South Asian Voice at Davos
     on Globalisation
     on Technology

Honoured at Davos 2001
     Anant Singh
     Iqbal Quadir

Technology   Feature     

Reinventing India

Role of Internet In South Asian Development
Successful case studies
    What the Gurus say
    - Vinod Khosla
    - Gururaj Deshpande

Technology - a weapon to
fight poverty.

South Asian success     stories
   - Bangladesh  
     Village Phone
     Village E-Mail
     Village Internet
   - Madhya Pradesh State
   - TARAhaat.com
   - Several more

Cultural feature
Sadhus - Holy Men of India
- Their Beliefs
- Their Sects



Sundown Madness at Wagah Border


Heritage & Travel

Rajasthan's Forest Forts


Three Brothers & A Violin 


Editor's Note



Silk Road on Wheels

South Asian Shop

Old Prints




the-south-asian.com                            February 2001

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Page  4  of  4

Technology – a weapon to fight poverty

South Asian Success Stories


Solar-Powered E-Commerce Village Centers

Greenstar Development Worldwide, Inc. is attempting to build a profitable business while addressing the fundamental needs of people in the developing world. In the end they hope to help ensure that "everyone everywhere has enough food, adequate shelter, economic opportunity and life of learning creativity and dignity." They have only established one pilot project for their model. Nevertheless, the sheer boldness of their effort is inspiring and as they wisely note in their literature, "only a development model based on a business-case will have any chance of alleviating world poverty." Greenstar offers a model of how to scale a solution to the size of the challenge created by the two billion people who currently live off the grid, in over 600,000 villages around the world.

The central component of Greenstar's initiative are solar-powered community centers that provides electricity, water purification, communications, education, support for telemedicine and employment. The primary goal of the centers is to increase wealth in the village based on a grassroots e-commerce program. The facilities act as e-commerce centers so residents of remote rural communities can sell their wares worldwide over the Internet, including "digital culture" products such as art, literature and music. Greenstar helps each community to develop products of cultural value, and to translate that into market value. They invest in developing digital products, such as music and art, by sending in a team of international and local artists to work with people in the village. Products offered on the Web (through Greenstar's distributor partners) may also be export crops such as coffee, dried fruits, and spices, with handicrafts, art and cultural works like ceramics, brassware, musical instruments, tapestries, etc.

M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation

[M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation and Centre for Research on Sustainable Rural Development
Third Cross Road Institutional Area, Taramani Madras-600 113, India Voice: +91-44-2351229, 2351698]

The Village Information Project in India is an example of the worldwide effort to provide Telecenters to remote regions. The . Village. project provides freestanding, solar powered computers. Information is relayed daily by radio handsets and cell phones regarding the availability of medicine in health centers, credit opportunities for microenterprises, market prices, warnings of pest, weather and water risks, and educational materials for school children.

Warana Nagar

The village of Warna Nagar in rural Maharashtra state had no school, no clinic, and no telephone. It did have television, thanks to a satellite receiver put up by a couple of the more prosperous farmers in the village. Satellite television brought the villagers images and information about the world beyond Warna Nagar for the first time in their lives, but gave them no way to interact with it or access it. A project by the Government of Maharashtra State has set up the first rural network project in India. Villagers are now using networked ‘facilitation booths’ or kiosks to access agricultural, medical and educational information on the Internet. Development Alternatives Group is taking this effort one step further and launching a national effort. Development Alternatives aim is to set up a TARA kiosk in every village. Modeled on the PCO telephone booths common throughout India, the TARA kiosk--or TARAdhaba as the locals call it--will give everyone in the village the opportunity to connect via the internet with the world beyond. The man who runs the TARA kiosk as a franchise has the possibility of making a good living and can hire village youths to help him out, while the villagers gain access to all kinds of information, from weather reports to courses at Indira Gandhi National Open University. They also have a means to sell their products to distant markets. The service is capable of communicating in the local language, both on the screen and with audio, as well as through basic picture symbols, insuring that everyone in the village can use it. Royalties, commissions on sales, service fees and other earnings underwrite the cost.

Warana Nagar is the first rural network project in India - delivering165 PCs and an Internet Kiosk in all of the 70 villages in the region of 400,000 people. Villagers are now using networked facilitation booths to access agricultural, medical and educational information on the Internet.


Information for this article was provided by Digital Partners.

Digital Partners, a Seattle-based nonprofit institute, was formed in 1999, with initial support from the Kellogg, Ford and Rockefeller foundations, to map out initiatives bringing together corporate and entrepreneurial leaders, philanthropic organizations, governmental and non-governmental agencies to create market-driven solutions for bridging the Digital Divide. The India Initiative Working Group includes Vijay Vashee, General Manager, Microsoft, Yash Gupta, Dean of the Business School, University of Washington, Pradeep Singh, co-founder of Talisma; Shirish Nadkarni, CEO TeamOn; and Sam Pitroda, CEO of World Tel.


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