Reaching out to rural India

Print edition : January 14, 2005

Smart Vyapari. C-DAC and the Development Gateway Foundation have joined to create this rural trading concept store in Bangalore. -

PURA - President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's vision of a Programme for Urban Amenities in Rural Areas - has become the inspiration for many `digital divide' initiatives. C-DAC's Bangalore centre in the Electronic City campus, together with Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, have partnered with the Development Gateway Foundation (DGF) a United States-based non-profit institution in which the Government of India is a member, to develop meaningful technologies to `e-nable' India's rural reaches.

One interesting tool is SMART-Vyapar (for Small and Medium Applications for Rural Technicalisation). This is an online meeting place for villagers to trade and post information about goods, products and services. It provides a mechanism to initiate buy and sell transactions. To demonstrate the system and spread the culture of e-business, C-DAC and DGF have set up physical concept stores.

Another tool developed is Content Management System for the Community (CMS4C), which caters to the information needs of rural communities. It serves as a clearing house for weather information, agricultural market information, matrimonials, employment exchange and bullion market movements. It has been deployed at the DHAN (Development for Human Action) Community Centre at Melur, in Tamil Nadu, which has also seen the first deployment of Vyapar.

Another development has been the Vartalaap virtual classroom, in local languages.

To provide computing capability for such rural initiatives, the C-DAC team has helped create an Indian language version of the OpenOffice.org suite known as BharateeyaOO.o as well as a text-to-speech tool, Matrubhasha, for local languages.

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