The digital divide is not an accessibility issue but a fairness issue. There is an unequal relation between innovation and information-based production and customary modes of production (manufacturing, etc). There is now a twin economy, primary and industrial on one side and information-based on the other. It is constant/decreasing returns versus increasing returns. Digital divide is the divide between these two modes. Under digital consumerism or informational increasing returns, are not anomalies. But they generate volatility. They have been evident by the most uneven allocations of income and assets in human history. Therefore it could be said advance theories of the industrialized age are insufficient to elucidate the reality of the information age.K J Joseph (Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum) feels there is an adverse impact of the strategy of excessive export orientation.
The input of the ICT sector can be seen at two levels, direct and indirect. The direct effect is in service, revenue and export profits from ICT.
ICT and spillovers bring about an indirect effect that is reflected in the improved output, high spritedness and the development of other areas on account of IT dispersal and novel services that have not been discovered.
He states that the direct remuneration is praiseworthy. The ICT sector itself has shown remarkable vitality in terms of production and export development as well as industrial vigor. These are often assumed as the result of the export-sloping development approach that was followed.
But the market seems not to have gained due to lofty regional saturation of ICT activity and low dispersion of ICT to other areas of the market. Due to the ICT boom, other sectors of the market which battle with it for accomplished workers would have been badly affected.
There are also bad implications on other traits like teaching, training, research and development. These are bound to have long-term implications on the overall growth of the economy and as well as in sustaining the current competitive advantage of ICT.
Joseph calls for a national policy on ICT dispersion which could alleviate the unfavourable effect of 'unnecessary' export orientation.Tojo Thatchenkery et al (George Mason University) address some very basic questions. Does ICT lead to economic development?
ICT reduces boundaries to information and knowledge. It has a large prospective for communication, institutional and manpower development.
It increases lucidity in organizations, promotes proficient market results and can create work and increase revenue.
The paper notes several examples of developmental use of ICT. Eye care is rendered to villages in India.
The National Dairy Development Board in Gujarat is digitalise milk production and distribution.
Under the Gyandoot scheme in providing compuer courses for women. As well as setting up a centralized database for storing of agricultural information.
What are the troubles? Bumpy regional progress leading to greater disparity between states and also villages; and lack of absorption capacity in relation to other areas of the economy.
Importantly, there is lack of need for ICT as it outlook remains good. The paper concludes that ICT can be the solution to the needs of Indians.
It has already started to improve infrastructure, education, health, gender, private enterprise, governance, rural development and public services. And there is enormous potential for future development.W e can turn to T T Srikumaran (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) for some hard evidence on the ground.
He examines the Gyandoot scheme in Madhya Pradesh, village knowledge centre in Pondicherry (IVRP) and TARA kendras in Punjab.
Gyandoot has larger exposure and sturdy societal roots. There are obvious signs of empowerment, though still controlled. There are incidences of local control being toughened.
However, there is an increase in the usage of services provided by the locals.
In Pondicherry, the shops which depend heavily on internal resources offer highly imbalanced services.
Backward and poor communities are unable to deal with the new infrastructure.
Both the state and social enterprises have analytically overstated their achievements leading to a adoration of what ICT can provide.