And a Chinese scholar who hasn’t visited India to lead the research team?

Oxford University is doing some innovative programmes on India, it seems. We should wlecome it in India for such innovative programmes, planned and run from far off, from a vantage academic background must surely give us, in India in particular some rare insights.

First, the programme. It is named after an Indian academic, Sanjay Loll who worked at Merton College and he is supposed to be an expert on Indian development and globalization challenges. Fine.

Now, the head of the team chosen for the Indian programme is a Chinese academic, Xiaolan Fu, a Chinese Indologist who was trained under an Indian economist but who hasnt yet seen India. The progamme is too mouthful, Programme for Technology and Management for Development. Rather too many issues, into too narrow a focus, we feel.

And, another topic thrown in is the “digital divide”! What is this? Someone must have got this idea by reading nor even closely looking at India’s emergence as a software giant? It looks like that.

First, the digital divide is not such a big divide as on date. The “e-service for farmers” is again a too early topic, we feel. We, at Vadamalai Media are working at such an issue for long. So, we must be knowing! Agriculture is  also a vast and also a complex issue if we are to bring in the “e-service”. “E-governance”, yes, is a greater and a more relevant issue at the moment and the TCS is doing a programme.

E-governance has also a larger impact, considering some states like AP, have gone ahead of other states and there is much scope for development, management and technology innovation and applications.

Also, we have to be a bit weary about the choice of a renowned Chinese Indologist for an Indian programme that doesn’t concern any indological issues but a much more practical and strictly an IT technology angle.

So, we are sure of the innovative aspect of this particular programme.

Next month researchers might go to India and join local team in Sironj, in Madya Pradesh. The use of mobile phone technology in farming communities and they, the team would go into the fields and work in remote areas. All sounds a bit romantic considering the very disparate sort of  programme that is now on display or supposed to be in final form and we would only be watching with attention about the way the programme progresses. Anyway, any Oxford programme is likely to attract funding from many well-meaning agencies and one hopes the programme gets tuned and further fine-tuned as the team learns on the job.

Our suggestion: please visit the Silicon Valley and also meet the persons who work in the IT and related BPO fields and also meet those who work in the area of e-governance projects elsewhere in India and much more important meet some really hard-nosed persons who work among the farmers.Vadamalai Media would be too willing to further interact and share inputs in furthering the noble objectives of the Sanjay Lall programme.

On the further points covered in the writeup on the programme, about dealing with India-China “rivalry” etc is irrelevant and Dr.Fu’s  talking of political issues, about freedoms in India and China are further  and away from the very core of the development programme, we feel. So, we can ignore this part of the writeup.

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