Venkataraman Balaji

Venkataraman Balaji, Winner of the World Technology Network's 2001 World Technology Award for Education, is Project Director, the Information Villages Research Project (India) - This project, supported by the IDRC, Canada (1998-2000), involves setting up a wireless data-cum-voice network, in 12 village clusters covering a population of approximately 25000. A fair amount of innovative work for adaptation of full duplex VHF radio to service the network has been carried out, and link to the Internet has been provided to community access points in the village covered. The project has been noted for its creative application of a simple, publicly -available technology for voice/data transmission,and received the Motorola Gold Award 1999 for creative application of 2-way wireless networking technology..The project has been noted for its value in the Communications of the ACM (Nov.1998) 136th Presidential Address at the US National Academy of Sciences (Apr. 1999), the UNDP Human Development Report 1999 and in the Wall Street Journal (4th Oct 1999) the New York Times (30th May 2000) International Herald Tribune (31st May 2000) besides attracting many references within India. From 1993-2000, Balaji served as Director, Informatics Centre, MSSRF, with responsibility for maintaining a database design/training facility which also houses India's largest collection of CD-ROMs in the area of agricultural sciences. This centre is a node in the network of bio-informatics centres supported by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. This facility also supports all the training programmes of the organisation through provision of LAN services on demand. The LAN uses WIN NT platform. From 1996-2000, Balaji also served as Regional Coordinator, Asian Ecotechnology Network. This network, supported by UNESCO during 1996-99, attempts to provide a forum for exchange of experiences and ideas in the interface of ecology, agriculture and rural development. Networking is both electronic and regular. Principal node established in Kyoto University (Japan) in 1999. From 1998-2000, Balaji was Coordinator, 'the Hindu' Media Resources Centre. This programme (endowed by 'the Hindu' group of publications) aims to enable media professionals to access scientific information on internet and other networks, and through organisation of special workshops. Over a dozen public lectures and two international workshops on genetically modified organisms in agriculture have been organised since the endowment was made in July 1998. Balaji has held many other positions of responsibility for projects involving education, energy, and/or protecting biodiversity.He has been a member of the World Technology Network since 2001.

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