Wednesday, November 20, 2013


The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. ~Isaac Asimov,
Technology and society have a symbiotic relationship .Through out history technological advancements have influenced changes in society. In fact, many historical eras are identified by their dominant technology: Stone Age, Iron Age, Bronze Age, Industrial Age and Information Age. Technology-driven changes have been particularly evident in the past century. Automobiles have created a more mobile, spread-out society; aircraft and improved communications have led to a "smaller" world and improved sanitation, agriculture, and medicine have extended life expectancy.
Technology has been advancing at a rapid pace due to the encouragement of our society. We, as a society crave the newest inventions and obsess over the power that we are able to achieve with these new inventions. Having said that, in the course of human history, mankind has never had at its disposal as much effective power, energy, and material as it does today. And all of this is a product of technology and its progress; and technology is no longer only an instrument, but a world-changing, a world-shaping, a world-making factor.
Proportionate with this power, human responsibility ought to be increasing--indeed, at an explosive rate. Today more than ever before, huge ethical and moral problems have evolved in step with the rise of technological power--with the power to impose on the non-human environment or nature, and the power to manipulate life, including human life.
Westernization has changed the social ethos in India. Children today are born in a technology-savvy world. We have grown overly dependent on IT and IT-enabled tools like the internet and cellular telephony. As C.P. Snow had once said
‘Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.’
Exposure to these technologies has laid bare Indian society and culture to a Pandora’s Box of pros and cons. One such technology is the internet.In the 1980’s it was common for most middle to high-income households to have a television set in their home. Now in the 21st century it would be uncommon for a household to not have a computer connection to the internet
The Internet has been a wonderful advancement in technology in the sense that it has successful connected people worldwide. It has created a global community of sorts. IT and IT-enabled tools such as LAN, wide area networks (WAN) and mobile telephony have led to sharing of experiences and knowledge, thereby linking people to opportunities and creative outlets that contribute to their continued growth.
The Internet offers a vast amount of resources that are otherwise not available in any one geographical location. Facts that can be found using search engines are now made available to us in seconds, as opposed to the hours that would have been spent looking thought books in a library.
Politicians today have a strong grip on our social order. Everything once on the net remains there resulting in greater transparency, something that is anathema to Indian politicians who are obsessively secretive by nature. Knowledge is power, but in politics,
A persons power comes from another’s lack of knowledge. Internet based journalism has the potential to change the political fabric of our nation.
Mass education is the precursor for social evolution. Using the internet as a tool for mass education is doable. A single Gram panchayat based computer can provide a two way street for transmission of educative programs, with the lecturer located anywhere in the world.
This real time link is also a great asset for the agricultural community as the farmer no longer has to go via a middle man while selling his crop .He can get the best price for his crop by communicating with the dealer in the maandi via the net. Such an experiment has been successful in Haryana where wheat auctions are held online. Agricultural practices can also be influenced by the net as area specific weather and climate predictions can be known online .Hence India’s large farmer community can be benefited.
This explosion of the Internet has also brought a darker side to the revolution in global communications. Cyberspace contains information of all kinds, including that that should not be available at arms reach. This could range from gory disturbing images of murder to pornographic web sites. These are things that can be destructive to a society and detrimental to young surfers.
Privacy while on the net is one big con. By using a credit card or subscribing to a magazine, people provide information about themselves that is sold to marketers throughout the world.  With each website that we visit and download things from, we are leaving behind traces of our identity, and allowing access to our own computers through visible IP numbers. Computer viruses and worms can lead to denial of services and even system takeover. Indian economy and government is fast becoming computerized, with all kinds of records being kept in computer databases. A virus attack on these computer systems can lead to utter chaos in our society.
The constitution is the watch-dog of any society country. Since 2000, when the Indian Information Technology Act was first signed into law, it's been akin to a ticking time-bomb, primed and waiting to go off. The MMS case, the Pune spy cam case as well as the Anara Gupta CD case, provide concrete evidence of the lacunae in legislation. Mr. Avnish Bajaj of was a victim of this badly-drafted Act for having hosted the transaction of a porn CD produced from an MMS clip and offered for sale by an I.I.T student thereby violating Section 67 of the Information Technology Act (transmission of obscene material through electronic media).By analogy, the postmaster of a post-office that has delivered a pornographic magazine discreetly wrapped in brown paper should be liable to arrest and so should be the owner of a telecom network that has transmitted obscene calls.
We already had a pathetic record of verbal and physical violence against women and now the new technology has come to assist the perpetrators. Chat rooms have become safe havens for Cyber stalkers & Pedophiles .But blaming the telecom sector for access to porn is a fallacy. Porn is freely available in VCDs and tapes in every city. Pirated films are beamed into homes; illegal software can be bought easier than a pack of cigarettes. Are we even pretending this is not true? India’s urban society today is quickly becoming a nouveau riche group with an overwhelmingly couldn't-give-a-damn attitude towards the colour of money.
Words like fire-wire, Bluetooth, S.M.S, M.M.S, Broadband, etc are fast becoming the norm in urban India. Even rural India hasn’t been spared by the influx of technology .The Simputer experiment in Karnataka has proved that even rural communities can accept and use modern tools. The fall in telecommunication costs and restructuring of the telecom sector has led to most semi urban towns and even villages going ‘mobile’.
India’s mobile players are hoping that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words by introducing MMS, multimedia messaging service. The reduction in costs of GPRS enabled cell phones and introduction of 3G WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access) by cell phone operators has led to ever more increase in MMS usage. MMS has become an impersonal way of sharing material like jokes when one is unsure of people's reaction. It is a good way of relieving boredom especially when service providers offer free MMS schemes.
The same technology which allows MMS also allows internet usage from a mobile .This simply means that all the problems and advantages of the internet have just gone ‘mobile’. We're all familiar with these annoying social hiccups: a person running out of the conference room followed by a musical chime or the one-sided conversation during lunch at a formerly quiet restaurant.
This new technology of Internet and mobile communication was meant to strengthen our democratic freedoms. But like all other freedoms we have begun to misuse it. Our society is fast converging with what were supposedly US cultural norms. As recent incidents have shown, beset with a literally uncontrollable generation, the parents, school managers and social scientists have been playing a futile blame game in which there are no winners. Besides pointing fingers at each other, they also blame technology for the resident evil, not accepting the fact that access to much of it is allowed by moneyed and doting parents themselves. Technologies like the internet and MMS are here to stay .Indian Society hence need to evolve. The family and the school needs to canalize rational use of technology by their wards.
The morality of a particular use of a technology is up to the individual to decide. Adolescents today must be made aware by their elders of what to expect in cyberspace, something which was the responsibility of the peer group in the past, and how to react when they run into something bad. In the absence of effective monitoring, the teenager easily crosses the line of distinction and uses it destructively. Our IT laws need to be made more practical and simple .
~ Amey Kantak

1 comment:

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