TIFAC Online

Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), an autonomous body, under the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, founded in 1988, has recently gone online with the launching of their Web sites at or on 11 May, 1999. The Web site provides information about its activities, programmes, projects, services and products at the following sections:

Who we are? Achievements; Governing Council; Staff; TIFAC Network including Various International Agencies like ASEAN, UNIDO, IATAFI; Ministries and Departments of Govt. of India; Industrial Associations; R &D Labs and Academic Institutes; Experts; Special Linkages-cum-Implementation Mechanisms; etc.

What we do? Technology Assessment/ Forecasting and Market Surveys (200+ surveys conducted so far); Technology Vision 2020 (Methodology & Follow up actions); Home Grown Technology Development Programme: Technology Projects on Mission Mode in the areas of _ Advanced Composites, Fly Ash Utilization & Sugar Technology; Patent Facilitating Centre ( Web site: launched on 10 February, 2000) ; and many more special initiatives like Surface Engineering, ICOSER, Vision for Sikkim, Trechnopreneur Promotion Programme, etc.

What we offer? Technology-linked Business Opportunity Publications; Technology Sourcing Worldwide (both from India and other countries); Customized Technology Information Services; Patent Facilitating Services and the first Indian Patent Database; Technology Vision 2000 Reports, etc.

News & Views: An unique opportunity to access the latest news from TIFAC News, IPR Bulletin & Staff Publications.

Discussion forum: A communication platform for discussing technology related issues on various topics.

Showcase: Reaching out people through our Multimedia presentations, Audio Visuals & Slide Shows.

Updation: Mostly weekly.

— TIFAC brochure;E mail dated 25 May, 2000

Russian language Web portal

An e-mail service called started in November 1998 has blossomed into the biggest provider in Russia with well over 650,000 subscribers. The service,, similar to other popular and free Internet mail services like the hotmail and Yahoo, is tailored specifically for Russian speakers. "The Russian-speaking Internet market is still underdeveloped. The market is picking up now" said the company official. Earlier in 1999, drew US$ one million in outside investment . However, the company is yet to make profit.

With less than two million Internet users, the Russian market is difficult for e-commerce. Only a handful of companies have made a profit on the Russian Internet, and none offers free content like

— Source: Science & Technology in Russia/
comp. & ed. by Dr. Hari Mohan Saxena, Counsellor
(Science and Technology), Embassy of India
6-8 Ul. Vorontsovo Polye, Moscow 103064, Russia

Punjab Public Libraries Act

The GB Meeting of the Punjab Library Association held on 11 December 1999 at Punjabi University, Patiala unanimously decided to appeal to Sardar Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab to enact the Punjab Libraries Act to provide a networking of libraries within the 300th birth anniversary year of the Khalsa Panth.

— Communicated by Mr. Kuldip Singh Dhillon, General Secretary, Punjab Library Association

Professor A A N Raju Gold Medal

A gold medal in honour of Prof A A N Raju, presently Emeritus Fellow, formerly, Head, Dept. of Library and Information Sciences, O U, and Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Osmania University has been instituted with Dr. B R Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad by the Prof A A N Raju Award Committee. The Medal will be awarded every year starting from 1998-99 batch to the student who secures highest marks in the M L I Sc course of the aforesaid Open University.

— Communicated by Prof N Laxman Rao,
Osmania University, Hyderabad

PolyAnalyst - Intelligent analysis of databases and synthesis of knowledge

This software based on artificial intelligence and machine learning opens new perspectives of knowledge discovery in databases: modeling, estimation, forecasting, segmentation, classification, customer profiling and visualisation. Its fields of application are: government, finance, production, data base marketing, consulting, science, and healthcare.

— Communicated by Science and Technology Wing, Embassy of India, Moscow.

Microsoft, MIT power up online education

Software giant Microsoft Corporation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced a US$ 25 million agreement to develop ways to use computers in university teaching, for projects ranging from academic publishing to Web museums. The deal has kindled fears that Microsoft may try to conquer the educational software market. But MIT insists, that is not the case. Under the 1_Campus Plan, as it is called , Microsoft will allot US $ 25 million over five years for research on teaching technologies approved by a panel of MIT faculty and Microsoft scientists. The first three projects are: expanding the university's Shakespeare Electronic Archive; teaching graduate classes simultaneously at IIT and in Singapore over the Internet 2 research network, starting this fall; and helping aeronautics students and professors collaborate in cyberspace on design objects.

Software observers expressed concern that Microsoft may be setting out to dominate online teaching the way it does office software. MIT Engineering Dean Thomas L Magnanti, however, suggests those fears as unfounded. MIT will work with Microsoft Research , rather than the company's product development arm, on all computer types _ not just PCs, Microsoft's main platform. MIT can license the products it develops to other companies and universities. "We intend to share this widely" says Magnanti. "There is no intention to become a Microsoft shop". Microsoft, meanwhile, stands to profit from using the university as a `test bed' for ideas, a spokesperson says.

— Communicated by Dr. Daljit Singh
Counsellor (S & T), Embassy of India
2536 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20008

Van Info launching two portals

Mumbai-based Vans Information & Information Services is planning to launch a major Web portal for medical professionals and a mega horizontal portal through agglomeration of vertical portals. The medical portal will be based on the content it has been collecting sometime now and will be aimed at doctors. The company has also tied up with a leading international publisher on the subject to source the content. According to the managing director of the company, Harsh Bhatkal "The second site will be an umbrella site having all kinds of general information such as food, holidays, stock markets and news". [Adapted]

— The Financial Express 3 March, 2000

Water Resources Ministry unveils Web site

To disseminate information relating to water resources and their development in India, the Ministry of Water Resources has launched the Web site _ The site comprises eleven modules and fifty sub-modules providing such information as the constitutional provision related to water, indigenous water resources, government policy on water, status of resources development in the country, and investment made in the sector. [Adapted]

The Financial Express 1 March, 2000 applies for domain name, the world's largest virtual bookstore, has applied to the National Centre for Science and Technology (NCST), for registering the domain name, to ensure it is not misused. The ``'' name is typically given to Indian companies or companies which have an Indian presence.

According to NCST Director S Ramani "The application is under review. has claimed it has an Indian presence". The `' name is exclusive to India as `cn' is exclusive to China, and the NCST is the sole authority for granting it. So far no foreign company like has asked for an Indian registration.. According to Ramani there is a valid case for to register as with the Internet being a global medium.

The NCST has so far has registered around 4,000 names, of which 2,000 belong to academic institutions and research bodies, and the rest to India-based companies and the portals. The number of companies registering with NCST has dramatically hiked from 400 to 1600 in the last year following the liberalization of the ISP sector. [Adapted]

— The Indian Express 19 February,2000

India's first Internet portal for cable TV launched

India's first portal for cable, satellite and terrestrial television businesses `' promoted by well known free lance writer, media critic and analyst, Anil Wanvari, CEO, Indiantelevision Dot Com Pvt Ltd was formally launched by Subhas Chandra, Chairman, Zee Telefilms Ltd in Bombay on 25 February, 2000. The portal will be offering both B2B and B2C sections on the Web site.

The B2B section is targetted at television broadcasting, advertising, media and marketing professionals , students, academics, researchers and governments worldwide who are interested in this dynamic business. It encompasses free to air satellite channels, pay TV channels, terrestrial television and cable TV, and any other future developments.

The B2C section will have news and gossip, chats with TV stars, online contests and games related to TV programmes with freebies. [Adapted]

The Observer 28 February, 2000

India's first Internet Entrepreneurship Project

NIIT has launched the first ever integrated Internet Entrepreneurship Project to prepare Indians to set up Internet businesses of their own. The programme to be delivered by Internet Education, Consulting and e-Commerce teams of NIIT is a part of NIIT's strategy to encourage young Indians to build a solid grounding in technology management and entrepreneurship and set up successful e-ventures.

NIIT know-how, technology and Internet infrastructure along with its software intellectual property will be available to budding Net entrepreneurs in the incubating period.

Mr. Rajendra S Pawar , Chairman, NIIT said, "Through the NIIT Internet Entrepreneurship Project we hope to provide ambitious and determined youth everything they will need to get started in e-business. NIIT project begins by training a few thousand young Indians to help them seize the opportunities being thrown open by the Internet and the exploding Internet-based economy".

Mr R Venkatesh Iyer, Head, NIIT Internet Entrepreneurship Project, said, "NIIT's e-Mahamillionaire program is a blueprint for success on the Net. We realise that an individual may find it virtually impossible to combine all the skills required to make it big on the Net. NIIT will provide valuable inputs on the technical, business and management aspects of running Net-business and enable them to work along a detailed business plan". Once the grounding in technology and business is complete , NIIT team will help Netpreneurs draw up business and technology plans around their ideas; provide the right environment and facilities needed to transform an idea into Internet business; and also offer its e-commerce tools and a team of software professionals to guide the Netpreneurs at every step. [Adapted]

— The Pioneer 28 February, 2000

Villagers get Internet savvy

The soochanalay (information centre) set up at Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh has brought about a noticeable change in the thinking of the common people that IT is only meant for the elite. Now, even an illiterate farmer at a sleepy hamlet of Dehrisaria can easily get information as to the market rates of various commodities like potato at Indore market with the help of the gyandoot centre at the village and can thereby prevent their exploitation by local traders. An employment seeker can also get an application form using the facility of the same centre in a matter of just a few days. The State Industry and Technology Minister, Narendra Nahta, said, "The thrust of our information technology policy unveiled last year was on filtering the recipe of the technology to the lower rung of the populace". The Minister pointed out that the cost of each centre was merely Rs. 75,000.00, and more such centres would be established mobilising funds from panchayats, private investors and people availing of bank loans.

The knotty problem of land records has also been greatly rectified in the state with the establishment of the `' centres.

The gyandoot villages in thirty-one gram panchayats act as communication links between the government and the villagers, and routine problems like non-functioning of hand pumps, irregular teacher attendance can be flashed in no time.The network has also connected MY Medical College Hospital, Indore, with Dhar Hospital and some primary health centres to bolster medical delivery system.

By bridging the rural-urban divide, the Dhar experiment has clearly shown a paradigm shift in the arena of IT through minimum investment. [Adapted]

— The Tribune 28 February, 2000


A New Delhi-based publishing and consulting company for business development, technology transfer and corporate consulting has launched a technology website The site, at present, has a weekly magazine on new technology with contributions from international experts on professional and business development. It plans to re-launch the print version of e-zine, primarily for engineering colleges, universities, chambers of commerce and other libraries. [Adapted]

The Statesman 15 February, 2000

E-Connect launches new e-mail service

Considering the fact that 81% of all Net users use e-mail, the most used service on the Net globally, E-Connect India Ltd, intended to offer something unique, said Sunil Jasuja, CEO, E-Connect. Hence,, launched by E-Connect offered its users a combination of Web-based and server-based mail systems, the highest allocation being 6.25MB per user and mail and attachments downloadable anywhere. In addition, individuals and corporates can use the service without installing their own servers. They can also use their own mail software such as the Outlook to receive their mails.

The popularity of the service can be gauged from the fact that just in three days it received 26,000 users. This apart, the portal had 35,000 page views and the banner ad was also gaining ground. [Adapted]

— The Observer, 29 December 1999

Privatisation pays off: 500,000 log on to

With the liberalization of the policy in 1999 to allow the private sector to compete with state-owned monopolies, the market for providing Internet services expanded more than 300% in 1999. The number of Internet subscribers jumped from 120,000 in February to about 500, 000 in December, 1999. Internet services were first launched by VSNL in August 1995 and retained its monopoly till November 1998. In February 1999, MTNL entered the field and soon thereafter Satyam, Bharti, and Dishnet followed suit.

The competition expanded the market, brought down prices by more than 50% (VSNL offered 500 hours access for Rs. 15,000, now it is offering the same package for only Rs. 7,000.00), improved access; increased awareness by aggressive marketing campaigns. VSNL also gained from the competition netting 320,000 subscribers by December 1999 and maintaining the top position in the market among the ISPs. By December end, it is estimated that MTNL has 15,000 plus subscribers, Satyam, the largest private-owned ISP has about 80,000 subscribers, Bharti BT and Dishnet have 30,000 plus subscribers each.

It is expected that Internet will be enjoying hot growth in 2000 and beyond. [Adapetd]

— The Economic Times 3 January, 2000

Yet another IT panel; this time of NRI aces

The latest IT committee formed on 20 January, 2000 is the fifth such committee formed by the IT Ministry. It comprises NRI professionals drawn primarily from the Silicon Valley, USA to turn India into a global IT powerhouse. Chaired by the IT Minister Promod Mahajan, the eight-member group comprises P V Jayakrishnan, (Secretary to the Ministry), Kanwal Rekhi (President, TiE Group, US), Vinod Khosla (General Partner, KPCB, US), Suhas Patil (Chairman Emeritus, Cirus Logic), K B Chandrasekhar (Chairman & CEO, Exodus Corp, US), Sabeer Bhatia (CEO,, US), and Devendra Chaudhry (Director in the Ministry), the convenor.

The Group will:

The Times of India 21 January, 2000

IPF Online launched

India's largest Business-to-Business (B2B) e-commerce Web site _ in which IL&FS Venture Corporation (IVC) has 51% stake, commercially launched on 19 January 2000 at Chennai. The e-portal , owned by the Chennai-based start-up IPF Online Ltd. offers a common technology platform for a range of industrial products, manufacturers, buyers, and sellers and enables e-commerce.

" A strong product is one of the key ingredients for a B2B portal, apart from a large community of users and the ability to conduct commerce online. We have already built up a database of over10,000 and the users are grouped into five communities and 32 sub-communities," said Mr. L Subramanyan, CEO, IPF Online Ltd.

The gameplan is to leverage on the brand equity built up by the magazine over the last three decades. "We hope to cut right through the hype of e-commerce and provide real competitive advantages to Indian businesses,"he said. IPF Online has so far spent about Rs. one crore on the site, which was developed in a record time of twelve weeks. The portal is now focusing on expanding its database and will soon provide e-commerce for buying industrial products worldwide. It is also likely to add online auctioning and complete payment. [Adapted]

— The Economic Times 21 January, 2000

Web site for ISSI 2001

Scientometricians and informetricians will be happy to note that the Web site for the 8th International Conference on Scientometrics and Informetrics going to be held at Sydney, Australia in July 16-20, 2001 has since been launched at

The Web site includes Calls for papers and deadlines for submission, Guidelines for submission, the ISSI 2001 Committees, some history about previous conferences in this series, about ISSI - the Society, and some brief information about registration fees and accommodation in Sydney. There is also a page for useful and relevant links to other sites.

The site will be continuously updated with new and revised information. Professionals are requested to give their comments, ideas for new materials to include, and further links that may be useful .

Professionals interested to be in the regular mailing list to get information about ISSI 2001 are requested to contact Ms. Mari Davis, Chair, Australian ISSI Organising Committee (ISSI 2001), 8th International Conference on Scientimetrics and Informetrics, School of Information Systems, Technology and Management, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia

Phone: 0011 61 2 9385 7127
Fax: 0011 61 2 9662 4061

— E-mail dated 1 June, 2000

Making the Web more accessible

Making the Web more accessible and unwiring the Internet is the technology gaining ground nowadays. In future, there may not be any need for PCs, laptops or palmtops and expensive communication lines.Compared to PCs or laptops wireless devices have the advantages of mobility, personalised services, and location aware services.Wireless terminals will emerge as effective means to communicate and conduct business over the Net.

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is a standard formulated by the WapForum where big names like Motorola, Nokia, and Erisson figure.The new generation wireless technologies such as Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS) and the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) make communication easier. With wireless communication devices getting more functionality the WAP-enabled services will multiply in future.

WAP is almost a parallel Internet. It defines a series of layers from the lowest bearer services to the highest level application; mode of presentation of information and a scripting language for the processing of information. Some of the prime technologies used in WAP are effective encoding and robust error handling to use best available bandwidth.

The possible WAP applications are as follows:

  1. The telebanking concept can be extended to wireless devices. A Web-enabled bank can provide account information to a mobile device.

  2. Stock exchange information can be accessed with the quotes restricted to IT stocks or any other area.

  3. Search engines on the Net can be extended to provide information to comply with the WAP standard. New search engines for wireless devices are aslo likely to emerge.

  4. Web directories that can be accessed through a wireless devices will emerge.

  5. Personalised news feed from sources like Reuter will be a possibility.

  6. Portals with `super-e-mail' sites can be customised to allow e-mail access over a mobile device in the form of text or voice.

  7. Mobile phones with credit card swipe slots are available in Europe that will allow transactions to be made by swiping the credit card on the users mobile phone to provide the relevant information needed to complete the transaction. This ushers in the era of `m-commerce'.

The Bangalore-based Integra Microsystems has developed India's first WAP server/gateway software Jataayu. [Adapted]

— The Hindu 22 February, 2000

China to regulate online audio-visual business

China will regulate the audio-visual business on the Internet to protect intellectual property and develop a healthy market, according to the notice issued by the Ministry of Commerce. The notice said, every Internet operator must have a legal permit, and no imported end products nor MP3 downloads are allowed to be traded online. Wholesale trading is forbidden as well. No IT Web site with foreign investment is allowed to do business in audio-visual products on the Internet.

— Science & Technology Report for China March 2000
Beijing: Economic and Commercial Wing
Embassy of India, Bejing, China

Telephone Web access system

PhoneBrowser (not yet offered in India), a Bell Laboratories technology, being developed as a new business by Lucent's New Ventures Group allows users without PCs to use an ordinary phone to access information from the Web. Inputs are provided to Web sites via natural language speech commands and content is received via recorded audio or synthesised text-to-speech. The natural language telephone interface allows users to access the Web anywhere anytime, when they are commuting, travelling or on the go.The belief that the wireless Web will reach its full potential only when customers can use speech, the simplest human interface, was the stimulus behind the development of the PhoneBrowser. The new technology will be specially helpful to content providers, wireless carriers and Web developers. The services that it can provide range from traffic alerts and weather reports to stock quotes and telephone directories, not to mention a host of other specialised services.

PhoneBrowser features will make all these services more user-friendly. For example, customers can interrupt spoken content using Lucent's patented barge-in feature to navigate to other pages or Web sites.The system summarises pages in a concise manner, signifying fonts like bold text, for example, with special voices. PhoneBrowser can access current Web sites without the need for them to be reprogrammed in any way.

PhoneBrowser is designed to work with any Web site that uses HTML. It is ready for the rapid development of new applications. Enterprises, commercial Web sites and telecom service providers can extend the reach of existing applications and create a new class of Web applications that employ mobility and lend themselves to a voice interface. Future versions will work with Web sites using the emerging W3C markup language. All it needs is a phone, an ordinary phone, for people to get hooked onto Web and onto Phonebrowser. [Adapted]

— Update, No.8, March 2000

Information Today & Tomorrow, Vol. 19, No. 1, March 2000, p.25-p.30