Mom, I want to take admission in the best college in the city; what should I do?
Beta, do a Google search from your mobile and find out. Google has a revenue of more than 50 bl US $ and a control over 65% of all traffic on internet search engines. It is now also moving in the business of building pilotless cars! Microsoft Windows and personal computers have almost become synonymous. The company has annual revenue of more than 100 bl US $! If you are looking for the easiest method of finding and interacting with your friends, you don’t think twice before signing up for Facebook, the leading social networking site. The social networking site has an annual revenue of more than 7 bl US $ and more than 1.2 billion active users across the world. All three are private companies listed in the US and are innovation and technology driven. India’s leading software manufacturing companies are hardly any match for the above in scale, size and innovation.
Mark Zuckerberg, the C.E.O. of Facebook during his recent visit to India encouraged Indian Government to partner with his company in its initiative to make internet accessible to all. Mark briefed about his company’s’ internet.org initiative started in partnership with other likeminded companies, which intends to make internet free for users. Any businessman can understand and appreciate the interest of Zuckerberg in our country and its people. He is no philanthropist! More than 70 per cent of world’s population does not have access to internet and a large part of this population lives in India. Illiteracy, language, internet penetration, geographical inaccessibility, and poverty are the major roadblocks in universalisation of Internet. Greater is the penetration of internet, bigger is the business for Zuckerberg and others of his ilk.
None can take away the importance of the role that internet will play in our lives in the future. The technology has abundant potential for finding uses in others spheres of life. It is undeniably going to be most important source of information and knowledge and their dissemination. The tool will not only be used for political and cultural propaganda, but it is also going to be one of the most important means of entertainment. Internet will become an essential part of our lives like electricity and water supply. That it needs to be secured from intrusion and unethical use has already been appreciated by security experts.
The global community has raised the issue of control over domain allocation etc and other resources of internet by the US based organisations. A multilateral and transparent control over the resources of internet has been sought by the global community and if it’s fragmentation into regional networks it has to be avoided in the future. India has also taken a similar stand. However, it is in everyone’s interest to perpetuate the technology for the forward march of human civilization. The bigger challenge for a country like India, is also about finding a foothold in the race for domination over the content, applications, tools, and software that find uses in the technology.
There is no Indian search engine as big or even competing Google. There is no Indian software manufacturing company rivaling the Microsoft. There is no mobile phone manufacturing company rivaling the Apple. And there is no Indian social networking site matching the Facebook. Wats App has no Indian competitor.
No other global company will be able to compete them out unless it makes better, innovative and attractive alternatives. There is hardly any question of matching the US companies in scale and size. Common sense and our past experience in other spheres tell us that if the companies of a particular country have a monopoly in any sphere including cyberspace, that would mean the dominance over propaganda, knowledge and information dissemination, dissemination of culture, and marketing of products will be of the mother nation and not ours. We will have to buy and believe what they sell and what they tell. Those who have financial and technological control over this medium will use the resource for the aggrandizement of the mother nation.
India is therefore expected to make its presence felt otherwise we will not be able to catch up in the ongoing E-revolution.
If possible than indigenous efforts, otherwise in partnership with other likeminded nations we should develop our own global search engines, applications-software, content recourses, email services and other innovations matching global standards that are not only available to Indians India but in foreign lands. If we don’t build on the little spade work that we have done in the past two decades, we will be outplayed by the sheer scale of US companies’ operations. The race for dominating the cyber space is on.
About the Author
Mr. Shiv Kumar is a freelance journalist with interest in Governance, politics, cybersecurity and development issues. He is working as C.E.O of Maa Saraswati institute of the Engineering and Technology, Rohtak, Haryana.