Orissa Information Technology Society

1. Background (CIT'97)

A Conference on Information Technology was held at Utkal University, Vani Vihar from December 21st to December 23rd, 1997 with a very short notice. To the best of my knowledge this was done with the initiative of Hrushikesh Mohanty, Chitta Baral and Suchitra Patnaik with the help of P.K. Meher of Utkal University. Many scientists on IT related fields including L.M. Patnaik (Bangalore), S.K. Pal (ISI), H.K. Mohanty (Hyderabad) and many IT related professionals from Orissa attended the same. A further nice feature of this Conference was that many other young IT professionals of Orissa settled in USA like Rabi Mohapatra and Purna Mohanty also participated in the Conference. Local organisation was done by P.K. Meher of the department of computer science and applications of Utkal University and his staff. The Conference also got support and encouragement from P.K. Mishra, Additional Chief Secretary, Orissa, S.B. Misra, Chief Secretary, Orissa, and G.K. Das, Vice-Chancellor, Utkal University. Considering that this Conference was arranged with roughly a month available for organising the same, it was a reasonable success, and, generated lots of interest on IT in Orissa, with the participation of a large number of students of the same.

On 22nd December, 1998, quite a few of the participants got together and took two important decisions. (i) It was decided that we may form a Society called Orissa Information Technology Society' (OITS) to facilitate growth of IT activity in Orissa. (ii) It was also desired that we may have a Conference on IT again from 21st December to 23rd December, 1998 with adequate preparation.

2. CIT'98

The Conference is being organised with the structure as in the attached booklet for call for papers. L.M. Patnaik is the General Chair, and G.S. Mishra is the exhibits/industry liasons Chair. For finances, assistance is being asked from Utkal University, DST, Government of India, CSIR and some other private and public sector organisations by the Organising Chair, P.K. Meher. Some papers have already been received by Prgramme Chairs A.K. Pujari (OCAC, bbsr) and Rabi Mohapatra. Financial assistance to the participants will depend on the resources that will be available for this purpose. It is planned to have a component of tutorials as well as have exhibition stalls during the Conference.

Work has started with very limited seed money in OITS, and membership drive is being taken up. The Conference is being organised by OITS and Utkal University. Active participation by some members of OSA will also go a long way in making this Conference and other activities of OITS a success. Rabi Mohapatra has approached people like Jaydev Misra, Jnan Dash, Saroj Behera, and Chitta Das (Penn Un) of USA regarding the Conference, and they have agreed to schedule their visit to India so that they may participate in the same.

3. OITS, Formation and structure

OITS has been formed to promote various activities in IT as in Memorandum and Artciles of Association of Orissa Information Technology Society with a very wide mandate. The original decisions were taken with quite a few participants of CIT-97 including L.M. Patnaik, A.K. Pujari, G.S. Misra, Chitta Baral, Rabi Mohapatra Purna Mohanty and many others. Application for registration of the same under Societies Registration act was made in March, 1998, and registration certificate has been obtained in May 1998, {\it with jurisdiction over the State of Orissa}. This registration was made with only eleven members of Bhubaneswar, since repeatedly information about members was needed which would be time taking otherwise, and we have now decided to go back to essentially the original informal decisions of 22nd December, 1997. I shall send a copy of the bylaws after making necessary changes in the context of the above. These contain lot of rigmarole, but here I shall high light a few things with some remarks.

(a) Aims and objectives: A very wide spectrum of activities in IT including fund raising practically from any source.

(b) Membership: (i) Annual Member...Rs75/-; (ii) Life Member...Rs500/-; (iii) Institutional Member...Rs.1500/-; (iv) Student Member...Rs.40/-; Donor Member...Rs.5000/-; Patron...Rs.25000/-.

Remarks: At present there is one donor member (S.P. Misra) and ten life members. Membership drive shall be now on. I imagine some of the members of OSA might like to be donor members. The membership form is attached at the end of this writeup. In that form, I would request OSA participants to give their permanent address in Orissa. As membership fees this shall not then amount to a foreign donation.

(c) Office bearers: (i) President (S.P. Misra, bbsr); (ii) Vice-Presient (L.M. Patnaik, Bangalore); (iii) Secretary (P.K. Meher, bbsr); (iv) Secretary Overseas (Chitta Baral, El Paso); (v) Teasurer (P.K. Behera, bbsr); (vi) Joint Secretary (P.K. Mishra, bbsr).

In addition to the office bearers, the present executive committee members from Bhubane- swar also includes A.K. Pujari (OCAC), G.S. Mishra (OSEDC), Manas Patnaik (STPI), J.R. Sahu (RRL) and some heads of institutions with advanced courses in Computer Science.

Remarks: Secretary Overseas will take care of interacting with the members abroad, including those of a financial nature. He may probably collect the funds (if in dollars) and then along with the forms, send the same to Treasurer, OITS, Department of Computer Science and Applications, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar 751004, or in my address. A better thing could be if the forms are sent to some relation in Orissa, who gives the same to any of the office bearers in Bhubaneswar along with a cheque.

(d) Elections: The General Body consisting of all members (excluding student members) shall elect the office bearers from amongst themselves and seven members of the executive committee members.

Remarks: This general body meeting may by convention be during CIT'98 this year, and during parallel Conferences in succeeding years. Those members who shall be absent may if they so desire email an opinion, which shall be discussed in the meeting. I expect at least in the beginning we are to persuade people to be office bearers, so that confusion regarding elections at least to start with, may not arise.

(e) Miscellaneous: There are a few more rules regarding notice for meetings, quorum (1/3rd), audit, etc.

4. OITS, Activities and plans:

At present OITS executive committee is the same as the General Body, and we meet around once a month or more. So far most of our activities have consisted in arranging regarding registration and discussing ways and means regarding making of CIT'98 a success. However, besides this we should be doing a lot more.

The members, besides office bearers, are people like G.S. Misra (OSEDC, Managing Director), A.K. Pujari (CEO, OCAC), Manas Patnaik (Director, STP), and heads of four or five Institutions running MCA courses. In the last meeting we decided that we should meet at least once a month in different Institutions by rotation, with panel discussions/seminars on some topics of IT.

Further, while looking for memberships in different categories, it has been decided that all the money of life members should ultimately go towards fixed deposits; regarding uncommitted contributions from donor members or patrons, half of it may be spent in our activities and half would go towards fixed deposits; and for the above category with a contribution for a specific purpose, except for life membership amount, the money may be spent for the purpose for which it is donated to the extent practicable. For example, when I contributed Rs.5000/- as a donor member, I expressed a desire that it may be spent to help district colleges to get email/internet facility. We would request donor members to specify any programme they may have in mind (like introducing email in a specific college or help a specific institution in a given manner), and we shall do our best to spend it that way or get back to them if we face any problem. {\it However, for the current year we are at present using all the money we have as seed money for CIT'98 since we do not have earlier funds for the same.}

I have also an idea of involving IT students for some of the activities as above, again on a voluntary basis, and I have talked about it with some Institutions with a positive response. At present I am thinking small because we do not have resources. In case we have the same, we could also invite IT professionals to give lectures as a part of our programme. We could also persuade industries to advise regarding course structures for marketability, and persuade them to make campus selections where they may not be already doing the same.

The above statements roughly reflect our present activities and future plans, which in my opinion should be a dynamic one depending on available resources in money and voluntary man power. Half a dozen people seriously interested can get a few things done. My feeling is at least that many people shall be always available.

5. IT scenario in Orissa, an update:

(a) One of the nicest things that has happened regarding IT training in Orissa is the establishment of Orissa Centre for IBM Software' by IBM in collaboration with OSEDC. They offer a number of very structured courses with faculty training, instruction methodology as well as certification being decided by IBM. The original course materials are developed by IBM, IIT Kanpur, Lotus Corporation and Catapult Inc. and they shall update the same when needed. The infrastructure facilities including Library, Software, Internet access or Computer hardware and networking will be the same as any where else, and much better than whatever can be available elsewhere in Bhubaneswar in the field of IT. This course is starting from the present session.

The courses offered are of two types. An IBM ACE (Authorised Centre for Education) programme at a lower level of eligibility of plus 2 or Std XII has the following two subdivisions:

(i) The application developer course' is a training for programmers or system analysts which gives a course parallel to that of a B.Tech. in computer science, and,

(ii) The Power User Course' meant for working executives or some professionals like doctors or engineers or chartered accountants with a focus towards intranet, accounting data bases, word processors, spread sheets or presentation packages.

(iii) Besides the above, they also offer an advanced `Main Frame' Course with eligibility as those who have already completed MCA. This course is a really high end course in the IT field with full infrastructural needs available to the students.

A good thing about the above programme is its flexibility. These can be taken either full time, or half time, or less than half time, to be taken up along with any other course. Jobs are not guaranteed, but assistance in placement will be available to all the successful candidates.

(b) The programme of Government of Orissa to have IIIT mooted last year is being processed. This will need an investment of about ten times of what was needed for item (a) above, but the attitude of Government of Orissa is very positive regarding the same. In fact, the programme of IIIT at Hyderabad is de facto a little less than (a) above, in the sense that they only run the course (iii) there for the main frame.

I am grateful to G.S. Misra (OSEDC) for the above information, {\it very briefly} presented here with a focus I thought as appropriate.

(c) Government has planned to open honours in Computer Science in six Colleges at the B.Sc. level from the next session. These are Khallikot, BJB, Rama Devi, Ravenshaw, Rourkela, and GM College. The faculty (thirty of them, from Mathematics and Physics Departments of the respective Collges) are getting trained by OCAC. The move was initiated by Chitta Baral last year.

Like the above, OCAC has been giving training to Computer users or professionals from time to time as the need arises, depending on its available resources.

(d) Computer courses in B.Tech. as well as MCA courses are also expanding. Many of these are in private institutions, and they find it very difficult to find technical people. However almost all these institutions are trying to do the best they can, because of heavy competetion, and are making their own arrangements to get experts as well as get their own people trained.

(e) Quite often I find advertisements of APTECH regarding computer courses even in interior parts of Orissa. I do not have a clear idea, but my guess is they must be doing some thing useful as a purely private organisation.

(f) INFOSYS, a high end company of computer professionals with social awareness programmes, has now a branch at Bhubaneswar with export market mostly outside India. It is often running programmes regarding familiarising school students with aspects of internet. I saw one of its activities, and was impressed.

Another large computer software company, SATYAM, has also recently started its branch at Bhubaneswar.

6. Internet Service Providers in Orissa:

a) The best internet service provider at present in Orissa is probably STPI, which provides this facility to software entrpreneurs as well as research establishments. They charge about 4 lakhs for a 64 Kbps connection. As an organisation they are at present making profit, so that (I guess) they may decrease the tariff. A high end software company like Infosys, and a high end research organisation like Institute of Physics are using their services. Many other organisations like RRL will soon be taking internet connection from them. They give their service through microwave links to different Institutions in Bhubaneswar.

However, the internet service at Orissa Center for IBM Software is expected to be more powerful than the above. But it will be probably only for trainees of that Institution.

(b) NIC (National Informatics Centre) at Bhubaneswar is primarily meant for Government organisations. However, it also extends service for internet to Universities and educational and engineering establishments, as well as semi-Government organisations. It has the advantage of there being about sixteen antenna spread all over Orissa, so that with local telephone linkage one can subscribe to internet services at the district level. It gives (i) uucp email accounts, (ii) login shell accounts (TCP/IP connection) with internet text browser like lynx, as well as (iii) SLIP/PPP accounts with graphic netscape browser. The charges for the first two will be around Rs.5000/- per year, and for the third, around Rs.10,000/- per year. uucp accounts for emails are generally reliable, the text browsers have the handicap of having very few (two only) telephone linkages, and graphic browsers are rather slow.

(c) OCAC provides internet service (shell account with TCP/IP) under ernet. It also has some antennae outside Bhubaneswar, and hopes to expand its activities.

(d) The programme to install the Earth Station of VSNL in Bhubaneswar is going ahead, and G.S. Misra of OSEDC and Government of Orissa are trying their best to hasten the process. Decisions here are to be taken by DOE and DOT of Government of India, and such decisions meant for a state like Orissa in the all India scene happen to be slow. It can be hoped that it will be fully operational within the next six months.

VSNL related efforts are of two types. (i) DOT will be giving internet access through a node at Telelphone Bhawan through a 2 Mb leased line to Calcutta. (ii) There will be a PPP connection to the VSNL Earth Station being built at IDCO tower. Only this second facility will make internet common place with a fast enough link available to public, like in other metropolitan cities.

For that purpose the possible user base should be signficantly strengthened regarding awareness of usage that can be available. OITS can possibly have a role here.

7. Some observations:

I am really a user of information technology, some times very impatient like I am for my own researches in high energy physics, but always find pleasure in what other more competent and responsible people in IT achieve. I strongly feel that IT development in Orissa can be fast; for this purpose we should do what we can individually, and get together for a few things when we feel it necessary, and not a waste of our own or other people's time. I feel here members of OSA may have a very positive role to play. They may join us as members of OITS immediately if they so desire. They may watch and wait for more information and signs of activity. They may also try to analyse the situation when they visit Orissa next. We shall very much welcome any of such decisions.

However, I consider appropriate to make a small appeal. When IT professionals of OSA come to Orissa, if they can make time, they may think of helping some institutions to update their information base in IT, including probably taking some classes to overview specific technical topics or giving seminars. This may even be a greater service to IT development in Orissa than merely being members of OITS.

147, Kanan Vihar HIG Colony\hfil S.P. Misra\break

Bhubaneswar 751031.\hfil President, OITS\break

Tel: 91-674-440810,440683 (H)\hfil\break

\centerline{\bf Membership Form}

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1. Name\hfil\break

2. Sex\hfil\break

3. Date of Birth\hfil\break

4. Qualifications\hfil\break

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6. Telephone and email\hfil\break

7. Area of interest\hfil\break

8. Professional experience\hfil\break

9. Type of membership ({\it Please mark})\hfil\break

\hbox{} (i) Annual members...Rs.75/-\hfil\break

\hbox{} (ii) Life members...Rs.500/-\hfil\break

\hbox{} (iii) Institutional members...Rs.1500/-\hfil\break

\hbox{} (iv) Student members...Rs.40/-\hfil\break

\hbox{} (v) Donor members...Rs.5000/-\hfil\break

\hbox{} (vi) Patrons...Rs.25000/-\hfil\break

\noindent

10. Details of payment: Cheque/Draft/Cash\hfil\break

({\it Cheque or Draft payable to} OITS, Bhubaneswar)

\bigskip

\noindent

Signature\hfil\break

Date\hfil\break

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{\centerline {For office use}}

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Membership No.\hfil\break

Remarks\hfil\break

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Cheque or draft may be sent to Dr. P.K. Behera, Treasurer, Dept of Computer Science and Applications, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar 751004. In fact, it may be despatched in the address of any of the office bearers at Bhubaneswar.