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Friday, January 30, 2015

Internet and India

India now has approximately 300 million Internet users. More than 65% of the Internet users are from cities which have around 31% of the country's population and around 35% of the Internet users are from the rural side. However 69% of India's population lives in villages so the need of the hour is that the rural Internet penetration must also go up and it will go up.

     One great advantage that India has is that today there are more than 800 million active mobile phone connections. In India one can access the Internet and do some basic browsing at a mere Rs 2 to begin with. The growth in the number of Internet users across the country will boost e-commerce. This is sector that is bound bumper growth in the coming years. By the end of 2015 it is very likely that India's Internet users base will be between 360 -400 million. India has now displaced USA from second spot in terms of number of Internet users.

      As Internet penetration goes up more and more people will have greater access to information can buy and sell stuff online and it will become a great tool for learning as well. Looking into the future one can foresee a time when many of the rural folks of India will actually attend collage from their home by enrolling in one of the free online MOOCS or simply studying online. One can easily watch videos of lectures and also see practical demonstration of various concepts. 

    Its very much possible instead of going to the market farmers of India may directly sell their products to the consumers thus earning more. A higher earning farmer gets into a virtuous cycle of well being. It works this way --- When a farmer earns more he would spend more on education , technology and health of his family. This would result in a more educated , knowledgeable and healthy farmer who will go on to increase his production per acre thus making more money and the extra money is invested back in agriculture. 

    Most farmers in India are poor at the moment as their incomes go up even they would consume more so the market would expand thus demand of farm products will go up. 

    Access to Internet will make sure that they don't have to travel large distances to get their work done and they will be abreast with the latest happenings across the world. Just like mobile phone has revolutionised the communication system in the nation. Internet is bound to have a deeper impact among the masses.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Innovation and Development

A spark of innovation can destroy systems built over thousands of  years. Innovation can change lives. When man figured out how fire can be used it was a game changer for him. He was now no longer afraid of dark because fire provided him light in the dark. He was healthier since he learnt to cook the food in that fire and eat it. Also frequent heating of the meat helped him to preserve the meat for longer periods of time. Fire became his weapon and his protector since wild animals were afraid of fire. The smoke that he got from partial burning for firewood helped him to keep harmful flies like mosquitoes away. He used fire to make stones hot and give them shape that would make them sharper and hence more lethal. 

     A simple innovation Fire which man started using either by observing nature ie Forest fires that happened when two trees rubbed vigorously across each other and copying the same (as we see it among American Indians and Australian aboriginals) or by chance stumbling on two flint stone pieces rubbing each against the other  generated a spark powerful enough to ignite dry grass or saw dust. 

Thus the first innovation of man FIRE made him the undisputed King of the Jungle a class above other animals. 

So we see that at the very basis of human evolution innovation has played a very important role. Without innovative thinking man won't have come up so far. Human innovation did not stop there but continued and accelerated.

   The next big innovation was wheel. The wheel enabled humans to build carts that made transportation easy and fast. This innovation was so big that even today most of physical inventions made by man is directly or indirectly someway somehow linked to the wheel. The tyres of your cycle, motorcycle, car are wheels . The same principle of wheel is responsible for the working of various machines . The hard disk or the DVD drive of your computer uses the same principle of wheel to rotate. The turbine is a wheel whose rotation generates electricity.  In short the innovation of wheel resulted in tremendous development in the fields of tools and machinery. The wheel played a major role in the material development of man. 

Similar has been the story of many other innovations that happened through the course of human history. Different innovations have had varying degrees of impact. Some changed the world some had very little effect but innovation is essential because humans are always cornered with challenges and humans have to overcome them through innovative thinking. 

Not just challenges but many a times simply following his curiosity man stumbles on various materials studies them their properties and once having grasped this knowledge, man smartly creates products and services that would change they way he lives. 

   It doesn't stop there once a product is first invented it goes through a series of subsequent improvements take for example the hard disk. The first hard disk was of the size of two refrigerators used to consume huge amounts of power and provided a storage of mere 3.75 Mb(megabytes). The cost per megabyte came to around $ 9200. However subsequent improvement in the design of hard drives have made it smaller and smaller. Today you have hard disk that are less than 1 inch in size consume a mere 2 watts of power and a standard 3.5 inch desktop hard disk can store up to 10 Terabytes of data(3 million times more than the first hard disk). The cost per megabyte of storage is little as $ 0.000035 or 3.5 cents per gigabyte. This has been made possible by constant improvements in the design of the hard disk. The basic principle is the same but researchers figured out how to put more data in a square inch of the drive. In the future hard disks will have even higher capacities. 

The development of a nation today depends on scientific and technological work that happens in that country. The modern day examples today are to name a few South Korea, Japan, Israel. Japan and Israel are particularly lacking in terms of natural resources but still they achieved great economic progress thanks to their technological achievements. The are other nations like Saudi Arabia, UAE , Qatar which are rich. But this countries are oil rich and the money make by selling oil is ultimately invested in building infrastructure. The infrastructure is built by companies of countries that are advanced in technology.  Without the technological advancement of western and far eastern countries the Middle East countries would have remained poor since the oil would have been of no use. In fact they couldn't have dug out the oil at all. 

The real wealth of a nation is in the minds of its people. Through good education the young minds need to be nurtured into becoming excellent people and excellent innovators of the future.