A Vision for a Digitally Bridged India

I wrote a paper and gave a presentation at the seminar on “ICTs and Indian Development” in Bangalore earlier this week.

The seminar brought together technologists, economists, social scientists, government officials and funding agencies and intermediaries. The primary theme was on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to bridge the digital divide.

Listening to some of the presentations and discussions, I couldn’t help thinking that the first digital divide which needs to be bridged is between the talk and implementation. We are not short of ideas. What is needed is for these ideas to be implemented in the field – not for pilots or demos, but to create sustainable and replicable solutions.

That is easier said than done – the ones who have the power to authorise execution and put up the money have a limited understanding of technology, while the ones who understand what technology can do and where it is headed have very limited experience in the realities of the “other India”. One way to bridge this gap is for some “crossover people” – people with an expertise area in one area willing to spend the time and effort to learn about the other areas.

Separately, I suggested the creation of a community weblog to keep the discussion alive after the seminar. The aim must be to build an “emergent discussion forum” – like Slashdot – to complement the meetings and ideas which were exchanged during the seminar.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.