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October 31, 1998


Intel presents the future of business computing

You can't grow food on the Net! Can you? The Bangalore Declaration warns developing economies of unbridled investment in IT. When the 'Bangalore' event begins tomorrow, a draft declaration will warn developing economies of falling into a debt trap by investing heavily in IT infrastructure, especially without a long-term plan to utilise it.

Email this story to a friend. The 'Bangalore Declaration' is likely to be endorsed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation as a guideline for developing nations. The declaration points out that unbridled investment in the IT infrastructure segment by using borrowed capital would only lead to continued siphoning away of scarce capital.

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The declaration stresses that information technology is only a means to an end and not an end in itself. The end use of IT should be for the settlement of society, particularly the underprivileged.

However, the declaration agrees that it is a potent technology that could bring about a massive social and economic transformation at an unprecedented scale and pace in human history. But it also advises that collective wisdom must be brought to bear and concerted action is needed to harness this potential to ensure that societies are transformed in an equitable way.

The declaration also says that IT protagonists should recognise the current reality of complete dependence on developed nations for IT products.

This trend, if combined with the thrust for rapid infusion of IT would result in large-scale flight of capital from the developing nations, perpetuating the current inequalities between the haves and the have-nots.

The government's role should be one of facilitating the spread of IT and ensuring that monopolies of all kinds, government, multinational and national are eliminated.

The local design talent should be empowered to create IT products that are tailored to specific needs of citizens. The declaration says IT protagonists should create facilities for a thriving market for local language content and applications, encourage the use of free software as a platform for the creation of innovative IT solutions and products, provide facilities for a vibrant hardware industry that is capable of meeting the diverse and specialised needs of developing economies and create a mechanism to reward and protect intellectual property.

The declaration says the current contribution to the global IT industry from developing countries is primarily in the form of manpower and labour intensive software services.

Even if there is a significant intellectual content, the property rights vest with the contractors, who often are from developed nations. Exclusive focus on exporting software services is detrimental and unsustainable in the long run.

Stating that IT could lead to the loss of diversity and bring in homogenisation at several levels, the draft declaration points out that rapid spread of global television networks has led to the spread of homogenised consumer culture, dominated by the preferences of the primary content creators.

The spread of IT could have a similar and potentially more pervasive impact on cultural diversity.

It also notes that even within the country, the dominance of English speaking urban elite is marginalising several native cultures. It would accelerate this trend since it is the same elite that has traditionally enjoyed disproportionate benefit from any new technology.

The fact that English happens to be the primary software development language, it has lead to implicit cultural assumptions in software packages.

The declaration says it presents developing economies with a historic window of opportunity, to break the circle of poverty and dependence and leverage its wealth of human resources to finally secure a rightful place in the IT global village.

Major players in the world of information technology are descending on Bangalore to exhibit their latest wares and exchange cross-country information on IT during the six-day Bangalore event to be inaugurated by Prime Minister A B Vajpayee tomorrow.

The high-profile event has been showcased by the Karnataka government to reiterate its image as a leading player in the IT sector in the wake of stiff competition from neighbours Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in wooing IT investors.

The event is being supported by the union departments of electronics, telecommunications and science and technology besides the International Technology Park Limited and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.

Three major events would dominate the show - an international exhibition of IT products, a seminar series and an international technical seminar called the 'global village'.

Top-notch players in the IT sector in the world including IBM, Siemens, Philips and Apple Computers are participating in the event.

About 250 foreign delegates are expected to attend the seminars in which 15 overseas experts are slated to deliver lectures.

The exhibition and the seminars would be held at the International Technology Park set up by a Tatas-led consortium, comprising some Singapore companies. The technology park provides computer companies with infrastructure.

A number of companies have been provided with Internet access and high-speed lines for the exhibition at the technology park that would get an opportunity to display its facilities.

Bangalore has been spruced up for the event that would be telecast live at four locations in different parts of the city through video conferencing. It would also be relayed to all district headquarters in the state.

The technical seminar is aimed at projecting India as a global destination besides underscoring the country's position as a major IT player.

The seminar series would focus on corporate presentations to the targeted audience, covering topics, among other things, on virtual reality, satellite communications, electronic commerce, data warehousing and decision support systems, enterprise resource planning, intranet and Web applications.

The seminar series would be inaugurated by Professor M G K Menon, vice-chairman of the National IT Task Force. Professor Raj Reddy, dean of the Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh, would also deliver a keynote address live via satellite from the United States.

Dr Robert Kahn, CEO, Corporation of National Research Initiatives of the US, would also telecast his address from America.

Sudheendra Kulkarni, director of the prime minister's office, would elaborate on Vajpayee's vision of making India an IT superpower.


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