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Infothela: Information technology at your doorstep

by Meena Misra

KANPUR: In earnest pursuance of the New Age mantra - technology at your doorstep - scientists at the IIT here have developed a battery-powered 'infothela' equipped with an assortment of Internet and telecom facilities to impart benefit of information technology to the people in remote areas.

Laced with 'digital mandi' facility, this 'infothela' may be later rechristened as 'computer thela' as the IITians feel that computer now is quite well known in rural areas.

Prof SG Dhande, director, IIT, had first revealed the ambitious project in a speech in Lucknow on February 2, this year.

This 200 kg, Rs 70,000 worth of wireless 'infothela', developed under Media Lab Asia Project by the IITians will spread information about education, health, weather, agriculture and employment among the people. It will also come handy in checking land records.

The most attractive part of the 'infothela' is the 'digital mandi' which will ensure an electronic platform for business of agro-commodities. The 'thela' can also be used for getting details about holy places, religion, education and even astrology related issues.

Prof Prashant Kumar of the IIT's mechanical engineering and designing department, told Times News Network that a prototype of the 'infothela' was ready and will work with the help of BSNL's cable network.

In the first phase, experts have planned to conduct services of this appliance between Kanpur and Lucknow, covering about 50 villages.

This all-weather technological 'thela' has been designed keeping in mind the out-door services it will provide and will be shock, vibration and dust resistant as well. It will have the facility of 17-colour display.

Elaborating, Prof Prashant said: "We envisage that application of 'infothela' will touch the roots of the village economy. We aim at taking the benefits of technology to the people in remote areas by eliminating geographical barriers. This task would be accomplished through 'enabling' digital marketplaces for agro-commodities. This will also alleviate cash crunch faced by farmers through active participation of various banking and para-banking institutions."

Experts have also made arrangements for language-neutral trading services and net and credit finance through micro-finance partners. Besides, there will be "transparent settlement and dispute handling through an e-mandi samiti".

Farmers will also be given warehouse certification facilities in digital formats. This wireless networking of 'infothela' will extend the limits of village marketplaces and allow formation of crop growers' communities.

A team of about half a dozen experts comprising Geeta Pathak, Vivek Bhagwat, Abdul Kavi, Manoj Kumar, TV Prabhakar and Prof Jyoti Chatterji, has worked on different aspects of the 'infothela'.

Geeta Pathak, who has designed the specific health software for 'infothela', said "we will try to give advance medical treatment to villagers through 'infothela'. For this, we will engage primary health centre of the village in our programme."

To enhance the participation level, IITians also plan to invite the educated and unemployed village youth to operate the 'infothela'. Pathak said: "Even a student of 12th standard can operate the 'infothela' after a short training."

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Read original article in The Times of India, Lucknow Edition, Friday, Nov 15, 2002.

Read more about the Infothela Project.

Older news items are available on a separate page.

Page updated on Tue Jan 13 15:00:34 IST 2004