In a rare assembly of several prominent IT industries like HP, INTEL, TCS, CISCO and MICROSOFT, individual Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) were signed by these industries with Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham at Kochi for the establishment of satellite-based Village Resource Centre (VRC) across the country. The MOUs, were signed in the presence of Mr G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO at Antariksh Bhavan, Bangalore, the headquarters of ISRO.
The MOUs are a follow-up to the understanding between ISRO and Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham for setting up such VRCs. The industries are associating with Amrita in the VRC Project, by providing ground infrastructure and other IT based systems. To start with, 25 such VRCs will be set up across the country.
It may be noted that ISRO has embarked upon the VRC initiatives with a view to integrate its capabilities in satellite communications and satellite based earth observations to disseminate a variety of services emanating from the space systems and other IT tools to address the changing and critical needs of rural communities. The VRC is a totally interactive VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) based network. These nodes can be further extended using other technologies like Wi-Fi, Wireless and Optical Fibre. These extensions may serve as local clusters around the areas where the VRC is located.
Space enabled information will include geo-referenced land record, natural resources, suitable sites for drinking water as well as sites for recharging to replenish ground water, water harvesting, wastelands that can be reclaimed, rural employment creation, watershed, environment, infrastructure, alternate cropping pattern, and so on. By suitably blending the information derived from earth observation satellites with ground derived and weather related information, locale-specific community advisory services can be provided. Community based vulnerability and risk related information, provision of timely early warning and dissemination of severe weather related information could lead to reliable disaster management support at the village level. VRCs will also provide a variety of services like tele-education, telemedicine, online decision support, interactive farmers’ advisory services, tele-fishery, e-governance services, weather services and water management. By providing tele-education services, the VRCs act as virtual community centric learning centres. At the same time, VRCs will provide connectivity to speciality hospitals thus bringing the services of expert doctors closer to the villages.
It may be noted that the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, inaugurated on October 18, 2004, the first cluster of three VRCs established jointly by ISRO and the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF). Today’s signing of MOUs is yet another landmark for expanding the VRC network in the country.
Speaking on the occasion Mr Madhavan Nair said that it is indeed a rare combination of ISRO, a Government R&D organization, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham which is a Trust engaged in education and social services and some of the leading IT industries, committed to reach the benefits of high technology to the remotest part of the country. He said that even though it is a Herculean task to cover all the 600,000 villages, the agreement signed today is a signal that we are committed to this project. Dr P Venkat Rangan, Vice Chancellor of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, said that his university is very happy to join one of the premier R & D organizations like ISRO and reputed IT industries in helping Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham to spread its services to the rural community. The representatives of all the industries were unanimous in their commitment to the task of reaching the benefits of high technology to the rural population.