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`Benefits must be extended to all villages'

By Our Staff Reporter

PONDICHERRY, APRIL 18. Benefits of information communication technology (ICT) should be extended to all villages so that skill development and job opportunities could be nurtured and promoted for the growth of the villagers, Renald Lafond, project director of the Canada-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC), said today.

Inaugurating the third phase of the IDRC-supported ICT-enabled development project at Pillayarkuppam (one of the bio-villages of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation) near here, he said the concept visualised in 1997 aimed at acquisition of knowledge and its exchange through low-cost technology among the people attached to the knowledge centres of the foundation.

Roger Finan, regional director, IDRC for South Asia, handed over a memorandum of understanding on the launch of Phase-III to the scientist and chairman of MSSRF, M.S. Swaminathan.

Dr. Swaminathan said a big renaissance in education and knowledge development was taking place in the country. He said the scheme to achieve `Millennium Development Goals' aimed at eradicating hunger would be accomplished in three years in Pondicherry.

He said a joint effort of scientists, volunteers of self-help groups, banks and government agencies was necessary to achieve the goal of procuring purchasing power to the people at large through creation of jobs. Availability of purchasing power would enable the people to have easy access to food. He stressed that there should be an interlinked approach among all sections to tackle people's problems.

The Pondicherry Chief Secretary, Pondicherry, R. Padmanabhan, who released an accounting software version developed by the MSSRF, said the bio-village project aimed at removing poverty, hunger and disease so that the standard of living and quality of living among the villagers, particularly women, would show improvement.

Thanks to the 800 self-help groups launched through the District Rural Development Agency in addition to the units formed through the MSSRF and voluntary organisations, there was a qualitative improvement in the lives of women in Pondicherry.

J. Shankar, head, Technology Initiatives, Azim Premji Foundation, spoke on benefits of providing computer-aided education to children.

Children evinced interest in learning through computer-aided approach and developed no fear or aversion towards examinations.

The Chief Secretary released educational CDs developed by the Azim Premji Foundation.

V. Prithiviraj, director, Information Technology, launched the cable radio system of dissemination of information for the MSSRF knowledge centres. The utility of cable radio and Internet radio systems was demonstrated.

A. Ramadoss, project director, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, R.D. Ravindran, chief medical officer, Aravind Eye Hospital, Pondicherry, spoke.

The hospital and MSSRF exchanged a MoU on Integrated Health System under the virtual academy programme.

M. Velayutham, executive director, MSSRF, and G. Rajmohan, scientist, spoke.

Dhanalakshmi, a member of a SHG from Embalam, highlighted the utility of the accounting software system by her organisation.

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