Mobile Phone & The Indian Farmer.

Friday, January 15, 2010

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It’s always amazing to know how a small gadget called mobile phone is making life easier for us. Not just as a communication device but more as a multi utility device across socio economic strata. Being in the digital media industry I come across many such utility applications which are trying make our lives easier and engaging in one or the other way. But what really makes me more thrilled is when simple technologies are used to bring some kind of reforms at the grass root levels, especially the farmers. In our country in which half the population depends on farming and most make out a living as subsistence farmers.
Here is one interesting yet simple innovation by engineers who are trying to make farmers lives easier with the help of mobile phones.

If you come from a farming background you would definitely know how many times fluctuation of power makes farmers run to their farms to switch on the irrigation pumps. Indian engineers have come up with a device that allows farmers to use cell phones to remotely turn on their irrigation pumps. All they do is install the switch box type device next to the pumpset panel and this machine will work through the sim card inserted in it.
once installed farmers
can just dial a number from their mobile phone, wherever they are and the motor will start pumping water to their fields. Not just this they also get SMS when the power comes

With the rural mobile penetration growing at an amazing rate, there's a whole lot of opportunity for viable solutions like this.

The most idiotic way to spend Rs.450 million.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

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Couple of days back, Karnataka Minister and Mining czar Janardhan Reddy donated a diamond studded gold crown to Thirumala Thirupathi. Crown is estimated to be worth Rs.450 Million The news was all over the media. After reading the article, I strongly felt, this is the most insane thing any educated idiot can do with the excess money he has, especially when I saw the banner ad which was appearing on this article on timesofindia.com. The ad was talking about a school going dream of underprivileged girl. Not sure how this Rs.450 million worth crown will change the life of Thirumala, but this money for sure would have changed the lives of atleast 10,000 underprivileged kids in the country by sponsoring their education.

On the other note, I am still amazed with the strange co-incident of World Vsion's banner ad appearing on the article . I am sure this co-incident was ‘created’ by Thirumala himself to educate these pappu politicians on the much larger issues in the country which needs to be addressed. .

Internet Bus - Google India's new initiative

Saturday, May 23, 2009

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The Internet Bus Project is an attempt to educate people about what the Internet is, and how it may be beneficial to their lives, by taking the Internet experience to them through a customised Internet-enabled bus, which will travel to several towns and cities across India.

Miss u angels...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

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For my sis & niece who passed away recently...

I thought of you with love today
but that is nothing new
I thought about you yesterday
and days before that too,

Now I think of you in silence
I often speak your name
all I have are memories
and your picture in a frame
your memory is my keepsake
with which I’ll never part

God has you in His keeping
I have you in my heart.
Keep your special memories
and treasure them with love
She was with you just a while
She'll live on in your heart
with a sweet remembered SMILE …..

This is a part of a Eulogy by Dorothy Parker…Thanks Malar for sharing this….

Posted by Pradeep A.J Links to this post  

Network(ing) in the upcountry.

Monday, August 18, 2008

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A recent trip to my native village taught me a new lesson in rural marketing with a live case study.
My curiosity triggered when I saw an Airtel and IFFICO branded truck standing in front of my house selling prepaid SIM cards to the farmers. My initial investigation started onsite by asking few people around the truck on what was so special about the SIM cards sold in the truck. Farmers were more than thrilled to speak about the cost benefit they were getting and customized value added services attached with the connection.
My second level investigation started once I was back in Bangalore. Like always, I Googled it to dig more information on the initiative. I found the news coverage on the JV launch, which apparently had happened just 15 days before I Googled it. I also felt bad for missing out the news when it happened which was covered in almost all the news and business portals in India.

It’s a new benchmark set by Bharti Airtel Limited, India’s leading integrated telecommunications services provider, and Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative limited (IFFCO) to usher in the Second Green Revolution to benefit millions of rural consumers. The JV is called IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd. (IKSL) to provide big boost to Indian agriculture and rural economy. IKSL will offer products and services, specifically designed for farmers, through IFFCO societies in villages across the country. On offer will be affordable mobile handsets bundled with Airtel mobile connection. The farmer will also get access to a unique VAS platform that will broadcast 5 free voice messages on mandi prices, farming techniques, weather forecasts, diary farming, animal husbandry, rural health initiatives and fertilizer availability etc. on a daily basis. In addition, the farmer will be able to call a dedicated helpline, manned by experts from various fields, to get answers to their specific queries. (not too sure if this is a toll free no.).

Bharti Airtel will offer competitive calling rates @ 50 paise/minute for calls between IFFCO members. This is expected to promote community building within the society and rural community at large. Bharti Airtel will also set up towers at sites provided by IFFCO societies to provide quality services to farmers.

By 2010, the rural population is likely to touch 800 million and two-thirds of those would be prospective mobile users. The platform will help make available voice advices in all local languages. The Indian farmer will be able to look forward to the benefits of mobile telephony and Internet.
Being a strong advocate of mobile as a medium to reach masses at the grass root level, here is one more reason for me to believe why mobile will overtake internet in the rural India.

Happy I Day..

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Wow! Free India is 61 years young now and I take this opportunity to wish you all a freedom from mediocrity, ignorance, bias, disregard, infidelity, distrust, office politics (inevitable), control freaks, ex GFs, painful partners, Bangalore traffic, late night deadlines and everything I have missed out here and you deserve freedom from.

Happy Independence Day!

OurVillageIndia.org – Rural India on the web.

Monday, June 9, 2008

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During the last few visits to my native, I had been desperately trying to know the exact population of the region for which I got different answers from each one of them I met. Some said thousand and some said more. To my surprise I got the right answer from one of the newly launched unique website called OurVillageIndia.org.

A dedicated team of Indians and Indian Americans have developed OurVillageIndia.org that seeks to provide information about census data, geographic location, infrastructure facilities, local government, history, prominent people, interested volunteers, change-makers and NGOs for all the 600,000 plus villages of India. OurVillageIndia.org is dedicated to put every village in India on the web. Though the main goal is to create a web presence for every Indian city/town/village on the WWW map, the ultimate objective of the makers is to bring people in these places to come together to help their motherland. Organization’s mission is to help accelerate sustainable development in rural India by building up a network of social entrepreneurs, donors, volunteers, role models among individuals, NGOs, projects and village folks.
It’s a place where PIOs, NRIs and RIs can find their roots, learn what is going on and adopt villages/districts for rural development. It’s also a place where one can find subject matter experts on water, education, agriculture, livelihood, training, health, energy, ecology, sanitation and waste management. The portal will also serve to find role model villages and districts; new technologies and methods (solar energy, vermicompost, etc.); NGOs, which are doing work in villages; success stories; and information on how to replicate sustainable development in villages. If you are interested in publishing more information about the village you know, you will be able to request publishing rights for that village. If you are interested in a particular project, you will be able to send a request to the project owner to be included. With a very little effort, we all can make huge difference to the people living in the rural parts of the country by registering as voluntaries for either our own villages or to the villages we know.

For more details, log on to www.OurVillageIndia.org.

'AFRICA WORKS' with Benetton.

Monday, May 12, 2008

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Benetton perhaps is one brand which is known for its hard hitting and sometimes politically incorrect campaigns than the stuff it sells. Also known for its global activism, Benetton recently launched a financing initiative created to support Birima, a micro credit organization founded by renowned Senegalese musician, Youssou N’ Dour. (Honestly speaking, I had never heard this musician’s name before.)

Contrary to the belief that fashion and cause don’t traditionally go together, Benetton has contributed $ 1.5 million as direct funding and will also make certain that the scheme and the initiative get noticed worldwide through a wonderful media campaign that features brilliantly expressive images. (http://www.benetton.com/africaworks/)

Since majority of Africa lives on less than one dollar a day, micro credit is the best way to enable people who live in the base of the pyramid to invest in their skills and talents. Microcredit organizations give them small loans which is otherwise be denied by larger financial institutions and banks. By financing what are deemed unfeasible business like tailor, craftsmen, street side vendor, farmer, fishermen, Africa works (Name of the initiative) makes clear that it is not a charitable scheme, even if it is based on optimism for the future.

Alessandro Benetton, Executive Deputy Chairman of Benetton Group explains the conviction with which Benetton has backed the project: "We chose to support and promote this important project because, unlike traditional acts of solidarity, it offers tangible support to small local entrepreneurs through the efficient use of micro-credit. Precisely because it is based on entrepreneurial talent, hard work, optimism and interest for the future, this project effectively promotes the new face of Africa."

This initiative should inspire India Inc, which still thinks CSR is all about fund raising, donating, cleaning slums, which end of the day, gives nothing beyond a little PR to the company and false hopes to the people. More and more micro credit organizations backed by the large corporate not only helps eradicate unemployment problem, but also helps nation to enhance its wealth and talent .Helping people fish is always a better way than giving them fish everyday.

From Lead India to Change India…

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

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Remember RK Mishra? Winner of the much hyped yet sensible program on television called Lead India, an initiative in association with times of India. He is back again, for all the good reasons with a strategy in place to try and change the nation with the help of change agents (You & I), with a movement called change India. Unlike Miss Indias & worlds who vanish away after winning the title.

Everybody wants to change the nation, but no one knows where to start from. Here is a chance for people who are concerned about various issues hindering the growth of the nation. If you are game for it, all you have to do to start is to register online with http://www.changeindia.info/, opine, discuss, debate and analyze various issues of local/national interest. Bring together doers; Make a policy impact, create a self - sustaining eco – system and an ‘I will make a difference’ attitude.

Change India also provides space for various social entrepreneurs, activists, NGOs and advocacy groups to host, promote, seek funds and popularize their ideas, concepts, projects and organizations on http://www.changeindia.info/. This will give the members a ready shelf of ideas, projects and social entrepreneurship avenues.

Catch you on http://www.changeindia.info/

Connecting the Disconnected.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

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My work, family, friends and my lifestyle always gives me an opportunity to meet people from various walks of life, from farmers to entrepreneurs, techies to cabbies, housekeepers to house owners, socialites to social evils:). One common thing about all the people I meet is that when ever we catch up over a cup of coffee, knowingly or unknowingly we tend to discuss issues related to technological inventions in the recent past. Needless to say that the discussion predominantly revolves around the INTERNET and the way it is changing our life at the end of this century. Most of the time we only discuss about the initiatives which are made towards making life comfortable for the people who are already living in a comfort zone or leading a luxury lifestyles. Be it about the new feature added in the Mercedes cars, the online railway ticket booking systems, Job boards, eShopping, online banking or anything which falls in the same page. From New York to Tokyo, the Internet has fundamentally changed work, recreation, lifestyle, marriages and even love to name few. But in Kodihalli, a village in Karnataka or Patalgarh, a tribal hamlet in MadhyaPradesh, life remains very much the same as it was 10 years back.

Very few people I meet are really concerned about the situation and are aware of those sustainable initiatives in the online space, which are in some way or the other making difference to people who live in the base of the pyramid, for whom the words ‘Internet’ and ‘technology’ are just an alien terms. Having been part of the Internet business in India for over six years and being a strong advocate of economic developments through social enterprises, I get propitious when I come across a new initiative in this space.

Out of the many social enterprises launched in the online space, I would always love to profile, talk and discuss about the 2 portals which are keeping people at bottom of the pyramid equipped for the race of survival. First one is the recently launched Babajob.com and the second one being eChoupal.com. Directly or indirectly, they are also contributing some amount to the over all economic development though their online initiatives.

Babajob.Com: Any online initiatives especially Job sites, help people who have access to the net. However, there are millions of people in the country like cooks, drivers, housekeepers, gardeners, plumbers and etc, whose only connectivity is a friend, family or his employers who have access to digital world. Babajobs have a new model which helps people escape poverty by connecting employers to informal sector employees - such as maids, cooks and drivers - through people they know. Uniquely, when an employer hires someone on babajob.com, Babajob compensates whoever digitally registered the job seeker and up to 2 people that connect the employee to the employer. The Bangalore-based company was profiled in the New York Times piece as a significant innovation that “seeks to bring the social-networking revolution to the world’s poor”

ITC’s eChoupal: The unique web based initiative of ITC’s International Business Division, offer the farmers of India all the information, products and services they need to enhance farm productivity improve farm gate price realization and cut transaction costs. Farmers can access latest local and global information on weather, scientific farming practices as well as market prices at the village itself through this web portal. eChaupal also facilitates supply of high quality farm inputs as well as purchase of commodities at their door step.

Apart from these two, there are few other online initiatives which were launched with an objective of promoting Indian handicrafts, and create sustainable environment for the craftsmen and artists, but however, they were less talked about and I am really clueless about the results these portals are achieving. Hence, I refrained from profiling them.
{Image in the post has been taken from hindu.com}

Freedom from curse..

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

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Finally the year 2007 has ceased to exist. It was an absolute exasperating experience, a journey which took off with a backpack full of ill luck, betrayals, and hurdles ended up in a true bollywood istyle by giving a ray of hope for a bright 2008. It was the most challenging year in my entire life having had to face the unexpected and the toughest situations throughout, both personally and professionally. Promotion came in with a little hike sans additional responsibility; my integrity was questioned for the first time, had to spend the last quarter of the year with almost no work, got to witness and be part of the funniest corporate dramas especially during the last few months of the year. Personal life experience thought me loads of lessons and take-aways for life. I got to see the highest magnitude of change in some people in the close circuit. Few incidents made me realize, even if you know some people for ages, you may not get to know the true colors, be it good or bad.
Post 2007, I have decided not to stay committed to my long time resolution of not making any resolutions for the New Year. Based on the learning’s from the year past, have decided to go ahead with some resolutions for the years to come and keep hopes high to abide by them. Have listed the resolutions below, if any of you find me breaking the same, you have every right to break my knuckles and my knee caps.

> No social service (for socially upper class people J ).
> Change, change and change. (Change is the only constant.)
> Accept life in all hues and fragrances. (Without cribbing).
> Believe in savings. (It’s too tough to honor this resolution).
> Cut down spends on shopping and partying.
Thanks to thosel social networking sites around, one good thing happened in 2007 was being able to track down most of my “Chaddi dosths” from school.

Here is wishing you all a rocking year ahead!

FreeRice.Com – Feeding hungry people around the world through your vocabulary.

Friday, December 14, 2007

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About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. This is one person every three and a half seconds. Unfortunately, it is children who die most often. Yet there is plenty of food in the world for everyone. The problem is that hungry people are trapped in severe poverty. They lack the money to buy enough food to nourish them. Being constantly malnourished, they become weaker and often sick. This makes them increasingly less able to work, which then makes them even poorer and hungrier. This downward spiral often continues until death for them and their families.

This morning, while at work, I a came across this wonderful website called http://freerice.com/ A no profit website which donates 20 grains of rice for every word you get right. This donation is done by the website through United Nations to people who are leaving below poverty line.

FreeRice has two goals:
1)Provide English vocabulary to everyone for free.
2)Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

By now, you must be wondering how this works and how Rice & Vocabulary are related. When you play the word game on the site, advertisements appear on the bottom of your screen. The money generated by these advertisements is then used to buy the rice. So by playing, you generate the money that pays for the rice donated to hungry people. The rice is paid for by the advertisers. This is regular advertising for these companies, but it is also something more. Through their advertising at FreeRice, these companies support both learning (free vocabulary for everyone) and reducing hunger (free rice for the hungry).

Now the next question arises in your mind is on the distribution system of rice. The rice is distributed by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). The World Food Program is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good.

The rice you donate makes a huge difference to the person who receives it. The rice you donate is more precious than anything in the world as you might save a child dieing in the arms of his beloved parents from hunger.

So, if you are GAME to help end poverty...Log on to http://freerice.com/ and start playing.