Pick a Free OS

User login


Report from the IT and Empowerment conference, India

bias and include more participation from different parts of the country,

she observed; for instance, conferences held in the capital city can become

less "Delhi-centric."

"We are strongly in favor of Linux. The basic open philosophy of Linux

resonates with the outlook of NGOs as well," Chacko observed. CED uses

freeware to manage document systems as well as email archives.

Linux is good for low-budget organizations; it is very easy to get support

online from the Linux user community for problems you may encounter, Chacko

added. CED has been popularizing Linux among NGOs via educational workshops

and demos.

Getting low cost software and content is also a concern for voluntary

training organizations like Each One, Teach One. Based in Bangalore, it has

10 computers for training underprivileged children.

Freeware and shareware can play a key role here as well, such as Linux,

Apache, Star Office, and iLeap (for Indian language tools). The

Mumbai-based site FreeOS.com is attempting to popularize local flavors of

Linux in India, among corporates as well as NGOs.

Work is being done in India on visual (non-textual) interfaces to the Web,

as well as on translating content between English and various Indian

languages so as to bridge language and literacy gaps.

Non-resident Indians successful in Silicon Valley are plowing money and

expertise back into IT ventures in their home country. For instance, B.V.

Jagadeesh, CTO of Web hosting pioneer Exodus Communications, has invested

angel funds in Bangalore-based Enablers.net, which is launching a low cost

email reading device called iConnect.

"The future is in networking. NGOs need to actively work towards making

their voices heard in cyberspace," Chacko urged.

"It is important for us to benchmark regional knowledge-driven

initiatives," said Aditya Dev Sood, a graduate student at the University

of Chicago and founder of the Bangalore Centre for Knowledge Societies.

Various hardware and mediation options are emerging for local Internet

access, said Sood, such as low-cost e-kiosks (or e-iosks) and simple

devices like loudspeakers to disseminate online messages.

"While the state and corporate sector have begun working together to build

telecom infrastructure, these efforts will not significantly improve the

lives of rural citizen-consumers unless the NGO sector -- particularly