The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

April - 2000 - issue > Sam Pitroda Column

Can We Embrace The Brave New World?

Friday, November 21, 2008

I recently had the opportunity to address a conference of IT ministers in Delhi, at which the Chief Ministers of Delhi and Maharashtra were also present. Since I happened to be in Chicago at the time, my address was presented via video, at midnight local time.
My simple message for the ministers can be summed up in two parts. One, I am very concerned that India is missing out on the opportunity to bring about generational change and, once and forever, leave behind the legacy of the British Raj and associated methods and procedures that are obsolete and outdated. Two, develop an integrated policy framework which goes beyond IT on to other areas such as finance, privatization, liberalization and labor laws with multi-pronged implementation.

We are in the middle of an information revolution. If we’re not conscious of that fact, we may miss the unique historical opportunity to empower our people and to create an honest, open and transparent system in which knowledge is shared by everybody and one which brings the best out of our people and expedites the process of development. To do this, we must leave behind government policies that pick and choose which information will be made available to the public. To cite an example of such policies, take this: everybody knows that many satellites in the world can zero in on any 10-foot stretch of an airport (or other public buildings), but the public is still not allowed to take pictures at Indian airports. This is clearly old-world thinking. Similar restrictions abound whether it is to open a bank account or start a business.

Systematic Suppression

All of our existing systems were designed by the British for command and control; that is, they were created so that a select few could control a large number of people. Examples include revenue collection and octroi; the fact that every state and district had its own collector speaks volumes of the excess bureaucracy that was established. In some cases, we have even perfected it since Independence.

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