IGF 2008 : Topic 1 : Commonwealth Connects

Amidst elaborate and obsessive security arrangements at HICC in hyderabad after the mumbai blasts, the third internet governance forum got underway on a full swing and one of the first programmes that i am attending is called the ” Commonwealth Connects ” . The topic was briefed by Tony, Tom Walker,  and establishes

The CHOGM got together at Malta way back in 2005 to form an digital strategy to build ICT in the commonwealth countries. With that focus there has been a lot of digital initiatives that have been initiated by this group that will be a kind of test bed for similar larger implementations on developing countries that are a part of the commonwealth.  Commonwealth connects features a digital library , skills exchange and project market place. There are also initiatives on looking at the mobile spectrum and looking at 2G for bradening its reach to the people. Possibilities to provide narrowband access to people in poor countries in an effort to increase reach.

The topic was concluded with a topic by the Diplo  Foundation of Malta by Vladimir who was one of my mentor at the capacity building programme that we did with Nixi India.

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Our hearts weep for the lost lives and the valiant heroes at Mumbai !

A few months back I was supposed to leave to Jaipur on the that day morning and missed it just to realise that evening there were a string of bomb blasts there. Eversince that day everytime i am supposed to fly domestic there is always a awareness to keep checking news until late night. Day before was one such episode as i was preparing to fly to Delhi. The entire week we had added concern on severe rains lashing the city continuously due to the aftermath of ” Cyclone Nisha ” tormenting the state. By 11 pm i was checking twitter from my mobile to get info on these attacks and the rest of night was spent awake before the television as events unfolded. Inspite of the stormy weather i couldnt avoid the trip to delhi  and Noida as i had people flying in from brunei for that meeting.

We salute the Valiant heroes like ATS Cheif Hemant Karkare, ACP Ashok Kamte and encounter Specialist Saliskar and similar 14 such people from the police forces who laid down their lives protecting India and our guest in the line of action. Every time terror strikes closer to home there is always an urgent plea within oneself to get proactive and gear up for crisis / Emergency response management. Last time we had such a incident was a week before Barcamp Chennai 2 and we ensured that we got someone from the Police department (Commissioner’s Office) to come and still we felt that we havent heard anyone in particular give us a clear picture on how we can work as a team to help the public at crisis. Maybe we are barking at the wrong tree. We should have atleast a halfday workshop on Crisis and Emergency response management in case of any manmade or natural disasters .  We need to get a dedicated workshop arranged on this topic with experts. Learnings from such workshop can translate in saving valuable time that might be a matter of Life and death during such crisis.

More than 50 hrs of thorough engagement with these radical elements has got the attention of the world into India. Time and again let me reiterate ” Terrorism has no Religion ! ” . This year i read a book called ” Shantaram ” by Gregory Roberts that gave a newhue to Mumbai in my mind. Places like Leopold Cafe ,The Taj hotel have been painted with such detail in the book that you feel like you are there. Disaster like this shakes our basic premise and trust on Humanity. In the forthcoming IGF Conference at Hyderabad where I have been invited with a Fellowship on Internet Governance from NIXI (National Internet Exchange of India) I would be making an effort with our global friends to look at this disaster from an Indian prespective as well.

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