Gayani Hurulle, Author at LIRNEasia


Successful reform of telecom (or information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure) sectors requires ex-ante, sector-specific regulation under present market and technological conditions. Theories and concepts relevant to regulatory agency design and the practice are not nation-specific.
LIRNEasia Chair, Rohan Samarajiva and I  attended the first drafting group meeting for developing the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway Action Plan 2022-2026 on 25 May. The meeting was convened by UNESCAP, and chaired by Mohamed Shareef, Maldives' newly appointed State Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Technology. 
Responding to the COVID-19 crisis has been difficult for many. Its volatile and uncertain nature has made planning even more challenging. It is, therefore, essential that efforts are made to simplify citizens’ planning and decision-making processes to the extent possible. Our research indicates that not all citizens were adequately prepared for sudden a lockdown, despite previous experiences. Disseminating better information could help, at least to an extent.
Education was hard hit due to the COVID-19 crisis. A year into the crisis, some educators, students and caregivers are still grappling to find ways to provide continuity in education while minimising COVID-19 outbreaks. Online learning was seemingly a silver bullet. The adoption of digital technologies for educational purposes increased significantly as a result. However, the experiences of all students were heterogeneous, differing between countries and socio-economic groups.
The Internet has been a means of providing continuity in employment and education to many in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stakeholders throughout the Internet ecosystem have had to step up to provide connectivity—both to those previously unconnected, and those already connected but with increased demand. Internet service providers (ISPs) in Sri Lanka have been no exception. Responding to a request of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), many fixed and mobile Internet service providers began providing special packages targeting those working and studying from home. The basic premise is that these packages should allow for cheaper access to the Internet to allow individuals to engage in their work and/or studies.
Censorship rife in the past, but in ebbs and flows The Myanmar Digital Rights Forum took place on 28 and 29 February 2020. It was the fourth iteration of the event, and my third. It was also the biggest yet, seeing approx. 350 participants from civil society, government, private sector, and academia. Many of these participants believed that digital rights and freedom had depleted in Myanmar over the past year, a poll taken at the forum indicated.
LIRNEasia’s research on ICTs and gender in Myanmar was presented at the Myanmar Digital Rights Forum that took place on 18 and 19 January 2019 in Yangon.
Presented by Gayani Hurulle at Myanmar Digital Rights Forum. 18 January 2019, Yangon.
We launched the findings of our research on ICT accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Myanmar on 21 August 2018 at ParkRoyal, Yangon. This was LIRNEasia’s first foray into systematically studying the subject, but will not be the last. Research from Nepal is to be released before the end of the year. We decided to embark on this study in Myanmar following questions on disability specific research from the audience at courses we conducted for Disabled Persons’ Organisations (DPOs) and Members of Parliament when we presented the findings of our broader research on ICTs in Myanmar. As a result, we conducted qualitative research with 101 respondents with visual, hearing and physical disabilities in May 2018.
Enabling the disabled - The role of ICTs in the lives of persons with disabilities in Myanmar. Research reprot by Gayani Hurulle, Dilshan Fernando and Helani Galpaya. Published August 2018.
Slideset presented at the report launch on 21 August 2018.
Pew Research, based on the Global Attitudes Survey, reports that 22 percent of the adult population in India owned a smartphone in 2017. This finding mirrors the findings of our AfterAccess surveys conducted in India
Online hate speech has become commonplace in Myanmar. PEN Myanmar (2015) analysed posts from Facebook over a year, noting that the incidence of hate speech pertaining to a topic was often tied to a controversial, topical event– the appearance of posts regarding politics, for instance, increased during the elections held in November 2015. LIRNEasia and MIDO, along with Kantar TNS Myanmar, were on the field carrying out qualitative research in Myanmar in late August 2017 when conflict in the Rakhine region escalated.  Many accounts revolved around the prevailing conflict came up in the interviews with 95 respondents in Yangon, Mandalay and Myitkyina. A few respondents openly expressed their displeasure regarding the situation, and spoke of how the posts they encountered online pushed them to want to incite violence.
The results of our 2016 nationally representative survey were quoted extensively in Myanmar’s Universal Service Strategy document released in January 2018. This work has fed into the Government’s proposals in multiple areas including affordability, ownership of devices and digital skills. The manner in which our work on digital skills contributed towards the Government’s recommendations is depicted  in the table below. A more comprehensive document which includes the linkages between our work in affordability and ownership of devices can be found here.