IOSN and Practical Action conduct discussion on Poverty Reduction
Chennai - The South Asia Node of the International Open Source
Network (www.iosn.net) in partnership with Practical Action
(http://www.itdg.org/) organized a Round Table Conference on "ICT for
Poverty Reduction" on the 27th of March, 2007 at Hotel Ramada Rajpark,
Chennai. The discussion was designed to have a strong focus on FOSS and
FOSS based solutions. It saw participation from organizations such as
the NIC, MSSRF, CEERI and NRCFOSS.
Practical Action, an NGO founded in 1966 has a presence in Asia, Africa and the UK and is committed to many aspects of environment and poverty alleviation.
The M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation's (MSSRF) basic mandate is to impart a pro-nature, pro-poor and pro-women orientation to a job-led economic growth strategy in rural areas through harnessing science and technology for environmentally sustainable and socially equitable development.
The National Informatics Centre (NIC) of the Department of Information Technology, Government of India, provides eGovernance support to the Central Government, State Governments, UT Administrations, Districts and other Government bodies. It offers a wide range of ICT services including Nationwide Communication Network (NICNET) for decentralised planning, improvement in Government services and wider transparency of national and local Governments.
CEERI Centre, Chennai, is a premier research laboratory under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR New Delhi) developing indigenous technologies for the automation of Indian process industries.
Together, these organizations brought significant expertise to the theme of the discussion.
The Round Table started of with presentations by representatives of
IOSN, Practical Action, MSSRF and NIC outlining their work in the areas of Poverty Reduction.
IOSN showcased its efforts in promoting FOSS for development and made special mention of the National Resource Center for FOSS (NRCFOSS) and its flagship project BOSS, a Linux distribution targetting all 22 Indian languages.
In 2004, MSSRF created a multi-stake holder partnership called "Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre". By 2005 this network had more than 200 partners and getting support from both national (including government) and international agencies. In 2007 this network converted into movement called "Grameen Gyan Abhiya (Rural Knowledge Network)".
GGA is a multi-stake holder partnership and facilitates national and regional events related to ICT-enabled rural development activities. Some of GGA partners test different technologies and develop applications for VRCs and VKCs. Academicians, Corporate Sectors and Policy Makers may use this platform for knowledge and technological empowerment.
Dr. Balasubramanian, on behalf of NIC, showcased a multitude of projects done on FOSS platforms for Government programmes. Of special interest was the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, a scheme that provides 100 assured days of work in a year to one member of each rural household.
Once the presentations were over, the floor was opened for discussion.
Discussed were issues relating to advantages of FOSS for poverty reduction and case studies on the same. Of particular concern was the issue of sustainability and support. The participants also showcased various resources on FOSS for awareness creation. Creative Commons Licenses and usefulness of Open Content were also discussed.
The discussion ended with members promising to try and co-ordinate their efforts in this area.