"'India is like a long snake. While its head is moving into the
twenty-first century, the tail is still in the sixteenth. And there
are people all over its body.' Those lines by computer guru Ed
Yourdon sum up the inspiration behind Jagriti e-Sewa ('Jagriti'
means 'awakening' in Punjabi and 'Sewa' means 'service'), a
non-governmental organization (NGO) that uses open source
technologies to bring much-needed knowledge and advice to farmers
in the Indian state of Punjab.
"The model that Jagriti has adopted is strikingly simple. Kiosks
or centers that provide IT-enabled services are set up in rural
areas to help farmers keep abreast of the latest developments in
agriculture through the Internet, give them access to experts, and
organize training programs for them. Since these kiosks are
franchised mostly to educated youth or ex-military men, they also