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UNCTAD Expert Meeting on E-Commerce Strategies Geneva, Palais des Nations 10 – 12 July 2002 E-Commerce and Bridging Digital Divide: Telecom, Infrastructure and Access Dr A.K. Chakravarti Adviser Department of Information Technology Ministry of Communications & Information Technology

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e commerce and bridging digital divide telecom infrastructure and access

UNCTAD Expert Meeting on E-Commerce Strategies Geneva, Palais des Nations 10 – 12 July 2002

E-Commerce and Bridging Digital Divide: Telecom, Infrastructure and Access

Dr A.K. Chakravarti


Department of Information Technology

Ministry of Communications & Information Technology

Government of India


e commerce and bridging digital divide
E-Commerce and Bridging Digital Divide
  • Normal e-biz, B to B e-commerce strategies not covered
  • Deployment of set of ICT applications which could give economic benefits to bridge the digital divide in developing countries
  • Local needs specific
  • Technologies & applications – with focus on telecom, infrastructure and access solutions
cardinal factors for e commerce and bridging digital divide
Cardinal factors for E-Commerce and Bridging Digital Divide
  • Telecom reform with USO
  • Enhancing e-readiness of the nation
  • Technological solutions aimed at
    • affordability v/s economic benefits
    • low-cost ICT infrastructure
  • Community approach
  • Local language solutions
  • Teach/Educate potential beneficiaries to use the ICT tools to advantage, for sustainability
lessons learnt from dotcom bust
Lessons learnt from dotcom bust
  • That companies/VCs know what the consumers want
  • If provided through prevailing market forces practices, consumers are bound to accept
  • Lessons for e-commerce and digital divide from telecom, infrastructure and access perspective
strategies for promoting e commerce and bridging digital divide
Strategies for Promoting E-Commerce and Bridging Digital Divide
  • The diversity within the nation – tremendous challenge
  • Consensus – ICT having potential to accelerate development and bring the benefits of the knowledge-based economy to the rural sector
  • Govt., development agencies, NGOs amongst others have taken a host of initiatives
strategies contd
Strategies ……. (Contd…)
  • Key is : replication, large-scale uses, operationalisation of “those” which are “sustainable”. Location-specific killer/anchor applications are difficult to “predict” and these emerge-out of multiple applications tried in the field.
  • For “sustainable” e-commerce, legal and regulatory framework to be in place.
technologies and applications for rural e commerce in india some illustrative examples
Technologies and Applications for Rural e-Commerce in India : Some Illustrative examples
  • Community Information Centres (CICs)
  • Gyandoot
  • Agmarket
  • RuralBazar/IndiaShop
  • Technology Development in local languages (TDIL)
  • CAD in Handloom
  • CorDECT
  • Simputer
  • Media Lab Asia
rural e commerce projects more examples
Rural e-Commerce Projects : More Examples
  • Warana Wired Village Project (warana.nic.in)
  • AP Govt. initiatives (CARD, TWINS, VOICE etc.) (www.ap-it.com)
  • Bhoomi – computerised land records across the Karnatka State (revdept.kar.nic.in)
  • TARAhaat.com (www.tarahaat.com)
  • HoneyBee Network (www.sristi.org)
  • Samadhan Kendra
  • e-chaupal
  • e-post
  • Sustainable Access to Rural India (SARI)
  • Amul.com
  • Rural knowledge centres for Information Empowerment (www.mssrf.org)
  • Inabling Technologies (www.inablers.net) etc
1 community information centres cics
1. Community Information Centres(CICs)
  • A project for socio-economic development of North East region. States covered:
    • Arunachal Pradesh
    • Assam
    • Manipur
    • Meghalaya
    • Mizoram
    • Nagaland
    • Sikkim
    • Tripura
community information centres cics
Community Information Centres(CICs)

Will facilitate

  • Internet connectivity through NICNET enabling, inter-alia web-browsing and e-mail facilities,
  • Citizens interface with government,
  • Distance learning programmes,
  • Computer culture, specially amongst school children,
  • IT enabled services including e-commerce,
  • Accelerated employment opportunities, and
  • Dissemination of information on plan initiatives, national programmes, disaster management system, public health awareness etc.
community information centres cics11
Community Information Centres(CICs)
  • At Block Headquarters in Seven North East States and Sikkim
  • Number of Blocks 487
    • Pilot Project 30 Blocks
    • Main Project 457 Blocks
experience from cics set up under pilot project
Experience from CICs set up under pilot project
  • Utilization of CICs in some states such as Sikkim and Meghalaya is quite good
  • Gangtok CIC is earning revenue and has even paid salary of staff out of the revenue earned
  • Some of the CICs have started Computer Training Programmes
  • Popular services at CICs

Internet & Email

Word processing

Computer Training

gyandoot http www gyandoot net
Gyandoot (http://www.gyandoot.net)
  • Gyandoot – a community owned, self-sustainable and low cost rural Intranet in Dhar District of Madhya Pradesh State connecting 21 multimedia kiosks or rural cyber café (Soochnalayas) catering to the everyday needs of the masses.
  • Soochnalayas located at Gram Panchayats, bazzars, local shops, Bus depots and on the roadside of central villages where people frequently travel. Each Soochnalaya provides public services to between 20 to 30 villages and between 20,000 and 30,000 people.
  • Gyandoot Intranet linked to the Internet, and a orresponding Gyandoot Website, provides global access.
  • Some of the services provided by Gyandoot Intranet:
  • Agricultural Produce Auction Centres Rates,
  • Online Registration of application,
  • Public Grievance Redressal
  • Hindi e-mail
  • Gyandoot won the “CSI National IT Award” as well as “Stockholm Challenge Award”
  • Replicating Gyandoot model Drishtee (http://www.drishtee.com)
3 agricultural marketing information network agmarknet
3. Agricultural Marketing Information Network (AGMARKNET)


Agricultural marketing – area for second generation Green Revolution problems

  • A key step towards globalisation of Agriculture
  • Improve farmers’ decision making capability to dispose of their agricultural produce at better prices in the market by:
    • Prompt and reliable market information
    • Knowledge of prevailing prices in other markets
    • Knowledge of arrivals in markets
    • Awareness on quality competitiveness
agmarknet aims at
  • To establish a nation-wide information network for speedy collection and dissemination of market information for its efficient utilisation
  • To computerise data on market covering aspects like total arrivals, arrivals by agencies, prices (variety wise/quality wise), storage, despatches with destination, mode of transportation, costs, sold and unsold stocks, sources of supply with destination, grading facilities, infrastructure facilities.
agmarknet aims at contd
AGMARKNET aims at (Contd…)
  • To ensure flow of regular and reliable data to producers, traders and consumers to derive maximum benefit of their sales and purchases
  • To increase the efficiency in marketing by effecting improvement in the existing market information system
agmarknet scope covers
AGMARKNET Scope covers
  • Transmit price and market arrivals to State Agricultural Marketing Board/Directorate for analysis and local dissemination and to DMI Hqrs Faridabad for further dissemination through Web.
  • To start with, 27 commodities categorized into 7 commodity Groups viz. cereals, pulses, spices, fruits, vegetables, fibres and Oilseeds are to be monitored.
agmarknet scope covers contd
AGMARKNET Scope covers (Contd…)
  • Implementation of the project at 670 Regulated market and 40 State Agricultural Marketing Board/ Directorates and DMI Hqrs during Phase-I. At present, 170 Agricultural produce markets and 40 State agricultural Marketing Boards and Directorates are being connected. AGMARKNET will be extended to 2000 additional markets during tenth plan.
agmarknet project components




DMI Hqrs

Server System,

Client System

Windows NT, SQL

Server, Lotus Smart

Suite Millenium, MS

Office 2000

Vsat Based

AGMARKNET Project Components

Computing Facilities and Networking


Board / Directorate /


Client System

Windows98, Lotus Smart Suite

Through Dial-up Modem

agmarknet project components22
AGMARKNET Project Components

Agmarket Application Software facilitates:

  • Market level : Data entry in English or local language, report Generation and transmission of data to respective Marketing Boards and DMI Faridabad
  • Marketing Board level : Collation of data received from markets, Report generation and reports/data transmission
  • DMI headquarters : Collation of data received from Markets, updation on AGMARKNET portal and report generation.
agmarknet project components23
AGMARKNET Project Components

Agmarket Information Transmission

  • Market Committees: Provide daily information to the respective Marketing Board/Directorate and DMI
  • The Board/Directorate: Collate the daily information received from the markets and Generate all markets report in the region and transmit the same to the concerned markets on same day.
  • The DMI headquarters: Collate data received from various Marketing Boards/Directorates and put on the portal hosted at NIC Web Server.
  • The Market Information: Available to the users by accessing the portal (http://agmarknet.nic.in) through internet.
4 ruralbazar indiashop
4. RuralBazar / IndiaShop
  • Computerised Rural Information System Project (CRISP) (http://crisp.nic.in/ruralbazar
    • RuralBazar a website for rural products (Handicrafts, Handloom, Carvings etc.)
    • Local language support to the rural producer
    • Both on-line as well as off-line support available
    • Automatic generation of e-mails for personalised services to customer
    • Supports Secure Transaction
    • Scalable
  • IndiaShop promoted by CAPART / FOOD (www.xlweb.com/indiashop)
5 technology development in local languages tdil
5. Technology Development in Local Languages (TDIL)
  • An Initiative of Department of Information Technology
  • C-DAC – GIST – Working on Indian-language fonts and software (www.cdacindia.com)
  • Research centres in different Indian Languages spread across the country
  • 21 Indian Language Technology providers
  • MAIT Language Technology Consortium working closely with DIT
technology development in local languages tdil contd
Technology Development in Local Languages (TDIL) (Contd…)
  • TDIL website – Downloadables
    • Indian language keyboard drivers and fonts
    • ileap from C-DAC
    • Desika from C-DAC
    • Akshar for Windows
    • Surbhi professional
    • Pocket translation from C-DAC
  • TDIL newsletter VishwaBharat @ tdil
  • Visit http://tdil.mit.gov.in for more details
6 c dac in handloom
6. C-DAC in Handloom
  • Computer Aided Textile Design Centres (CATD) being set-up in major handloom sector hubs in the country – widening the scope of creativity and selection of design
    • Panipat, Bangalore, Chennai, Bhubneshwar, Kolkata etc.
  • Assistance from ATIRA
    • Now CAD in handloom moving over to other smaller places examples :
      • Handloom weavers in Shantipur in Nadia district of West Bengal with assistance from National Institute of Fashion Technology,
    • The Centre aims at
      • Eliminate the time-consuming manual design process and introduce weavers to the efficiency and economy of CAD
      • Introduce ease of innovative in designing and multi-colour combinations through CAD
      • Preserve old designs through retrievable digital storage
7 cordect www tenet res in
7. CorDECT (www.tenet.res.in)
  • Wireless in Local Loop Technology (Will)
  • Joint development of TeNet group of Chennai, Midas Comm., Analog Devices
  • Provides Voice, FAX/DATA, Internet connectivity at 35/70 kbps
  • Simultaneous Voice and internet connectivity
  • 25 Km range of connectivity
  • Cheapest among WiLL technologies
cordect status
CorDECT - Status
  • Operated by MTNL in Mumbai and New Delhi
  • Installed by BSNL – Bhopal, Panipat, Bangalore
  • Installed in Patiala, Mohali, Jaipur
  • Installed in Madagascar, Fiji, Argentina, Kenya, Brazil, Iran, Tunisia, Nigeria
CorDECT WiLL Rural Projects
    • Kuppam Mandal in Andhra Pradesh
    • Dhar District in MP along with Gyandoot
    • Nellikuppam in Tamil Nadu
    • Sikar in Rajasthan
    • Rural Madurai
  • Replication
    • N-Logue Communications (www.tenet.res.in/nlogue.htm)
8 simputer www simputer org
8. Simputer (www.simputer.org)
  • Simple Computer or Simple Inexpensive Multilingual Computer
  • A low cost portable alternative to PC
  • Multilingual People’s computer
  • The Simputer Trust – IISc and Encore
  • Has potential to bridge digital divide
simputer specs
Simputer Specs
  • 32 bit CPU running at 200MHz
  • 32 MB RAM
  • 24 MB Flash
  • LCD display panel
  • Touch – panel overlay on LCD display
  • Smartcard Connector
  • Telephone jack
  • USB connector
simputer software
Simputer Software
  • O/S – GNU/Linux
  • Soft-Modem Alogrithms
  • IML Browser
  • Internet Access
  • Text-to-speech software
overview of media lab asia programme
Overview of Media Lab Asia Programme
  • Vision: To trigger the chain process of making use of IT in the lives of common people in a sustainable way and to influence profoundly the quality of their lives
  • Concept: A network of national and overseas Projects
  • Thrust areas:
    • Learning: Involving every child in the learning process
    • Health: Providing state-of-the-art public health tools and medical information to everyone
    • Financial Sustainability: Creating the culture of micro-enterprise
  • Goals: Adopt villages, develop technology and bring partners
  • Key Players: Academia, MIT Media Lab, NGOs & Cooperatives, Government and Industry
  • Rural, young manpower trained with entrepreneurial capability
  • Digital connectivity to villages
  • E-services in large number of villages
  • New generation of enterprises and products
  • Academic programmes with enhanced innovative research content
media lab asia initial research hubs
Media Lab Asia – Initial Research Hubs

Delhi Hub

Kanpur-Lucknow Hub

Media Lab Asia

Research Programme

Maharastra Hub

Tamilnadu Hub

initial projects areas for research hubs
Initial Projects/Areas for Research Hubs

Kanpur-Lucknow Hub:

  • Chikan CAD
  • Info-Thela
  • SUCHIK: Do-it-Yourself Comic books
  • Wireless networks (IEEE 802.11)

Maharashtra Hub:

  • A research facility for the design and evaluation of devices and interfaces
  • Multilingual Information Retrieval in the Agricultural Domain
  • Sensors for water quality and blood parameter assessment
  • Novel techniques for cancer screening and detection in economically backward regions
initial projects areas for research hubs contd
Initial Projects/Areas for Research Hubs- (Contd…)

Delhi Research Hub:

Rural Software Lab and Demonstration Centre-

  • Health: Rural water quality and Management System based on GIS
  • Microfranchise Development: Precision farming testing, telecom. Services, community services directory etc.
  • Computer Clubhouses
  • Concept of Digital Village demonstration
  • Wireless networks - WANS
  • Low cost computing

Outreach Programme

  • Media Awareness Campaign

Web –Portal development

initial projects areas for research hubs contd40
Initial Projects/Areas for Research Hubs- Contd..


  • Bits for all
    • Bring digitally enabled services to common man
  • Developing low-cost wireless local loop services
    • Indian version of Linux
    • Rethinking of software from operating system to interface to reflect the needs of rural services

IIT Kharagpur - Research Lab :

  • Language and interface technologies for physically handicapped.

Some of the examples pertaining to e-commerce and bridging digital divide are presented. Telecom, Infrastructure and access requirements are innovative.

India is committed to bring the fruits of ICT for the benefit of Masses. Let thousands flowers (pilot projects) bloom. A large number of “these” would eventually be “sustainable”. Rural e-commerce in India is on the “Move”