IGF 2010 Sept 14 – 17th at Vilnius, Lithuania

IGF for 2010 will be held at Vilnius Lithuania and some of the key topics to be discussed will include Net neutrality, Digital inclusion, Online education , Online Child safety on Social media, digital networks leveraging rural empowerment, Intellectual property rights and its impact on software so on… Will try to report more clarity as we proceed. Lithuania is at cultural melange between the East and the West of Europe and is a great place to be . More details available as you go through the videos here.

ISOC Chennai has announced its Chapter elections for the next two years. The chapter is going aggressive on its plans to tie up with similar organizations to do programs at the ground level that will engage on public dialogues and forums to spur innovation, creativity and entrepreneurs. ISOC’s larger mission and vision is dedicated to cultivating a new generation of Internet leaders who will address the critical technology, policy, business, and education challenges that lie ahead.

With this year i will be joining ISOC Chennai board to serve as Director – Corporate to garner industry participation into supporting causes related to Internet. Business participation is an critical component  to improve transparency in the policy making process and thereby governance . Hence it is necessary that we create networking corridors for more corporate brainstorming on the same. I have been associated with ISOC since 2008 as an Internet Governance Fellow and have been actively campaigning for creating awareness on the issue of Safer Internet for Children. (An interesting fact is that ISOC Chennai was the one of the earliest ISOC Chapter in India.)

A project without risk is a project worth not doing !

A Ship in a harbor is safe, but thats not what ships are for !

Projects that have no risks are no humdingers ! Typically a project has to test your capabilities as a team thereby kindling the competitive spirit. Such projects help in team building as well as benchmarking performance in an organization. Project risks and benefits always go hand in hand. Risk is basically a component of any work that on materialisation leads to an undesirable outcome. In simple words risk is a problem that is yet to occur. Risk management is similar to an Insurance cover. As long as things are rosy and going fine people feel it is unnecessary drain in the budget but the the moment we are blindsided by any risk then everyone is clamoring why it was not done.

Organizations and Project teams that define risks in a project demonstrate increased maturity. We need to acknowledge the grey areas / realities well in advance and accordingly plan our resources. Otherwise what typically happens is that we end up going on a “firefighting” mode thereby crisis management. And in the process we end up doubling our resource utilisation, escalating budgets and above all a very dissatisfied client.

As project head it is our bounden duty to set aside the “Can -do attitude ” and deliberate on some “Cant -do ” thinking also .  Analyse your risks, take steps to mitigate possible risks, plan your contingencies, put systems in place to monitor risk trigger points. Scope the entire process into your project plan and schedule. Stakeholder / client when informed of the possible risks tend to show resilience and greater confidence on the Project Leadership.

Principally 5 steps involves in assessing and quantifying of project risks are Risk identification, exposure analysis, contingency planning, Risk mitigation and Managing risks. There are tremendous advantages of Risk Management like increased clarity of the project to the team, increased team morale once you get over a scoped risk, and finally there is clear management focus on the weaker links of the project to ensure that attention is given to reinforce them.

For a more detailed discussion on the various aspects of Risk like  Risk planning, Risk mitigation, Critical path method, Risk management and models like Monte Carlo effect contact me. I would love to share our learning over the period of years

There is a door open in your home ! Safeguard your Child !

How would you feel that your home has a open door that you are not aware of ? How would your react if i were to say that your child is exposed to this open door ? Have you ever wondered what your child is doing online ? Isnt it time that we start to understand the impending threats of an unregulated internet at home. Assuming that the government is doing a lot of measures to curb illegal material online and also assuming that our ISP’s (Internet Service Provider) also do a great job in regulating content online. 10th of Februray commemorates Safe Internet Day and is a good time to discuss issues related to this and thereby create awareness among the society at large.

First lets understand certain basic facts about online content.

1. Content is classified as legal or illegal based on the person viewing the content . What might be appropriate viewing for an adult can be offensive when viewed by children and minors. Content providers need to provide Proper Age verification systems on their website to facilitate child protection on such sites.

2. Online content is never limited by geographical boundaries. National borders don’t play a pivotal role in internet. In principle the criminal jurisdiction can be created with the place in which the criminal act has been performed or the place in which the perpetrator resides

3. Dissemination of content takes place in the following manner. It also narrows down on the onus of shouldering responsibility .

Content Producers >> Content Providers >> Access Providers >> Users.

The principal role players in child protection falls primarily with parents and then its is left to the teachers. These two are the key stake holders in providing online safety to children. Create an awareness campaign among parents spreading the message on the possible risks that are children face online and how we can combat and prevent such threats. We need to remove certain perceptions on safety that most parents have about the online world. Apart from protecting our children from lurking paedophiles online, today the children are exposed to extreme forms of violence in video games and demented views online. We hear cases and instances of misguided youth taking to directions of terrorism. Eventhough we are yet to find a direct blatant link between online content and behavioural influence we cannot deny the fact that there is an element of threat.

Some of the Recommendations that we can propose to address these issues are

1. We need set standards / clear guidelines for online game development as well as for adult content viewing
2. We need to put in place Sophisticated Data mining tools to track the online perpetrators who have been producing Child porn content
3. We need to have an ISOC Chennai focus group on Child protection online that can address these issue on the ground in Indian Scenario.
4. In Indian most of the content is accessed by children from cybercafe and we need to insist on universal framework / means to verify age group of the user to address this concern
5. We should clearly establish a minimum age sentiment on certain sites like Child erotica, manga, Stales so on.
6. Using the ISOC Chennai Focus group on Child protection, we need to empower the parent and teachers on mechanisms and methods by which adequate measures are taken to protect children from such exploitation. First there needs to be Self regulation instruments and that awareness needs to be imparted to the parents and teachers.
7. From ISOC Chennai we need to create a Youth protection round table inviting teachers and parents to be a part of and that encourages collaborative and cross border dialogue thereby to provide an optimal mix of effective technology enhanced strategies in one hand and education based strategies on the other thereby enable a safer and secure internet.
8. Global organisations like Clicksafe, CEOP, Insafe network will join up with organisations from all over the world in a virtual exhibition ground starting from 10th February. Currently Insafe operates across European Union and we in India need to create a similar body to address a much bigger child user group online. The Insafe virtual fair will open its doors to the public on 10th February and close on February 24th. You can access this event at http://www.sidfair.org, visitors will be able to get an overview of what is going on in their country, browse resources in their language and watch videos.

All these issues need to be addressed and in Indian scenario we are in a very premature stage in terms of Child protection online. We are talking about moulding a future generation and It is the onus of credible organisations like ISOC to address these issues. As a part of this we invite educators and parents to join hands with us to make this possible after all we serve our time at earth for maybe 60 – 70 years, but lets leave behind a better tomorrow for our children.

IGF 2008 Day 3 Favourite : Low Cost Sustainability Access

Format and Background :

The last three days of IGF at Hyderabad we have been talking about innumerable topics related to internet and its various topics , privileges, advances so on. But for the first time there was this interesting session presented by DEF (Digital Empowerment Foundation) India on a topic to ensure tha we bring the neglected masses of the underprivileged rural poor who don’t have access to internet.  The objective of the workshop was to discuss on the initiative we need to undertake to bring low cost , sustainable access to the rural poor so that we can empower the next billion into the ubiquitous information superhighway , the internet. The last 5 year has seen many ambitious projects, plans initiatives like OLPC, 100$ Laptop, rural kiosks, echoupal, Project Disha so on trying to create a better value proposition which can benefit the rural poor. All these initiatives created with a prime object for the underprivileged to take advantage of the benefits of internet. But each of these attempts seem to have some short coming or other and don’t seem to hit the nail on the head clearly. Thus the search is still on for a Utopian solution to the a low cost sustainable access. We are looking for a solution at the Base of the Pyramid where the market opportunity is amazingly vast. But at the same time the challenge and supporting infrastructure is pretty bare bone and hostile. The users at this segment are clearly a VFM ( Value for Money) market ie…value conscious .

The session was presided by : Mr Chandrasekhar, Special Secy, Dept of IT, Govt of India and moderated by Osama Manzar, Founder , Digital Empowerment Foundation of India and Manthan Award

The major Pain Points with conditions in developing countries like India is :

  • There is a severe shortage of power in rural india. And most of the time there is lack of adequate voltage
  • Lack of computers and basic cost of computers is at higher threshold making it less affordable for rural users
  • Lack of connectivity in the last mile, internet access in rural areas
  • Lack of knowledge / awareness among the rural poor on the benefits of internet
  • Uncertainity of technology adoption by end users in rural india

Given this established premise of thought it was subdivided into 4 Thematic groups

A. Access, Connectivity & Devices
B.Content and Services
C. Commerce and Business
D. Policy and Regulatory Focus

Each of the thematic groups was allowed to brainstorm for 15 minutes on the issue with donning the thinking hat and to evolve at points of influence and its recommendations. The evolved observations and recco were summarized into clear set of points that was bullet ted and put forth to the entire audience. All Recommendations were consolidated as a report to be sent to the IGF Secretariat and the Ministry of IT, Government of India

Recommendations of Session on Access , Connectivity and Devices

  1. We should focus toward providing low cost devices to rural poor with cheaper access cost. What we should focus towards will be something like mobile device that can be multifunctional in communication as well as for internet access at the same time can be charge and used for longer period of time thus derive better utility value to the users. Unless our solutions provide a dramatic level of Price – Performance it will not be a value buy to the user.And we identified the need for a hybrid solution that is able to integrate and address all the pain points of the system.
  2. We should look towards increasing the investment Capacity of end users or shared access should be made available
  3. Increase human resource capability in using the devices and connectivity. Rural Empowerment on using of these devices and internet need to be focused
  4. Technology seems to be having smaller phase out periods. We are currently using Core 2 machines and we have nearly 7 upgrades in PC based technology in as much as 4 years
  5. We need to create awareness on visible Improvement in the quality of life of end users due to connectivity

Recommendations Content and Services

  1. Standardize content to meet regional languages like standardization of keyboards of all vendors
  2. All citizen services to be made available in the mobile platform too
  3. Suggestion to insist on Uniformity in formats across different states in the same areas
  4. Translated content to be made available in regional languages too
  5. Prioritize and support use of Open source Software
  6. Services and content has to be made available and accessible to physically challenged (disabled) people too

Recommendations on Commerce and Business

  1. Need for a uniform policy for E-Commerce transactions and sites
  2. Uniform security standards for sites that adopt ecommerce traansactions
  3. Low cost / Incentivised access to E commerce sites
  4. Government support for low cost E commerce models
  5. Creation of Synchronous E commerce models that facilitate following market interactions :-    Rural >>Rural , Urban >> Rural and Urban >> Urban transaction models

Recommendations on Policy and Regulatory Focus

  1. Proposal to create a Corpus fund like USOF (Universal Services obligation Fund)
  2. Incentivising the service providers from the Corpus (USOF) Fund created to providers who extend services from urban to rural areas.
  3. Ability to share and distribute underutilized capacities (like internet bandwidth) and share infrastructure
  4. Right of the way policy
  5. Demand side policy facilitating long term sustainability
  6. Integrated or unified license for services for multiple services
  7. Spectrum regulation should reflect on public good

The session ended with deeper appreciation to the group dynamics that was clearly visible as outcome of such brainstorming session. All thanks to Osama Manzar for gathering such an elite participant list who also doubled as panelist to contribute in evolving the thought process. The entire gathering was more than 35 people strong and here is a snap shot of some of the participants who doubled as panelists


Deepak Maheshwari, Director – Corporate Affairs, Microsoft India
Rajendra Prasad, VP, Nepal Wireless
Syed Nazir Razik, Co Founder, The Knowledge Foundation.
Michael, Air Jaldi
Priyanthi, Diplo
Subho Ray, IAMAI
Ninad Vengurlekar, VP, IL&FS
Tahmina Rahman, AAIT, Bangladesh
Suresh Chanda, IAS
Ashish Sanyal, Director, EGPMU
Dr Rajiv Sharma, IAS
Sunil Abraham, Director, Internet Society
Joseph Thomas, Lead Partner, Byrraju Foundation
Sunil Kr Barnwal, CEO- JAP IT
Danny Nagdev
Sanjay Kumar

Additional Reading Recomendations:

1. C.K Prahalad ‘s ” Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid ”
2. http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/developing_native_capability/
3. Reinventing Strategies for the emerging markets

Blogged with the Flock Browser