The Right Technology for India

Technology is the buzzword today. The technology boom that we are witnessing right now would have undoubtedly been sci-fi stuff for scientists in the beginning of the 20th century. Information technology being in the forefront, it is "the field" to be in if you don't want to be left behind in the rat - race, the race for success in terms of money & fame. If you are not game enough to plunge headlong into the IT gamble (or scramble, to be precise) then you shouldn't be surprised if the people around start treating you like a Homo Sapiens specimen from stone - age. The "computer geek" in your class whom you never considered to be a menace to your social life is back with a vengeance. 

On a serious note, technology is changing our lives in a big way. But reality bites, and when it comes to India, reality is more vicious than an angry Doberman. Technology has progressed in leaps and bounds but this progress has been mainly IT-centric. IT has indeed given shape to a new profit - making business. But its contribution in the actual development of the country is debatable. Almost 30% of the Indian population are "E-connected" and are leading an "E-life". The students coming under this fraction of the Indian society are trying to make optimum use of the vast information that the World Wide Web has to offer. But what about the remaining 70% who don't know "A, B, C..." leave aside "E". What do the IT - genies have to offer them? U. S. Pres. Bill Clinton was mighty impressed to see the women in a tiny village in Rajasthan conduct their dairy business through a networking system. Now that is something to boast about if you ignore the fact that there are lakhs of villages in India without basic amenities and decent means of income. An in-depth analysis of the reasons for such a situation may result into a blaming session fuelled by politics. That kind of an exercise is utterly useless. What we need now is Technology that can "help" the government to uplift the Indian society & improve the standard of living. This improvisation should not be limited to few classes but should include the masses. Technology alone cannot take the onus of national progress, its true. But it can surely share the responsibility. 

Technologists in India usually look towards the west for inspiration for new ideas and new ideas should be giving birth to new technology. Unfortunately our scientists and technologists end up aping the west. What follows is a war between the "messiahs" of technology and the people who feel that the new technology is wastage of national resources. Our aim should not be to discuss the pros and cons of a new technology but instead we should be trying to "Indianise " any technology so that it is able to cater to the needs of the Indian society at large. Consumer goods and services have benefited a lot due to the invasion of information technology. But the same cannot be said about the public sector, which, as a matter of fact should have been the first to use advanced technology, as development of this sector is of utmost importance to this country. Indian industrialists and consumers feel nothing while spending through their nose for luxurious goods but think twice before investing in a public sector undertaking. This kind of an attitude can be changed if new age technologists use some of their brain cells to improve the services offered by railways, airways, telecommunication dept. etc. Also we should understand that the problem faced by industries in the west is paucity of manpower, whereas in India, the root cause of social and political unrest is unemployment. If IT reduces the manpower required to do a certain job in a plant, it would gain nothing but the curses of the people losing their jobs. The transition from a skilled worker to a skilled operator of automated machines cannot be smooth, as it necessitates the training of the intellectual faculties of an individual.

The responsibility of harnessing the power of any new technology for the betterment of our country lies with the future engineers and technologists. While doing so it would be vital to keep in mind that technology, today, has taken the place of democracy, and should be serving the same purpose as democracy. Technology should be " By the people, for the people and of the people." Firstly, the people of India, then the world.


More by :  Sudeepa Nair

Top | Computing

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