eGovernance in India

Improving eGovernance in INDIA

Read how 100000 CSC’s came about, how some NGO’s which are against DIT / MIT, HOW eGovernance being used by NGO’s get FUNDED and WORK from DIT / MIT

Posted by egovindia on July 8, 2006

—– Original Message —–

From: eGov INDIA

To: eGov INDIA

Sent: Tuesday, December 27, 2005 5:01 AM

Subject: [eGovINDIA] NGO’s and employess discussion about 100000 VKC’s, DIT, $100 LAPTOPS and eGovernance in INDIA

Dear eGovINDIA Members, WE HAVE DISCUSSED ABOUT DIT and 100000 Village Knowledge Centers. Also we have discussed about NGO’s – One World Asia, CMSDS, MSSRF etc. Also about Mission 2007. Meeting at DIT on VKC’s. How DIT had preplanned all these VKC’s centers. DIT meeting was an EYEWASH. The deal was done with these NGO’s. This shows how DIT runs it’s operations without really reaching the REAL STAKEHOLDERS. This shows up here in these emails of some NGO’s employees.

Please read and see the EMAILS which are copied at the end of this email letter and you will know what is happenning in eGovernance in INDIA and how much in CONFUSION.

THESE ARE REALITIES of eGovernance WHICH ARE COMING OUT NOW !!


India has been trying to push the Village Knowledge Centre concept and similar concepts without ascertaining the views of the beneficiaries or the true stake holders.

 


Some of the NGOs, using their close contacts with top bureaucrats or politicians claim to represent the real stake holders and divert the whole nation. Read what Dipti of CMSINDIA talks and writes. “Do we have the guts to stand up and say that we reject the funding because we don’t really believe that ICT is going to eradicate or even appease the problems of this country?” There is more you all need to read in the email copied below !!

 


I have been forwarded&nb! sp;an interesting thread of discussion on the VKC and other such projects from different groups where the NGOs themselves are totally divided. CAN YOU IMAGINE THE FATE OF eGovernance ? and DIT depending on them ?

 

 

(The email thread is COPIED at the end. Please read some highlighted portion of the emails copied you all will know what we are talking about.)

 


Some one has been proudly defending a leading NGO leader by stating that he never touches the computer but he has a great vision ! Read what Subbiah Arunachalam of MSRRFsays below.  WRITES: Prof. Swaminathan rarely uses a  computer himself, ! Some of the key actors in ICT4D are not technologists; 

 


It is time India really understood these bogus NGOs and went straight to the stake holders to find out what the people need. Whether they need computers where there is no electricity or law or order.

 


Are they aware of the power of IT or they are not aware of it.

 


Are they in need of information or they can wait a bit before the situation is conducive to use of the IT Power.
 


Let us expose these bogus NGOs, the NGOs who mostly do their consultation in five star hotels and make them answerable.

 

 

Let us also bring out the NGOs and Groups which truly reflect the stake holders’ views and feelings.

Let us hear from you all after reading these emails which are copied below.


V. M. Kumaraswamy, MBA

Moderator eGovINDIA,

 

INDIA RTI, INDIA WBA

EKAVI, Judicial Reforms
—————————————————–

 

NGO’s and Employees involved CMSDS – here are emails that are brought to our attention.

 

On 12/17/05, Dipti <dipti@cmsindia.org> wrote:

 

This is in continuation to the discussions on low cost laptops,
mission 2007 etc. Please someone tell me that this whole discourse on ICT for Development surprises them. I recently attended a very exciting conference that discussed the use of these and other media for strengthening democracy. I would again like to raise some questions, which were raised there but were left unanswered:

1.      If we are using these media to strengthen democracy then is
the whole process that is being used of "installing" the media in
communities democratic?
2.      Proponents of ICT for D keep using the terms "remote
communities", "communities that lacked access to any kind of
information" etc. remote for whom? And what information did they
lack? The one they needed or the one you want to provide them?
3.      I am told that community radio is really working well in
some countries, but even these places where community radio has been around for quite some time now they constantly face problems of sustainability and content creation. How can the technocrats of our country justify the crores that are being spent on ICT infrastructure without even paying heed to these questions?
4.      At least in the Indian context please let us not be na�ve�
please let us accept that we haven't really chosen the ICT mode because we really believe in its power..instead we are trying our
best to convince ourselves that it will do the magic that decades of
primary health centres, local governments, schools, self help
groups, womens groups, farmers groups could not do, only because there is a lot of international funding. Do we have the guts to stand up and say that we reject the funding because we don't really believe that ICT is going to eradicate or even appease the problems of this country? The problem is that there is no real research shows evidence either for or against the proposition. So the best way is to take the money and do some work.
5.      My own scepticism comes from my interactions with people. A Dalit friend from Tamil Nadu told me that none of the lower caste people could go to the village ICT centre because it was located in the house of an upper caste. My interactions with ! women of the Mograram village near Bhopal tell me that even the women in whose household the ITC eChoupal has been set up do not know much about it, so there is little question of other women of the village knowing about it.  I must state here that in some villages women involvement in the echoupal was high. The point is that we need to address issues of caste, gender etc. We must remember that it is in this social context where caste and gender discrimination is widespread that we are talking, what answers do the proponents have?

I think it is the dialogue between the technology determinists and
social scientists that is missing. In fact I wonder if social
scientists are even being asked for an opinion. I think we will
benefit from a healthy dialogue between the two both at the policy
and implementation level. But even this approach still lacks the
participation of the community in the decision making process�

-dipti

—————————————————————————————————

 

On 12/18/05, Lisa Thurston <lisathurston@gmail.com> wrote:

Dipti, thanks for raising these things which are all too easy to let slip past us in our intoxication with new ICTs. I also would love to see genuine discussion on the! se points/questions – highly pertinent and timely as they are. Obviously if we constantly focus on possible negative outcomes of ICT4D then we’d never even start anything, never attempt a grassroot digital inclusion initiative, never really innovate, so I think you may be right that we do tend to maintain a little too much optimism about ICT4D.

To me at least there seems to be prima facie evidence that proper consultation (or followup education) often is not being done with the intended recipients/beneficiaries of ICT4D initiatives. Why is this the case in the first place? And secondly what are the steps we can be taking to try and raise awareness of this need for proper consultation, etc?

Lisa

——————————————————————————————————————  

On 12/18/05, Earl Mardle <earl.mardle@kn.com.au> wrote:

Dipti’s point
At 12:17 a.m. 19/12/2005, you wrote:

I think it is the dialogue between the technology determinists and social scientists that is missing. In fact I wonder if social scientists are even being asked for an opinion. I think we will benefit from a healthy dialogue between the two both at the policy and implementation level. But even this approach still lacks the participation of the co! mmunity in the decision making process�

This is the absolute key to the whole discourse. And there was recently a thread on CI Researchers list about what it means to obtain “community” (define, argue, debate that) “ownership” of the process.

We had a small intervention from Lee Thorn about the $100 laptop, but what we missed was a far more fundamental intervention that i know he could have provided that deals with this whole process. Disclaimer: I count Lee among my friends, and I am honoured to be counted among his.

Here is what I believe Jhai foundation has developed. It is a holistic process that starts in exactly the right place and proceeds through community leadership to ownership. It is not led by technology, in fact, the point about the Jhai PC is that, although it was designed by the brilliant Lee Felsenstein, the specification for it came from the Lao communities with which Lee was working. in a fundamen! tal way they are the “designers” of the requirement, Jhai simply took those parameters and built the hitherto absent technology to fill the gap.\

But the key to Jhai’s approach is that it is founded totally in human relationships. It came from a guy, Lee Thorn, who needed to make amends for the crimes he felt he helped his nation commit. So the basic position was to ask forgiveness and achieve reconciliation through collaboration.

It takes a long time, even with the best will in the world. The Jhai PC is the current way station on a process that started with a great deal of listening and feeding back till everyone agreed that everyone agreed.

The next stop was the Jhai Coffee production and marketing project; taking an existing resource and applying new skills and networks to increase its value to the local community. Then came the Internet learning Centres, only in places where the local community would provide their resources, such as buildings! , access, people, to enable their operation. The reason Jhai won a Stockholm Challenge Award for the ILC’s (and how I came to meet Lee Thorn in Stockholm) was not because they were telecentres, but because the ownership model made sense and worked in that community. I know, I voted on the Education jury that made the award.

Only after those two projects did the local communities sufficiently trust Jhai to approach them to create a device to meet the communication needs of 5 remote villages made up of people who had been displaced from the Plain of Jars.

Note, that in villages with no electricity, no telecommunications and with low literacy, there was no need to “educate” people about their communication needs, nor was there any need to “raise their awareness” about the possibilities of ICT. They already knew all that. What they required was a trustworthy partner with access to technological capacities that they d! idn’t have. One who would shut up and listen to what they had to say, who would genuinely understand what they needed, then turn it into some technology.

The fact that so many people, from Native American people in Arizona to women’s weaving collectives in India should immediately want the devices says a great deal about both the validity of the process and the failure of other attempts to import ICT and apply it to poverty alleviation, social disconnection etc etc.

The tools that outsiders need to make their ICT interventions work are probably, humility, curiosity and a willingness to learn. Without those, we are designing for failure.

 

Earl Mardle
KeyNet Consultancy
Using Information Technology in the Real World

29 River St
Earlwood Sydney
NSW 2206 Australia

Ph 61 2 9787 4527
Cell: 61 (0)413 624 391
The Blog

——————————————————

 

  On 12/18/05, ignou18@sancharnet.in <ignou18@sancharnet.in> wrote:

Dipti and the rest, I think some valid points have been raised.We are carried away with the idea of operating new ICTs at the grassroots level? But isn't there something called technology 'appropriateness', ie which technology can be exercised where.The determinants obviously will be connectivity, such as computer and electri! city. Moreover the concept of ICTs includes in its gamut all forms:the radio, television, computer et al. Low cost technology is relevant to the issue here.When there is no or poor connectivity in a place we have to think of alternate technologies, or use non conventional sources to generate power and electricity.
Yes, I do strongly concur with Dipti that there must be serious dialogue between technologists and practical workers. There must be more interventions by both field workers and, those who ' drive' technology.

Ananya.S.Guha
IGNOU,Shillong

 

.——–Original Message ——-


Dipti, thanks for raising these things which are all too easy to let slip
past us in our intoxication with new ICTs. I also would love t! o see genuine
discussion on these points/questions – highly pertinent and timely as they
are. Obviously if we constantly focus on possible negative outcomes of ICT4D
then we’d never even start anything, never attempt a grassroot digital
inclusion initiative, never really innovate, so I think you may be right
that we do tend to maintain a little too much optimism about ICT4D.

To me at least there seems to be prima facie evidence that proper
consultation (or followup education) often is not being done with the
intended recipients/beneficiaries of ICT4D initiatives. Why is this the case
in the first place? And secondly what are the steps we can be taking to try and raise awareness of this need for proper consultation, etc?

Lisa


On 12/19/05, Subbiah Arunachalam <arun@mssrf.res.in> wrote:

 

I wish Dipti, Ananya and Lisa have looked at the enormous literature available before talking about appropriateness of using technology, proper consultation with social scientists, and the futility o! f using ICTs in development. Some of the key actors in ICT4D are not technologists;  Ambassador Walter Fust is the head of SDC; Prof. Swaminathan rarely uses a  computer himself, but the kind of insights these two gentlemen have is  unparalleled. Organizations such as IDRC and SDC which support ICT-enabled development do so only after a careful study.

Subbiah Arunachalam

 

On 12/19/05, Lisa Thurston <lisathurston@gmail.com> wrote:

 

Subbiah, thanks for pointing out the practices of SCD and the IDRC. But this doesn’t negate the point that Dipti raised. Please don’t be confused by what we are talking about here. Many (of course not all) ICT4D initiatives appear to have been launched without adequate consultation with target communities. That does not mean ICT4D initiatives are futile. And I don’t believe anyone is suggesting that ICT4D involves only technologists. I think we are aware that a holistic approach is needed to carry out sustainable and effective ICT4D initiatives. The main concern today is with regard to $100 laptops and other endeavours which appear not to have really sought or taken in the needs and ideas of the target communities.

On 12/19/05, Satish Jha <satish.jha@gmail.com> wrote:

 

Interesting questions.. Just that sometimes its harder to answer them unless one has been through the evolutionary cycle oneself..

Much of the discussions on these forums tend to be more wishful than grounded in reality..

 

I have often been hearing from many people who are engaged in finding solutions to development with the use of technologies– do we have a model that is robust enough to be repli! cated? Of course there are some that have emerged successful less because they focused on development and perhaps because they looked at the viability first.. Grameen phone or e-choupal included..

 

Any solution that has its roots in “aid” culture seldom grows up necessary strength to stand on its own.. Its seldom because of a lack of dialogue between “social scientists” and the “technologist” that the results tend to be weak.. Even a cursory look at social sciences will likely suggest that it is more analytical than prescriptive.. When it is prescriptive, its idealistic.. Success- unless defined as a hand out- is unlikely to follow that path.. And technologists can help create a solution but to turn that into a “product” that can allow it to become simple enough to add value for defined customers is not something they generally get groomed to do.  

I am persuaded to think that unless we define success in terms of creating an inner dynamic that allows these experiments to get away from the crutches of grants and face the heat of the market place, they will not know how to sustain themselves..

 

Its better to start by analysing the issues a little more systematically..than believing before the facts are put in an order that enable us to see clearer patterns.. May be that’s a task that can be sponsored by an agency that believes in seeding some of these initiatives rather than the “grant” approach..

 

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