Technology and Development

Atanu Dey writes:

The use of high technology (x) is highly correlated with high degree of economic growth and development (y). Correlation, as economists never tire of reminding one, is not causation. Furthermore, even if there is causation, the direction of causation is not always obvious. Two variables x and y may be causally linked; but does x cause y, or does y cause x, or are they two connected through some other hidden variable z?

I am sitting in the University of California at Berkeley. (Hi from Berkeley!) The campus is full of high technology tools. Compared to what UC Berkeley has in terms of computers and bandwidth, the campus of a typical Indian university (Nagpur University, for instance) has very little. So it is tempting to believe that if Nagpur Univ were to be equipped with all the electronic gizmos and Internet bandwidth, then it too will attain the level of a UC. But that is patently absurd. What makes UCB is not the hardware (electronic or otherwise) but human and institutional capital. Human and institutional capital is what matters, not hardware. Just to drive home that point, Nagpur University in 2005 has more electronic hardware and internet bandwidth than UC Berkeley had in 1980. Yet, the capability of UCB(1980) far exceeded that of Nagpur University(2005).

It is not how much hardware or software or information one has that matters; what matters is what you do with it. And what you do with it depends on you and not on the thing. An inept author will not suddenly start writing masterpieces even if equipped with the fanciest word processing software. People will not suddenly become knowledgeable just because they have all the information of the world wide web at their finger-tips.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.