Re: [GKD-DOTCOM] Local Governments Should Adopt a Business Model

2005-05-25 Thread Udit Chaudhuri
Would it be possible to standardise on, (at least a minimal number if
not one), a 'template,' given that all such bodies have at least:

- one grant/capital source,
- possibly a revenue stream
- a time frame for fund utilisation, sourcing and collection
- a structure or powers to distribute funds
- likewise, to collect funds
- capital or 'against grant' expenses
- revenue or operating expenses,
- ceilings/budgets against each head
- targets for various activities in money-translatable terms
- balances and variances from sanctioned figures
- surpluses and deficits

If so, it should not be difficult to develop a web-based accounting
system, wherein an account is opened by each body on a server which can
be accessed by various authorised persons, who feed information and
receive reports according to the nature of their financial
responsibilities. Accordingly, it would be possible to record, reckon
and report, and hence to analyse, plan, control and staff each resource
transaction.

Such a system can further standardise a set of off-line data entry
documents like vouchers or journals for efficient accounting.


Regards,

Udit Chaudhuri


On Mon, May 23, 2005, Peter Burgess wrote:

 Following up on postings by Janice Brodman and Ed Cherlin ... the
 interesting thing about a company is that the stakeholders who are
 interested in its value look at both balance sheet and the profit or
 cash flow past and future. This is very helpful in thinking about what
 works and what does not. Governments (including local governments) do
 their accounting on a cash basis that cannot reflect the financial
 performance of the government entity in a meaningful way because
 expenditures that have life beyond the current period are essentially
 off the books. It is a weak system, and I am sure has stayed in vogue
 for that very reason.

..snip...




This DOT-COM Discussion is funded by the dot-ORG USAID Cooperative
Agreement, and hosted by GKD. http://www.dot-com-alliance.org provides
more information.
To post a message, send it to: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to:
[EMAIL PROTECTED]. In the 1st line of the message type:
subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd
For past messages, see:
http://www.dot-com-alliance.org/archive.html


Re: [GKD] The $100 Computer: A Polite Scam

2005-02-19 Thread udit chaudhuri
Dear Colleagues,

At times I feel that this idea falls prey to the typical techie
approach, as if attempting to switch off too many problems with one
magic circuit design!

It seems we jump to developing entire systems based on latest technology
(StrongArm processor et al), which is itself derived through layers of
observing market trends in developed markets and dovetailing those needs
with progressively advanced features, adapting the latest applied and
basic research available, then assume some kind of watered down version
of those computing needs for first-time-computer-user markets and
produce some kind of a one-size-fits-all mini wizard...Pardon me, but
this is what I have observed from the Simputer and Lindows program
onwards.

Instead, would it not be a better idea to make cheap microprocessor
trainer-developer kits and overcome all barriers in marketing these to
institutions, community bodies, ICT organisations, etc? The 8085, it
seems, survives only for these purposes. Local beneficiaries can then
develop and standardise their own systems, with a little help from local
institutes. Maybe they would be better able to specify and order more
advanced devices and materials too.

BW TV technology was passed on to small-scale industries in India
during the 1970s via the Central Electronic Engineering Research
Institute (CEERI) by readapting a circuit and standardising local
sources of components, materials, testing, assembly and QC procedures.
This got the local industry going and later this need for CEERI
involvement was obviated on this front.

What we have, as I see in India is the ingenuity of (akin to the
Scandinavian Google promoter whose name I forget, who built a printer
from junk parts) re-conditioning and servicing entire machines including
electronic plain-paper copiers and electric typewriters, wherein local
machinists and moulders have been tapped, by ingenious local repairers,
into re-fabricating parts and sub-assemblies of imported machines, whose
manufacturers have shut shop, realigned their Indian collaborations, or
phased out production.

Even if this practice is questioned by big manufacturers and their
network, it saved the large amounts of capital invested in the many
thousands of photocopy and typing shops all over India. It also saved
the reputation of the big names who no doubt hid behind their fine print
to leave thousands of customers in the lurch.

As the old adage goes, feeding a hungry person with a fish relieves
hunger for few hours; teaching the person to fish relieves hunger
forever.

regards

udit chaudhuri

http://micropower.blogspot.com 




***GKD is solely supported by EDC, a Non-Profit Organization***
To post a message, send it to: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to:
[EMAIL PROTECTED]. In the 1st line of the message type:
subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd
Archives of previous GKD messages can be found at:
http://www.edc.org/GLG/gkd/


Re: [GKD-DOTCOM] What's on the Horizon?

2003-11-26 Thread Udit Chaudhuri
As for Guido Sohne's comment on battery life of hand-helds:

Of course the real alternative is in effecient circuit design and
perhaps the genre of mini fuel cells being researched on by various East
Asian companies.

However, there is one solution in low-cost solar power. Do visit
www.biodesign.org.uk and the URL below this message.

Udit Chaudhuri
MAXIMISE YOUR MILLIWATT
http://microPower.blogspot.com


Guido Sohne [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

 1. What new high impact technologies are on the 3-year horizon? Who
 (exactly) needs to do what (concretely) to make those technologies
 widely available?

 Hardware: Cheap handhelds (approx $100) that are Wi-Fi (or GSM 3G)
 capable. Either as a telephone or a handheld tablet. Processing power
 won't matter too much, battery life will be more important. Linux is an
 ideal choice for these devices. No keyboard.

..snip...




This DOT-COM Discussion is funded by the dot-ORG USAID Cooperative
Agreement, and hosted by GKD. http://www.dot-com-alliance.org provides
more information.
To post a message, send it to: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to:
[EMAIL PROTECTED]. In the 1st line of the message type:
subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd
For the GKD database, with past messages:
http://www.GKDknowledge.org


Re: [GKD] Flaws in India's Model e-Governance Project

2003-10-01 Thread Udit Chaudhuri
It is high time to find a technology that will end this holy cow
computerisation, so typical of India. I don't know if this attitude
holds in other 3rd world countries too.

The same thing happenned in several organisations including banks and
commercial firms throughout the 70s to the 90s, that the first wave of
computerisation pervaded various sectors of the Indian economy. With
computerisation of records and information, data-entry operators and
those authorised to allow access or process outputs became the new power
centres, instead of becoming catalysts for efficiency.

However, with progrssively less complex technology, increased computing
power in desktop machines, advent of the Net, widespread, networked and
cheaper PCs, this power of information is slowly being disseminated to
the direct beneficiaries intended to be served, i.e. customers,
tax-payers, citizens at large, etc.

One expected that with the integration of cheap and powerful hand-helds
like the Simputer and slew of Linux boxes, this dissemination would
receive a shot in the arm, but we seem to have hit a speed-breaker here
too.


Udit Chaudhuri - Independent Technical Writer
www.writers.net/writers/24261




***GKD is solely supported by EDC, a Non-Profit Organization***
To post a message, send it to: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to:
[EMAIL PROTECTED]. In the 1st line of the message type:
subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd
Archives of previous GKD messages can be found at:
http://www.edc.org/GLG/gkd/


Re: [GKD] RFI: Computer Donations To The Third World

2003-06-26 Thread Udit Chaudhuri
Besides shipping, I would surmise some basic inspection, reconditioning
and local support costs - possibly extending to support personnel
training and motivation. All this would further jack up the overall cost
per computer.

Perhaps the only way this would work is to:

1Collect computers used and donated in the command area itself, say
executives and offices of international companies and other
organisations who have imported the computers 3-4 years ago and are
upgrading  their systems - incentivising (in token) or acknowledging
their donation;

2Import them in shiploads/ container-loads, so that the associated
costs and overheads can be spread over the large number.

Udit Chaudhuri



Raju Dev Acharya [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
 I totally agree with Guido Sohne. In Nepal I can buy a new PIII for
 US$300. Also importing PC for distribution into the country takes a lot
 of time and effort  due to the never ending red tape and can take
 months. This increases the cost of the PC if the cost incurred in the
 host country is added to the total cost of the donor.


  Guido Sohne [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

  I was in a thread elsewhere that discussed this same issue and I also
  thought that shipping used PCs makes perfect sense. The problem is the
  actual cost of the used PCs when other overheads are taken into account.





***GKD is solely supported by EDC, a Non-Profit Organization***
To post a message, send it to: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to:
[EMAIL PROTECTED]. In the 1st line of the message type:
subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd
Archives of previous GKD messages can be found at:
http://www.edc.org/GLG/gkd/


Re: [GKD] ICT Policy Shift Necessary To Bridge Digital Divide

2003-04-12 Thread Udit Chaudhuri
After all, a bridge needs two ends to be supported firmly. While
technologists and thinkers may offer ideas, thoughts and even resources,
that is just one end of the bridge. It is just one node.

At the other end the local beneficiary also needs to handshake with all
that is offered, however well meant it may be from the other end. Some
of this is direct, by way of education, peoples initiative groups, etc
while the government - central and local - play a critical role, in
terms of law  policy as well as opinion leaders.

Therefore a two-pronged effort is a must. Perhaps we could involve more
potential beneficiaries in discussions like this.


Udit Chaudhuri



Ivo Njosa [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
 I have not been a member of this group for long but I have a deep
 appreciation as an African for those who are really trying to bridge the
 digital divide. I would not want to discourage. All the help is
 needed. However, my re-occurring theme here will be to keep putting the
 problem where it belongs. African governments must change for a lot of
 these initiatives to really take off. There are lots of good western-
 influenced ideas that if implemented and committed to could make a huge
 impact on African societies. Technology is one of those tools that can
 really help a nation leap-frog into the modern economy but again, the
 commitment must be there. African governments are amongst the most
 irresponsible I have ever seen. They do not even try. It is the
 mind-set. It is ingrained in the society and accepted by the denizens.
 Advocating change for the benefit of the greater society is strange to
 us. Until this changes, I do not see many viable programs\projects.

 True democracy will go a long way towards alleviating this problem but
 it will not be an end by itself. African governments at all levels must
 profoundly feel that they will be held accountable if things do not
 work. The one that usually gets their attention is the idea of losing
 power. If this gets solved, a lot of the other problems would at least
 have a fighting chance.  When non-Africans talk about this issue, we get
 offended. But other societies are leaving us behind. A drunk must accept
 that he is a drunk before any lasting solution can be introduced.




***GKD is solely supported by EDC, a Non-Profit Organization***
To post a message, send it to: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to:
[EMAIL PROTECTED]. In the 1st line of the message type:
subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd
Archives of previous GKD messages can be found at:
http://www.edc.org/GLG/gkd/


[GKD] Improving ICT Infrastructure in Dev. Countries

2003-02-01 Thread Udit Chaudhuri
Infrastructure is a major issue any ICT enabling effort - be it the
Simputer, Village Internet, WiFi... but greatly underestimated. Whereas
about every hamlet among your potential sites may even have an educated,
sometimes computer-aware if not entirely PC-literate person as your
potential user.  the supporting utilities such as transmitting-receiving
networks, land-lines and basic to all these - reliable mains power at a
reasonable voltage - are often insufficient if not absent, while the
local administration and official figures may point otherwise.

Therefore, any ICT enabling programme needs to work on a two-pronged
approach: To liaise with the local administration (communications and
energy are mostly government owned or controlled) and pursue the
progress of local electrification and comm networks, at the same time
planning a supporting ICE programme, to the extent of your aims.

Seeking partnerships with such developmental bodies including NGOs, the
microPower initiative modestly envisions the independence of a working
class rural / urban fringe family from public utilities for its most
basic energy, information and communication needs.

First, microPower offers autonomous power solutions for the rural /
semi-urban beneficiary and will soon follow this up with OEMs in the ICT
sector with appropriate built-in solar power and energy storage devices.

To elaborate on this initiative, a data sheet on microPower solar
photovoltaic battery chargers as well as PDFs on the product range
(35KB) and its underlying concept (115KB) are available on request.


For enquiries:

The microPower Initiative
c/o Udit Chaudhuri
Unika Enterprises
e-mail:[EMAIL PROTECTED]
Tel - Fax: +91-22-26045595



Regards,
Udit Chaudhuri




***GKD is solely supported by EDC, a Non-Profit Organization***
To post a message, send it to: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to:
[EMAIL PROTECTED]. In the 1st line of the message type:
subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd
Archives of previous GKD messages can be found at:
http://www.edc.org/GLG/gkd/



[GKD] Improved Solar Cooker Now Available

2002-07-29 Thread Udit Chaudhuri

For all of you who work in tropical regions and for poor (predominantly)
rice-eater beneficiaries, here is some interesting news:

As you may know, solar cookers have been manufactured in India for about
two deacdes (www.renewingindia.org would give some figures) and marketed
under various developmental and subsidy schemes, while I understand that
a few have been exported to other developing countries under some
package or manufacturers' initiative. Most of the fabricators have been
small / one-man-show industries, as preferred by the policies, who start
by buying drawings from our government's Nodal Agencies and have little
scope for product improvement or RD.

Taking keen initiative in this situation is the Industrial Design Centre
of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. They have improved on all
existing designs and are able to attain a temperature as high as 150 DEG
Celsius with sufficient DIRECT COOKING capacity for a small family. It
needs 3-4 hours in shadow-free tropical sunlight. Using superior yet
locally sourced materials like FRP, PTFE and toughened glass covers for
protection and enhanced insulation, the aesthetics and finish are
pleasing too, a smooth, attractively coloured, aerodynamic oval. This
design has also done away with the mirror, making it acceptable in windy
areas as well.

The design is available to micro-entrepreneur development agencies, NGOs
as well as manufacturers. Please feel free to write to Prof K Munshi
[EMAIL PROTECTED] at IDC, Mumbai or me for any further information
or assistance.

Regards

Udit Chaudhuri




IDC SOLAR RICE COOKER 

Salient Features

1. Single dish design, suited to direct cooking, adapted to most
tropical cuisines.
2. Cooks for 4 persons at a time.
3. Ideal for rice and lentil preparations - Khichri, Pullao, Kheer - 
ample scope for local improvisation.
4. Also roasts ­ potatoes, other root vegetables, fish, meat - to
temperatures as high as 150 deg. Celsius.
5. Healthful, slow cooking - a typical meal is ready by 12 Noon if
loaded by 9 am.
6. No supervision is required after loading the cooker. 
7. Hygenic - Teflon coating on cooking vessel and finished FRP exterior
­ easy to clean.
8. Tamper-proof design - double glass cover, 4 tight clamps and no
mirrors to distract or re-adjust.
9. Supplements conventional cooking, just like your pressure cooker,
electric oven or rice cooker.
10. FUEL SAVING and environment-friendly - burns no wood or gas,
smokeless cooking.
11. Tested  proven at Mumbai, also in winter. 
12. Special recipes for solar cooking and are producing a solar
cookbook.
13. Improved performance compared to commonly available box-type solar
cookers - very high ratio of energy reception area to heat loss the
area.
14. Balanced design ­ function and performance, aesthetics and
durability - all kept in mind.
15. Portable - just 6 Kgs, unladen. 
16. Pleasant to display on the dining table and easy to carry from
kitchen to the Sun-deck (balcony).

For further information, please write to:
Director 
INDUSTRIAL DESIGN CENTRE, 
Indian Institute of Technology, 
Mumbai 400076, INDIA 

Contact Person:  Prof K Munshi, IIT Bombay
Telephone  (Direct):  +91-22-576 7822
  (EAPBX) +91-22-572 2545 Ext 7822
Fax:  +91-22-576 7803 
   +91-22-572 3480 
e-mail: [EMAIL PROTECTED], [EMAIL PROTECTED]





***GKD is solely supported by EDC, an NGO that is a GKP member***
To post a message, send it to: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to:
[EMAIL PROTECTED]. In the 1st line of the message type:
subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd
Archives of previous GKD messages can be found at:
http://www.edc.org/GLG/gkd/



Re: [GKD] Acknowledging the Digital Divide

2002-01-30 Thread Udit Chaudhuri

I would like to build on what Vickram Crishna has stated:

It is a common concern that any such development makes some people 'more
equal' than the others.

Unfortunately, in many Indian cases, the current village 'head-man' or
one from the local all-powerful family was the only one educated and
responsible to handle and maintain equipment that was supposed to be
community-owned. Sometimes it is the only option to equipment vendors
and their commissioning engineers, who would otherwise be marooned at
the (very remote area) site for as long as a year, struggling to
complete the 'handing over' procedure to avail of full payment.

Further, the government itself monopolised access to development-driving
utilities like postal services, telecom, petroleum and power
distribution, besides aviation, steel, cement and fertilisers, making
public representatives, civil servants and those in their proximity
'more equal' through their ability to dispense or broker scarce
resources and favours.

However planners at all levels have learned from these experiences and
are trying to correct this. No one can say that the local private
courier, PCO (Public Call Office) and Cybercafe owner is any kind of a
power-broker or monopolist now. Low capital cost, limited margins,
simple equipment and possibility of competition make it unattractive to
the quick buck chaser.

Likewise, the Nodal Agencies in quite a few States have undertaken
mass-education and user-training initiatives, also motivating local
'owners' of community-owned stoves and renewable energy systems like
solar streetlights. Telegraph offices have markedly improved. Cement and
steel are no longer restricted supplies just as licenses to manufacture
or distribute these are no longer exclusive privileges. Instances of
money-order racketeering are less known among populaces with higher
levels of literacy.

We can learn from all this and apply it here too: In case of the
Simputer, its low cost, open-source or public domain software -
operating system and applications, hardware specifications,
knowledge-sharing  groups like the Yahoogroup and Sourceforge
communities, and attempts to disseminate this information - even
discussions like this, prior to its launch - will definitely help
mitigate any 'holy cow' in it.

In fact, IT by itself has grown from being a rocket-science for the
privileged few to something taught in schools, and the many popular
private institutes, with books and CD-ROMs on any topic available all
over India and in several regional languages. This is bound to result in
better all-round awareness of usage, servicing, applications and
peripheral development as well as competition-driven low costs. Branded
PC manufacturers need to run hard for their money.

It appears that economy - from market-driven regulation more than
administered controls, education and communication are about the best
anti-monopoly weapons. On my part, I would back all endeavors in
preparing all technical support and educational material related to the
Simputer.

Regards
Udit Chaudhuri



***GKD is an initiative of the Global Knowledge Partnership***
To post a message, send it to: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to:
[EMAIL PROTECTED]. In the 1st line of the message type:
subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd
Archives of previous GKD messages can be found at:
http://www.globalknowledge.org



[GKD] Information Village Project (India)

2001-11-29 Thread Udit Chaudhuri

Dear GKD Members,

I would like to introduce myself, as this is my first message to GKD. I
live in Mumbai, India and have 22 years experience writing technical
documentation and promotional material; have supported new market
launches and Phased Manufacturing Programmes for a wide number of
industries, 12 years of which were spent as a (employee + contracted
tenures) marketing and projects executive. Have worked abreast with
evolving information systems and technologies since 1979, though about
exclusively for the IT industry since 1998. Am an electrical (energy
systems) engineer, studied Cybernetic Management Strategy applied to
growth of businesses through an Advance Diploma in Management from the
Wolfgang Mewes Verlag of Frankfurt, Germany which enables analysis and
strategy formulation - esp. business growth by information strategy.
Have extensive exposure to all areas of corporate communications - as
copywriter and communications consultant. In addition, I take a keen
interest in all issues related to economic development, especially
energy, environment and technology. I am likewise an observer,
subscriber or participant in relevant fora of bodies like Exnora
www.exnora.org Save Chennai Environment, the Hawking Communicator
Project www.radiophony.com and Society for Clean Environment 
www.socleen.org, as well as the Simputer list.

I would like to share with you this information about the Information
Village Project, of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, which I
drew from the Drumbeat page at the Communication Initiative site:

http://www.comminit.com/pds11-2001/sld-3357.html.


 Best regards,

 Udit Chaudhuri

--

 Information Village Project - India

 Summary
 
The Information Village Project, of the M S Swaminathan Research
Foundation, linked ten villages near Pondicherry, India with computers,
providing information on such aspects as health, crops, weather, and
fishing conditions. These new technology tools are empowering everyone
with knowledge and opportunity by an inclusive use of local languages
and a multimedia format that allows all to participate.

 Main Communication Strategies
 
The Information Village Project has connected the villages by a hybrid
wired and wireless network-consisting of PCs, telephones, VHF duplex
radio devices and email connectivity through dial-up telephone lines -
that facilitates both voice and data transfer, and have enabled the
villagers to get information that they need and can use. The entire
project draws its sustenance from the holistic philosophy of
Swaminathan, which emphasises an integrated pro-poor, pro-women,
pro-Nature orientation to development and community ownership of
technological tools against personal or family ownership, and encourages
collective action for spread of technology. The bottom up exercise
involves local volunteers to gather information, feed it into an
Intranet and provide access through nodes in different villages. Value
addition to the raw information, use of the local language (Tamil) and
multimedia (to facilitate illiterate users) and participation by local
people right from the beginning are the noteworthy features of the
project.
 
Most of the operators and volunteers providing primary information are
women, thus giving them status and influence. All centres came up
because of demands made by the community. Information provided in the
village knowledge centres is locale specific and relates to prices of
agricultural inputs (such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) and outputs
(rice, vegetables), market (potential for export), entitlement (the
multitude of schemes of the central and state governments, banks),
health care (availability of doctors and paramedics in nearby hospitals,
women's diseases), cattle diseases, transport (road conditions,
cancellation of bus trips), weather (appropriate time for sowing, areas
of abundant fish catch, wave heights in the sea), etc. Unique to the
project is the fact that most information is collected and fed in by the
local community itself. The centres are operated by local volunteers.

 Development Issues
 Technology, Economic Development, Rights

 Key Points
 
In most villages, there are no telephone lines and there are frequent
power breakdowns. The project uses hybrid wired and wireless
communication links using telephones at one end and Motorola VHF dupleix
devices at the other, and by using solar power in conjunction with the
mains.
 
In a caste-based society, it is not easy to spread an egaliterian ethos.
The project was able to gain working space for the village information
centres from a Panchayat (local government) office, a private
individual's home and even a temple. They were able to overcome the
temple' normal rules and allow Dalit (lowest caste) people and women in
their monthly periods to enter and use the informtion centre located in
the temple.

MSSRF won the Stockholm Challenge Award in 2001 for this project.

 Partners
 IDRC