September 2012 Bulletin
Welcome to the newsletter of September 2012 from the Centre for Internet & Society (CIS). The present issue features a second analysis by Snehashish Ghosh on the latest list of sites blocked by the Indian government from August 18, 2012 to August 21, 2012, a research on the issues of internet governance by Smarika Kumar, publication of a report on Accessibility of Government websites in India by Nirmita Narasimhan, Mukesh Sharma and Dinesh Kaushal, the Access to Knowledge programme plan and updates from the Wikipedia community in India on Indic languages, updates from the Habits of Living workshop organised in Bengaluru, the events connected to the visits of international DNA experts, Helen Wallace and Jeremy Gruber in India, and introduce you to our Access to Knowledge team members.
Office in Delhi
CIS now has an office with a five-member team for the Access to Knowledge programme in Delhi at G 15, top floor, behind Hauz Khas G Block Market, Hauz Khas, New Delhi 110016, Ph: + 91 11 26536425.
New Team Members
- Nitika Tandon: Nitika Tandon is a Program Officer with CIS. She has an MBA from Rotterdam School of Management, Netherlands and is a recipient of Dean's Fund Scholarship Program, Erasmus University.
- Shiju Alex: Shiju Alex is a Consultant. His background is technical writing and he is interested in Indic language computing and community building for Indic language Wiki projects. Presently he works out of CIS office in Bengaluru.
- Subhashish Panigrahi: Subhashish Panigrahi is a Programme Officer to CIS's Access to Knowledge programme and works out of CIS's Delhi office. His background is Business Development in Corporate Communications. He works on designing and implementing programs to provide on-wiki and off-wiki support for new editors.
- Noopur Raval: Noopur Raval is working as Consultant - Communications for the Access to Knowledge team at CIS. Having previously worked in the media, she is currently pursuing her M.Phil in Cinema Studies from JNU, New Delhi.
CIS is seeking applications from interested candidates for the posts of Research Manager, Researcher/Editor, and Programme Officer – Internet Governance. To apply for these posts send your resume to Sunil Abraham (firstname.lastname@example.org) with three references. Archives of our bulletins can be found here. Click to read the newsletter on our website.
India has an estimated 70 million disabled persons who are unable to read printed materials due to some form of physical, sensory, cognitive or other disability. The disabled need accessible content, devices and interfaces facilitated via copyright law and electronic accessibility policies:
- Accessibility of Government Websites in India: A Report (by Nirmita Narasimhan, Mukesh Sharma and Dinesh Kaushal, September 26, 2012): This is a report on the accessibility of government websites in India. It was published in cooperation with the Hans Foundation. The report consists of an executive summary, introduction, methodology, findings and recommendations and interpretation and recommendations. Examples of errors are given as appendices.
- Creating a National Resource Kit for Persons with Disabilities: An Introduction (by Anandhi Viswanathan, September 28, 2012): CIS is engaged in a two-and-a-half year project starting from August 2012 to create a national resource kit of state-wise laws, policies and programmes on issues relating to persons with disabilities in India. This project is supported by the Hans Foundation. The Resource Kit will be brought out in both English and Hindi and disseminated to policy makers from panchayat to ministry levels throughout India. Anandhi gives an introduction to the project in this blog entry.
- WIPO Treaty for the Visually Impaired — Moving from a Treaty on Paper to a Treaty that is Workable on the Ground (by Rahul Cherian, September 28, 2012): After many years of hard lobbying by the World Blind Union, it appears that the WIPO Treaty on limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons/persons with print disabilities (TVI) could become a reality next year.
- Breaking News on Electronic Accessibility (by Rahul Cherian, September 28, 2012): The Parliamentary Standing Committee constituted to study the Electronic Delivery of Services Bill has in its report explicitly recognized the concept of electronic accessibility and reasonable accommodation. This is the first time in the country that these two concepts have been reflected at the level of a Parliamentary Standing Committee in relation to a non-disability specific law.
The Access to Knowledge programme addresses the harms caused to consumers, developing countries, human rights, and creativity/innovation from excessive regimes of copyright, patents, and other such monopolistic rights over knowledge:
- Feedback to Draft Copyright Rules, 2012 (by Pranesh Prakash, September 29, 2012): submitted its written comments on the Draft Copyright Rules, 2012 to Mr. G.R. Raghavender, Registrar of Copyrights & Director (BP&CR), Ministry of Human Resource Development. Pranesh does a detailed analysis and provides recommendations on Rules 8,9,10, 29(6), 34(2), 37, 71(3), 72, 74(1), 74(6), 75, and 79 (3) and (4).
- Access To Knowledge/Programme Plan: Pursuant to the announcement made on July 30, 2012 of a 22 months ‘grant’ (beginning from September 1, 2012 to July 31, 2014) of upto INR 26,000,000 and as reflected in the FAQ accompanying the announcement, the Wikimedia Foundation’s India Program will become a project of the Access to Knowledge (A2K) program of CIS. The prime objective is to support the growth of Indic language communities and projects by designing community collaborations and partnerships that recruit and cultivate new editors and explore innovative approaches to building projects and supporting India-focused efforts to improve the quality of India-relevant content on Indic languages and English Wikimedia projects.
- Pervasive Technologies: Access to Knowledge in the Marketplace (by Jadine Lannon, September 25, 2012): Jadine Lannon gives an introduction to the new A2K research initiative. Pervasive technologies have flooded the Indian market and are changing the ways in which the average Indian accesses knowledge but very little is understood about these technologies, particularly when it comes to their legality. CIS hopes to do a research that aims to understand how pervasive technologies interact with Intellectual Property laws and what can be done to protect these technologies from being labelled “illegal” and eradicated from the Asian market.
- Meeting of the Global Network on Flexible Limitations and Exceptions (organised by American University Washington College of Law, Washington D.C., September 12 to 15, 2012).
The Internet Governance programme conducts research around the various social, technical, and political underpinnings of global and national Internet governance, and includes online privacy, freedom of speech, and Internet governance mechanisms and processes:
- An Introduction to the Issues in Internet Governance (by Smarika Kumar, September 23, 2012): Smarika provides a detailed analysis to the issues that we face in Internet Governance today. She tries to canvass the controversies in the areas of internet governance that broadly focus around the institutional structures to govern the internet, discusses the evolution of these models against the historical background of internet governance and then proceeds to present the criticisms of each of these models with an emphasis on the interests of the regular internet user.
- Analyzing the Latest List of Blocked Sites (Communalism and Rioting Edition) Part II (by Snehashish Ghosh, September 25, 2012): Snehashish Ghosh does a further analysis of the leaked list of the websites blocked by the Indian Government from August 18, 2012 till August 21, 2012 (“leaked list”). This analysis was re-posted by Medianama on September 26, 2012.
- The Five Monkeys & Ice-cold Water (by Sunil Abraham, Deccan Chronicle, September 16, 2012): “The Indian government provides leadership, both domestically and internationally, when it comes to access to knowledge.”
- SMS Block as Threat to Free Speech (by Chinmayi Arun, Hindu Business Line, September 1, 2012): If you could text just one or two people in a day, who would you choose? Many of us have had to make this choice thanks to the order limiting us to five texts a day. Short Message Service (SMS) is not used primarily to send staccato messages like the telegraph was.
Censorship makes India fall two places on global internet freedom chart (by Dilnaz Boga, Daily News & Analysis, September 27, 2012). Pranesh Prakash’s analysis on blocked websites is quoted.
Pitroda seeks to put govt information in public domain (by Surabhi Agarwal, LiveMint, September 25, 2012): “One government bureaucrat available on Twitter for a fixed period doesn’t make up for the non-existence of the government on social media…they (government) should be available all the time.” — Sunil Abraham.
Govt plans inter-ministerial panel on Internet policy (by Surabhi Agarwal, LiveMint, September 19, 2012): ““The thumb rule with governance, be it international or national, is that coordination policy formulation bodies is a good idea, but we can’t damn or praise them over the process...We have to see what coordination results out of the body.” — Sunil Abraham.
Mind of the millennium teen (by Atul Sethi, The Times of India, September 16, 2012): “We live in accelerated times...The breathlessness of our times is evident in everything — from the kind of movies we make to the ways in which our news and information travel. At the end of the day, our younger generations are also products of our times.”— Nishant Shah.
China outranks India in world’s first ever web index (First Post, September 6, 2012): ““The Internet today doesn’t work according to the idealistic principles of openness, and democracy of information that Berners-Lee envisioned for it, and in India in particular, although the Internet has helped us rethink what the government can do, the attitude is that that Internet can only be used in ways that the government sees fit.” — Nishant Shah.
Need a standard strategy to deal with Web issues: Chandrasekhar (by Surabhi Agarwal, LiveMint, September 4, 2012). Pranesh Prakash’s analysis on blocked websites is quoted.
Political war on the web (by Kunal Majumder, Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 36, September 8, 2012): “The fact remains none of the blockings were politically motivated.” — Pranesh Prakash.
Government to hold talks with stakeholders on Internet censorship (by Shalini Singh, The Hindu, September 4, 2012). Pranesh Prakash’s analysis on blocked websites is quoted.
The state. And the rage of the cyber demon (by Shougat Dasgupta, Tehelka, Vol 9, Issue 36, September 8, 2012): “While some people may see Twitter as akin to friends talking in the pub, others use the service as a bulletin board.” — Pranesh Prakash.
Watch out for fettered speech (by Rohit Pradhan, Business Standard, September 1, 2012). Pranesh Prakash is quoted.
DNA Profiling Bill
International DNA experts Helen Wallace from GeneWatch UK, and Jeremy Gruber from the Council for Responsible Genetics from the United States visited Bengaluru and Delhi and shared their experience in DNA sampling and gave feedback to the DNA Profiling Bill. Meetings were conducted with lawyers and the plaintiff in the Pascal Mazurier's rape case and with VR Sudarshan and Hormis Tharakan. There was a coverage of the event in Kannada media. Public lectures were organised in Bengaluru and Delhi:
- UK DNA Database and the European Court of Human Rights: Lessons that India can Learn from Its Mistakes (organised by CIS and Alternative Law Forum, September 24, 2012): Helen Wallace from GeneWatch, UK and Jeremy Gruber from the Council for Responsible Genetics in the United States gave a public lecture.
- The DNA Profiling Bill: Developing Best Practices (India International Centre, New Delhi, September 27, 2012): International experts Helen Wallace from GeneWatch UK, and Jeremy Gruber from the Council for Responsible Genetics from the United States gave a public lecture. Elonnai Hickok participated in the event.
- A Public Meeting on DNA Profiling Bill in Delhi (by Elonnai Hickok, September 29, 2012): Elonnai has blogged about the public lecture delivered by Dr. Helen Wallace, Jeremy Gruber and Dr. Anupuma Raina.
Upcoming IGF Events
At the seventh annual IGF meeting to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan in November 2012, CIS is organising one workshop:
- National IG Mechanisms – Looking at Some Key Design Issues (co-organising with Brazilian Internet Steering Committee, Institute for System Analysis, Russian Academy of Sciences, et.al., November 8, 2012 from 2.30 p.m. to 4.00 p.m.
Sunil Abraham will be a panelist in the following workshop:
- New Trends in Industry Self-Governance (organised by Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, UK and Media Change & Innovation Division, IPMZ, University of Zurich, Switzerland and Nominet, UK, November 7, 2012 from 4.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m).
CIS fellow Malavika Jayaram is a panelist for these workshops:
- Civil rights in the digital age, about the impact the Internet has on civil rights (organised by ECP on behalf of the IGF-NL, November 7, 2012, 4.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.).
- Governing Identity on the Internet (organised by Brenden Kuerbis, Citizen Lab and Christine Runnegar, Internet Society, November 8, 2012, 11.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.).
- Second Freedom Online Conference (organised by the Ministry of Information and Communications, Republic of Kenya in partnership with the government of Netherlands at UN complex in Gigiri, Nairobi, September 6 and 7, 2012). Pranesh Prakash was a panelist in the session on Access to Internet: Challenges and Opportunities.
- Multi-stakeholder Discussion on India’s Position in UN for Internet Governance UN Committee for Internet Related Policies (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry, New Delhi, September 19, 2012): Sunil Abraham was a panelist.
- Seventh Meeting of the Group of Experts on Privacy Issues under the Chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (Committee Room No. 228, Yojana Bhawan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi): Sunil Abraham participated in this meeting. This was the final meeting of the series.
- Talk at Yale University (New Haven, September 19, 2012): Pranesh Prakash gave a talk on censorship, intermediary liability, and the way forward.
- Internet Governance Plenary (August 28, Tokyo, Japan): Sunil Abraham was a panelist along with Ang Peng Hwa, Paul Wilson, Duangthip Chomprang and Raul Echeberria at this event organised by APNIC on August 28, 2012. Kuo Wei Wu, CEO, National Information Infrastructure Enterprise Promotion Association (NIIEPA) was the moderator.
The 'Openness' programme critically examines alternatives to existing regimes of intellectual property rights, and transparency and accountability. Under this programme, we study Open Government Data, Open Access to Scholarly Literature, Open Access to Law, Open Content, Open Standards, and Free/Libre/Open Source Software:
- Indic Language Wikipedias – Statistical Report (January – June 2012) (by Shiju Alex, September 25, 2012): Shiju Alex provides a compilation of the statistical update of the Indic language Wikipedias from January to June 2012. He provides perspectives on the health of various Indic language communities as well as the state of various Indic language Wikipedias during the period.
Although most of the following workshops were conducted prior to the grant period, the report for all of these was written in the month of September, and hence, we are featuring these.
- The First Punjabi Wikipedia Workshop (by Shiju Alex and Subhashish Panigrahi, September 27, 2012): This post is about the first Punjabi Wikipedia workshop held in Ludhiana, Punjab on July 28, 2012. Surinder Wadhawan, a Mumbai based Wikipedian played an important role in designing this workshop and introducing Punjabi Wikipedia to the Punjabi speakers. Long-term Punjabi wikipedian G.S.Guglani also joined this workshop. The event was covered in the Tribune, Hindustan Times, Punjab Infoline, and YesPunjab.com.
- Punjabi Wikipedia Workshop at Punjabi University, Patiala (by Shiju Alex and Subhashish Panigrahi, September 28, 2012): A Wikipedia workshop was organized at the Punjabi University's Punjabi Department on August 16, 2012. Veteran Punjabi wikipedian G.S. Guglani came forward to spread the message of Punjabi Wikipedia among Punjabi speakers.
- Punjabi Wikipedia Workshop at Amritsar (by Shiju Alex and Subhashish Panigrahi, September 30, 2012): The workshop was held at the Spring Dale Senior School, Amritsar on August 17, 2012. Nearly 50 participants including students and teachers from eight different schools apart from the students and teachers of Spring Dale School attended the workshop. One of the active and long-time Punjabi Wikipedian Guglani Gurdip Singh led the workshop with the active support from Shiju and Subhasish.
- Wikipedia Workshop in British Library, Chandigarh (by Subhashish Panigrahi, September 27, 2012): A Wikipedia workshop was organized in Chandigarh by the British Library over two days on August 24 and 25, 2012. Bipin Kumar, Head of British Library and Christina, Deputy Manager had pivotal roles in designing this workshop with support from Piyush, a wikipedian. The session on Day 1 was conducted by Subhashish Panigrahi and the session on Day 2 was conducted by Subhashish and Piyush.
- Kannada Wiki Workshop at Tumkur University (Tumkur, Karnataka, September 15, 2012): This was the first Kannada Wikipedia workshop at Tumkur. Prof. Ashwin Kumar from the Department of English, Tumkur University and Kannada wikipedians, Om Shiva Prakash, Hareesh, Tejus and Pavithra played vital roles in organising this workshop. Shiju Alex participated in this workshop. About 30 participants including students and teachers participated in this workshop.
- Editor Growth & Contribution Program on Telugu Wikipedia (by Nitika Tandon, September 29, 2012): Nitika Tandon tells us about the Editor Growth & Contribution Program on Telegu Wikipedia, how it will run, its necessity and the future steps.
- Wikipedia comes to Hyderabad! (by Noopur Raval, September 30, 2012): A series of Wikipedia meetings were organized in Hyderabad on September 29 and 30, 2012. These workshops were a part of the larger effort to help Wikipedia contributors in the same city to meet each other and strengthen the local community. There was coverage about this event in the Hindu on September 28, 2012.
- Thinking with Data@CIS (CIS, Bengaluru, September 16 – 18, 2012): The course offered at the National Institute of Advanced Studies was screened in CIS office.
HasGeek creates discussion spaces for geeks and has organised conferences like the Fifth Elephant, Droidcon India 2011, Android Camp, etc. HasGeek is supported by CIS and works out from CIS office in Bengaluru. The following event was organised by HasGeek in the month of September:
Digital Natives with a Cause? examines the changing landscape of social change and political participation in light of the role that young people play through digital and Internet technologies, in emerging information societies. Consolidating knowledge from Asia, Africa and Latin America, it builds a global network of knowledge partners who critically engage with discourse on youth, technology and social change, and look at alternative practices and ideas in the Global South:
- One. Zero. (Nishant Shah, Indian Express, September 16, 2012): “The digital world is the world of twos. All our complex interactions, emotional negotiations, business transactions, social communication and political subscriptions online can be reduced to a string of 1s and 0s, as machines create the networks for the human beings to speak.”
The Pathways Project to Higher Education is a collaboration between the Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society and CIS. The project is supported by the Ford Foundation and works with disadvantaged students in nine undergraduate colleges in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala, to explore relationships between Technologies, Higher Education and the new forms of social justice in India. Training workshops were organised in the month of September at Xaviers in Mumbai on September 6, 2012 and in Newman College, Thodupuzha from September 17 to 20, 2012. Each workshop had 25-30 undergraduate students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. They were trained to use digital technologies in order to think through problems of social justice.
From 2012 to 2015, the RAW series will build research clusters in the field of Digital Humanities. The Habits of Living: Global Networks, Local Affects is a global collaborative project to renew the conceptual power of networks. It concentrates on changing the habits of living. The Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University is an important locus.
CIS organised the Habits of Living Workshop in Bangalore from September 26 to 29, 2012. Jadine Lannon and Alok Vaid-Menon live blogged about the event:
- Habits of Living Thinkathon - Day 1 Live Blog: Introduction (by Jadine Lannon, September 26, 2012).
- Habits of Living Thinkathon - Day 1 Live Blog: PechaKucha (by Jadine Lannon, September 27, 2012).
- Habits of Living Thinkathon - Day 1 Live Blog: Globalising Lady GaGa (by Alok Vaid-Menon, September 27, 2012).
- Habits of Living Thinkathon - Day 2 Live Blog: Deepak Menon on Water in India (by Jadine Lannon, September 27, 2012).
- Habits of Living Thinkathon - Day 2 Live Blog: On Technology and Affective Indian Feminism(s) (by Alok Vaid-Menon, September 27, 2012).
- Habits of Living Thinkathon - Day 2 Live Blog: Radhika Gajjala Lectures on e-Philanthropy (by Jadine Lannon, September 27, 2012).
- Habits of Living Thinkathon - Day 3 Live Blog: Joshua Neves on Media Archipelagos (by Jadine Lannon, September 26, 2012).
- Habits of Living Thinkathon - Day 4 Live Blog: Finding and Funding the Masses (by Alok Vaid-Menon, September 26, 2012).
- Habits of Living Thinkathon - Day 3 Live Blog: Akansha Rastogi's Performance on Exhibition Space
(by Jadine Lannon, September 30, 2012).
- Habits of Living Thinkathon - Day 4 Live Blog: Wendy Chun on Friends (by Jadine Lannon, September 30, 2012).
- Habits of Living Thinkathon - Day 4 Live Blog: Namita Malhotra on Amateur Pornography (by Jadine Lannon, September 30, 2012).
While the potential for growth and returns exist for telecommunications in India, a range of issues need to be addressed. One aspect is more extensive rural coverage and the other is a countrywide access to broadband which is low. Both require effective and efficient use of networks and resources, including spectrum:
Ford Foundation has given a grant of USD 2,00,000 to CIS to build expertise in the area of telecommunications in India. The knowledge repository deals with these modules: Introduction to Telecommunications, Telecommunications Infrastructure and Technologies, Government of India Regulatory Framework for Telecom, Telecommunication and the Market, Universal Access and Accessibility, The International Telecommunications Union and other international bodies, Broadcasting, Emerging Topics and Way Forward. Dr. Surendra Pal, Satya N Gupta, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Payal Malik, Dr. Rakesh Mehrotra and Dr. Nadeem Akhtar are the expert reviewers.
The following are the new outputs:
- Associations Regulating Broadcasting in India (by Srividya Vaidyanathan, September 11, 2012): Broadcast regulation in India is currently an intricate web, with multiple agencies involved in formulating and implementing policy, drafting and enforcing legislation.
- Optical Fibre (by Srividya Vaidyanathan, September 11, 2012): This unit tells us what is optical fibre, the types of optical fibres, how does an optical fibre work, fibre-optic relay system, and why are optical fibres uses in telecommunication systems.
- Direct to Home (by Srividya Vaidyanathan, September 18, 2012): This unit tells us about Direct to home television, its history, how it works, the programming, its advantages and disadvantages are discussed in this module.
- Cable Television (by Srividya Vaidyanathan, September 18, 2012): This unit brings you the history and evolution of cable television in India, talks about other cable based services, cable television digitization rule and the end consumer in India.
- Private FMs (Commercial, Campus and Community Radios) (by Srividya Vaidyanathan, September 24, 2012): This unit introduces us to AM and FM, tells us the role of private FMs including what is a community radio and what is a campus radio.
- Types of Radio Broadcasting in India (by Srividya Vaidyanathan, September 28, 2012): This unit tells us what is radio broadcasting, takes us through the history of radio broadcasting in India, explains what is AM and FM in the Indian context.
- A History of All India Radio and Its Operations (by Srividya Vaidyanathan, September 29, 2012): This module gives us a picture of the history of All India Radio and its operations.
- Changing Our Game (by Shyam Ponappa, Business Standard, September 5, 2012): “Adopting 'co-ordination models' like the Stag Hunt could reduce contention and improve outcomes.” This was re-posted in Organizing India blogspot.
- Insights India 2012 (organised by MACH, Bangalore, September 26 – 28, 2012): Snehashish Ghosh and Srividya Vaidyanathan participated in this event.
CIS was registered as a society in Bangalore in 2008. As an independent, non-profit research organisation, it runs different policy research programmes such as Accessibility, Access to Knowledge, Openness, Internet Governance, and Telecom. Over the last four years our policy research programmes have resulted in outputs such as the e-Accessibility Policy Handbook for Persons with Disabilities with ITU and G3ict, and Digital Alternatives with a Cause?, Thinkathon Position Papers and the Digital Natives with a Cause? Report with Hivos. With the Government of India we have done policy research for Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, etc., on WIPO Treaties, Copyright Bill, NIA Bill, etc.
CIS is an accredited NGO at WIPO and has given policy briefs to delegations from various countries, our Programme Manager, Nirmita Narasimhan won the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities from the Government of India and also received the NIVH Excellence Award.
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CIS is grateful to its donors, Wikimedia Foundation, Ford Foundation, Privacy International, UK, Hans Foundation and the Kusuma Trust which was founded by Anurag Dikshit and Soma Pujari, philanthropists of Indian origin, for its core funding and support for most of its projects.