Several years ago, I was in Chennai learning about what Ashok Jhunjhunwala’s teams were working on. One idea Ashok had was that of basing agricultural extension advice tailored to micro-climatic and soil data. So when a farmer calls/texts, the advice he would get would be specifically for his land and the climatic conditions relevant to that land at that time. I’ve talked about this with many people since, but only as a theoretical construct. I was skeptical the enormous data base that it required could ever be constructed (and maintained, since the soil and climate conditions changed all the time).
LIRNEasia’s IAB member and close collaborator Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala has written a thought-provoking op-ed in the Times of India: Black money thrives in the cash economy. If we introduce traceability in financial transactions, it will be difficult to hide. We can do this using some simple available technologies. It is possible to carry out all transactions in electronic form, where money is transferred from the payer’s bank account to the payee’s. The back-end core banking system of almost all banks allows that.
When e Sri Lanka was designed, we thought that lots of jobs would be created, some through conventional firms in the IT and IT enabled service industries, but more in entrepreneurial startups. The first hope was realized more or less, but not the latter. Since two people with direct experience, LIRNEasia international advisory board members Ashok Jhunjhunwala and KF Lai, were in town for the LIRNEasia@5 conference, I offered them as speakers to SLASSCOM. A well attended meeting that included local entrepreneurs such as Dinesh Saparamadu (hSenid) and Mifaan Careem (Respere) and a significant number of U of Moratuwa engineering students saw a fruitful exchange of views that has already led to the establishment of an entrepreneurs society at U of Moratuwa. KF Lai talked about how he had been encouraged to start his own business while a government scientist, by the Government of Singapore.
“I can’t imagine how and based on what measure TRAI set 256kbps internet connection as broadband. It’s very difficult for users to work with this speed. Please don’t compare Bangladesh and Sri Lanka while setting standard for India.” This was how a reader responded when Indian Express online carried a story on the dissemination of the findings of LIRNEasia’s broadband research at the GRT Grand Hotel convention centre in Chennai on November 3. Another story in ‘The Hindu’ quoted Timothy Gonsalves PhD, Head of Computer Science and Engineering Department, IIT-Madras, our research partner from IIT Madras saying the implication [of the latency introduced by complex routing of network traffic] for consumers is that though a user may get close to the speeds advertised by the operator while accessing servers within India, the download speeds from an international server for even a supposedly fast broadband connection would only be in the 200 kbps range.
The LIRNEasia book has been reviewed in Current Science by Ashok Jhunjhunwala. Below is the last para. The success and failure of policies and regulations need to be studied under such a backdrop. Each nation would have its specificities, and comparisons between nations may often be difficult. It is this difficult task that the book takes up.
Rama was the keynote speaker at CPRsouth2. She was fascinating. A person who looks at the bottom of pyramid without a special emphasis on ICTs; relying on data, but applying real thinking to the data rather than just parrot the data. End result was that I bought her book and read it end-to-end (something I rarely do these days). She mentions in several places that the SEC D&E consumers are willing to spend more money than expected on education, health and transport.
It was not long ago that Laloo Prasad Yadav Minister of Railways and former Bihar Chief Minister sarcastically asked what computers can do for his constituency, comprised mostly of agriculture communities. Had he been to Madurai with the CPRSouth participants on last Monday (Dec 17) perhaps he might have learnt. This lady, with so many others, plays an integral role in ROPE (Rural Outsourced Production Enterprise) which sets up dedicated village-based contract production centers for its clients. Its mission is to integrate domestic and international markets with informal sectors of rural India and generate value for the skills and resources available in these sectors. This lady and others like her, we were told, make INR 50 (USD 1.
LIRNEasia’s new book, ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks, was unveiled on the 16th of December at the IIT-Madras Campus. The first copies of the book were handed over to Chief Guests of the event, Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala and Professor William Melody. Edited by Professor Rohan Samarajiva and Ayesha Zainudeen and co-published by Sage Publications and the IDRC, this well-structured volume brings together scholars, practitioners, former regulators and policy makers to address the problem of expanding ICT connectivity in emerging Asia. It centrally engages the widespread claim that technology by itself—independent of policy and regulatory reform—can improve access to ICTs. In doing so, it shows that complex workarounds are possible, but they are significantly less effective than the appropriate policy and regulatory reforms.
LIRNEasia’s first book, ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks, edited by Rohan Samarajiva and Ayesha Zainudeen will be launched on December 16 2007. The Chief guests at the event will be Shri K.Sridhara, Member (Technology) & Ex-Officio Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications & IT, and Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Professor of the Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras. The book looks at the policy and regulatory barriers to the expansion of information and communication technology infrastructure in emerging markets, based on Asian experience and is co-published by SAGE Publications and the International Development Research Centre.
Having made its mark on software in style, there is nothing wrong India becoming ambitious to do the same in hardware. That seems to be the message we hear now. Instead of resting on its laurels as the preferred IT services destination, technology players and academics in India must look to creating compelling products for the domestic and global market with an eye on cornering at least $15 billion worth business by 2015. This was the challenge thrown out by the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) to the Indian IT industry, at its annual Product Conclave that opened in Bangalore on Nov 19, 2007. (Read the report in ‘The Hindu’) Interestingly, last month Prof.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) at the Bottom of Pyramid (BOP) level is still not too common. Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala accompanied by a LIRNEasia team made a visit to Mahawilachchiya to have a close look at the first (still emerging) rural BPO there recently. On the same day, The Economic Times of India quoted Prof. Jhunjhunwala saying: ““Like manufacturing grew in China, services and manufacturing should grow in rural India.
LIRNEasia is privileged to be associated with Professor Ashok Jhunjunwala, who is featured in this special interview by Rediff. Ashok serves as Chair of CPRsouth, LIRNEasia’s principal capacity building initiative, and on LIRNEasia’s International Advisory Board. He will visit Sri Lanka for the first time to deliver a keynote address at the South Asia Broadband Congess and Expo in Colombo, 4-6 September, 2007. He is truly an inspiring public intellectual. rediff.
Not Negroponte’s USD 100 one-laptop-per-child, which is now priced at USD 175, but a thin-client application that depends on software from a distant server. Makes sense if you have reliable connectivity, I guess. Made in India PC for just about $100 The machine, launched by Chennai-based Novatium Solutions in 2004, costs a little over $100 as of today in the US currency, thanks to the depreciation in the greenback, but it was priced at less than $100 till a few months back. Novatium is targeting 10 million users in the next five years for this innovative product, company CEO Alok Singh told PTI from Chennai. The company has already started a successful commercial pilot for its NetPC computer in Chennai, he said.
CPRsouth Chair and LIRNEasia international advisory board member, Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala was on a blue-ribbon panel discussing ICTs and rural access last night on NDTV. CIOL : .NET & Windows : Make bandwidth available to all, says Kalam NDTV’s Prannoy Roy moderated a discussion in which Ballmer, N R Narayana Murthy, Ashok Jhunjhunwala and Manvinder Singh of Ranbaxy participated. He started off by asking Ballmer about the contrasting personalities of the top two at Microsoft: small, shy and geeky versus flambuoyant and six feet six. Opposites make for the best partnerships was the reply.