Technological Inclusion - Infrastructural Inclusion
Kota Suryanarayana Sastry
Aurora’s Degree & PG College
As teachers, we observe many things which are cyclical /repetitive every academic year, even though the batches of students are always different. One of these recurring phenomena is that we have to struggle with individual students who are at various stages of learning/grasping even though the academic year begins for the entire batch at one single point of time. Just as the participants of the marathon who never finish the distance together, these students also, inevitably, seem to lag behind or fall by the way side. Either they neglect the basic duty of a student as to revising the previous sessions before stepping into the next session or they ignore the assignments/projects given to enhance their understanding of the subject or they just don’t care a damn about the academics at all. This predicament is indeed reminiscent of one of the most vividly remembered childhood stories, that of the Hare and the Tortoise, both protagonists representing the attitudes of the students, a vast majority falling in the first category – having talent but woefully wasted. Once a gap develops between the student and the teacher, very soon the gap becomes a void and eventually the taught find themselves stranded on a different planet vis-a-vis the teacher. A somewhat similar drama can be witnessed in the world of technology.
Ever since the industrial revolution, technology has always been the privilege and private pleasure of the upper most strata of the population. With passage of time since the day of an innovation, mass production techniques of the industrial revolution ensured that these technologies reached the middle strata of the population. The world has witnessed an explosion of discoveries and inventions over the past five hundred years but even now, just as then, the bottom of the pyramid continues to be left behind in reaping the benefits of this technological revolution. Of course, those of these discoveries and inventions meant for industrial applications automatically permeate the lives of all the strata of the population in the form of better products and services. Furthermore, management thinkers such as late C K Prahlad have focused on ‘the bottom of the pyramid’ and advocated that there is a ‘fortune at the bottom of the pyramid’. Modern day marketing strategies of almost all corporate, be it the obvious FMCG companies or the banking and non-banking financial companies [NBFC] or insurance and financial services companies or extremely competitive telecom companies, are being developed with a vigorous focus on rural consumers. Consequently, one aspect of technology is able to reach out to the rural masses and the urban poor, thanks to the profit motive of businesses and not owing to philanthropic initiatives.
There is another aspect of technology which needs, in fact demands, certain skills on the part of the consumers. A consumer enjoying a can of Coke can be forgiven for being blissfully unaware of the state of the art technology behind the manufacture of the tin can or its contents. Similarly, he may be utterly ignorant of the magic behind the billing software’s pertaining to the myriad tariff plans of the mobile services he uses. But then there many instances one comes across pertaining to applications of technology which a consumer cannot afford to be ignorant except at a disadvantage to himself. There is a technological barrier between computer literate consumers and those who are not so literate, creating a kind of second class citizens out of the latter. The severity of the handicap can be easily...
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