India and the Challenge of New Technology
This paper tries to look at how India should prepare to meet the challenges of the ongoing scientific and technological revolution, and the forces of globalisation that propel it forward. At least three major technological revolutions seem to be ongoing: the bio-tech, the info- tech and the energy revolutions. Whereas the bio-tech revolution holds the promise of curtailing chemical pollution, it can break the delicate ecological balance of nature. It also threatens the employment of farmers who constitute a major part of the work force of India. The info-tech revolution threatens the power of all handlers of information: subordinate executives, bureaucrats, clerks and teachers. Moreover, it can easily pave the way for automation of mechanical work. This too has the potential of disturbing the employability of a large part of India's work force. The ultimate direction of the energy revolution would seem to be renewable sources such as solar and water power. This may crack the contradiction between the unlimited wants of man and the limited capacity of mother earth. All the three technological revolutions come packaged with globalisation. The hegemony of American and European capital over globalisation has led to opposition to the technological race within the developing world in general and within India in particular. This paper argues that India has to join the global race for new technology, in order to survive as a nation. Furthermore, it is suggested that it should join early to gain bargaining power. Finally, joining the technological race can also help protect India's environment. Since new technology and globalisation come together, India has to take both. However, it must globalise with national interests. Two primary features that need to be protected in the process of globalising are protecting national control over information, and promoting employment while globalising the economy. Increases in labour productivity can lead to cut backs in employment. In a labour surplus country like India, such improvements in efficiency can be unnecessary. A 'necessary' or appropriate increase in efficiency may be defined as a productivity improvement that increases production and employment in other organisations more than it cuts back employment within a given organisation. Globalisation must only be permitted with necessary improvements in efficiency. The defense of national interests in the process of globalisation cannot be left to political processes. They have to be supported by a heightened national consciousness of producers and consumers. This will translate into better quality, cost effectiveness, and productivity on the supply side, and a stronger national market on the demand side. The process of raising national consciousness is a necessarily long term and slow device, since social consciousness is a tough nut to crack.
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