E-Governance for Conservation

Every Village a Knowledge Centre, etc

Posted by Amin Adatia on December 12, 2005

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I am not sure I would be in favour of reducing the number of people "dependent" on the Farm. One thing about a Farm is that it provides for the ability to grow "personal use" crops and hence the required nutrition and a very high degree of self-esteem. I would not want to be in the situation of my grandfather who had to see his family disperse because the Farm could not support the family.

You can get the GDP and the Per Capita figures to be whatever you want. I am not sure if there is a value in the GDP for "3 meals a day for the family" as opposed to homeless existence in the "City".

Multi-Media enabled cyber-cafe in a village sounds like a good idea for providing the environment for knowledge transfer. Instead of just looking for cyber-cafe entrepreneurs, perhaps we should also look at small trades people who would support the "machineary of the Farm and village".



A new carnivore?

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 11, 2005

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After the discovery of hundreds of new species of frogs in the rainforests of SriLanka in 2002, it is the turn of the rainforests of Borneo to come up with surprises.

WWF researchers may have discovered a new, mysterious carnivore species in Borneo. The animal, a mammal slightly larger than a domestic cat with dark red fur and a long, bushy tail, was photographed twice by a camera trap at night.

Read more on this at the following link ( please cut and paste in your browser)



Incredible Women of Incredible India

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 11, 2005

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India's first women cab service providers cum tourist guides "Project Priyadrashini" launched in Delhi will be a boon for women travellers ensuring that they feel safe and comfortable in the Capital. The project will extend to other cities soon. The drivers are trained guides as well and the the tourist gets a complete value for money package.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Rajasthan also provides a tour through the park with drivers cum guides - in eco friendly cycle rikshaws. 

E-Governance for Conservation

Every village a knowledge centre

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 10, 2005

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Amin: They say the world has a digital divide. In the digital world, there is a further divide-the users and the techies. Take the case of cyber cafes which are the places from where most Indians access the e-mail. The cafe owner takes care of PC upkeep, viruses etc ( He is a techie in his own right!) so the user is free to reap the benfits only- of emails-at a small price for the connect time. It is this user I had in mind when I was talking of empowerment.

I cannot agree more with you about the impact of the moving picture in spreading any kind of awareness. I am a film maker myself. I make films when I feel a strong need to communicate - like some would write articles or books. So, the knowledge centre at the village must be a multimedia machine, capable of showing films, apart from storing data, communicating etc.

Coming back to our original topic of creating entrepreneurs at the village centre through e-governance. Allow me to quote Mr. Narayanmurthy, Chairman Infosys

“ About 650 million people live in the villages, and agriculture accounts for 26% of India’s GDP, which is about $162 billion. Divide $162 billion by 650 million, you get about $250 each. That is one-third the per capita income of India, which is about $700. You could try increasing the productivity of India’s farm sector so it shoots up to about $ 1 trillion, but that’s a really tough task. Conversely, we could reduce the number of people dependent on agriculture, let’s say make it 450 million, and simultaneously raise farm output to around $350 billion. This too would significantly raise per capita income, and it is far more manageable.”

But is it really manageable if we let “natural forces” to take charge? Faced by failed agriculture incomes, people are migrating to nearby cities in uncontrolled and mismanaged numbers. Creating knowledge centres in the villages will tempt the new job seekers to stay back and become cyber entrepreneurs.

Film Reviews- Wildlife, Nature and Environment

Requesting all members to write reviews

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 10, 2005

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Every year thousands of well researched, poignant and informative documentaries are made on environment and nature related issues. Sadly these films are hardly seen by the public at large, since TV channels / theatres do not air them. As part of our efforts to give better visibility to these films we have been publishing synopsis of these films at


But the impact of films is best described by the viewers, for whom they are meant. Festival screenings and reviews tend to be more on the film-making aspects and less on content. But many of us, who continue to make environment/wildlife films despite all odds, do so because we believe that a picture speaks a thousand words. With dwindling wildlife species and diminishing forests threatening the basics of life like water and pure air, it is high time we spoke in thousands of words at a time rather than a few words at a time.

Some of you might have seen at least a few of the films listed on our site. This is an appeal to all to write reviews for the films they have seen and upload them at


under the topic" Film Reviews" As a member of IndianWildlifeClub.com you can upload your views at our weblog unedited by us. However, unrelated reviews/content will be deleted by us. 

E-Governance for Conservation

Village Empowerment

Posted by Amin Adatia on December 07, 2005

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Susan I am not sure about the empowering impact of an e-mail becuase the reality these days is the spam that comes with an e-mail access. Empowerment would come from seeing and watching how other people in the world do the same things. I remember a story where a person was trying to show the value of a brrom with a long handle as opposed to the hand-held bunch of "twigs". It was only by seeing the "advantage" of the broom did the change happen.

E-Governance for Conservation

Every village a knowledge centre

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 07, 2005

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Amin: You are very correct about what sustainable development means at the village level. Namely, that the village has an assured supply of good food and water, has "jobs" that give a sense of achievement, has safety for its people (as opposed to being subjected to "mafia style" terror) and the absence of the sterotypical landlord :), access to education and freedom to study, etc.

You asked “Do you think having a computer will provide that? Well , provided we have the power back ups in place, a computer can provide knowledge and movies. Knowledge in the village context is certainly not programming knowledge-but market quotes, weather forecasts, local news etc.

The small act of being able to send an email to a distant relative empowers the villager. It is the very basic services a computer can provide that can make a difference. The villager is capable of finding his own water and food, as long as the exploiters are kept at bay. E-governance in India has to mean e-democracy- that is inclusive governance. Many of us here believe it can happen.

E-Governance for Conservation

Re:Every Village a Knowledge Centre

Posted by Amin Adatia on December 02, 2005

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It all depends on what you mean by a knowledge centre in a village. The computer can facilitate the "deployment" of a knowledge centre but having one is not really necessary. The keyword is Knowledge and the focus seems to be the mechanism with no assurance that "knowledge" will be available.

Ability to write virus/worms and then deploying these is demonstration of programming skills but is it making use of the programming knowledge?

I am still wondering, sitting here in Canada, if the promise, I had heard when I was living in Uganda, of a well (or was it running water) in every village has been fulfilled. I know that by 1991 April, there was no sewer system in every village.

Sustainable development. How do we achieve that? Besides what does it really mean at the village level? The village has an assured supply of good food and water, has "jobs" that give a sense of achievement, has safety for its people (as opposed to being subjected to "mafia style" terror) and the absence of the sterotypical landlord :), access to education and freedom to study, etc. Do you think having a computer will provide that?

What might work better, for knowledge transfer, is the old style weekly village movie/newsreel in the field (or was it under the mango tree?).

Even though I work in IT, I do not think that IT will actually solve societal problems or actually is useful in transfering knowledge to "everyone". So far it has failed in improving much of what ails society and has actually made things worse. There is lots of data available but knowledge comes from being able to interpret which needs an ability (and freedom) to think. So to actually put a computer in every village and maybe create a centre would be possible by 2007. Just divert some of the money from the Nuclear weapons program  for maybe two weeks and you will have it.

600,000 computers at $500 = $300 million if I were to buy them here in Canada. The Canadian Government just spent $250 million on an inquiry on corruption in Government. I do not know the cost of the building the facility in each village but you do not need a "CEO of Tata office" for this. Maybe a valuable by-product of this endeavour would be provision of reliable electricity supply to support the knowledge centre -- and perhaps to the rest of the village.


National Bio-Diversity Action Plan

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 25, 2005

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"It is a much-ignored reality that tens of millions of people in India still survive on the biodiversity of forests, seas, wetlands, grasslands, mountains and coasts. The true value of these ecosystems and the species of plants and animals they contain is not reflected anywhere in parameters of development like Gross National Product."

 It is unfortunate that the National Bio-Diversity Action Plan drawn up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests with the assistance of Kalpavriksh, an NGO and Biotech Consortium India Ltd,  is creating controversies and delaying the much needed action.


Interlinking of Rivers

Flow diversion of Ranganadi River, Arunachal Pradesh

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 25, 2005

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The Ranganadi Hydroelectric project (Phase I)was commissioned in 2001. This phase involved inter-basin transfer of water from the Ranganadi to the Dikrong using a flow diversion plan. Due to protests by affected local people, the diversion of water is being done at a low key and in a secretive manner and only partial generation of electricity is taking place.

A study by Aranyak, an NGO, with the assistance of BNHS revealed that

  • The flow diversion, even at the subdued level, caused shallow flooding to occur, converting cultivable land into marshland.
  • Shifting of the river has resulted in rendering bridges built on it redundant, calling for redesigning and reconstruction of the entire PWD road network on the two banks of the river.
  • A fast diminishing fish population and the disappearance of river dolphins point to the pollution and silting , a direct result of the construction activities.

It is understood that Ministries of Water Resources and Power and allied agencies mark all important documents on water resource projects as ‘classified’, denying public access to such documents. But interventions in the natural flow regime of rivers are extremely crucial and sensitive issues, having far reaching implications on the lives and livelihoods of people downstream. Implementing such plans without prior knowledge of stakeholders, concealing crucial information from people who are potential victims of such maneuverings is in utter disregard and denial of citizens’ basic human and environmental rights.

( Courtesy BNHS issue dated Ap-June 2005)

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