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Home > City Resources > Computers and Internet > A Social Dimension

New era in handheld
Indian English Via Voice
Taking IT to the Masses
A Social Dimension
Dr Sankaran P Raghunathan
N. Parameshwaran
A Akthar Hussain
Dr. M S SwaminathanAt the CSI 2000 millenium convention Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman - M S Swaminathan Research Foundation(MSSRF), Chennai, spoke about how technology could be used to bring meaningful development to society.

To bring home the importance of meaningful development, he gave the example of Gregor Mendel, who gave us the famous 'laws of genetics'. In 1965, biologists the world over celebrated 100 years of the genetic laws. They went to Mendel's village on this occassion.When the villagers were asked about Mendel, they said that yes, they did remember a fellow called Mendel who built a fire station for the village, after which it became very convenient to fight fires. In his own village, Mendel was not known for his genetic laws, but he was known for the fire station he built, as the fire station was something which the people really needed.

Dr. Swaminathan spoke about Bio villages in Pondicherry, where human-centred developments are taking place. When the MSSRF went to Virampatnam, a fishing village near Pondicherry, they realised that people wanted to know about information that is location-specific. The women of Virampatnam wanted to know how the sea will behave everyday. Because, when the men folk went out for fishing, there was always uncertainty as to their return. Data available with the US Navy, is used to make an announcement every day in the village about the tide.

Dr. Swaminathan also spoke about four major Divides in our country that hamper development.

The Demographic Divide: Social awareness has to be there, to understand population-support resources - how much population can the available resources (land and water) support. The local community has to be empowered to manage available resources. If children are born out of choice and not by chance, population will stabilise on its own.

The Economic Divide: Food insecurity, insecurity of purchasing power and regular income. It is said that in Asia, kidnapping is becoming a lucrative profession. The economic divide drives young people to these desperate situations.

The Genetic Divide: Agricultural technology, not used properly. We have large un-irrigated areas, because of which we are still importing pulses. We should take genetic engineering to all parts of India.

The Digital Divide: And finally the digital divide. Computers have created a new divide in this country - those who have access to high technology and those who don't. But the digital revolution is the best thing to happen to us, as it is this which is going to provide solutions to all the other divides mentioned above.

Author: Anuradha Sriraman
Photographs : V Ganesan
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