‘Akshaya’ will take off from Malappuram in Kerala

By : |November 8, 2002 0

BANGALORE: The first phase of Kerala’s computer literacy project, christened `Akshaya’, is to commence from January 2003 in the Malappuram district, with an investment of Rs 5 crore. The government is in the process of identifying entrepreneurs in the district to participate in the project. The 100-day program, if succeeds in the pilot district, will be replicated in rest of the 14 districts in the state. In all probabilities the project aims to achieve its objective of making Kerala a 100 percent digital literacy state by 2005. Akshaya is aimed at bridging the digital divide in the state.

About 1200 computer training centers are to be engaged in the district to impart basic computer training. With 438 computers already operational in the district, 750 more centers are to be set up by the end of this year. This would build a computer center network of having one center within two-kilometer radius of every home. These centers are expected to impart training to roughly about five lakh people in the district considering one person from 5,64,200 families residing in the district. About 48,000 people already possess basic computer knowledge.

“We have chosen Malappuram district for our pilot phase because the basic computer knowledge and spending power is quite good. Moreover the district is well networked globally, especially in the Middle East region and self-sustained entrepreneurs are also high. The local body in Malappuram district has also evoked considerable interest in this project,” said, Kerala IT Mission, Director, Shiv Shankar.

Each center would cost roughly Rs 3.2 lakh, with 10 computers. With 750 centers already in the pipeline, more than 7,500 PCs would be an immediate need. Before placing the order to a single vendor, the government is negotiating with Intel, AMD, Samsung, among other OEMs to get a significantly economic deal for local assemblers, so that the computers can be given for a special price to the centers.

The first phase is expected to generate employment opportunities of about 650 to 700 people. The training course is designed for about 15 hours and at a nominal fee, which will be shared by the participant and the Panchayat. This would help the entrepreneur gain partial return of investment made in the center, the rest can be made by operating the center as a regular training or Internet access center.

“To promote further computer usage, the government, is engaged in developing content based CDs on general topics ranging from fashion technology to farming to healthcare to insurance. About 150 content proposals on various titles have been received so far among a few will be shortlisted and about 800 to 1000 CDs on each titles will be distributed free of cost to the participants,” added Shankar.

This is just the crust of a larger pie as to impart computer education to one member of each of the 64 lakh families residing in Kerala and the government is targeting 9000 centers equipped with roughly 90,000 computers (considering 10 PCs for each center). This initiative directly boosts the domestic IT sector, employment opportunities, PC and Internet penetration in the state and would also attract more investments.

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