Let's put technology where it belongs

Photo courtesy: hindu.com
If you watched Barack Obama's so-called e-date with villagers in Ajmer on TV, you probably have the feeling that it was a lacklustre event, and a rather funnily mismanaged one at that. But if you dig a bit, it becomes clear that the show exposes how little India understands democracy and how to implement it. Also, the messages given out by the show have the danger of further retarding the process of true democratization of India.

Confusion between tools and intentions

The whole show exposes how confused India is between tools and intentions. A democracy which is not present in the hearts of people cannot be implemented using computers. The crumbling pillars of ethical governance cannot be patched up using computers. Yes, e-governance can slow down corruption, but the corrupt can always beat the system (one idea is to simply not turn on the darned computers).

Did the founding fathers of the United States of America need computers to write a good constitution? Did computers come up with the idea of federalism in that country? Did wireless communication technology come up with a nearly flawless implementation of a system of governance which fosters life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans? Wasn't the United States of America a vibrant democracy before video-conferencing existed?

Democracy should not become rocket-science

Projecting all that technology as necessary for having a working democracy, makes democracy seem like something inherently implementable outside human hearts, and only within computers. It turns a simple concept into an "over the head" monstrosity. That's probably good for those who sell computers and technology (and even for US-India trade), but bad for implementing a true democracy. Implementing a true democracy should be made to seem very easy, not very difficult.

Technology cannot run India

There is another grave danger of using too much technology to implement a decent democracy in India. And that is, many could simply "rest assured" that there's no need for them to do anything because something (in fact, a computer) is taking care of it. It can become a solid reason for the crème de la crème of India to further divorce itself from grass-roots Indian democracy. This danger has to be avoided.

Putting technology in perspective

We need to put technology where it belongs. Technology cannot fill the voids created by lacunae in human hearts, especially in the hearts of the powers that be. Technology cannot substitute a federal polity which is the only legitimate implementation of a democracy in a large and diverse country such as India. Technology cannot substitute sincere public workers. Technology cannot substitute education for the masses. Technology cannot substitute your and my concern and action aimed at the development of the have-nots.

Note that I'm not saying that technology is un-necessary. It's necessary, and can only supplement human hands. It cannot supplement human hearts. Today, what we need is a transformation of hearts in India.

2 comments:

Amitava Ghosh said...

It is true in the name federalism what the constitution did for Indians. So called federalism is under the hand of some vested interested people. So far linguistic policy is concern ,Hindi imposition and crores of ruppees investment , does it show the federalism of Indian states . India is union of states not one language country. But the problem is who can realize the fact? All political parties participate in election for mere their vested interest not for the country.

shanks said...

You are absolutely right, I can't agree more with you

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