Sep 9, 1999|
Commonalisation: The new buzz word
There are many buzz words doing the rounds these days but globalization is probably one of the more popular ones. These days whether you put your TV on idhar or udhar the channels look pretty much the same. The VJs are all slim; the men have more jewelry than the women; the men have more clothes than the women; the newscasters and anchor people all have gentle, friendly smiles; the news is dominated by violence; and all stock markets around the world are rising.
No, the world has not gone global: the world has gone common. This commonalisation of the world was accelerated by television, tourism, and telephones, but now threatens to reach new lows due to the power of the internet. Just as the colonial kingdoms conquered the quiet, submissive subjects in much of Asia and Africa, the new conquerers of the Information Age bombard us with bits and bytes and all that is nice. But this endless stream of searches leaves us feeling enriched with information but starved of knowledge.
And within this global commonalisation you have India. Or, rather, the multiple Indias:
- the fast-talking internet-savvy 1 million users (soon to be 5 million) each with an ambition to build and sell an internet company;
- the 50 million middle-class wondering how they are going to meet the future needs of their aspiring children;
- the 300 million who just about get enough food and clothing to muddle through life; and then
- the final 649 million who may get 3 meals or less a day - the statistics that pull our per capita numbers to bottom ten percent levels.
While not trying to put down efforts to push through policy changes for the benefit of the rapidly growing number of internet users (and businesses like www.equitymaster .com that are being built on the internet), it seems ridiculous that the country is charged up by the internet when most folks cannot afford their daily food. It is probably okay for a country like the United States to bet its future on the net as more technology could reduce the labour cost for any business - and labour is in short supply. But for India, the focus must remain on how to improve the future of 949 million people. The net can certainly play a big role in that. But then, so could television. And look what happened to that medium. Songs, dances, VJs, and various kinds of missing links dominate the television terrain. May India learn to use technology for removing our idhar problems and may the celebrations udhar not distract us from that objective.
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