by June 19, 2000 0 comments

India it seems, is on an IT frenzy. Open any news-paper,
and it is the Internet and the software industry that dominates the
pages. Switch on the TV and it’s again the same story. Everyone is
painting a rosy picture of how we’re fast emerging as a superpower
of the technology age. But wait a minute. Is it just dollar earnings
and crazy market capitalization for startup ventures that define a
superpower? Obviously, there are other things too, like the hydrogen
bomb, supercomputers, rockets, and the Arctic expeditions we
successfully mount every year.

Sure. We have the
technology to make the hydrogen bomb. But we seem to lack the sense
to ensure that our brave soldiers don’t get caught unawares in the
hostile climes of the Himalayas. We have the technology to predict
the weather and rainfall. But we seem to lack the sense to ensure
that those hit by drought get water and those hit by floods get
succor fast. We have the technology to make supercomputers. And we
make them cheaper than the rest of the world. But we seem to lack
the sense to ensure that basic education is available to our
children, the very ones who’ll enjoy the fruits and the
responsibilities of our superpowerdom. We have the technology to
build rockets and to place powerful satellites in geosynchronous
orbit. But we seem to lack the sense to ensure that our telephone
lines–the most basic of all communication systems–don’t break down
for days on end.

The philosophical could
shrug all this off and loftily claim that India is a land of
contrasts. But that’s missing the point.

I know that counted amongst
the readers of PC Quest are some key decision makers in this
country, be it in industry, the government, the armed forces, or the
academia. It is to them that I have this question. When we have the
ability (read technology, if you want to), why is it that we falter
in delivering some of the most basic of requirements? Is it what in
the north is called the “Chalta Hai” attitude? Is it that we
just don’t care about these wider issues in our rush to earn more
and more greenbacks? Or is it that we care only about ourselves, and
let the devil take the hindmost?

No, I’m not starting off a
debate on this. I’m definitely not asking you to have another
TV-style debate and then have everyone forget all about it. My
agenda is simple. Every day, you gentle reader, are called upon to
make decisions that would affect many others. The technology is
there to aid you make those decisions. But unfortunately, it can’t
make the right decisions for you. It is you who have to make the
decisions that can save our soldiers, and help our drought hit and
our flood affected, and our children, and all the rest of

If only all of us made
those decisions right, when they need to be made, India would be a
superpower, and a far better place to live in, even without all
those software dollars.

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