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Tuesday, May 27, 2003

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Kerala: LSE chooses FRIENDS e-service for case study

Vinson Kurian


THE London School of Economics (LSE) has selected the FRIENDS (Fast Reliable Instant Efficient Network for Disbursement of Services) e-service delivery model implemented by the Kerala State IT Department for a case study.

According to sources, Ms Shirin Madon, an associate with the Information Systems Department of the LSE, has already been appointed as a consultant to evaluate the effectiveness of FRIENDS.

The IT Department had set up the system in association with local bodies and seven other departments with a view to enabling a smooth and transparent citizen-Government interface.

The latest initiative from the Department is the Akshaya e-literacy project, which was formally inaugurated by the Chief Minister, Mr A.K. Antony, in the pilot district of Malappuram. Some 552 e-centres are being set up as part of the Akshaya campaign.

Creative Infocity signs MoU: The Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Kinfra) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Florida-based Creative Infocity for setting up an IT Zone in the Kinfra Export Promotion Industrial Park at Kakkanad in Kochi.

A spokesperson of the Kerala State IT Mission, the official implementing agency for IT, said Dr G.C. Gopala Pillai, Managing Director, Kinfra, and Mr Anupam Saxena, representing Creative Infocity, signed the MoU.

According to Dr Pillai, a joint venture company would be set up within 90 days. The management of Creative Infocity had been requested to explore the possibility of setting up a Knowledge City in the State. The Creative Infocity Chief Executive Officer, Mr Dilip Barot, was expected to visit the State for discussions in the matter.

In the initial phase, Creative Infocity will hold more than 75 per cent equity in the joint venture company.

Mr Barot, an NRI from Gujarat, had earlier met with a team headed by the State Industries Minister, Mr P.K. Kunhalikkutty, and said he saw value in investing in Kerala. He had expressed his desire to partner with the Government in the efforts to make the State a preferred knowledge destination

Relocating to Kochi: The outbreak of the Iraq war is making more and more IT companies think of relocating their existing data recovery/disaster management centres in Mumbai and Delhi to Kochi.

The IT Mission spokesperson said these companies wanted a "comparatively non-strategic location with high connectivity" and Kochi suited them well. The State Government was also planning to brand Kochi as "the IT centre" of the State.

A recent CII survey had placed Kochi among one of the top 10 business-friendly cities in the country and an earlier one by Nasscom had ranked the city as the second most attractive destination for IT-enabled services (ITeS).

IT compulsory subject: As per the latest order issued by the General Education Department, Information Technology will now become a compulsory subject in Standard VIII and Standard IX in the State from next year.

The State curriculum committee had earlier recommended the introduction of IT as a compulsory subject. The executive committee of the IT@school project endorsed the recommendation and directed the Director of Public Instruction (DPI) to submit a specific proposal before the State Government for the purpose. After this was done, a Government Order was published and guidelines were issued for the purpose.

According to the guidelines, IT will have the same status as any other main subject at the high school level and marks/grades of IT will be considered for promotion.

Every school should conduct terminal and annual examinations on the subject from the next academic year. The marks to be allotted for IT examination will be 50, with 20 marks for theory and 30 marks for practical.

Class teachers shall conduct continuous evaluation based on the circular of the DPI. Since the subject requires technical knowledge, the Executive Director, IT@school project, would issue guidelines for conducting practical examinations and also model question papers for the terminal and annual examinations.

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