Irrespective of various raging debates over Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’ push in the US, in Silicon Valley, endorsing or criticising his approach, we need to accept that he has triumphed in bridging a ‘much felt but always ignored’ policy gap in India’s governance to administer connect to the most potent technology to uplift Indian masses.
And we need to accept that with élan.
Yes, expecting change overnight is nothing but daydreaming.
But what is important here – the process to connect the dots to begin the process – and that can begin now with such initiatives.
Technology, particularly information and communication technologies, can prove the biggest social levellers in a country like India, the world’s largest democracy, where scores of people still live below the poverty line – reeling under pressure of social and financial disparities.
And ‘no access and suppression’ of information’ are major factors in this.
A ‘Digital India’ that intends to build a robust information highway taking technology to every village in India – will empower every citizen of his or her position and rights in the system – in the society.
A ‘Digital India’ that envisages an ‘information highway’ connecting people will provide its citizens with the information that they are kept away from.
‘Effective’ end use of ICT can prove effective in eradicating problems that beset and drag India – like widespread corruption and all-pervasive culture of different meddling institutions and middlemen in the process – thus eating into distribution of resources – from governing circuits to beneficiaries.
Access to information empowers people – and communication ecologies like social media tools and other internet based platforms have the potential to spread concerned issues like some wildfire. We have seen it – especially in the last years of the last decade and it is an ongoing and deepening process in this one, and going by the trend – it is slated to record an upward ride in the near future.
We saw the vital role played by social media (and internet) in the global ‘Occupy’ movement, during the Arab Spring that swept many Arabic countries and in making ‘Guy Fawkes masks’ universal symbol of mass protests. We know how significant the social media was in shaping the hugely popular 2011 anti-corruption movement in India. Twitter has become the fastest platform to break any news and not just people but credible organizations, too, follow it religiously now. After all, it has a ‘most’ famous tag line to go with that says the news of ‘the US marines killing Osama bin Laden’ was broken first on Twitter.
What social media (and internet) do?
They multiply sources of information.
Yes, it does create chaos. That is its natural corollary.
But the art, the game, is in taming this chaos.
If India does so – the task of addressing livelihood issues of intended beneficiaries would become much easier – and so in tackling the inherent associated vices.
We all know the leaks and pilferages in the public distribution systems – not just in the PDS shops in regular drought relief packages – but in almost every wing of governance. The malaise of corruption is so deep that the rot has now effectively spread to corporate and private sectors. We all experience the trauma daily.
Much of it is due to non-availability of channels to claim directly what is rightfully ours. The ‘middle meddling’ consumes much of what is yours. Then there are millions who are not aware what is theirs. Then there are other millions who know of their rights but they cannot raise their voices or don’t know how to raise their voices.
An information highway that connects people directly with the government – or repository of resources – reducing the number of layers that is there to keep them deprived – would be the beginning of the process to address the most pressing issue that we face in the world’s largest democracy – uplifting millions from heaps of poverty, illiteracy, exploitation and ‘ignorance’.
Companies like Google or Twitter or Facebook or services like Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp, Twitter, blogs and content sharing sites or the overall internet infrastructure – coupled with deep penetration of telecommunication services – can provide India a channel to address its citizens as directly as possible – bypassing the middlemen – the ‘middle meddling’.
India runs huge (and hugely) subsidized schemes for its citizens-in-need but we all know, due to the different layers of ‘meddling institutions and middlemen’, most of it is siphoned off.
Opening bank accounts to transfer cash directly, instead of giving subsidized items, can be a much more potent empowering tool if people can get in touch with regular account-related updates through their mobile phones. Farmers would, naturally, get good price for their produce if they have access to information of different markets where they can sell their product. They would be much more empowered the day they start negotiating to sell their product on their own and are not limited to the local community marketplace or its different middlemen.
India’s citizens-in-need, millions of its BPL population, would feel more mainstreamed when they know what is theirs and from where they can get it directly – without any leakage – without any pilferage.
Narendra Modi’s ‘Silicon Valley push’ matters because India has this grave need to address these ‘deadly loopholes’ in its governance systems – touching social systems and lives of over 125 crore people.
And it is good that these big technology companies of America are ‘rightly’ seeing some ‘greener business pastures’ in these ‘over 125 crore’ people.
China is a ‘no go’ zone for them and if India successfully translates what Modi laid out yesterday, it will be a win-win situation for all the parties involved.
Indian citizens would get the ‘much needed’ information access and these companies and would see their revenue going up multiple times. And Narendra Modi would be able to claim brownie points on it.
Other parts of the write-up:
WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..LET’S CONNECT DOTS
WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..SILVERLINING
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/