In the first week of March, I attended the 6th International Biofuels Conference in New Delhi. In this conference I learned of an entrepreneurial venture by a tiny village in India that left me amazed. The village is producing its own electricity to meet all its energy requirements!
Indiscriminate littering of plastic bags clogs up Kolkata’s street drains which results in water-logging in several areas of the city. During monsoons, the city almost comes to a standstill! Some city environmentalists are petitioning the municipal authorities to ban the widespread use of plastic bags in the city, also because the toxic material remains in the soil for years. However, plastic bags have become an indispensable part of our daily life. They have several advantages, including being cost effective, and hence a “ban” on plastic bags is not working.
I grew up in a small town in India-Patna-beside one of the mightiest river systems in the world, the Ganges. It is hard to describe the sacred place that the river has in Indian daily life. From sprinkling the holy water on a new born baby to putting a few drops into the mouth of someone about to die to dissolving the ashes of the dead into her deep embrace, the Ganges is like a mother to most Indians (literally she is often referred to as Ganga Maiya or Mother Ganges). But she can be a tough disciplinarian as well. Growing up next to her teaches you a profound respect for nature and the havoc she can cause. Patna is the capital of the state of Bihar which is one of the poorest states in India. One of the primary reasons for the poverty of the state is the almost annual havoc caused by the flooding of the Ganges and her tributaries in which thousands of lives and billions of rupees are lost. I remember as a little boy waking up in fear late one night hearing government jeeps warning everyone to get out of the way-the river was about to break over its embankments and flood the town.
How do you develop the skills in your workforce necessary to compete in dynamic, fast-moving sectors of the global economy? I just returned from India, where I joined colleagues from Africa in a series of site visits, learning events and presentations in the Indian IT hubs of Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore in seeking answers to this (and related) questions. More specifically, the trip provided a rich opportunity to learn more about the 'India success story' of the last 20 years in the areas of IT, IT-enabled services and business process outsourcing (BPO), gathering policy and practice lessons of potential relevance and application to Africa. In many countries, including many African countries, proposals for the widespread introduction of computers in schools is explicitly tied to goals to develop so-called 'knowledge workers' to work in nascent IT industries. How explicit is this link in reality?
The Nasscom India Leadership Forum in Mumbai is the annual meeting platform at which senior representatives from firms in the Indian software and Indian BPO industries share information, discuss and debate issues. The Forum is well-covered in the Indian press, and increasingly internationally as well, and the event web site's group blog is a rich source of divergent opinions and perspectives. Key note speeches from people inside and outside of the industry (including Narayana Murthy, C.K. Prahlad and Shashi Tharoor) were of notably high quality.
It is an interesting time for Nasscom: How will an industry that has only known good times deal with the current economic downturn? How will individual Indian firms fare? While the mood at the conference itself was notably serious (especially for an industry event), some tier one Indian companies actually expect to benefit from the downturn. Many European countries (far behind the US and the UK in terms of outsourcing) are expected to examine costs more closely, which is expected to open up these markets more to Indian BPO providers. At the same time, new outsourcing destinations are emerging, within India and internationally. This is happening not just because of the hunt for lower prices and new talent, but also to gain a foothold in new emerging markets.
The global financial crisis hit South Asia at a time when it was barely recovering from a severe terms of trade shock resulting from the global food and fuel price crisis.The food and fuel price shocks had badly affected South Asia, with cumulative income loss ranging from 34 percent of 2002 GDP for Maldives to 8 percent for Bangladesh. Current account and fiscal balances worsened sharply and inflation surged to unprecedented levels.
En route to Mumbai, I thought I'd pass around some summary information about the new "$10 education laptop" officially announced this week in India.
This has received a great deal of press attention, much of which appears to be (after doing some further investigation) ill-informed / speculative.
Lost in much of the hype has been what is perhaps the more interesting story -- the apparent public commitment by the Indian government to provide subsidized connectivity for schools, colleges and universities, and a related large investment in the development of "e-content", as part of a new "National Mission in Education through Information and Communication Technology (ICT)". Part of this includes the development of a new national ICT in school education policy.
The project implementation of lighting for the Kondh tribes, was one speckled with many a issue. There were issues with production of light to the maintenance and user fee collection.
I was greatly excited when the DM team suggested that I join the blog and share my experiences on the subject of ‘Lighting for the poor” and the Development Marketplace.