has continued to rise and will likely exceed the number of urban poor until 2040. In this context, it is essential to see the debate around poverty measurement in India. The Report categorises countries into: agriculture-based countries, transforming countries and urbanised countries. It says that China and India moved over the evolutionary paths from the agriculture-based to transforming group over the last 20 years. WDR 2008 says that in the transforming economies, reallocation of labour out of agriculture is typically lagging. The Report do not touch upon the issue whether movement of labour from agriculture to non-agriculture is happening due to push factor or pull factor. The Report could have thrown more light upon the issue of disguised unemployment. Land reform can promote small holder entry into the market, reduce inequalities in land distribution, increase efficiency, and be organised in ways that recognize women's rights. Population pressure together with declining farm size and water scarcity are major challenges in many parts of Asia, the WDR 2008 says. The Reports says that land markets, particularly rental markets, can raise productivity, help households diversify their incomes, and facilitate exit from agriculture. However, whether such an exit of smallholders would result in the entry of corporate sector into agriculture, which is viable and profitable needs to be asked and understood. While land and water are critical assets in rural areas, education is often the most valuable asset for rural people to pursue opportunities in the new agriculture, obtain skilled jobs, start businesses in the rural non-farm economy, and migrate successfully, the WDR 2008 accepts. The broad policy recommendations provided by WDR 2008 are: a. Improve price incentives and increase the quality and quantity of public investment; b. Make market work better; c. Improve access to financial services and reduce exposure to uninsured risks; d. Enhance the performance of producer organisations; e. Promote innovation through science and technology; and, f. Make agriculture more sustainable and a provider of environmental services. The Report says that liberalization of imports of food staples can also be pro-poor because often the largest number of poor, including small holders are net food buyers. But many poor net sellers (sometimes the largest group of poor) will lose, and specific programmes tailored to country-specific circumstances will be needed to ease the transition to new market realities. The Report also throws light upon the Doha Round of trade negotiations and the trade related distortions due to subsidies provided by both the Southern and the Northern nations. However, putting the entire blame of trade related distortions on Southern nations, would be unwanted. The Report asks for investments in infrastructure, promoting commodity exchanges, market information systems based on rural radio and short messaging systems, warehouse receipts, and market-based risk management tools. But how can this be done without the active participation of the State, NGOs (non-government organisations), CSOs (civil society organisations) and farmers' collective and trade unions, needs to be pondered upon. Hence the WDR 2008 rightly argues for decentralisation and participatory governance. However, the Report donot say whether that will be political or apolitical in nature. The Report informs that producer organisations' effectiveness is frequently constrained by legal restrictions, low managerial capacity, elite capture, exclusion of the poor, and failure to be recognized as full partners by the state. While investment in R&D tripled in China and India over the last 20 years, it increased by barely a fifth in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to some critics, the Report over-emphasizes upon macroeconomic stabilisation policies to be pursued in Sub Saharan Africa. The Report accepts that investments in biotechnology, which is concentrated in the private sector and driven by commercial interests, have had limited impacts on small holder productivity in the developing world. In this respect, the issues (such as biodiversity, biopiracy, bioethics) related to GMOs (genetically modified organisms) too have been discussed. The Report informs that agricultural intensification has resulted in reduction in biodiversity, mismanagement of irrigation water, agro-chemical pollution, health costs, deaths from pesticide poisoning, soil erosion, spread of animal diseases like avian influenza, desertification etc. Although green-revolution has become a sort of cult term for agri-scientists, economists and policy-makers, but little thought is given on the adverse impact of green-revolution on environment and social structure in countries from South Asia and elsewhere. The WDR 2008 in this respect rightly points out the problems associated with agriculture. Developing country agriculture and deforestation are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, the WDR 2008 says. There is also discussion on the pros and cons of biofuel production in countries like Brazil, the USA etc. The Report asks for decentralized environment which can address the following objectives: a.) increase access to markets and promote efficient value chains; b.) enhance smallholder competitiveness and facilitate market entry; c.) improve livelihoods in subsistence farming and low skill rural occupations; and, d.) increase employment in agriculture and the rural non-farm economy, and enhance skills. The Report asks for recognizing the often-dominant role of women as farmers, agro-processors, and traders in local markets. The Report asks for linking small holders to modern food markets. The state has a role in market development (in the backdrop of 'market failures')-providing core public goods, improving the investment climate for the private sector-and in better natural resources management by introducing incentives and regulations.
Although the WDR Report 2008 takes note of the problems faced by the poor, still it calls upon agricultural reforms in the Southern nations. The moot question is whether such reforms would include measures like removal of ceiling on land possessed, which can make the entry of corporates and MNCs easier, or poverty reduction measures like direct cash transfers to poor and landless, more allocation of budgets for food-for-work schemes etc. The Report misses out on traditional farming practices, importance of food banks for not only ensuring food security but which serves as gene banks, collection, preservation and genetic mapping of indigenous varieties of seeds, role of agriculture as a supplier of important herbal and medicinal products etc. Although the WDR focuses on the importance of decentralisation, but little is mentioned about the decay of old State institutions which had historical importance such as the rationing system (public distribution system), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), state agricultural universities etc. Renewal and revival of such institutions can provide boost to the agricultural scenario in the Indian context. The WDR 2008 also misses out on the issue of farmers' suicides as had been happening in different Indian states. But altogether the WDR 2008 is welcome and much-awaited document which needs to be read by policy makers, economists and general readers for critical appraisal.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Indian Telecentre Forum 2007


The present write-up on Telecentre Tales would cover the discussions and suggestions that came up during Indian Telecentre Forum of the eIndia 2007 Conference, which was held in Hotel Taj Palace (New Delhi, India), from 31 July 2007 to 2 August, 2007. Ms. Rumi Mallick from Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS), Noida (India) introduced the Indian Telecentre Forum, 2007. She informed that it was for the second time, Indian Telecentre Forum, a part of the eIndia Conference, would be taking stock of the telecentre movement in India and elsewhere. She said that the telecentre forum discussion would focus on Government of India's CSCs (Common Service Centres) scheme, and the other telecentre initiatives in the country. The objectives of the Indian Telecentre Forum is to raise awareness about the growing telecentre movement in general, and India in particular; raise key issues and challenges of telecentres; take up the recommendations of the current deliberation to the policy-makers for appropriate policy changes and build a community of practices (CoP) for knowledge-sharing and capacity-building.

July 31, 2007
Reviewing the emerging telecentre ecosystem

The first session of the Telecentre Forum of e-India Conference was chaired by Dr Srinivasan Ramakrishnan, Director General C-DAC, Pune. He informed that a lot of projects pertaining to telecentres in the ground are running on pilot basis. An entire gamut of factors determine the success of telecentres which include: infrastructure, content of portals, language of the content provided etc. He said that revolution in Information Technology has captured the imagination of people. There are very successful case studies. Nowadays, non-government organisations (NGOs) too are working together with the private sector. The Indian Telecentre Forum is a space which helps one to listen to various case studies. Y.S. Kim, e-Government Advisor, NITC, Government of Nepal (Republic of Korea), was the first speaker at the first session on telecentre. He informed that he has worked for 3 years in Nepal in the area of ICTs learning from rural Korea. Korea has good broadband connectivity. In rural areas of Korea, there still exists digital divide. Budget related to Information Technology is important. Korea has made huge investment on IT. In every village, investment on IT has been made. The budget for IT comes from the central and the local government. Information content is important since it generates income for people.

Dr. Baseerhamad Shadrach (Shaddy), Senior Programme officer, International Development Research Centre, New Delhi, said that his organisation was the one which introduced the term 'telecentre ecosystem'. Shaddy said that there are four key concepts to understand telecentres—Actor, Action, Actant and Tool. He added that the term ecosystem is related to tools. He reminded that IDRC funded telecentres for 20 years (the first generation telecentres). But 2-3 years back IDRC realised that telecentres cannot be funded in isolation. IDRC realised that for funding the second generation telecentres, there is need for investment in telecentre ecosystem. While explaining the term 'action', Shaddy said that 'action' in telecentre means connecting source (supply) with demand or vice-versa. While explaining the term 'actor', he said that actor is the telecentre manager. It should be ensured that the telecentre manager is not isolated. 'Actant' (although there is no such term in the dictionary) has been defined by Shaddy, as the people on which the act is acted upon. It basically refers to the community. The term 'Tool' was defined by Shaddy as the telecentre itself. The 'Tool' can be the computer, community radio or mobile handset. The answer lies with the community, on what should be termed as the tool. Balasundaram Muthukumara, Project Executer, Dhan Foundation who was the third speaker in the first session on 31 July, 2007 talked about Thagavalagam Telecentre movement. He informed that Dhan Foundation is a professional development organisation, which is working in India for the upliftment of the poor communities. He added that Thagavalagam telecentres are clustered under 15 hubs. The telecentres are supported by Dhan Foundation, ISRO and CAPART. He said that there are different wireless-based technologies in order to connect the telecentres such as CorDECT technology, and 802.16 Pre WiMax Technology. Offline services are offered by the telecentres in the areas like: computer education, e-School, job-related works, digital photography, Photo 2 CD services, Infotainment, functional literacy, agriculture, animal husbandry, health, gender, microfinance, insurance, adult literacy, fisheries, etc. Dr. Subarna Shakya, Executive Director, NITC, Nepal was the next speaker. He informed about school telecentres in Nepal which are located at the villages. Regarding the school telecentre, there was a survey study of Government telecentres in 2005. Results indicated that 80 percent of the telecentres were not sustainable. Majority of the community members including the students could not afford services offered at the telecentres. The long-term benefits of telecentres are: increased literacy rate; ICT driven education and ICT for village development. The short-term benefits of telecentres are: decreased drop out rate among students; increased enrollment rate among students; students can become part of the Information Revolution after training, etc. Sandeep Kaur, Researcher, P.S.G. College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore, was the fifth speaker. Her presentation cross-checked whether e-Governance was a hype or reality. The presentation focused on the potential challenges on implementing e-Governance in Tamil Nadu to serve the marginalised populace via the RASI kiosks, and the significance of kiosks in this respect. Her presentation was an attempt to examine the significance of kiosk development in the context of e-Government policies through a case study on RASI Kiosks implemented in Melur district in the state of Tamil Nadu. Though the e-Government services were received with great enthusiasm by rural communities since its inception in November 2001, the project failed to sustain and came to an end by December 2002 while some of the private services sustained. To have greater future success, policymakers and public IT managers should pay close attention to long-term business planning, strategic management, and stakeholder partnership in future kiosk development and similar e-Government projects, as per Sandeep Kaur. The final speaker of the day was Ahmad MM Eisa, Chairman of GDCO, Sudan. He informed that Gedaref Digital City has community telecentres equipped with a high technical facilities. It is the first digital city in Sudan. He informed about the partnership between the great people of Eindhoven represented by digital city of Eindhoven (DSE-Netherlands- Ben Waumans and the Board of Directors) and Gedaref community which is represented by Gedaref Digital City (GDCO). He said that the objective of GDCO is to develop the community by using Information Technology. The goals are to enable the community to reach and cope with the electronic era, capacity building of the community, and help the society have their voice heard, and their memory activated for utilisation and documentation for the state. He explained how the GDCO is helping the disabled. He said that disabled individuals are still excluded from many areas of life including information technologies (IT). GDCO is helping the disabled in the areas of IT and ICTs because ICT training is an important key qualification. Most of the disabled are very poor. Disabled are considered a useless community and no one care about them. Usage of ICTs is not part of Sudanese culture. However, imparting ICTs training can make the disabled to be self dependent and help their families. There is need for the integration of disabled in the community. There is also the need for fighting poverty through ICT, as per Ahmad. Because of GDCO's efforts, disabled are using ICTs for communications (chatting and emailing) instead of using sign languages. GDCO established telecentres for them which help both the disabled (by providing them employment opportunities) and the community (training and capacity building). The main challenges before GDCO are: lack of strategic and executable plans with clear time-bound targets; poor infrastructure especially power supply, high cost of ICT equipment, poorly designed schools' capacity and curriculum, lack of community involvement, awareness and interaction, unavailability of funding and non-usage of Internet (which is part of Sudanese culture).

August 1, 2007

CSC Programme: Sharing visions for shared access

S. Abbasi, Sr.Director, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, GoI, chaired the first session held on 1 August 2007. He informed that private sectors are going for the CSCs scheme for tapping the rural market, despite agriculture contributing a lower proportion to the gross domestic product (GDP). He said that in the recent years, the impact of policies on CSCs scheme has been noticed. In the next 2-3 years, reliable broadband connectivity would be seen. R.K. Maiti, Joint Secretary, Department of PR&RD, West Bengal, informed that the CSCs scheme in West Bengal has been termed as Tathya Mitra. West Bengal has to establish 6,797 rural CSCs, he added. SREI Sahaj e-Village Ltd., WIPRO, Reliance Communications, and Samtec Technologies were elected through open bidding. Objective of ICT policy are: economic development, improving quality of life, ensuring good governance and promote high internal efficiency. The letter of intent has been issued on 2nd March, 2007 and signing of MSA took place on 5th April, 2007 with SREI and on 7th May, 2007 with Reliance. Rural West Bengal has been divided into 8 zones—two zones have been awarded to Reliance and 6 zones have been awarded to SREI infrastructure. Main areas to be targeted under MMP of NeGP are: Land and Land Reforms department, social welfare, agriculture and allied activities, transport, police, education, registration, etc. Other schemers covered for e-Governance are: e-Health, e-Medicine. He said that eliminating middle-men is the need of the day. Kshatrapati Shivaji, Secretary IT, Government of Maharashtra, the next speaker, said that ICTs has brought revolutionary changes. ICTs has blurred geographical barriers, economic barriers, and is an effective instrument in globalisation. Virtual world has taken over the real world. Places where there is no infrastructure can be reached out through ICTs. CSCs will help in economic development. He informed that Maharashtra has its own SETU programme. There exists Mahanet in Maharashtra, which provides grid all over the state. Upgradation of district headquarters will take place via SWAN. A roadmap for a period of 3 years has been prepared for Maharashtra. New projects are planned to be started on pilot basis which can be replicated. Capacity-building of Department of Information Technology (DIT) is needed. In Maharashtra, SCAs will go for bidding in 6 different places, he added. 7,285 CSCs will come up in Maharashtra, and they will be integrated. The CSCs will be opened in the gram panchayat premises. In Baramati, IL&FS has started a pilot project on CSCs from January, 2007 onwards.

V.S. Kundu, Special Secretary IT, Haryana was the third speaker. He said that e-Governance revolution is just around the corner. The time is ripe for e-Governance because e-Government measures are coming into existence. A lot of technological solutions are available. Citizens and government are becoming more aware about e-Governance. People have realised that e-Governance improves efficiency and saves time. Even 'babus' and 'clerks' have changed their attitude towards e-Governance. A lot of help is coming from the Right to Information Act. CSCs scheme have been prepared carefully under the public private partnership (PPP) mode to make it successful. Sustainability is assured through B2B services. Private players cannot provide neutral playing field to their competitors. In Haryana, flexibilities were given to SCAs to design the B2C services. In Haryana, SCAs were appointed on the basis of revenue-division. 3iInfotech is working in Gurgaon. Hughes Network Systems is working in Rohtak. 1,159 rural CSCs have come up in rural Haryana and 212 CSCs have come up in urban areas of Haryana. Some of the CSCs are already operating. The mandate is to make 40 percent of CSCs workable by October, 2007. SCAs believe that the target will be met earlier. The real challenge is readiness of G2C services. The SCAs will identify the VLEs. In 3 out of 4 divisions of Haryana, CSCs are operating. There are 6 CSCs in Ambala, 1 in Hissar, and more than 40 in Rohtak. In Gurgaon, sample centres would be coming up. Navin Kumar, Principal Secretary, IT, Government of Bihar, said that CSCs scheme is about government's initiative to provide web-enabled services to citizens. There are critical areas such as: SWAN, SCAs and CSCs. He informed that Bihar has 8,463 panchayats. So one CSC in each panchayat is envisioned to be established. For 8 of the 9 divisions, SCAs have been identified. Apart from SREI, there are two more players. The MSA is expected to be signed in the month of August, 2007. He informed about kisan soochna kendras run by Jai Kisan in Uttarakhand. He informed that SCAs will take up the onus to set up infrastructure, by partnering with VLEs. But no roll-out of CSCs has taken place in Bihar.

Pranav Roach, President, Hughes Network Systems India, said that in 2000, the IT scenario was far from being fair. The IT policy of 1999 was not conducive for the growth of the IT industry. In India, there are 200 million mobile users, but voice connectivity is missing. There are some futuristic application. The success of the IT industry can affect the CSCs scheme. PC penetration is low in India. There are only 20 million PCs for a population of 1.1 billion people. Availability of online connectivity device for serious applications is negligible in India. The vital issue is what type of services would be delivered by the private players. There is excessive optimism about the effective implementation of CSCs scheme. The critical factor is policy framework. The type of business and revenue sharing model chosen would determine the fate of the sustainability of CSCs. For inclusive growth, access, community infrastructure is required along with broadband connectivity. The ecosystems will be shaped by government policy. In Haryana, there are 1,500 telecentres which are working outside the purview of CSCs scheme. In the case of B2C services, one telecentre located in a developed area can earn a revenue of INR 20,000 to 25,000. People are now ready to use IT and ICT applications. CSC Programme: Stocktaking on key opportunities and challengesAruna Sundararajan, CEO, CSC programme, IL & FS, New Delhi chaired the second session held on 1 August, 2007. R.P. Pal, IT Secretary, Government of Goa, was the first speaker in this session. He informed that Goa performed well in areas like: quality of life, health and infrastructure, apart from e-Governance. Optical fibres have been laid in all talukas. Government would be getting revenue under the PPP mode of CSCs scheme. In 2002, Goa set up 13 experimental CSCs, which are called Mahiti Ghars. 10 services are provided through Mahiti Ghars, which include land records, licenses, etc. Regulating the pricing of the services being provided is essential. When more services are offered, the prices charged should go down. For broadband network, end-users would be charged. Currently, the bandwidth provided is sufficient for business transaction in Goa. Ravi Kumar, Executive Director, Alternative for India Development, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, said that the programmes of the Government of India should target the poor. He informed that his organisation is working for more than 25 years. He took the case study of Jharkhand. He informed that his organisation provides a lot of services like basic education, health services, opportunities for livelihood for the poor etc. CSCs scheme is a convergent programme. There are 600 panchayats with 3,000 villages with a population of 3 million in Jharkhand. CSCs uses the power of ICTs to reach out to the poor. The approach of CSCs scheme should be bottom-up and not top-down. CSCs should be community-driven. He explained about the problem of political extremism, which is affecting the implementation of the CSCs scheme in Jharkhand. Mass migration and hunger related deaths take place in Jharkhand. In the last 30 years, no election has taken place for the panchayats. Decentralisation has not taken place in Jharkhand. Even district collectors are unaware of the Right to Information Act. They think that RTI Act is used for blackmailing bureaucrats. Although Jharkhand is resource-rich, but its people are poor. L.K. Tiwari, Additional Chief General Manager, MPDCL, Madhya Pradesh, said that SCAs have not been appointed in Madhya Pradesh. CSCs are functioning in some form or the other on an experimental basis in various states. ITC established e-Choupal in MP, under a special ordinance. ITC was allowed to procure food grain/crops directly from farmers and pay the 'mandi' tax directly to the government. He informed that the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad has selected the transport department of MP for its study. The process of issuing driving license is completely computerised in MP. There is no manual processing of Treasury Bills. Srinivas Tadigadapa, Head South Asia, World Ahead Programme, Intel, spoke about the problem of power shortage in rural India. He said that last mile connectivity in rural hinterland is required. D.C. Mishra, Senior Technical Director, NIC, New Delhi, was the last speaker. He said that CSCs can be helpful for entrepreneurs to enter the market. In the recent years automation of the government programmes have taken place. He informed that the NIC and Stanford University USA (Asia Pacific Research Centre in Stanford) study looked at adoption and consumption capacity of village-level community to use CSCs. He mentioned about some projects like Gyandoot, HPI community initiative, panchayat driven initiatives in Belandhar, Buddhi Kote, n-Logue, Akshaya project of Kerala and Warana Wired Village. If need arises, adequate changes need to be made in CSC logistics. He drew everyone's attention to: poor quality of web-content, digital divide, lack of proper business models, financial sustainability, technological sustainability, inadequate generation of capital, inadequate connectivity and 24x7 delivery modes. He said that laying of optical fibres can be helpful in getting broadband connectivity. It was also informed that CSC investment would range from INR 1.25-INR 3.00 lakh. Aruna Sundararajan during the question and answer session, said that the role of IL&FS is to support SCA as well as SDA. Once the bidding process is over, SCA has the responsibility to run and maintain the centre. IL&FS is working at national level and supporting DIT to bring some of the big service providers and give them platform. But still lots of challenges are there.

The key challenges are: a) Setting up infrastructure on the ground level; b) Delivery of services; and c) Sustainability of kiosks. She informed that there is no corporate involved in ground level. While replying to Vijay from iKisan, D.C. Mishra said that e-Governance services are meant for block panchayat, district panchayat and tehsil level. Other services, which can be provided are IGNOU, computer training and certificating programmes. There are departmental exams, online exams, which can be conducted through CSC centres. Content services and financial sustainability-making the connectionV. Balaji, Head of Knowledge Management and Sharing, ICRISAT chaired the third session. He asked Dr. Kentaro Toyama, Assistant Managing Director, Microsoft Research India to give his presentation. Dr. Kentaro Toyama quoted the definition of telcentres as PC equipped centre facilitating people for various services. These are some kind of services, which are computerised. He said that he is not focusing on those telecentres, which are fully funded by NGOs or the government, but on those telecentres, which are willing to work as a business. He visited around 50 kiosks, and culled out some key challenges and opportunities for e-Kiosks. To run PC based kiosks is a difficult proposition, and also it is challenging to garner funds. There are a long list of services for running the kiosk. There was mention of e-Seva, and Comat telecentres in Karnataka. The government their has closed these e-Services from their government offices and now it is these kiosks that are providing the e-Services. Eventually the customers are forced to go to these kiosks. Since these are private businesses, so they provide better services than traditional government offices. Also, there is much demand for kiosks as computer training centres.

Building partnership for outreach, scaling up and sustainability

Vikram Chand, Senior Public Sector Management Specialist, World Bank India, chaired the fourth session. The other discussants were: Gerolf Weigel, Head - ICT4D, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Berne, Switzerland; Rufina Fernandes, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation, Mumbai; Dr Harsha Liyanage, Managing Director - Fusion, Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka; Vikas Goswami, Lead-Corporate Social Responsi-bility, Microsoft, India; and Shahid Akbar, ICT Consultant, KATALYST, Bangladesh.

August 2, 2007

Addressing the access challenge

Ashis Sanyal, Sr. Director, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, GoI, chaired the first session held on 2 August, 2007. He informed that BSNL has the mandate of reaching out to the rural areas for providing access points. He also reminded about the PCO model and Cyber Cafe model that spread in the entire India. R.N. Padukone, Sr. Deputy Director General (TEC), Ministry of Communications & IT, GoI (, was the first speaker in Telecentre Tales forum during the first session on 2nd August 2007. He spoke on the nationwide inter-operable broadband network for rural safety requirement. He said that 700 Mhz is the ideal spectrum for rural areas, as per the legislation in USA, which can cover a radius of 30 km. He also spoke about the creation of National Broadband Authority--NBA (a government body). The roles of NBA would be: a) Defining terrestrial coverage requirement; b) Defining network specifications; c) Defining user control and establish necessary protocols for user-priority and inter-operability; d) Defining reliability levels and work in the area of redundancy arrangements; e) Establishing capacity requirements; f) Developing procedures for setting additional capacity when necessary; g) Developing procedures to manage authorities relationship with commercial carrier licenses; h) Negotiating with equipment and service vendors; i) Coding at optimal pricing and packages; j) Looking at activation and deactivation units; k) Developing technological and production roadmap for public safety by keeping the network evergreen; l) Administering revenue stream including distribution of negative auction money; m) Looking at network usage charges. Sweta Jain, WIMAX/WIMESH Solutions Manager, Nortel Networks, India, made her presentation on government services reaching to rural masses through e-Governance. She informed that services of e-Governance can be in the area of G2B, G2C and G2G. She said that ICTs can also be provided to government employees. She informed that there exists spectral shortage in India. Masses can be reached via 5.8 and 2.4 Ghz. GSM, CDMA and WiMax, are needed to be placed in an inter-operable platform. She also talked on Orthogonal Frequency Divisional Multiple (OFDM), which comprises of High Speed Downing Packet Access (HSDPA), EVTO (for CDMA) and LTE (for 3G). OFDM provides spectral efficiency. WiMax can work on unlicensed bands. WiFi's range in rural areas is not good. WiMax has low operational cost. There are standards for WiMax which is 802.16 B. 270. Operators globally have deployed WiMax. She spoke on network infrastructure too. CPE is used for getting access to broadbands. K.B. Narayanan, Director, Head - Broadband Technology Division, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India spoke on the status of broadband last mile accessibility. Affordability aspect was the focus of his presentation. He said that broadband supports high-speed data transfer. Broadband brings efficiency. Internet and broadband are catalysts for social and economic development. Broadband provides end-users with packet based digital voice, video and data services. Last mile bandwidth bottlenecks is solved via broadband. There is need for e-Inclusion of rural masses. In October 2004 Government of India announced the broadband policy, which specifies 256 Kbps as the minimum downloadable speed. The factors affecting broadband are: access cost, availability of local language content, customer premises equipment, value proposition, increasing demand for bandwidth application, making bandwidth available at reasonable cost etc. The effort made by Government of India are: a) Progressive reduction in call charges, national long distance bandwidth charges and international long-distance bandwidth charges; b) Reduction in customer premises equipment price; c) Local language content is rising; and d) More spectrum is available to service providers by releasing it for other captive uses. He informed that the Year 2007 has been announced the Year of the Broadband. Sandeep Gupta, Senior Engineering Manager, Product Marketing and Management, Motorola, informed that Motorola helps in provision of broadband services. Broadband can help in provision of e-governance services, tele-medicine services etc. which can transform the economy and society. The challenges are: a) Poor infrastructure; b) Poor infrastructure including power supply; c) Low affordability; and d) Lack of spectrum efficiency. Solutions are needed in the form of low Opex and Capex to provide affordable broadband connectivity. Measuring the social impacts of telecentresDuring the second session held on 2nd August 2007, Alok Bhargava, Chief Executive, Rural CSC Programme, IL&FS, explained that IL&FS is working with Government of India for implementation of CSCs scheme. There is need for looking at the outcomes of establishing CSCs.

Chetan Sharma Founder, Datamation Foundation Charitable Trust, New Delhi, informed that one-third of government services and two-third of private services are going to be delivered via telecentres and CSCs. Enormous changes have taken place in India. Sharma also mentioned about Bhoomi (Karnataka), Akshaya (Malappuram), Datamation Foundation, Warana Milk Co-operative, etc. He asked for the need of institutional sustainability, technological and infrastructural sustainability, and livelihood sustainability. Namrata Bali, General Secretary, SEWA, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, said that village knowledge centres, CSCs and CLCs are essential for rural development. She informed that SEWA has a membership of more than 10 lakh women. She mentioned about the presence of SHGs, mandals, DWCRA groups, co-operative societies in Gujarat. SEWA women members have created various indicators via focus group discussion on employment, income, nutrition, health (including reproductive health), micro-finance and asset-building, housing (including housing, sanitation, sewerage), women's empowerment and leadership, self-reliance, collective and social empowerment. Diaries are written by grass-root women on a daily basis which is reflective of the problems they face regularly pertaining to livelihood, poverty, income generation, etc. Ram Gopal, Partner, Byrraju Foundation, Hyderabad informed about his organisation and the functions it performs. He said that Byrraju Foundation works in 180 villages of 6 districts of Andhra Pradesh. It has implemented a project on rural bandwidth wireless connectivity project, which offers a basket of services by working with Media Lab Asia and United Nations Development Programme. Knowledge sharing for strengthening community and networks: How do we leverage the web 2.0?Ashwant Gnanavelu, Manager HR, DesiCrew Solutions, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, informed that DesiCrew established rural BPO centre apart from investing in infrastructure. DesiCrew offer backoffice services to clients. They are working in Tamil Nadu. 50 percent of DesiCrew's associates are girls. R.K. Maiti's (Jt Secretary, Department of PR and RE, West Bengal) presentation was on knowledge sharing. He said that Indian society must be knowledge-based, but it will have to be a knowledge-sharing society. He said that there is necessity of change in the mindset from one that works for the people to one that works with the people. He also asked for democratic institutions of service delivery. Ashis Sanyal also participated in this session which brought out some key recommendations to continue the dialogue.