Posted on 01-04-2012
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by admin

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Financial cut-and-paste executed with sophisticated financial cutlery made the share market in developed countries a virtual valuation casino. The West threw out manufacturing industries and suffered economic recession as the backlash. Everything happened with digital technology advancement in the last 20 years. Nobody assessed what danger could lurk behind it for fulfilling basic human needs in future, somewhat like suddenly discovering the Y2K bug when the century turned. 

This virtual digi-viagra is marvelous for eye and mind enjoyment anytime, anywhere. It can reduce distances, overload information in your pocket, allow you to acquire huge knowledge with little effort, give you innumerable social network addresses to connect to people, but you can’t smell any of them. The titillating digital circus cannot gratify human physical need and desire. Just imagine, digi-world has no solution for your empty stomach, roof over your head, garments, medical necessities, transportation, sex. These are irreplaceable fundamental physical requirements.

Low-cost, high-efficient, digitally-engineered machines for India’s poor: Overcoming tremendous day-to-day life hardships are those in the Rs 3,000-10,000 per month earning bracket within the 600 million population range. These people are surprisingly quick to respond to entrepreneurial challenges. They want to earn more by working harder. But they desperately need mech+digi help. A variety of modernized livelihood generation tools and machines can reduce unnecessary physical sweat and speed up efficiency. To enhance living quality while working in their current professions, they could certainly use easy, affordable, individual transportation. Unfortunately there’s no research, and subsequently scant industrialisation of specific mech+digi low-cost, high-efficient, digitally-engineered machines that such working class professionals require. Only when this working class flourishes can India Vision 2020 to become a developed country be realized.

Raison d’etre for Western society’s digital space: Digi-space had a different purpose for the West, that of making life for their society always easy. Their invention platform invariably looked for better ways to reduce effort while increasing people’s comfort. Colonization served the purpose of getting new sources for inputs to ensure predictability of everyday need supplies, some exoticism from foreign shores, and to experience life better. More importantly, they got slaves for manual labour to reduce their own physical exertion. Industrialization was the elemental drive, which then led from mechanical to electronic to digital inventions. This helped create the mass market where low income $1200-1500 per month earners could pay for and enjoy life’s everyday essentials of food, housing, clothing, travel, healthcare. The spin-off from their slavery mindset was to displace manufacturing units so that other countries’ people can undertake the physical part of work. They wanted to be rid of pollution and trade union problems, enjoy unpolluted air, not suffer bodily hard work. The result? All basic jobs packed off to poor, developing countries.

Even digital junk gets deported as hardware scrap, the favourite dustbin of developed countries being India, China and some African countries. USA is world leader in e-waste, annually rubbishing 3 million tons, while Europe discards 100 million phones every year. Although they’ve understood that virtual dreams cannot fulfill life’s essentials, digital technology has enabled them to win the slavery game from afar. Today it’s called globalization and outsourcing. 

Dissonance of Western digi with India’s poor people requirement: Satisfying the outsourcing needs of developed countries through digital technology opens up merely a few jobs, pubs, cafes; chic foreign cars and motorbikes become visible. If India concentrates only on global service business, the Rs 3,000-10,000pm income band will never see a better life. There’s a sub-Rs 3,000pm class below them too. In sophisticated coffee table discussion they are designated BPL (below poverty line). The traditional rich and nouveau riche talk glibly in TV interviews about their donations to charities and NGOs. They quote progress of the poor by throwing big-size statistics of mobile phone and TV set penetration in rural areas. But can virtual entertainment or information solve the livelihood and basic needs of poor people?

Can digital technology shape Indian rubbish? Let’s not talk only of Western e-waste affecting India’s poor. The rubbish that society discards here is collected and sorted by poor people who display high entrepreneurship even in such ad-hoc livelihood means. We have irregular consumption and trashing patterns, with almost no machine or modernization of waste collection and disposal systems. Most developed countries have 5 to 6 types of organized dustbins. The public follow the ritual of throwing different kinds of waste into designated bins like paper, metal, plastic among others. For industrial waste disposal there’s a controlled procedure.  Littering is a national Indian pastime of rich and poor alike. Is digital technology intervention to change this paradigm possible? But clever BPLers, totally neglected and living in unhygienic surroundings, perform a well-processed sorting job to earn a few rupees so that society at large can enjoy better hygiene.

Global disaster: Natural digi mutation is creating version after version to rationalize its worldly existence. Such restless virtual developments are signs pointing to another imminent global disaster like financial engineering that led to global recession. Every industry’s marketing purpose may require some trendy digi imagery to connect to youth, but can digi, so easily drumming up complex world poverty statistics, get basic enough to quell hunger pangs? Somehow we will always value the physical aspect. You don’t need any effort to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa painting as your mobile phone can download it. Yet last year 9 million people from around the world have visited Mona Lisa in Louvre Museum, Paris.

Digital engineering’s unquestionable positives are here to stay. Its inventors sitting somewhere in the West will never think of how to apply its benefits to rid India of poverty. It’s time for Indian digi designers and industries to start catering to the physical professional requirements of Rs 3,000-10,000pm earners who need low-cost, high-efficient, digitally-engineered machines. Let’s achieve the developed country tag by 2020. Otherwise poor people will continue to sort and clean rich people’s consumption aftermath dustbin as that becomes more and more of a mountain.

To download above article in PDF Digi not Physi?

Financial Express link:http://www.financialexpress.com/news/digi-not-physi/930988/0

(1) Comment   


sinha b n of alld on 9 April, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

. ‘Povery Killing Machines is gem. After my visit to Thailand itold hawkers to duplicate a simple idea- to chill coconuts after reducing its vol; w/out result.How can we promote innovation??

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