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     Digital
Divide

Haa!! 3 grilling days at Office !! I have finally found time to report that I have successfully completed my 1st 3 days of professional life at KPMG and will be moving to a client assignment from tomorrow. Will have more to write on my work and workplace a few days later. For now its something else on my mind. . . .
After many days I got time to read TOI http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com and I found the edit page very very interesting. Firstly was a View-counterview on the popularity and innovation in the search engine space.
View: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1015226.cms
Counterview: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1015225.cms

The number of mobile users in India crossed 5 million today - i.e. 5% of the Indian populace is now using mobile phones. And have a look at the following article This is the third thing I read in TOI's edit page. Its about a new dimension to evolution. The evolution of self replicating digital programs or Digital-evolution.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1015224.cms

All the above things are pointing towards a direction. Internet and communication is fast transforming our lives and entering our society at a very fast pace. ICT (Information and communication Tech) is growing not by leaps and bounds but by miles and acres. It is growing fast (miles) and in all possible directions (acres). The kind of stories that the media is nowadays debating on, or the kind of business innovations that businesses envisage or the kind of speed and customizabiltiy that we expect in our lives is simply amazing - and most importantly we in India are very much in tune with the world in all these facets.
BUT! When one goes to rural areas, or watches lives of poor and uneducated people or watches movies like 'Swades' , it is easy to notice that the society is fast getting divided. The distinction of Caste, Creed or even economic status will soon cease because of the rapid economic growth. But a new division will come up the much talked-about 'Digital Divide' between those who reap the benefits of ICT and those who don't (or can't) . It is a different matter that this divide may be visible in form of some people getting richer and some poorer but in the background the real difference will be that of the informed and the uninformed.
I must justify this. As we saw in the early days of the Silicon Valley in the US - those who had great ideas, in spite of being paupers succeeded and those with millions but old technology perished. This was as true of corporate as of individuals - we saw the rise of Bill Gates and Microsoft and the fall of IBM. With the power that the internet in specific and ICT in general confers on the individual - all those who can reap benefit of ICT will flourish while others will perish.
What will then happen to those millions in India who haven't seen a 'pucca' road leave alone an e-mail? Many predict they will rise in rebellion and we will all have to pay for keeping them ignorant. Just like the USA has to pay for promoting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Many predict a rise in theft, terrorism and Mafia and an ultimate breakdown of law-and-order.
I differ - I do not envisage a mass failure of law-and-order but at the same time what I see is much more harmful than this. Those left behind will create newer problems of incongruity in the society and will drag us behind. They will keep us away from matching footsteps with the world. Such societies will support people or organizations which are in favour of the feudal past than the digital future. We are already seeing such effects in Bihar and U.P.
History has seen such incongruities rise in India in past when the Ruler-Preacher (Kshatriya-Brahmin) nexus in India made this nation weak, fragmented, feudal and backward. It was in such conditions that the East India Company spread its network and the British Raj came in. I see the rise of another 'Raj' in India - a threat to our independence if the digital divide is not ended soon enough.
I am still in my thinking mode as to how we can help root out this divide from India. I hope I will find others supporting me as and when I have something substantial to do. Amen!

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