Free & Open Source Technology for Rural Nepal, does it work?
Recently I got a call from my friend who gave a dazzling presentation on the use of Open Source Technology to improve rural parts of the world, let’s say ICT4D using open source technology for rural Nepal’s development. He told me that there is so much opportunity in Nepal, specially in Nepal. Not sure how much you believe in those power rich (or text / visual rich) when it’s time to implement those stunning words of the presentation into the real-world.
Okay, let’s be frank in-here.
First, the opportunity have been for INGOs and NGOs who keep on selling information that rural Nepal has information and rarely do nothing charming to bring in I to the Society. This mean the information itself is NOT the point, the point is how to utilize the statistics to formulate really face-changing aspects of the country via ICT4D.
Secondly, the opportunity have been for those presenters or those with good presentation skilled speakers who never get tired of giving lectures on importance of Open Source Technology to betterment of the rural world. They are perfect with 23 slides, 18 of which with their good CAPABLE things this Open can do, 1 with an example (mostly demo-ing ongoing work) and rest their bio in the presentation.
The world is a hype. Seriously yes. Otherwise everyone would be using absolutely free and open source technology in this 21st century of cutting end technology and information highway. Sadly NOT yet.
Status of Free & Open Source Technology in Nepal
The presence is great, let’s say effective implementation. We have FOSS Nepal, Nepal Open Source Klub, Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya and many other big & small communities committed to bring in better computing sense in Nepal by means of Free and Open source technology not necessarily softwares only. Most of the times it is news that they make rather than something we people need.
From the FOSS Nepal Community page, FOSS Nepal Community is a team of volunteers who believe in the usage of Free/Open Source Software (FOSS). The primary objective of the community is to promote and diversify the usage of Free/Open Source Software in Nepal. They are specifically limited and effective in replacing commercial softwares with FOSS one; but no where is charm they can help rural Nepal with computing. Wait, those schools in the Himalayas have Linux on their computers, is it? Not digging into it (as this is no field trip planned article), scalability in computing to hundreds of thousands of students in rural Nepal can be brought at very little expense as compared to commercial one. Good, point to be noted.
…. it is however sad to note that the products have not been able to become much popular among their target masses as expected ~ Do we feed our own cooking? MPP referring to localized version of MS Windows XP & Linux back in 2005.
Another great effort made in Nepalese community thru the use of FOSS is Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya. While they are heavily donor-funded projects to localize Linux editions (so far, we know of Ubuntu only) into Nepali language, the impact of how useful NepaLinux and other FOSS & localized applications has to be determined; to be explored how they have helped better computing in Rural Nepal.
The main concern here is free and open source software technology for sustainable development should really be virulent or the implementation should continue to go, once implemented as the name suggest sustainability is not impossible.
FOSS in Nepal and Open Documents by Subir B Pradhanang has a good content on how Nepal could benefit from use of FOSS, but the reluctant Government is hindering the usage.
Here is a presentation in SlideShare by techlug about Open Source Nepal, seems like it was published based on US-Nepal comparison, expect a superficial addressing made to ICT/FOSS in Rural Nepal.
In no way, I relate with this video “OpenPower Nepal: Open Source Technology for Rural Nepal”
The conclusion: IT WORKS BUT LET’S NOT MAKE THE STATS A MEDIUM TO BRING IN DOLLARS AND NOT USE THEM. LETS MAKE FREE & OPEN SOURCE TECHNOLOGY TO BRING IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SPECIALLY IN OUR RURAL NEPAL.
Please, do share your thoughts about the situation and your experience of ICT4D in Rural Nepal.