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)

Environment Awareness

Sharing what we know

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 25, 2005

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I agree that we need to broaden our concept of Environment awareness to include the general public- the adult population who are in charge of the planet right now.

There are some excellent documentaries getting made in India -well researched and focussed- which must become available to the general public to raise the level of awareness.

While funding agencies are coming forward to fund more and more documentaries, the need of the hour is to distribute and market the resources we have already.

E-Governance for Conservation

Every village a knowledge centre

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 25, 2005

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Amin: Gandhi advocated sustainable development. His "charkha" was a symbol of self-sustenance and self-empowerment.

In today's knowledge society can the computer take the place of the charkha? I believe it can. Government of India has plans to take the benefit of ICT-led development to every village by creating village knowledge centres in over 6,00,000 villages in India by August, 2007 which marks the 60th year of Indian independence. Ambitious? May be. But we are talking Gandhi's language. Every Indian did not take to spinning on a charkha. But the computer appeals to every Indian.


Environment Initiatives

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 25, 2005

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India is one of the twelve megadiverse countries in the world.

Bio diversity is important for sustainable development because it represents the wealth of biological resources available to us and for future generations for food, clothing, medicine and housing. Polluted waters, deforestation and green house gases are threatening our biodiversity.

Environmental initiatives by individuals and groups like us, however small, will help in keeping our bio-diversity at the centre of developmental projects.

E-Governance for Conservation

Sustainable Conservation or Utilization?

Posted by Amin Adatia on November 17, 2005

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The "developed" countries are actually the culprits when it comes to the destruction of ecosystems in "not-their-backyard" as we are finding out the Bush Administration and their approach to the "conservation" of the lands in the north for a few more gallons of oil to feed the insatiable demand in the US.

We can talk about not destroying the ecosystems but when the family needs the tree branch to use a fuel for the cooking I dont think saving the tree for the future generations will have an impact; especially when the current generation is close to starvation.

Poeple can do a lot but the "powers that be" can not fathom making use of humna-power. Where is the sexy slogan or the picture when all you can show is gangs of people making a road versus the shinny new tractor OR the crane that build the "hospitality industry" units instead of people.

Ecology as a resource slogan sounds a lot like "data as resource" and "people as a resource" campaings we here so often in the government or private industry. The only thing that ever seems to matter is the $$ to be had now versus in the future. The penalty for failure still seems to be promotion to the next level.

Maybe it will be different in India. Between 1920 and 1948 someone did try but I think it has yet to catch on.

E-Governance for Conservation

Natural Resources are an irreplacable asset

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 16, 2005

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Thank you for some thought provoking ideas, Amin.

The developed nations of the world are trying to find a balance between development and ecological sustainability. Countries like India still have some natural resources untouched by big developmental projects. NOW is the time to think of conservation.

Restoring a lost ecology is always harder. E-Government has the ability to address many economic issues. The abundance of manpower in our country can be utilised/can be empowered by e-governance which does not exploit our natural resources. In fact, e-governance for conservation involves montoring, assessing and showcasing our natural resources- creating employment oppotunities for thousands in the process.

Instead of looking at natural resources as an exploitable resource, we look at it as an asset which needs to be valued and protected. The benefits of protecting this asset are universal.

E-Governance for Conservation

People Issues are Complex??

Posted by Amin Adatia on November 14, 2005

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It depends. If you mean by that the process of motivation and move away from the current practices of destroying the current environment with no regard to the future or the impact on the "global" environment, then I agree it is complex. For that I doubt if there ever will be anything mere mortals can do. History also shows that those who are above the mere mortal category get "removed" sooner or later; usually sooner.
The purpose of the work for Canadian Environment Agency was to monitor the process for the Assessment of "Industrial" projects on the environment and to Assess the impact based on the Guidelines established as to the protection of the environment. The scope was global in that any Canadian Organization doing work in any part of the world had to provide the data on the impact on the environment. The Agency operates in Canada "for ever". The problem, as I saw it, was that "vested interest groups" would try and circumvent the provision of the data or privide vague and "useless" data.
Educating the public on the importance of managing the environment and looking beyond the "today's bubndle of branches to cook with" is not a simple task when the focus of the "powers that be" is towards other goals like weapons and IT jobs.


E-Governance for Conservation

The National e-Governance Plan

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 11, 2005

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The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP)has just been unveiled.

The Ministries which get into the bandwagon now stand to benefit immensely. The Ministry of Income tax is a case in point where technology is working wonders to boost revenues and plug loopholes.

We appeal to the Ministry of Environment and Forest to actively participate in the NeGp. This will benefit conservation, regulate poaching, boost tourist revenues and create jobs.

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