It is a well-known fact that companies in the developing countries do not have as high a budget as the companies in the developed world. Hence, the chance of their success is low from the initiation stage.
ICT has divided the whole world into two parts one of those who possess the wealth and so can afford the ICT gadgets and services and the other of those who do not have the required wealth to acquire/posses the gadgets and the services.
As it would be apparent from above, the rich countries and the rich people even in the poor countries can afford to make use of the ICT services and would be able to survive in the technological era but those who cannot afford would slowly log behind in the race towards development. In other words, those who are wealthy would become wealthier and those who are poor would continue to become poorer.
This will have implications on individuals, families, societies and even nations. It is generally believed that ICT may have created a new class of untouchables living in information poverty at one level and a new cadre of high technology entrepreneurs on the other. A report released by World Economic Forum (2002) concluded that India had the widest digital divide.
According to the report, though the Internet was increasingly popular, there were only 4.5 million Internet users and 43 Internet service providers. Urban areas mainly have benefited by ICT. New Delhi, for example accounts for more than 70 per cent of India’s Internet connections.
ICT, no doubt has brought about significant developments, but whether it is able to make any difference to the disadvantaged sections of the society, is a debatable. For example, we all know that Andhra Pradesh is the most ICT-friendly state in India. It also has a sizeable number of farmers committing suicides as a fall out of vicious poverty conditions.
This raises certain questions as to whether ICT has assisted the poor to gain access to Internet facilities in increasing agricultural production, in getting rid of their debt-trap, etc. An important issue that needs to be examined is whether ICT initiatives take into account the specific needs and expectations of people.
An important aspect that is generally overlooked is whether ICT is able to empower the rural communities. There are many parts of India, where electricity and telephone connectivity are not easily available. It needs to be examined whether ICT can really bring some improvement in the rural areas, where the minimum infrastructure facilities are totally lacking.
The overemphasis on ICT can lead to its displacing low-cost traditional technological devices, which are still being used by the poor for their livelihoods. Wherever possible, modern ICT needs to be combined with traditional means of communication. Information is a key resource, which facilitates sharing, exchanging, retaining as well as managing effectively the knowledge input.
The success of ICT initiatives depends on relating it to the specific development requirements of a country. Another important aspect is to spread it to the local levels. Social sustamabihty is equally important as generally the initial interest and enthusiasm about a new technology quickly wanes.
In India, the government is taking several measures in this direction. The Information Technology Act has been passed in 2000. There is a National Task Force on IT and Software Developrneir and a Department of Information Technology.
Efforts are being made to extend ICT to rural and remote areas, establishing Internet centres and applying ICT to agriculture, health, education and so on. ICT can definitely make its impact if the pertinent socioeconomic concerns are taken care of. It needs to empower the downtrodden, strengthen their capacities and promote a conducive culture of information sharing amongst all the stakeholders.