By Manju Gupta
Information and Communica-tion Technologies for Classes and Masses by T.H. Chowdary, CTMS publication, 352 pp, Rs 150.00
THE information and technology (IT) revolu-tion has changed the world enormously, helping the people to acquire information and knowledge and change one´s way of communciating, socialis-ing, working and entertaining. Those who have access to IT facilities can enhance their daily lives by better access to information sources or to better quality of healthcare and education or for strengthening kinship relations.
Arnold Toynbee had said at the time of launch of TELSTAR in 1963, ?To get to know each other on a worldwide scale is the human race´s most urgent need today. And once this mutual familiarity is established, there is some hope that we may all become aware of the common humanity underlying the differences in our local manners and customs.?
We have recently got over the general elections, while the author wrote this book at the time of their being held and as such he rightly begins by talking of IT´s role in the elections. As we already know, the Chief Minister has to call all district officials at the time of elections for briefing them but with audio-conference, i.e. tele-conferencing made possible by IT, the officials need not run to the state capital but can hold conferences from their respective district itself. Further, the masses can learn through advertisements, discussions and talks on radio and various TV channels the relevant merits of the contending candidates. Indeed, the common man can look forward to the day when political meetings and rallies would be banned in the open as they add to election expenses while being a nuisance to the general public. Even voting and counting can be done and was done through electronic machines. Registration too should be done by computers, and this would prevent enumeration of bogus voters.
India is tipped to becoming an IT and software super power with annual exports of software worth US $ 50 million by the year 2008. India can even provide IT-enabled services to world market, particularly to USA in the services sector?the chief components of which are finance, banking, insurance, consultancy, design, architecture, education, entertainment, health care and legal services. What is required for the purpose? English-educated graduates in all the 3,000 and odd towns across India??Call centres, i.e. service centres are estbalished in India by which world´s companies can serve their customers, since the calls will be cheap through long-distance telecom services.?
IT tools enable a public relations practitioner to reach out to professionals more effectively. Through e-mail, voice mail, teleconferences, web-sites on the internet, interactive broadcasting and internet chat sessions, a communicator can interact with one or many people on other side of the world too.
The author regrets our adoption of the Soviet model of centralisation as a result of which ?India has more or less missed the industrial revolution. Although it produces a variety of goods and machines, they are not competitive in international markets.? He feels that with economic liberalisation of 1991, and accession to the WTO is opening up new vistas. ?But for the production of its especial internet products and software, India is having a great opportunity to perform on the world markets.?
Chowdary says that with increased demand for software professionals abroad, India could speed up demonopolisation of telecommunication, improve the quality of IT education and create an IT education fund to provide trained personnel for IT jobs abroad.
The best chapter of importance to the common man is the one devoted to internet for the masses. Here the author has explained how telecom liberalisation has led to demand for telephones in rural areas, particularly in well-to-do villages of Gujarat and Kerala. Secondly, internet must not be confined to cities but taken to all rural areas where instead of private subscribers, community access to STD/ISD will help considerably narrow ?the digital divide between the information and wealth-haves and the rest?. Here the application of IT to healthcare and surgery is not to be ignored, particularly in intensive care units (ICU) of hospitals, where a single doctor cannot be present all 24 hours.
Written by a telecommuni-cation engineer and currently Information Technology Adviser to Andhra Pradesh state government, this book is region-specific as it is confined to a study of telecom services in Andhra Pradesh. The author believes, ?We have now a chance to undo the 50-year long feeding and breeding system?feeding (subsidised food) by government and breeding (illiterate poor having a huge number of children) by a ?learning and giving? system with the government giving every assistance and facilitating every system that enables Indians to be literate, to be educated, to be excellent and fit to be showered with intellectual work from all quarters of the world.?
(CTMS, Plot No. 8, P&T Colony, Karkhana, Secunderabad, Hyderabad-500009.)