APPRAISAL OF INDIAN SITUATION- EFFECTIVE UTILISATION OF ICT IN INDIAN PERSPECTIVE
Today we are living in the age of information, and communication where the information societies are rapidly transforming themselves from information society to knowledge society. Information society or rather its Japanese term “Johoka Shokai”, was perceived by the Japanese writer, Yoneji Masuda, “as a society, which would eventually move to a point at which the production of information values became the formative force for the development of the society.”
In India the significance of communication in equipping people with new information and skills; and mobilizing them for their willful participation in various development programmes and activities has been well recognized and emphasized in the country’s blueprint policy i.e the five year plans. Communication is fun, Communication is power, Communication is money and Communication is intelligence today. So a country’s growth, cultural moorings, its inner strength and competitive edge all depend greatly on communication power. In the recent years the country is on the threshold of a new communication revolution of which satellite, TV, Video are major manifestations. In this information age from high frequency wireless communication to digital compression technology, to microwave communication to silicon chips, satellite communication, optic fibers, telematics, computer graphics, Internet, world wide web, Internet protocol TV(IPTV),interactive TV(ITV),digital audio broadcasting(DAB),multimedia and so on, there is no stopping and no looking back. Communication wise the whole world is technically knit together and with the constraints of time and distance disappearing, it has been possible for humanity at large to be integrated at intellectual, economic, cultural and emotional levels, by sharing a global commonwealth of human resources, transforming the whole world virtually into a ‘global village’.
NEW COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES-Different Perspectives And Significance
The concept of global village by Marshall McLuhan is becoming increasingly interconnected by communication technologies that is gradually defining the way we look at the world. The Gutenberg era is over. A new digital communications technology has emerged. An electronic superhighway is beginning to girdle the globe as voice, video and data converge bringing in the wake a new basket of digital multimedia and interactive communications technologies. New technologies such as Global Satellite of Mobile communications(GSM),General Packet Radio service(GPRS), Teletext, Videotex, Virtual Private Network(VPN), Wi-Fi, Coded Division Multiple Access(CDMA) etc are gaining wide acceptance due to several advantages like–
Demassification (As opposed to the old economy (which focused more on mass production and mass broadcasting to a mass audience), the new economy breaks down (demassifies) production. The focus, in terms of production, is now shifted to customization, segmentation, and individualization. This trend leads to narrowcasting).
Asynchronity (the exchange of data, figures, and conversation takes place on a real time basis, without the presence of all the participants).
Narrowcasting(A narrowcast is the transmission of data to a specific list of recipients. Cable television is an example of broadcast model in which the signals are transmittedeverywhere and anyone with an antenna can receive them. The internet uses both a broadcast and a narrowcast model. To transmit to selected individuals. Cable TV and satellite radio are examples of narrowcast services because they reach only their subscriber base. Mailing lists are another example.)
Infotainment(A television program with a mixture of news and entertainment features,such asinterviews, commentaries, and reviews).
Ease of updating
Instantaneous message dissemination
Time saving and
Marriage of mediums or rather, Convergence is today a reality and India is fast waking up to the digital era, re-shaping the way the individuals and organisations produce, process, market, collaborate and share information. The launch of paid Internet radio services on Yahoo! And Rediff.com, Edge, Third Generation(3G) and Bluetooth, Internet on TV, are some of the new technologies that have been used for the benefit of mankind. At the same time ,there is an increasing demand from consumers for data delivery, telephony services, global roaming, e-mail, video and Internet access on one single device. These needs have resulted in global standards that are more open, making available the vast knowledge base and providing substantial increase in productivity, a better quality of life, enhancements in education and recreation and cross cultural understanding.
COMMUNICATIONS SCENARIO: Then And Now
Coming to the access of these new technologies, no wonder it can be safely said that the Indian middle class have moved at a much faster pace than expected. If you still deny than consider the communications scenario.
Within a decade the average citizen owns a private telephone, television and personal computer. In addition to these ,telephone and Internet access is increasingly provided by phone booths and cyber cafes situated in public places. In 1947 it, when India gained independence, it had only 84000 telephone lines, to reach out to a population of 300 million. By 1999,India had an installed network of over 25 million telephone line, spread over 300 cities, 4869 towns and 310897 villages, making India’s telecommunication network the 9th largest in the world. Another most successful achievement was the introduction of mobile telephone services in 1995, along with pager services. By 1998,India had one million cell phone users in its four metropolitan cities, with 45% in Delhi followed by Mumbai 35%,Calcutta 12% and Chennai 8%.Another 500000 or so existed in towns and cities. Previously the use of cell phone was restricted only among the urban elites, corporate leaders and business professionals, but currently the omni presence of rural phone in rural setting is also very much conspicuous. These services satisfies the strong cultural need of the pan Indian to keep constantly in touch with the family members. For a vegetable seller in a remote village of Karnataka, uses his mobile phone ,to supply and take orders for his customers, who lives in far off villages. He has no pucca house, nor he has any pucca shop. What he has is a small make shift shop, a two wheeler moped and a Nokia 1100 mobile phone. Again Yashwant Singh a villager in Hoshiarpur of Punjab, owner of several trucks, has purchased cell phone for his truck drivers, to keep with them in constant touch. Many well to do farmers in India often own mobile phones keeping in touch with block and district level officials, checking market information, scheduling transportation, pick ups and so forth. Many mobile users access mobiles for listening to FM radio or MP3 DVD player,capturing images and videos and simultaneously transfer them via infrared or Bluetooth to other mobile users,use multimedia through 3G(Third Generation),send SMS and MMS playgames and various other purposes.
The traditional sectors like radio and television have also undergone functional displacement, owing to the changing times and needs. DTH (Direct to Home) technology which takes cross border satellite programmes direct to viewers homes without the intervention of cable operators, is the future of TV.DTH TV is digital and interactive and offers up to a hundred subscription channels. Also development of radio has taken giant strides in the past few years. Satellite radio was a major innovation ,followed by Podcasting , which is currently riding high on the success of Apple computers ipod. Technically speaking Ipod are basically digital basic (MP3)players with local storage and Internet connectivity-the latter is required for downloading audio and other files from web servers via RSS or XML protocol. Podcasters are like web loggers ,amateurs who create radio like programs of commentary, music and humour, save them in MP3 audio format and post them as websites which are ipod enabled. Then there is Digital Audio Broadcasting which consists in combining a series of services into a frequency band called a base group, enabling a multiplex bit stream to be created in which services of all shapes and sizes can be transmitted, thus providing perfect sound quality, free of interference, capable of serving a mobile audience.
In the case of personal computers, one important factor promoting the diffusion of personal computers, in India, in the late 1990s was the rise of various financing schemes. More and more middle class could purchase computers. Till 2000 a typical Pentium II desktop computer cost about 50000,which was quite a heavy burden upon the middle class. But the things changed with the alternative model of an assembled piece where the consumer brought the computer home, by choosing the specific configaration of a computer-like the speed and amount of ram, modem speed, speakers and monitors etc. and surprisingly all this within a very affordable range. Now the situation has changed to such an extent that even branded laptops are available for rs 30000.the enthusiasm for the computers was immediately visible through the internet. Cyber cafes were quick to catch the pulse of the market and in 1995 after Internet connectivity was made available to the individuals and the organisations, on a commercial basis, cyber cafes sprang up to add zeal..These cafes unleashed opportunities before an individual. It enabled an individual to log on to the net, surf it, play games, watch video, e-mail, chat,e-shop for Rs10/-15/per hour. Initially urban centric now it has spread its wings to rural areas too, by upgrading themselves into ICC(Internet Community Centres ), providing net surfing, net telephony, telephone, multimedia, video conferencing and photocopying services all in one.
Further the Internet gave rise to an era of e-business-both e-marketing and e-commerce. E-marketing requires the use of the Internet to market ones products and services, and e-commerce is commercial transactions between two parties on the Internet. In India though these concepts are relatively new, yet many individuals and organisations are entering into these business as they are time saving, cost effective and most important of all ensures 100% transparency and improves efficiency. The age old concept of middle class, underhand activities and unethical practices and unjustified harassments are gradually being overcome by these e-business. Some of these e-business companies who have establised themselves as a reputed brand name in the international arena are Metal Junction Services limited, e-bay, Amazon.com, Aditya Birla, IFB, Dell, etc. Today the Internet is accessed via cable TV, telephone, mobile phones, palm tops, and DTH apart from the conventional computers.
The Internet has ushered into a new era where it is concerned with the creation of wealth not only through production, processing and transportation of goods but also through information- networks using technological know how, management practices and remote processing, like customer help ,medical transcription, data and research processing etc. Internet has given rise to several new occupations like website designing, e-commerce, Internet patrol, technical writer, content developer ,multimedia specialist, graphic designer, etc. Today tele working is gradually in rise in India, considering the presence of a solid telecommunications infrastructure, favourable policies for free global trade, and the availability of low cost English talent. Several BPO’s and KPO’s are gaining wide popularity among the young university graduates. The corporates, the organisations,the educational instituitions are armed with the newest of these technologies like VPN(Virtual Private Network), Wi-Fi, V-SAT and broadband etc.
(DIAGRAM IN THE LAST PAGE)
CASE STUDY 1
Andhra Pradesh has already implemented four e-governance initiatives, adopting the old and new technologies like –
? CARD-Computer Aided Administration of Registration Department
This enables a person regarding registration of land ,purchasing of land,ascertaining marketing value,transfer duty,etc. that which took earlier days and hours,now took only 15 mins.
? APSCAN-Andhra Pradesh State Secretariat Administrative Network.
? APSWAN-Andhra Pradesh State Wide Network
Both of these networks help in interaction among the villagers ,government officials, block development officers, chief minister, state secretariats, and the extension agents through video conferencing.
? TWINS-Twin Cities Network Services
This services is provided to the two cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Here the citizens are provided all kinds of services like-electricity bill, phone bill, driving license, holding tax,insurance claim-all under one roof.
CASE STUDY 2
In a rural country like India, health remains a perennial problem. But Maharashtra has achieved astounding success in routing information to the villagers not only health conscious but also avail them of all those benefits of doctors and medicines, that their urban counterparts are habituated to enjoy. Its a dose of e-medicine for rural folks across the state. The doctors and experts together treats patients in the remote interiors of Maharashtra via satellite. Civic authorities ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) and state officials have joined hands to make success their project. Here the patients in the rural areas get easy access to the modern facilities without having to travel long distance and spending big bucks. Thus the patients and the physicians in distant areas remain in constant touch via telecom network.
CASE STUDY 3
Recent government records show that more than 25% ( 59 million school-aged children ) are still not enrolled in a school. Despite these poor figures in education , India has highly competent human resources as also a strong base in ICT, which if utilized to its maximum capacity in future , India will be among the topmost Asian countries. the Bridges to the Future Initiative –India ( BFI) seeks to improve the basic skills, literacy and entry in vocational skills of out-of-school youth and young adults in poor communities in several Indian states. to achieve these goals , the BFI employs innovative and cost-effective ICT tools and methodologies to improve the quality of teaching, learning in basic and vocational education and to assist community members in obtaining information resources that can improve their daily lives. At the official level , the BFI is situated under the patronage of MHRD and state education agencies ( initially Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, where formal MOU’s are signed in May 2001.).
INDIA’S INFORMATISATION PROCESS
India’s informatisation process started in 1990,which accompanied by the liberalisation , globalisation and privatisation policy, opened up borders for several MNC’s like McDonalds, Reebok,Pepsi,Coke etc. And also encouraged individuals to come forward to set up their own private organisation. The NEP (New Economic Policy) by Manmohan Singh reflected Indias enthusiasm to pursue an informatisation route. Prior to this Rajiv Gandhi government instituted favourable policies in electronics, software and telecommunications and pushed for the application of information technology in computerising the Indian railways reservation system,banks and land records. During his tenure, the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), The Centre for the Development of Advancement Computing(C-DAC)) and the NIC(National Informatics Centre) were established. Also he invited Texas instruments,GE, and Hewlett Packard triggering the rise of Bangalore Technopolis. Further the establisment of a National Task Force in 1998 in the Atal Behari Vajpayee,regime under the co-chairmanship of AP’s the then chief minister Chandra Babu Naidu was a watershed event in India’s road to informatisation. Its action plan made 108 recommendations on ways of utilising technologies for socio-economic development,it recommended the privatisation of internal services,the waiver of license fees for private Internet, service providers allowing ever cable operators and ISD/STD booth operators to use their infrastructure to enhance Internet access and zero duty on all it products by 2002 ad .It further recommended that software and IT be treated as a priority sector by banks for five years and that students, teachers and schools be offered computers at reduced prices. The task force wanted every ISD/STD booth in the country to be turned into an information kiosk providing access to the Internet and related services like e-mail. More over in 1999,it introduced an IT bill in parliament for facilitating e- commerce and e-business activities and created a 25 million venture capital fund to fuel computer start ups.
Not surprisingly some of the famous and richest IT Indians are Aziz Premzi (Wipro), N R Narayanmurthy (Infosys), Vinod Khosla (co-founder of Sun Microsystems) , Sabeer Bhatia(co-founder of hot mail) and Sam Pitroda,who had spearheaded the country’s communication revolution to a large extent.
From the above situation one can summarise the India’s informatisation effort-
? India has vast potential to compete with world’s best -Japan,Germany,U.S,and U.K .The rich resources,huge talent and billion population should be tapped by the Indian government and thus facilitate innovation, enterpreneurship and creativity, rather than stiffling it or creating barriers like red tapism, bureaucratic hassles in approval and licenses. India’s enthusiasm and zeal should motivate young enterpreneurs to come forward and be an active member in the participatory process for socio-economic development in the country. Theinformatisation strategy through which an information society emerges centres on new communication technologies, on research universities where technicalbrainpower is trained andresearch anddevelopment is conducted,and on favourable government policies. With this India is poisedto become an it world power.
? The infrastucture,the economic policy and various other policy and strategies should be directed towards facilitating of India’s communication revolution .For eg the PCO’s, ICC’s, cyber cafes that have come up has not only provided employment to the young people but also has enabled the individuals to empower themselves and others with knowledge and information.
? Indian personalities should also play a role model for the coming generation. The role of conventional media like radio and TV should be imitated and most importantly folk media should be merged with it to create a far wider acceptance. The DD should be more innovative and the government should ensure the cable TV /DTH participation towards a more socially responsible approach rather than only spinning off money.
With the development of technologies in the past few decades , the role of information and communication technologies(ICT), in improving economic efficiencies and enabling social development . Governments , the private sector and civil society alike note that , ” vast no’s of people are excluded from the benefits of these technologies , in particular people who lack the infrastructure, skills , literacy and knowledge of the dominant internet language-English. They also recognize the opportunities for ICT to bring about change not only to address existing obstacles to the social and economic development of these groups , but also to transform the very systems that create these inequalities in the first place . ICT must be deployed to build an information society where everyone specially disadvantaged women, poor and rural people – can fully participate as citizens and reap the benefits of the information revolution.
According to Robert Schware , lead informatics specialist, the global ICT dep’t, of the World Bank, said-that India did take up over 200 pilot projects in the area of e-governance ; out of which only 100 are worth taking up full scale and can be replicated in other parts of the country. In his answers , to the global scenario in e-governance , he said- “that it is estimated that approximately 85% of e-governance projects in developing countries are total failures, approximately 50% are partial failures, only some 15% can be fully seen as success.” Though he commented that the primary factors for the failures include inability to deliver government services that provide benefit to citizens or business, lack of clarity on business perspective , projects are done in dept-al isolation rather than via a single co-ordination body and lack of political will and leadership and lack of skills in project management among some.
There are many countries that have achieved a reasonable amount of success in their e-government initiatives. For e.g. according to Cap Gemini Ernst & Young consultants , during 2003, Denmark had achieved 72% of government services on line with an 87% score on degree of sophistication. Other countries that have high rate for particular e-government services includes the U.K, Spain, Greece, Finland, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania and Mexico. According to Sudhir Narang, Vice President, government and service provider business , Cisco systems , India & SAARC, ” almost every state has an it policy in place with the aim of evolving itself from being an it aware to an it enabled govt. state govt’s are fast recognizing the benefits of an it-enabled working environment”. Shivaji Chatterjee , senior director , sales and marketing, Hughes Escorts Communication, says ” IT has a vital role to play in all transaction that the govt undertakes. It helps the govt cuts red tapism, avoid corruption, and reach citizens directly.” Adds Rajiv Kaul, MD Microsoft, India –” a strong technology infrastructure can help central and state govts deliver a comprehensive set of services to citizens.” The Karnataka’s govts ‘ Bhoomi’ project has led to the computerization of the countries old system of hand written rural land records. Through it , the revenue Dep’t. has done away with the corruption ridden system that involved bribing at every step. ITC’s E-Choupal unique web based initiative offers farmers the information, products and services they need to enhance productivity , improve farm-gate price realization and cut transaction costs. Farmers can access the latest local and global inform on weather , scientific farming practices, as well as market prices at the village itself through this web portal all in Hindi. The national e-governance plan ( 2003-2007), reflects the strategic intent of the central govt. in the right perspective. In the future State Wide Area Networks (SWAN), & Community Information Centers ( CIC), projects have to be rolled out , backed by a strong Public-Private Participation model( PPP), to achieve long term sustainability. Already the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and national institute of smart government ( NISG) has hosted India’s first S. Asia public sector ICT summit. The theme of the summit was ‘ new models for e-govt. in S. Asia and the world’ & was targeted at senior govt & policy makers from the countries in S-Asia including India.
Again if the example of Mizoram , then it can be seen that ever since its inception in 1989, the continuous and tireless efforts of NIC Mizoram have resulted in spreading of ICT culture in the state. NIC along with the government of Mizoram has taken up many initiatives in facilitating and promoting e-governance in various sectors such as transport, land record, public health engineering, accounts and treasuries etc. –
For eg in transport communication ‘ Sarathi’ and ‘Vahan’ provide provide a complete solution for district transport office ( DTO) computerization including registration , licensing, permit and enforcement, tax and fee collection etc. a vehicle statistics information systems has been developed that helps in collection of various reports required annually by state transport authority of Mizoram.
26 CIC ( Community Information Centre) have been established since 2000 which are equipped with computers , VSAT, TV, web cameras, printers, ups etc . Two qualified operators manage these CIC’s , which provide the following services to the people in the far flung and remote areas of the state. E-mailing , web browsing and document priority; imparting IT training to the villagers, students, etc, providing G2C ( government to consumer) services such as support for BPL survey, village council elections, publications of tenders, notifications etc.
PROBLEMS ENROUTE TO INFORMATISATION
Though from the above discussion it might seem that India has successfully become an information society and can be considered for future knowledge society, yet wait before coming to any conclusion .consider these:
? Although India ranks 18th in the world in terms of usage of TV, radio, and Internet and with an entertainment industry having as size of Rs 14,400 crore in 2000, which is expected to rise to Rs 80,000 crore in 2009,yet amidst the expected fast rate of media development, rural India is marginally affected. Without effective communication no society can be apt enough to adopt dynamic models of development communication. Rural India faces a lot of problem. They are:-
1. Wide communication gap
2. Traditional values and attitudes
3. Large and diverse population
4. Low socio-economic status
5. High cost of mass media
7. Stereotypes and prejudices
8. Low motivation
9. Defective opinion leadership
10. Persuasion difficult
11. Feedback difficult
12. Acute social deformity
In a society where till recently the mother has scarcely spoken ,the wife has spent her life without virtually seeing her husband, loveable children are produced without seeming parental interaction, it is very difficult to consider the meaning of communication and hence such a society demands mutual interaction, literacy dissemination, physical interaction, institutional transmission, political participation and cultural togetherness.
? Indian media is largely urban centric. All the development that have taken place in the recent years gave rise to a rural urban divide. The important challenge is to reach the unreached and to include the excluded in its efforts to create an information society for all. . Starting by consulting at the grassroots level is essential. Top-down projects generally don’t work. These end up by providing information that people do really need or use at an incomprehensible level of technical detail and terminology.
? The effective utilization of ICT is still unknown to many. The lack of policy support and political will is also due to lack of awareness of economic, political, and social benefits ICT, can bring. The level of awareness among professionals and decision makers in the region about the role of ICT in development is generally low.
? Connectivity and access at an affordable cost in the region in particular, in rural and remote areas is still a problem. Computer literacy is low and the common model based on individual computer access in most cases is unfeasible due tohigh computer costs and lack of energy resources. Low cost devices such as handhelds can contribute to mitigating this problem, but they are not available or they do not have any utilityvalue in many rural or marginalized societies. The same applies to other useful communication technologies such as low cost FM radio stations, but here the challenge is often the lack of political will to open the broadcasting sector for communities to own and manage community radio/TV. Even the radio/TV sets provided by the government remain unutilized due to reasons like intermittent electricity supply, want of repair, or inadequate infrastructure.
? Internet has been largely popular with the people who are well conversant in English. Lack of appropriate local content and diversity in the Internet like local language, local problems and local needs has posed the greatest challenge. Development of local content in many language has been insufficient due to lack of language processing capacity. Tools to capture analogue content into digital form for many Indian languages are yet not available and this has slowed down the digitalization of existing analogue content in text mode and the development of pages enclosing indigenous knowledge. Incapacity to develop local content is equally a challenge for many electronic media and in particular for cultural and educational programmes suitable to local audiences.
? Lack of software, lack of local trainers capable of imparting various skills related to ICT, content development and media operations a challenge which makes it difficult to extend the information society beyond affluent citizens in the region. Moreover most software’s are prepared by persons who have no knowledge about rural people, they are born and brought up and fed on the contents of Zee, Sony , Star Plus etc. difficulties abound . in one e.g. , the officer involved in computerizing land records in one Indian state recently said more than half of them are either legally contested , or in the names of the dead people , or illegible etc. yet the computerizing of land records is on the agenda of almost every Indian state.
? The most of the traditional systems have not been exploited fully. Lack of innovativeness and creativity is a major factor. Generally all the programmes are made with the bureaucratic mentality, such that if the programmes are educative , they are boring as they cannot sustain the interest of the viewers for long and if they are entertaining they are not educative. Consequently they lack the personal touch and hence lack credibility. More so with the failure of public service broadcasting, the meaning has lost somewhere in the bureaucratic tangles. The information people initially say they need , may not always be what they end up using . in the M.S. Swaminathan Pondicherry project , for e.g. , male farmers originally said they needed information about agriculture. In fact , their largest single usage of village info. Kiosks was to get information about government programs.
? India underwent a high degree of change in terms of commercialization and media information. Proper utilization and meaning of information has been distorted to give rise to western media imperialism and consequently the digital divide. The information gap is real and and runs between north-south, rich-poor, young-old, literate- illiterate, rural-urban, and men-women.
? IT should not be simply identified with computers and internet. Some of the inventive uses of the IT involve radio, television and embedded chips, potentially useful satellite inventories etc. The classic e.g. is the use of automated butterfat assessment equipment in Gujarat , which has radically simplified the process of automating milk and paying diary farmers.
? Lack of business process modification- in many well meaning projects & duplication of the manual process in the it environment was seen as major reasons for the end users / citizens not associating any value addition with the projects & looked upon e-governance as an unwelcome addition to the hurdles to be crossed before getting the work done. For e.g. in depts. Which maintain land records specially in rural areas the details regarding land ownership ,cropping patterns etc were computerized , but no legal sanctity was given to the output generated by such systems in absence of a commensurate change in the status.
? More talk than action- lot has been talked about. Seminars , conferences and workshops at national, international, local level has taken place a lot. Various five year plans have been planned. But few actions have taken place in reality so far.
? Financial sustainability- the goal of financial sustainability is rarely achieved . granting that initial start up costs have to be borne by someone, very few projects even plan for long term sustainability and even fewer achieve it.
? A successful commercial ict sector does not necessarily trickle down to ordinary Indians. Proposals by state governments to develop it for the masses often place primary emphasis on developing software technology parks , improving education at higher levels of information technology etc. though these goals are praiseworthy , yet there is very little evidence as to the increased growth rate of software industry in relation to improved living conditions, more schools and colleges, better healthcare, eradication of poverty,, more jobs, or any other benefits.
? Apparently technical decisions concerning it regulation, bandwidth allocation, pricing mechanism, transmission standards etc, can have profound effects on whether or not information technologies benefit ordinary Indians. One case is the requirement that internet service providers guarantee to cover an entire state. This effectively precluded local entrepreneurs from providing internet connectivity in small & medium towns , unlike local initiatives that have helped spread satellite television rapidly in rural India. Analysis of the impact of technological decisions on it for the common man is largely absent.
? Wiring India- until the cost of last mile of basic devices & of local language software are brought down , the goal of wiring India will remain unachieved . Though low cost technological solution alone cannot solve the problem, but they are requisites for it India.
? Credibility- one cannot believe in what they are told. A no of projects that are publicized turn out , on a site visit , to have closed, or not yet to be in operation,or to have detoriated from their stated original goals.
PROMISES OF ICT-
One of the most promising uses of ICT. In practice , it involves distinguishable activities-
E-governance– It is the computerization of government functions itself, as discussed specially by Andhra Pradesh. This proposes connecting the state government headquarters to district officials , computerizes registration, legal proceedings, land records, state offices etc, for the benefit of the administrators of the state. Also e-governance may also mean government to people and people to government connections whereby citizens obtain direct access to records, rules and information about entitlements that they need or want in their daily lives.
E-commerce– B2B , B2C, C2B, C2C platforms can be utilized fully for the benefit of the customers as also for the business organizations, for an efficient and smooth transaction, free and fair trade practices.
Commercial funding– commercially funded ICT networks have considerable promise. For e.g. the Warana project, though heavily funded initially by the state of Maharashtra and by Delhi , is currently maintained by the sugarcane co-operative in the area and offers tangible benefits to sugar producers and growers. The E.I.D. Parry project in Nelikuppan Tamil Nadu expects advantages in terms of improved information to their producers about best agricultural practices. ITC-IBD has set up a large no IT Chaupals for soya bean, shrimp and coffee farmers with the goal of reducing the costs of production that currently go to middlemen. It has enabled economic capacity to proliferate at the base of the rural economy by providing farmers with farming know-how and services , timely and relevant weather information, transport price discovery and access to wider markets. Many people in developing countries lack access to basic financial services such as savings, credit, insurance and money transfers. Most of the transactions in such economies are in cash and involve very small amounts. Services supporting the unique requirements of these types of financial transactions can be very useful. A case in the point is M-PESA, one of the more popular services for developing countries ,offered by safaricom which is Kenya’s leading telecommunications company. Currently only 10% of Kenyans have formal bank accounts and M-PESA allows people without bank accounts to complete simple financial transactions, primarily person-to-person money transfer. Since the introduction of the service in march 2007, three million users have registered, and the service has been growing in popularity.
While the needs and wants of the urban wealthy are familiar to the developed world , the unique needs of communities closer to the base of the pyramid suggest interesting new services opportunities.
At IBM’s India research laboratory , the researchers are trying to develop a mobile software platform, called the ‘ spoken web’, for delivering the above kinds of services to communities in emerging countries . the spoken web is a network of voice sites , which exists and operates on the telephony network rather than the internet. Accessing the spoken web does not require an expensive computer , an internet connection or the ability to read and write . people can browse voicesites by talking to them and traverse from one voicesites from another via voilinks, and even conduct transactions simply by talking. What’s more a phone number can act like a URL in the traditional web , and one does not need a high end mobile device to access the spoken web, a plain old rotary phone can do the job. Interaction with customers and dissemination of government information everything can be possible in the mobile web.
INDIAN KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY
Even though there are huge disparities en-route to informatisation, India’s focus on growth of the ICT sector has paid rich dividends in terms of export earnings, employment generation and its image of an emerging economy. Large corporations are becoming competitive by deploying enterprise wide solutions to interpret data and make panning and decision making data based. Many have started to feel that the next century will be the century of knowledge. A nation’s ability to convert knowledge into wealth and social good through the process of innovations going to determine its future. The economics of knowledge will dominate the coming century.
To meet the twin objective of growth with equity ,knowledge cannot be the prerogative of a few, everyone in the society must have access to knowledge and become knowledge workers. Nations which do not create knowledge societies will vanish into the oblivion. But those that do create knowledge societies will have the potential to lead the world. Now before embarking into a knowledge society , one must first know what is a knowledge society? Creation of a knowledge society should revolve around creating, sharing and using knowledge and information to create wealth and improve the quality of life. Knowledge can be defined as familiarity gained by research and experience, and includes
Know What (knowledge about the fact),
Know Why (scientific knowledge of the principals and laws of nature),
Know How (skills or the capability to do something) and
Know Who (information about who knows what and how to do what).
If the Indian society has to become a knowledge society, then it is important that every Indian becomes a knowledge worker. We need to recognize the concept of a knowledge worker in the broadest possible sense .It is not scientists and technologists alone, who will be knowledge workers .Even a farmer can be a knowledge worker, provided he understands the soil that he is sowing his seeds in and how he lives in an information village, where he has the benefit of short and medium range weather forecasting to plan his farming activity and so on.
PRIORITY OF A KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY
A knowledge society is characterised by new structures of knowledge, methods of dissemination and a technology that permits and sustains unrestricted access to knowledge control over it. Since all human activity uses and creates knowledge, the existing societies are also, in this sense, knowledge societies. Human activity uses and creates knowledge and each society should be characterised and identified by its knowledge base (Lokavidya).
The societal transformation has to be through large-scale development in education, health-care, agriculture and governance. These will turn to employment generation, high productivity and rural prosperity. Such models should aim to provide opportunity for rural economic development and prosperity. Youth in the locality could be easily trained to cater to the requirement of IT enabled services. This will also make available place and manpower at very cheaper rates when compared to urban localities. This will also aid in stopping movement of families towards urban localities .More so the model should try to improve the quality of life in rural places. Knowledge powered rural development is a essential need for transforming India into a knowledge power and high bandwidth rural connectivity is the minimum requirement to take education, health care, and economic dynamism to the rural areas. Knowledge society leading to knowledge superpower can prosper and survive only in the environment of economic security and internal security. Nation has to work for transformation into developed India. For eg if people find that they can book railway tickets through the web in a reliable and secure manner , then nobody will take the pains to travel by scooter or the bike.
CASE STUDY 4
The knowledge system for sustainable food security in the villages of Pondicherry has the empowerment of rural women, men and children with information relating to ecological agriculture,economic access and utilisation as its goal. Such a knowledge system is being managed by the local youth at the village knowledge centre from where the computer aided information system is operated. Farmers who are becoming the knowledge workers are also being trained to maintain a “soil health card “to monitor the impact of farming systems on the physical,chemical and microbiological components of soil fertility.
Enlightened citizens empowered with knowledge will be able to see the crucial link between the 5 E’s namely environment,ecology, economics,equity and ethics. They will then not be guided by misinformation fed by vested interest groups. But they will use their knowledge to decide on their own as to what is wrong and what is right. They will not stop projects that lead to economic development but they will stop those that lead to destruction .
CASE STUDY 5
ICT policy of Malaysia
Malaysia being a middle income economy is able to shift from agrarian society in a single generation(during 60’s to 80’s).ICT has played a dual role in the development of Malaysia, one in product sector and another one as a strategic enabler. Malasia took two major initiatives to address both the issues of economic competitiveness and social equality, such as Multimedia Super Corridor(MSC) targeting economic development and National Information Technology Agenda(NITA) targeting social development. In 1996 National Information Technology Council (NITC was formed in 1994) came out with national IT agenda , with a people centred approach to development. Ita was operationalised with five e-trusts model. They are e-economy,e-public services, e-community, e-learning,and e- sovereignity.
Access to knowledge can impact effectiveness when individuals feel enriched (with new ideas, solutions to problems) and are able to seek information at the time and place where it is needed. Thus knowledge management initiatives should supplement traditional networking through face to face contact. The rural populace lacks the life skills required to filter through the vast information available on the Internet and identify information most relevant to them. The role of intermediaries in interpreting the information needs of rural communities ,collecting the information from public domain sources and dissemination of the information in local text and idiom is very important, as has been demonstrated in pilots in Kothamale and in Pondicherry.
STEPS NEEDED FOR FULL PROOF KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY
? Creation of IT mind set in India–
Information and technology are moving so fast that it has been impossible for general public to keep a tab on the events. There is a need for awareness of it among the people and its utilisation. For e.g. many people though know what is Internet, they dabble with only its minimal applications whereas it has far reaching and in-depth utilisation and impact.
? Promoting development of an enabling policy environment–
To be a knowledge society India needs to develop holistic national policy promoting an enabling environment for a knowledge society for all .In the policy development process special efforts should be taken to address to equitable access, human resources, and application development. Also the linkages between the knowledge society and media and in particular public service broadcasting as a conduit for educational and cultural content should be addressed as an integral part of the policy formulation process and media law revisions .In formulating policy India should encourage transparent dialogue with all the members including the civil society ,communities and private and public sector agencies.
? Promoting equitable access–
India should promote shared access through community multimedia centres and conduct assessment of current access models. India should support innovations in low cost community access targeted specially at marginalised groups. With the possibility to use ICT, librarians and archivists offer great potential as knowledge workers. Many libraries and archives in the region do not provide online access to their readers .Libraries if properly equipped with ICT ,can become for many people an effective gateway to the information society.
? Enhancing knowledge management capacity–
The process of knowledge management for both content and availability is an essential part of modernisation. Human resource development in information management for knowledge workers should take a central place in India’s communication and information programme. To support capacity building, particularly in the area of human resource development,India should provide training of local trainers in the fields of ICT at various levels. Also India should promote specialised training programmes for disadvantaged groups to reap the benefits of ICT particularly in ICT enabled learning and enterpreneurial opportunities.
? Developing appropiate content
India to promote appropiate content development ,should rely on creating proactive partnerships with extension services (education,agriculture,health),government agencies,non-governmental agencies,media organisations,and professional organistions. It should be geared towards the ethos and relevance of the local people,and their problems and needs. The universal access cannot be achieved without promoting multilingualism in cyberspace. India should also motivate and support the efforts of public institutes and universities to identify and promote technologies and tools capable of digitizing local contents.
? Developing Public Service Broadcasting
India should continue to harness the potential educational and cultural role of Public Service Broadcasting and need for public service broadcasting to reposition itself to fulfill this function. The challenge to transform public service broadcasting as a democratic platform and an enabling tool for masses to migrate into an eventual knowledge society remains relevant. This is more so with the potential to use broadcasting as a disseminating technology for distance learning in remote rural areas with the possibility of simultaneous data casting of distance learning modules. Repositioning Public Service Broadcasting to act as an interface to bring benefits of ICT to the greatest number of people is a real challenge. India in collaboration with the partners should strive to introduce sharing of high quality educational content through the public service broadcasting systems .There is also a need to ensure a greater gender balance and to supporting media training for women.
? Promoting community radio
The central public interest principle in broadcasting is that of universal access. This principle of access should allow people to participate meaningfully in their community and society. It also includes greater access to the means of production and participating in broadcasting. Community owned and operated radio networks can make radio a truly participatory communication tool. Community radio
Stimulates community participation
Raises the efficiency of decentralisation, enhances local level transparency and accountability. and
Involves people in the design ,implementation and evaluation of local development programmes.
Community radio also has the potential to act as an interface between communities and internet. Converting community radio into multimedia centres with access to information networks should be main thrust of India’s approach to promote community radio.
? Regional flagship programmes
India should establish regional flagship programmes.
ICT’s for reaching the unreached -should focus on developing sustainable operational models for the unreached groups to access and use knowledge resources for development.
Supporting development of national information and communication policies .Should develop a resource kit for information and communication policy formulation leading to knowledge society. This will include comprehensive guidelines on the policy development process with civil society participation and
Human resource development -should include development of interactive self-learning training courses to increase the skills of the local trainers as well as increasing access to knowledge resources through a portal.
CASE STUDY 6
E-SEVA project of Andhra Pradesh-
From a mere 4,800 transactions a month in august 2001 to a whooping 7.5 lakh transactions a month in February 03, e-seva , Andhra Pradesh , G2C ( Government to citizen) utilities service project has come of age , offering nearly 43 services ranging from payment of utility bills to issuing of certificates, permits to licenses, reservation of buses to B2C services.
CASE STUDY 7
The project SAUKARYAM
Saukaryam in Vishakapatnam is among the few projects using the net effectively to connect citizens to civic administration in real time. People can settle their bills online , check the status of building and water supply plans , receive information on births and deaths, track garbage clearance , even scan tender notices. The idea behind the project is to track every service that is offered by the corporation online; from taxation to public works to city sanitation. Also it offers a discussion forum for people.
Though India can boast of an informatisation process which is going down well, yet it would be blunderous on its part to get smugged off easily with its partially achieved success. The problems which are seemingly appearing minuscule, are only the tip of an iceberg, which urgently requires timely intervention, before it assumes gigantic proportion. Instead of resting on its laurels , the government should take note of the loopholes in the machinery itself, which affect seriously the vision of this project.
1.”Within a decade….family members”, India’s communication revolution-from bullock carts to cyber marts—Everett M Rogers and Arvind Singhal—Sage Publications.
2. “In the case of personal computers….affordable range”. India’s communication revolution-from bullock carts to cyber marts—Everett M Rogers and Arvind Singhal—Sage Publications.
1.. Case Study 1,—-India’s communication revolution-from bullock carts to cyber marts—Everett M Rogers and Arvind Singhal—Sage Publications.
2. Communication revolution—Kewal J Kumar.
A First class Third Post Graduate in Mass Communication from The University of Burdwan, currently working as a Sr Lecturer in the Department of Media Science , teaching Marketing Communications in DSMS (Durgapur Society Of Management Sciences).Also worked as Lecturer in Department of Media Science in NSHM Institute of Media Communications, teaching Advertising, Branding and Marketing . A NET qualified MARCOM Specialist, I started my career as a Guest Faculty in The University of Burdwan and Michael Madhusudan Memorial College, Durgapur. With six years of teaching experience I have wide exposures in presenting papers in conferences and seminars, and writing in various research journals and books related to branding, Advertising, PR and Marketing.My domain knowledge spans from Advertising, Marketing and Corporate communications, in short Marcomm. I have attended and presented papers in seminars and conferences of national and international repute on Branding and Marketing. I have published papers on branding in the research journal of the University of Burdwan and ICFAI Journal of Brand Management. One of my research article is published in the executive MBA Book, of ICFAI, in September 2008.
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