By Ashok Dixit
New Delhi, Jan. 31 (Delhi Crown): President Ram Kovind may have told the country’s citizens on Monday that India is a proud owner of cheapest Internet in the world and a burgeoning start-up ecosystem that has generated more than six lakh jobs to date and is well on the its way to indigenously developing 5G technologies.
But, is this start-up success story to be seen as a boon or a bane?
A majority would reckon that the Internet is a boon, a discovery of man that has revolutionised the way we work and live, removing and easing so many problems and obstacles that bedevil our daily existence on this planet.
Conversations with the average man or woman on the street will reveal the Internet’s benefit in reducing distances, improving speed of communication (written and verbal), bringing much needed information to our doorstep at the click of a button. So, why think of it as a curse, when all it has done, is to break down man-made barriers to make our world more efficient and effective.
Many would say it is inconceivable to live without the Internet today, and would also argue that this specialised ecosystem didn’t just happen overnight, but was the result of constant inquiry, research and search since the late 1950s. They would say that it has taken almost seven decades of very hard work to go online successfully.
It is boon in the specific sense that it has revolutionised the world of communication like never before and how we have effectively replaced late 19th century and early 20th century inventions like the telegraph, telephone and radio with computers, laptops and mobiles, setting the stage for an integration of human capabilities in an unprecedented manner.
It is boon for broadening broadcasting capability globally, facilitating information dissemination and using it as a medium of collaboration and interaction between individuals and groups with the help of computers, doing away with the limitations posed by geographic location.
Very few would contest or argue that it is not a commercial success story worth billions of dollars in annual investments. It would not be wrong to say that the Internet is centrifugal to the global village of tomorrow.
The internet boom has become one of the major contributors of economic growth of India and contributed immensely to generating jobs. This can be seen in the unrestricted mushrooming of cyber cities, cyber cafes and internet parlours. There is now a demand for professionals familiar with content writing and management, web page designing, internet advertising not only for the IT industry, but in other sectors as well.
Naysayers would say the Internet is the bane of society, a curse if you will, that could leave a devastating lasting impact hard to recover from?
They would see it as a threat to the very existence of humanity. They would not hesitate to say that this medium is so addictive to the point of causing irreversible health problems; they would opine that people these days are wasting a lot of time surfing the Internet, and would rubbish the view of it being part and parcel of modern-day busy lifestyles. The Internet to them would simply be another form of laziness.
At the technical level, all this talk of better communication for better business would fall on its face because of problems of hacking, entry of viruses, cyber theft and even misuse of confidential information. Who can stop theft or fraud in these days of internet-linked unscrupulous business?
The moralists would say that all that the Internet has done is encourage widespread access to pornography, ruining the youth. Anti-social elements are known to use the Internet and associated tools to spread terror and unrest. It may be a state-of-the-art tool invented by man, but also has the potential to establish a stranglehold over the younger generation, as well as causing a moral abyss.
At one level, it is a matter of pride to know that India has 60,000 new start-ups, including more than 70 unicorn start-ups overall, in 56 different sectors and 42 unicorn ones in 18 sectors in 2021 alone.
In 2021 alone, according to a Nasscom-Zinnov report, Indian start-ups had raised a record USD 24.1 billion, a two-fold increase over pre-Covid levels, while USD six billion had been raised via public markets with 11 start-up IPOs. But it would be foolish to remain unaware or ignorant of its physical and mental disadvantages.
(Views expressed are personal)