Front Page of Eco Times!

A pleasant surprise when I saw a write-up on our Emergic ideas on the front page of Economic Times (couldn’t find the article on their website) in the “Suddenly Something” sidebar. The wire source is IANS. Have reproduced below the electronic version which appeared in “The Tribune” (Chandigarh). The ET story is slightly different.

The origin is probably a talk I had given recently at the ICT Seminar in Bangalore (since I didn’t speak one-on-one with any journalist) on “A Vision for a Digitally Bridged India”. A good start, one day before the beginning of what is a very important year for us in making this vision a reality across the world’s emerging markets.

A computer for Rs 5,000!

Bangalore, December 30

Rajesh Jain hit the headlines when he sold his IndiaWorld site for a few thousand million rupees. Now, his focus has shifted to taking computer to the common man.

Mostly, technology has been priced in dollars, putting it beyond the reach of a large number of businesses and consumers in the emerging markets like India. The computer, which is the lynch-pin of an economy, is still seen as a luxury by many, he argues.

But Jain believes his innovative solutions could battle the stumbling blocks. Were working on something that could really make a difference, Jain said here.

He believes India needs computers for Rs 5,000 so that there can be one in every home and office. This, he says, would create a mass market for the adoption of technology in the country.

These are not distant dreams for the managing director of Netcore Solutions, who earlier founded IndiaWorld Communications that grew into one of the largest collection of India-centric websites.

Fulfilling the list (of what India needs) may seem like a tall order, but the interesting thing is that the building blocks to put the solutions together already exist, he asserts.

Netcore, his current firm, is working to lower the cost to make computers affordable. New software is driving hardware upgrades every three-four years, he says.

While the Indian market is pushing out slightly older models of computers, Jain suggests the large-scale use of recycled computers from developed markets. The US disposes computers at a rate of more than 25 million each year.

Netcore is working on a thin client-thick server solution. This means older, lower-configuration PCs would work off more powerful new computers.

The Rs 5,000 computer can provide all the functions that users are accustomed to seeing on a computer in the corporate environment… The next 500 million users across the digital divide are just as hungry as we (in universities) were a decade ago, he observes.

Interestingly, Jain is suggesting a switchover to the Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) solutions based on GNU/Linux.

At a conservative estimate, the hardware-software savings with an Open Source-based thin client can be 75 per cent or more as compared to a Microsoft Windows-Office fat desktop, he maintains.

In terms of broadband connectivity — a fast linkup to the Net — he suggests WiFi, the Wireless Fidelity technology also called 802.11.

“It uses open spectrum, so there are no license fees applicable. WiFi enables the build-out of grassroots, bottom-up networks,” Jain argues.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.