What use can a computer be to someone earning less than a dollar a day? What use is information technology in a country that has a low penetration of telephony and computers, where even electricity is not assured, and where millions are still illiterate? These are standard questions. But diverse social and infrastructural needs must be addressed simultaneously to ensure a nation's future growth and prosperity. Already, several projects in the slums of New Delhi, in the fishermens' communities of Pondicherry and in the villages of Madhya Pradesh have demonstrated that information technology can and does positively impact the lives and livelihoods of the poor and semi-literate.
What is it that prompts a group of people in Calicut to start the Chamba Swatantra Cinema Project? How did the world move from copyrights over knowledge, introduced in the 16th-18th centuries and codified as the Statute of Anne, to free software, free knowledge and free culture? And when did this revolution in the way we think and create arrive in India?
The Kerala government employs free and open source software. Even the BJP and CPM have announced their support of FOSS. But the Maharashtra government recently announced an MOU with Microsoft for teacher training using Microsoft programs. Wouldn’t it have been better to train the teachers in FOSS applications that are available to everyone and signify equity and democracy in society?
The government has proposed a six-fold increase in spending on incorporating ICTs in school education. Government has also formed a group to draft a National Policy on ICT in School Education. Strangely, there are more representatives of IT majors in the group than educationists, says Gurumurthy Kasinathan
On the World Wide Web, Google is God. It is incredibly efficient at analysing web information and serving up the most relevant pages. But increasingly, there are whispers of Google's arbitrariness, its inherent bias towards big players, its arch-conservatism and its monopoly over Internet information dissemination
Times have changed for the media. The IT revolution has meant that your message can go to the four corners of the earth in minutes. This has been proved in Iraq, in Gujarat and most recently in Cancun. Can the media turn to the most pressing issues that need attention in our society, to bring about that radical change which has eluded us for so many decades? This article suggests it can
The new rules for surveillance under the IT Act are an assault on our freedom. They also seem misguided, says Sunil Abraham. How many terrorists or criminals will be arrested in India thanks to the new ID requirements at cybercafés or a ban on public wi-fi? Intelligence work cannot be replaced with blanket surveillance
A BarCamp held in Gurgaon recently showcased a number of new initiatives focused on technology, transparency and accountability, from ways to minimise corruption in dealings with government to ways to track power cuts
Michel Bauwens, founder of the Peer to Peer Foundation, is one of those who believe in open spaces and creation without incentive. In this interview he talks about the Free Software and Wikipedia movements as pointers to a genuine change in the way we think, create and distribute goods. He believes that we have never before had such real-time possibilities for human cooperation and collective intelligence on a global scale
In a backlash to the skyrocketing prices of academic journals, academics worldwide are seeking ways to wrest knowledge back from the corporations and open access to all. Following the lead of major universities in Europe and USA, IMSc Chennai launched its open-access repository last month
In villages across nine Indian states listeners are getting hooked on to radio shows featuring women sarpanches and journalists fighting social and economic inequities through panchayati raj institutions. In the process, listeners are spurred on to participate in local institutions of self-governance themselves
The villagers of Budikote in Karnataka are making and narrowcasting their own cable radio programmes on issues of local interest. Thirty-five neighbouring villages also tune in to the cable radio network for two hours everyday. With legislation on community radio broadcasting still a long way off in India, cable radio could be the best way forward
Karnataka's Bhoomi project, which computerised 20 million rural land records, was designed as an instrument of equity. But is IT also reinforcing inequality, with men benefiting more than women and the rich benefiting more than the poor?
The world's richest man, Bill Gates, is pouring money into India. Is it largely because of the challenge posed by the GNU/Linux computer operating system? And what really are the benefits of Free Software?
If government-to-citizen initiatives are to succeed, Indian local language computing is a must. But with almost three dozen major languages and hundreds of dialects, the task is complex. Some headway is being made however, with the debut of a 'total Tamil' computer