Leapfrogging empowerment and development

16Aug05

Indian Express has an Independence day special series – India explained, India empowered. The series was flagged off by an article by the President Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam. The focus of the President’s note is “Empowering Rural India”- and is titled – India Empowered to me is Knowledge taking roots in the village. Read the full piece here.

To the Prime Minister whose note followed the president, empowerment is Open democracy and open economy. Read it here.

And today’s piece by Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker, Lok Sabha who writes about Bringing into the mainstream all those kept out

Link through The Scientific Indian who says – If there’s one engine that’s today driving a changing India, it’s empowerment. Empowerment of the individual, the family, the neighbourhood, the community—and, hence, the nation.

The theme is India empowered to me is – to me, it is a fully functionally literate India.

And to you?

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And Sri Lanka gets connected as villages get mobile technology. Phones begin ringing in Sri Lankan villages as new technology arrives, says this report on Smart Mobs. Not mobiles, nor standard landlines, but a clever combination of the two that is quickly making telephony accessible to all. – CDMA wireless technology which has made it posible in India for mobile phones to exceed landline connections in a span of just a few years.

Some 44.5 million Indians now use mobile handsets, compared with the 43.9 million existing landline users, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in a statement. From this post on textually.

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An then the debate about Ethiopia leaping into technology age.

10 % of Ethiopia’s GDP spent on broadband – Smart mobs

Ethiopia Leaps – WorldChanging

A thrust on computer technology and internet connectivity is always open to debate and criticism.The loudest rumbles come from those who believe that in a country where basic infrastructure – in the form of schools and healthcare and electricity – is not in place, spending on computers and internet seem misplaced – to the point of being insensitive to the “real needs” of the people. This is a challenge for those who believe in the power of leapfrogging technology.

As the WorldChanging article says – In essence, the Ministry of Capacity Building wants to make Ethiopia Africa’s first real Knowledge Economy. For a nation that has in recent decades suffered from overwhelming famine and civil war, this is an ambitious goal to say the least. If it fails, Ethiopia could become a symbol for the dangers of leapfrogging and the dangerous temptations of going too far, too fast. But if it succeeds — and the earliest signs are hopeful — Ethiopia could instead symbolize the pathway to success in 21st Century Africa.

This is also very relevant to India – when Dr. Kalam writes about knowledge taking roots in the village, I think about leapfrogging technology making a difference to the lives of impoverished and illiterate villagers. Bringing about a visible change for the better within a generation or two. Contributing to their development in some magical way that I have not fully understood yet.

But can social development really be leapfrogged? As usual, I have the questions here but I don’t know the answers…

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