Who is the least generous of them all?

Posted on December 13, 2007  /  33 Comments

Among the five countries LIRNEasia has conducted its survey on teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP), which country do you think we found people who are least willing to share their mobile phone with a another?

(a) India
(b) Pakistan
(c) Philippines
(d) Sri Lanka
(e) Thailand

This was one of the interesting questions asked during the interactive quiz show at the LIRNEasia organized session at GK3, ‘Teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid’. The session addressed issues like the misconceptions about the teleuse (including Internet) at the BoP; exact nature of the demand at the BoP (in terms of using common facilities, getting connected, staying connected); strategic behaviours do users at the BoP engage in and policy and regulatory barriers stand in the way of the BoP being served.

Team Blue emerged as clear winners scoring 105 marks against 35 scored by Team Red.

Part 2 of the quiz show will be there today (Dec 13) from 14:00 – 15:30 hrs @ Room 302, Level 3, KLCC.


  1. Well there is no doubt the session “teleuse at the BOP” is probably the most innovative sessions in terms of presentation at the GK3. Few people who visited this session whom I spoke with, including myself enjoyed the manner it was structured with a Q&A session. Which is interactive, create excitement and all that. And Nalaka no doubt is a world class quiz master.

    However, me as well as people whom I met during this session/after disagree with the BOP definition/also perhaps the credibility of the results due to this definition. The BOP which in general globally referred to as “people who live with less that US$2 per day in developing countries”. So defining BOP without use of actual level they live upon is something all the people whom I met at this session disagree. They all had looked at it differently. And also the video showcased was urban which was obvious that it was not BOP. (perhaps it’s just a video not the actual survey but it gave a poor picture to the entire audience). However, if the actual survey was conducted on that level with a definition defined by Lirneasia which am not sure other’s in general would agree, there will be a credibility issue with the entire survey that was carried out! (In Sri lanka I have personally seen fisherman’s who has mobile phone’s/people who pluck coconut have mobile phones though they live on a daily wage/living)

    Further one of the Indian participant disagreed with some of the results about India and more than that Pakistan was very critical. Dr. Hammad from Pakistan whom I met during lunch today who was at this session y’day said the details about pakistan was wrong. He was very critical about talking something like “Sharing a mobile phone and evaluate it by country” which is not something to be discussed on a topic of this nature. (This is his view), and said he walked out thereafter.

    In conclusion, it would have been really good if lirneasia can publish the survey data, sampling which was done, the definition of BOP which was used for this particular survey. There is no doubt survey’s of this nature is immensely important to many and this post was made in good spirit to ensure better feedback in future. Further, another point to consider in future surveys would be to see “Whether there was an impact on the results with connections with Per Second Billing operators”. The reason is, people will use out going quick call to deliver important messages rather than a ring-cut. (Call in the range of 10-15 seconds or less).

  2. How patriotic of the Dr….

    Kind of glad that we’re not the only scoundrels in the region.

  3. I am reminded of one of the earliest brochures developed for ICTA, which had an old farmer in a loin cloth sitting in the middle of a paddy field with a laptop that was obviously not switched on. This pandered to the expectations of what the poor and rural people looked like, but actually insulted them. It had a very short life. The problem appears to be that the people in the video don’t dress like the elite expect them to dress. Harsha has been to Mahavilachchiya and knows how well the young people there dress. Would he claim that they are not SEC D&E? Based on the standard criteria of the educational level and occupation of the chief householder, they definitely are SEC D&E.

    The survey represents 4 million people between 18 and 60 in Sri Lanka, 260 million people in India, etc. We could have focused on SEC E only, which would been an even thinner slice (possibly someone on the team can give the actual numbers). The problem was that this is research. At the design stage, you do not know how many teleusers you will find in SEC E. If we started with only SEC E, we may not have had enough to give us representative results on some questions.

    We discussed alternatives to SEC, but the scientific consensus was that this was the best of available options. Recall that whatever method we adopt, it must be implementable across 5 countries. SEC is used routinely by market researchers throughout the world. It was the only robust option we could have used (we used income in 2005, and gave it up).

    I am puzzled by this fixation on USD 2/ day. These are just numbers plucked from the sky to illustrate an argument. The average monthly income of the people represented in the results was USD 81/month, which is USD 2.7/day. What is the big deal? There are 9 million people who are 18-60, who are better off than than the 4 million represented in the study. Isn’t that justification enough?

    These results were presented at ESOMAR, the world’s leading conference on market research. Today, I presented them to senior government officials and industry leaders in India at Telecom India 2007. No one walked out. It’s only some civil society types whose ideology trumps all that cannot have a straight discussion on method. If survey results tell you exactly the same thing that you can observe unscientifically why do survey research?

    I thought I answered the concern about per-second billing. If TIGO introduced it in 2007, how could a survey conducted in 2006 capture it? This is good. Let’s continue the discussion. I hope Harsha de S. will join from Bangkok.

  4. As for the patriotic Pakistani gentleman, who seems to have been disturbed about benchmarking countries on phone sharing, all I can say is UNDP and other donor agencies continue to do similar things annually, with respect to indicators related to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and some indicators are far sensitive than this.

    For example, some of the indicators that I remember (with respect to MDG 6, fighting AIDS and Malaria) are the condom usage and average number of clients a commercial sex worker has per day. I have witnessed a pandemonium once at a conference in Bangladesh when somebody pointed out that Bangladesh tops South Asia in the latter. Some even threatened the speaker.

    These are realities with which we live with and the information is useful for policy decisions. Benchmarking is necessary, because it gives the pulse what is achievable and not.

  5. My three cents (adjusted for inflation!):

    Do poor people live in villages while rich live in cities?

    Contrary to the popular belief, again not necessarily. However, more people may get registered as poor (>$2 /day or whatever) in rural areas for several reasons.

    (a) Purchase Power Parity (PPP) is assumed to be equal within national boundaries, but it is not. Between an Indian metro like Mumbai and a remote village in Maharashtra PPP can be as high as twice or even three times depending upon the basket we select. In layman’s terms, COL is much higher in cities, than villages.

    (b) By ‘income’ villagers often reveal what they earn in monetary terms. However, unlike in cities there is always a latent income component which never gets registered. (eg. what they grow in their gardens or collect from forests)

    (c) The vast majority of fixed income earners in cities are continuously affected by high inflation, which is a perpetual feature in many developing Asian economies. Farmers and fisherfolk are less affected because they respond with increasing prices of their products.

    My friend Mr. Luxman Siriwardena might not agree with this, but the bottom line is poverty is more an urban phenomenon today than rural, when it comes to most of developing South Asian and South East Asian economies.

  6. There will always be critics. No one can ever please everybody; particularly some of these NGO types who want to enlarge the size of the ‘poor’ for their own benefit. To say that 50% of Sri Lankans are ‘poor’ or live at the BOP because some one says USD 2 is where we draw the line would be ridiculous. Harsha Purasinghe, living in Sri Lanka and dealing with the poor, I would assume would not fall in to that trap set by some interested party!

    We all know that in the current context there is a growing middle class; they are neither ‘poor’ nor ‘rich’. They belong to you guessed it… the MOP or the middle of the pyramid. This is the case be it India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, The Philippines or Thailand.

    To define ‘poor’ and BOP by the USD 2 a day is definition is very arbitrary. Also there is the issue of whether it should always be PPP adjusted. But more than that, income distribution is obviously not the same in all countries in the region. Taking a rigid number would bias the relative distribution of poverty to one that gives a BOP for the region, and not for each country. For instance a BOP person in Thailand [highest per capita GDP in the sample] may end up as a non-BOP in Pakistan [lowest per capita].

    Then there is the inaccuracy of income reporting [overstating in the poorer segments]. People who are on the ground 365 days a year in these countries [like The Nielsen Company; our survey partners] know the ground realities more than those who are arm-chair critics who have never visited the field to understand what it means to actually undertake a complex survey like the one we did based on difficult to [accurately] ascertain criteria like income.

    We decided on the SEC D&E definition of the BOP after much deliberation with researchers in those countries and something that was very important was the availability of a frame in each country. [In some countries, rural has a slightly different variant]. As Rohan had earlier mentioned, we were invited to present our research methodology and findings even at ESOMAR the world-wide apex body for market research.

    More and more researchers who value market dynamics are now moving to more market-based and holistic definitions of poverty; not purely some rigid income figure. Even if you look at the ‘real’ examples in Prahalad’s book, you will see this; whether SEC C is BOP or not is another issue altogether.

    Last but not least it is important to understand that poverty, or BOP, is not one-dimensional, like the USD 2 a day, bandied around by some Wikipedia-empowered critics. Poverty is a more complex than that. At least our definition takes on a 2-dimentional approach. Also, we found a very strong correlation between the SECs and income. It’s not like we have not thought about income or have not done analyses based on income.

    Please feel free to send us your input via this blog. We will certainly consider them in our future work.

  7. Mahavilachchiya is being repeatedly mentioned in few threads and all LIRNEasia threads have become very active suddenly. Hope this is due to the ongong GK3 workshop in Malaysia. We presume that there is sufficent representation from Mahavilachchiya in the forum over there. Maybe few young students have got a chance to be there.

  8. How can one get hold of the film that was shown at this session? Would TVE have a DVD I can pick up or is it on YouTube / Google Video?



  9. Harsha,

    First of all please don’t label me or group me where I am not working for any party and it’s not fair to post comments like that. If this is the case we should rather keep our mouth shut or should refrain from attending lirneasia events, if we don’t have the freedom to air our views. Just because I shared my views and many other had their own ideology you can’t label them as NGO’s or parties interested in some thing etc.etc, which I don’t think is a good way of responding to a post.

    I made my comments based on what I observed and I stay firm on my view as I think the video which was presented was absolutely not BOP. Perhaps it may be correct as per your definition of BOP so if that the case be it, but I want agree and also neither perhaps most of the people who attended the session. I have not only been in Sri Lanka, but I too frequently travel in the region and been to India, Bangladesh, Sri lanka, Maldives and many other east asian developing nations except pakistan. So even though am not a researcher, I too have a view which I believe in based on what I’ve learnt.

    Your neilsan company may be right, but the neilsan fellows who visited house holds in Sri Lanka are perhaps visiting a different level of pyramid in Sri Lanka which is not the real bottom so how can you really call it bottom of the pyramid? I hope you have seen the video. So if this is the bottom they are visiting in other countries too, I wonder whether they really see the real bottom.

    Like lirnasia has the right to define BOP the way you want, other people too including people who wrote perhaps wiki posting has the right to define the way they believe right? It’s not fair to group them like that. As once Prof. Samarajiva above explained his view, I refrain from posting as I believed that’s the way lirneasia interpret and define BOP and I was fine by that.

    Finally Research are absolutely important in this world but research findings are not correct all the time!!! So debating about it should be taken in good spirit.

  10. Harsha P.,

    I don’t quite get the mode of argumentation. You make rather strong statements like “Me and everyone who attended the session” and “absolutely” disagree. I and Harsha de S give long explanations and reasons why we made the methodological choices we made. You repeat the assertion that you do not agree, but give no reasons. You are also hurt and offended by Harsha de S’s tone.

    Is this really a discussion?

    You say we do not represent the BOP. You say we’re not true to the USD 2 cutoff

    We give lengthy reasons to defend our method. We say the USD 2 is arbitrary and that in any case the sample we have is not too far out, at USD 2.7.

    You reassert your position, without giving any reasons, or without refuting our arguments, other than perhaps stating that you have first hand experience in the relevant countries.

    You are also hurt that Harsha de S disagrees with you.

    This could go on for ever. Why not actually present some evidence or some reasons other than your direct experience (which, I at least have said is a poor guide to reality, not only your direct experience but anyone’s)?

    I even opened the door for a discussion of direct experience, saying that one cannot judge a person’s SEC classification by the clothes she/he wore, and invoking common experience that you and I have. At least you could address that issue.

    We are researchers. We take positions and support them with evidence. We change our minds. But that does not mean that every opinion has to considered equally valid. Those with supporting evidence or strong reasoning are more valid than mere statements of opinion. This is how researchers talk. It’s not that we’re not nice people; but that we give weight to rationality.

  11. Prof,

    As mentioned in my post clearly, I disagree on the grounds on what I saw in the video, your research data may be correct (“Your neilsan company may be right”) but that’s why I have asked whether we can view the results in my earlier post (“lirneasia can publish the survey data, sampling which was done, the definition of BOP”) the actual research is rather correct. I have not said anything after your explanation as it was clear for me the way it was done by lirnasia. But based on the video which was shown, it’s very difficult to agree hence my statement in the 2nd post. Like you ask about evidence it’s not good to even assume / label people without evidence hence my response to Harsha and I am not hurt but rather did not quite appreciate the manner it was positioned.

    Again let me make it clear there is no argument on the explanation given repeatedly and many thanks to Harsha and you. My argument was based on what I saw in the video and the definition which was made at the session initially. So your research perhaps is correct but it want align well with the video which was shown. This was the confusion in the 1st place.

  12. Harsha P,

    I have a question for you.

    When Galileo did his famous experiment at Pisa tower, he selected two iron balls of weights 10 lb and 1 lb. He did not select, for instance, a 10lb iron ball and a feather. But what he proved was applicable to any object including a feather (in a vacuum).

    So, forgetting about the methodology for a moment, did you find any of the *findings* of Teleuse@BOP survey, not applicable to the BOP you have in mind?

  13. Chanuka,

    It’s a very valuable survey there is no argument on that. But need to go through it in detail as I couldn’t come to the second part as I have to leave early which is pretty unfortunate. Is there a link which this survey results are published? Need to get an good understanding on the content which it shows the findings. I was given a CD which is in my luggage am yet to check that out. I hope there are things like what’s the usage of data services in BOP etc., covered as well. Further the post paid findings on BOP is something needs to be explored as I thought BOP is pretty much a pre-paid market, as people are not keen to pay up fixed rates monthly when they have plenty of other things to worry about.

  14. harsha purasinghe, it would be best that you either go to our site or many other sites that discuss our BOP work and read up on it before you make sweeping statements like ‘absolutely not BOP’.

  15. Sir,

    My sweeping statement is about the “video” which was showcased! I have not made any sweeping statements on the content of your survey but have questioned the credibility based on what I saw & BOP definition. As chanuka pointed out what’s important is the survey itself hence I will go through it. However, l will refrain from making any statements in future on this blog. I will drop an email or talk to you if there are any area which I need to clarify as the elements of the survey is quite important to our work too. As mentioned repeatedly the confusion of the content was due to the video and the definition. However, now am clear with your stand, and thank you.


  16. The video link doesn’t work.

  17. harsha purasinghe

    no. not at all. what you said is the following and you can check yourself in the second para of the 1st comment to this post.

    “However, me as well as people whom I met during this session/after disagree with the BOP definition/also perhaps the credibility of the results due to this definition. The BOP which in general globally referred to as “people who live with less that US$2 per day in developing countries”. So defining BOP without use of actual level they live upon is something all the people whom I met at this session disagree.”

    there sir, is no reference to any video!

    only later the video story comes in. this is what you say “And also the video showcased was urban which was obvious that it was not BOP.”

  18. http://www.youtube.com/TVEAPfilms

    The period at the end was the problem. There was a very interesting comment by Rama Bijapurkar, one of the leading marketing experts in India at the talk that she gave at CPRsouth2 today. She said that in today’s India rural people want to dress very much like those in SEC A&B, only they are not willing to pay the same prices!

    Rama has a great new book out that is very much worth a read: http://www.ramabijapurkar.com/. Has a good explanation of SEC classification.

  19. No further comments. My posts clearly highlights what the confusion around. Unfortunately it’s only me who is posting opinions as a participant of that session.

  20. yes they sure do. you and the other unnamed persons who you refer to seem to be fixated on some arbtrary definition of BOP and seem to be so well informed to dismiss our years of effort on it with arrogance. unfortunately life is not as black and white as what you people want it to be.

  21. I’m intrigued to read all the discussion on what a poor person should look like! I’m not a researcher, but as a visual communicator, I can perhaps offer a useful insight. Apart from having served as the Quizmaster last week at the Teleuse@BOP Interactive Quiz, I was also the producer of Teleuse@BOP film which TVE Asia Pacific made for LIRNEasia (see: http://www.tveap.org/news/0712tel.html)

    Different people have very different notions about what a poor person should look like! And often, there’s a gap between perception/notion and reality. I’m not even talking about people from richer countries who haven’t traveled enough in the majority world to know the complexity of southern reality. There are lots of people in the global South – usually from the urban middle classes – who are equally certain of their certainties as to what the poor must look and what they must need and what they should ask for, etc, etc!

    This kind of simplistic presumption and stereotyping – not rooted in reality – does not help anyone, and least of all the poor. When we go on location filming in different parts of developing Asia, we don’t look for the most miserable-looking, emaciated, down-trodden poor person to film or interview (although we know of some film crews who do just that!). We do our own location research to find out what stories people have to tell, and what they represent, and settle for the most authentic and sincere ones we can find. Being willing to be filmed (without payment) is also a consideration.

    In the case of Teleuse@BOP film, we turned to A C Nielsen in Sri Lanka and Philippines to track down some of the respondents in their survey. They gave us a mix of male/female, urban/rural and those engaged in different types of work. We chose from among these to film; everyone who was filmed was not eventually used in the final edit, which is not unusual in film-making.

    See also my June 2007 blog post titled “The ‘Rural Romance’ lives on in the ICT Age: Urban poor need not apply” which explores another facet of our perceptional prejudices about the poor, poverty and ICT:

    PS: Thanks to Harsha P for your kind remark on my quizmaster skills!

  22. Nalaka,

    I never wanted to comment further on this subject, but your above post confused me further hence wanted to write a note.

    Firstly, thanks for the explanation about the video. Your explanation further confuses me as I was under the impression that “The Survey” part of video is just a video capture of some households but not actual households that were covered by the survey. If they are actual households it’s an interesting BOP!!.

    And further in the video it says “Bottom of the INCOME pyramid”, which links to something which I’ve been questioning. The reason I questioned this was IF the survey was conducted on a different level what’s the credibility of applying the results to “BOP”. My confusion was around the “The Survey” part of the video and the BOP definition.

    I am not arguing / questioning or referring to how people at BOP look like nor how they should dress like, this is not about dress codes or painting a picture of people at BOP. But the households which was showcased in the “The Survey” area of the video and considering them as BOP, BOP definition used and video which highlights “Bottom of the income pyramid”

    From the hotel which am writing this post which is in India, I can clearly see a large amount of people who are at the real BOP which people here referred to as. It’s probably the real BOP not even slightly above BOP nor the MOP.

    Below is an “extract” from an interesting paper I read which is on BOP,

    “Both these measures of poverty are widely used in development economics and public policy fields. For example, in 2002 all the 191 United Nations member states agreed to the Millennium Development Goals. The first goal of this declaration is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, and set the target: “halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day” (United Nations, 2005). The World Bank uses both $1/day and $2/day lines. Virtually all research on poverty uses a poverty line somewhere in between $1 to $2 per day. In his book on BOP, Prahalad (2004) uses the $2 per day criterion. We too shall use the $2/day line in this paper.

    Most analysts define poverty in monetary terms; but, there is much debate about whether to use consumption or income measures. The World Bank and some researchers (for example, Ravallion 2004) use consumption measures; The United Nations (2000) and other researchers (for example, Sala-I-Martin, forthcoming) use income measures. Ravallion (2004) argues that the consumption poverty measure should be doubled to reflect the items implicitly included in the income measure, which are government expenditure and private investment. Therefore, the $1/day consumption poverty line is roughly equivalent to $2/day income line.1

    The BOP argument is inconsistent in its definition of the poverty line, and often uses a level much higher than $2 per day. Prahalad and Hart (2002) started with a definition of the poor as per capita annual income (at purchasing power rates) of $1500 or less. In the next article, Prahalad and Hammond (2002) changed the income level to $2000 per year.

    In his book, Prahalad (2004) defines it as $2 per day. These are big differences! There is no discussion at all of how to choose the income level to define the poor.

    Any discussion of poverty is surely critically affected by the definition of the poverty line. It is difficult, and probably impossible, to prescribe solutions without first defining the nature and the scope of the problem. The BOP proposition emphasizes selling to the poor people. A household with a per capita consumption of $2000 per year probably would consider purchasing a motorcycle; a household with a per capita income of $1 per day certainly could not contemplate such a purchase. Whether there is a fortune at the bottom of the pyramid depends on how one defines the ‘bottom’. Similarly, how to alleviate poverty too depends on the definition of poverty. People who consume less than $1 per day have very different needs and priorities than people who consume more than five times as much.”

  23. Given what has already been said, there is nothing much I can contribute to Harsha vs. Harsha debate. :-)

    So this is an attempt to see the bigger picture.

    Let me present another view, namely, that of Jeffery D. Sachs, among other things, the authour of ‘The End of Poverty’, on who are poor and who are not.

    Sachs divides the 6 billion world population roughly in to four categories, which he calls different rungs of the economic ladder.

    The lowest one billion, is the so called ‘poorest of the poor’. They invariably live in developing countries. Poverty does exist in developed world, but not at this level. These are the hungry and dying people who struggle everyday for mere survival. (Sachs’ example: villagers in Malawi, a sub Saharan African country)

    The next rung is the upper end of the low income world. This 1.5 billion lives above mere subsistence. Their daily survival is assured, but they continuously struggle to make ends meet. Death is not at their door but chronic financial hardship and a lack of basic amenities such as safe drinking water and functioning latrines are part of their daily lives. (Sachs’ example: Garment factory workers in Bangladesh)

    The next rung is the middle income world of 2.5 billion. They constitute the middle class of the developing world, but certainly not in developed world. These are the people who can afford a scooter, or perhaps a second hand automobile. Most of the live in cities, and able to secure some comfort in housing. They have adequate clothing and their children go to proper schools. Nutrition is adequate. (Sachs’ example: Call centre workers in India)

    Still higher up the ladder are the remaining one billion which we term as better off.

    When seen in this light, the word ‘PYRAMID’ is misleading. As we see the largest is not the bottom most level. 42% of world population is middle income earners. Only 17% live in extreme poverty. So it looks more like a jar than a pyramid.

    Also in the bottom most layer, the communication needs receive low priority because they have to spend most of their income on food and other basic amenities. A hungry man will not make a telephone call to be in touch with friends. So it is logical and natural for anyone who research on ICT usage by ‘poor’ to focus more on the second layer from the bottom than the first one.

    If we still want to think in terms of ‘pyramid’, we can also combine the last two layers, so we just make it match the next level numerically, but still not larger.

  24. Dear Harsha Purasinghe,

    Do the people in Mahavilchchiya belong to your own category of the poor?

  25. Dear Nalaka Gunawardene,

    I read your linked blog post. You say the tele centre movement is only in rural areas. However in Sri Lanka we have Nanasala tele centres even in urban areas as well. I have seen some Nanasalas along the Colombo Katunayake road. There is also Nanasalas in Kurunegala town and Colombo Fort railway station. So how do you say Nanasalas only in rural areas?

    I think ICT Agency has taken all those things into account when they implemented the Nanasala program. Is it fair for you to critisise it even without knowing the true facts?

  26. dear mr harsha purasinghe

    you are obviously confused about poverty and BOP issues among other development economics subjects as evident by your recent cut-and-paste comment.

    it might help if you read up on the subject and try to understand why the BOP can not be simply defined as below 1 or 2 dollars or 50 cents a day instead of acting like a bull in a china shop. i have tried earlier, but i dont seem to be able to get thru.

    further note that in your displaced sense of academic debate you going around telling people [including those at the worlkd bank] that our survey has been conducted in “our homes” is not appreciated. we have explained in great detail on a number of our papers our methodology.

    finally, we have defined the BOP and our analyses is based on the same. if you dont like it you there is nothing we can do. please feel free to come up with your own definition and prove to the world what ever it is you want to prove.

    thank you.

    harsha de silva, ph.d
    lead economist lirneasia

  27. Sir,

    Well you are absolutely right as definitely am not an academic nor economist. I am someone without any academic background and perhaps it’s my mistake to humbly question the work of you intellects at the first place. I don’t mind you calling me whatever you think of, as I don’t have anything under my title apart from GCE O/L’s and simply passed GCE A/L’s from a local school. So you should not worry about my questioning. As people will NOT take my comments seriously as am not an intellect to comment on a research subject. After this post they will not take me seriously at all since everyone realize now am not an intellect with a solid academic foundation.

    However, I will believe / continuously believe what I think is right in “my own” reality and I will always communicate my view and will always question my doubts. I don’t want to prove anything other than getting fair explanation for the “video – survey” part and “BOP definition”. I got fair answers by few people who were involved and was silent about it including the comment made on the video. However, you took my humble questioning on these 2 aspects to a different level and was continuously assumed that am here to prove something to the world.

    Going around telling stories??? My story / my questions were raised in the open forum at GK3 and Open blog here which is very visible to everyone [including the ONE and ONLY person whom I know at WB which again we met after many years]. And I don’t have time / money or any interest to go around and talk about this research as you very well know now am not qualified enough to talk about academic research. And further why should WB people and others take my comments seriously as your methodology/video etc., are clearly visible to them to make their own judgement. So I was not here to prove anything but was openly questioning on 2 things due to my doubts which you have answered in all fashions in the above post. So I QUIT on this subject!

    Wish you a Merry X’ Mas and a Happy New Year!

    Harsha Purasinghe

    P.S – To readers of this thread – my humble questioning on 2 areas which highlight in my posts are not made in the intention to damage the good work done by lirneasia throughout in many areas of research and policy matters. I am someone who is admiring and continuously reading/contributing to lirneasia research/initiatives in the capacity which I / we have since 2005 [if am not mistaken]. To make this clear to everyone there is NO party / organization other than me & my shadow :-) behind this questioning which is very visible throughout and raised due to my doubts.

  28. Dear All,

    As Mahavilachchiya has been mentioned several times in this thread, I want to make a point very clear. Mahavilachchiya will not be a good example to compare or contrast poverty levels. In Mahavilachchiya, ever since I started the Horizon Lanka project the first thing I wanted to see was a clean, well dressed bunch of children. (Read this page of the cover story of Wijeya Pariganaka in 2003 November. http://www.horizonlanka.org/media/pariganaka2/page_1.jpg )

    I did not fancy the idea of selling the poverty of children. All what I wanted was to promote their talents. So, in the Horizon Lanka website or during a visit to Mahavilachchiya you can see a bunch of cleanly dressed kids with smiling faces. This is what I believe in. Everywhere I go I keep on stressing the cleanliness of children. Even in the other villages I work I have made it clear that poverty should not be “sold” and the children should dress clean clothes. It doesn’t cost that much to dress up cleanly.

    Keeping the people in poverty forever to get more funding for the projects should be discouraged. In Mahavilachchiya we are even discouraging scholarships help to the students now (We are diverting them to other villages) as too much of rewarding can spoil children. Now children in MV get laptops, web designing assignments, etc. from the donors/clients purely based on their talents. The more you work the more rewarding you will get. (This doesn’t mean that Mahavilachchiya children or Horizon Lanka project has no problems at all. There are problems and the youth and the community are addressing them.)

    What I have seen so far is poverty is not a big barrier to develop rural Sri Lanka. (I have never been to India or any other South Asian country.) I am new to urban setting and right now I am helping a project focused on children in the slums and hope I will find new experiences there.

    Rather than focusing on poverty levels alone, all what we should do is to help the children and youth to go to the next levels with an open heart. We need to change the attitudes of the communities for that. First, we need to change our own attitudes. Unfortunately, there are people who think that if these youth come out of the jungles or slums with a good knowledge of ICT and English, the former will lose their acceptance in the elite society. Luckily this lot is very small. There are thousands of people who are welcoming young talents. Two Harshas are among them as far as I know.

  29. thank you wanni for that. you have hit the nail on its head; some people want to sell poverty for their existence. some people in silk ties in airconditioned rooms from new york city to kirimandala mawata to various NGOs types do that routinely.

    just because a person is poor does not mean they need to look disgusting. dont forget, people at the BOP can also wear clean clothes like those who ponificate…

  30. Dear Two Harshas,

    I was away for some time and could not contribute to this thread. My views in the post no 29 was not to hurt the feelings of any party or individuals. I just wanted to clarify few things about Mahavilachchiya and the remote areas I am working in.
    While appreciating healthy discussions on ICT related matters here why don’t we try to work together as a team? Nobody (including me) is perfect and it is high time we got together and stand up. I finished reading ‘World is Flat’ and reading ‘India Unbound’ these days and learnt a lot on how India changed its path to development and broke the barriers collectively. Reforms are needed badly to develop Sri Lanka (with ICT) as well. There is no argument in that. I am not touching other areas of development (non ICT) as I am not an expert like Harsha (de Silva) in such areas. Let us focus on ICT here.

    I think we need to start working as a team for the benefit of the whole country to bring these policy changes necessary. Rather than fighting each other here, let’s get together to change economic policies that prevent developing the country.
    Hope both LIRNEasia and ICTA will set a good stage for this. Harsh criticisms are needed and we have to tolerate them and respect the views of all parties concerned. Hope ICTA has a more open minded team now than yesteryears and the different opinions will be entertained.

    Coming back to the above issue (poverty levels), we are doing major changes in Horizon Lanka website http://www.horizonlanka.org these days and hope we will get the criticisms on children (teenagers) being more ‘fashionable’ in the photographs in the website but this is the reality I see in Mahavilachchiya and other villages. In progressive villages children dress up smartly. We cannot (and should not) restrict their aspirations as I believe. I don’t see anything wrong being stylish while improving their academic skills by retaining the ethics and values they should retain. Open for another debate!!!

  31. No need to change how the children dress. They should dress anyway they please. This is not North Korea or Mao’s China!

    What needs to be changed is the mindset of urban folk who cannot believe that Mahavilachchiya has more computers than most places in the country: see comments 19-22 in http://www.lirneasia.net/2007/10/rural-bpos-corporate-responsibility-or-business/

  32. dressing well does not mean armani, but simple clean attire. with sri lanka exporting very high quality clothes it is not a big deal to get nice clothes at outlets all over the island for very reasonble prices.