Monthly Archives: August 2008

India’s Poor Get Health Care in a Card

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “India’s Poor Get Health Care in a Card”, outlines a program being launched in India to provide affordable healthcare to the masses.  The key component of the program, which is targeted at those earning less than $100 per year, is the use of a secure smart card to store the beneficiary’s personal data and fingerprints.

By bringing together insurance companies and hospitals to address this segment, it hopes to providing healthcare to a target population that has seldom been able to afford it. The government is going to underwrite part of the costs while hospitals and insurance companies see it as an opportunity for them to extend their customer base. Continue reading

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OLPC India Tidbits

For those who are tracking the progress of OLPC in India, here are few tidbits gleaned from the web: A fairly in-depth description of the OLPC pilot and a recent update on Nick Negroponte’s visit to Mumbai in August.

Here are some interesting photos from the wiki of thier initial pilot in Khairat village, in Raigadh district, Maharashtra. It is on the OLPC wiki and makes for interesting reading.

One room school house at Khairat (from OLPC wiki)

Continue reading

Paul Polak’s Twelve Steps to Practical Problem Solving

Paul Polak is a physiatrist by training but has spent the past 25 years working to alleviate poverty in the developing world. His non-profit, International Development Enterprises, has come up with innovative low cost technologies that have improved the local livelihood of people at the bottom of the pyramid. For example the simply designed bamboo treadle pump has sold over 1.7 million copies and generated over $1.4 billion in farmer revenue in Bangladesh.

Paul has encapsulated his learnings in a book Out of Poverty that describes a number of these technologies. More recently, Paul has posted an interesting video on You tube that summarizes his Twelve Steps to Practical Problem Solving.

Some of the observations are commonsense ones but it is remarkable how often people forget them in their eagerness to push technology.

Waste Streams turn to Gold

A couple of related articles in the past months have got me thinking about the trash streams we generate and its adverse impact in the developing world.

The National Geographic in an article “High Tech Trash” estimates that over 70 per cent of high tech trash winds up in landfills creating a toxic time bomb. The EPA estimated that between 1.5 and 1.9 million tons of electronic junk was discarded in 2005. The future looks even bleaker as millions of TVs will be rendered inoperable with the switch to digital transmission next year. Already the US discards nearly 25 million TVs and 100 million cell phones every year. Continue reading

First-hand Village Level Perspectives

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit the Deshpande Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Sandbox in the Hubli/Dharwad area. The Foundation was established by Desh Deshpande, who is well known in the US as a serial entrepreneur, and his wife Jaishree. In India, they have focused on their home town of Hubli/Dharwad in Northern Karnataka to conduct an innovative experiment in accelerating social entrepreneurship in rural India. Continue reading