August 12, 2011
School of Communication, Coimbatore
In the modern world, getting the latest news is as simple as switching on the computer and typing in your favorite newspaper’s web address.
Whether one calls it new media or interactive digital information, it’s available on demand, all the time via communication devices including mobile phones, computers and televisions.
But is this new media available to everyone?
Ms. Somali Chowdhury discussed this question and more at the UGC National Seminar on New Media and National Development organized by the Department of Postgraduate Studies and Research in Communication, Bangalore University, during March 18-19, 2011.
Her paper was titled The So-Called Elitist Form of Media is Part of the Hoi Polloi.
Exploring the potential advantages that the internet offers to people in developing nations, she challenged the notion that it is an elitist tool largely inaccessible in the global south.
She noted, however, that in spite of the internet’s developmental capacity, it’s not yet utilized by everyone.
“In order to grow a nation’s economy, basic knowledge of and access to the internet are required in manufacturing, banking, education, agriculture, trade and commerce,” she stated.
“Developing nations have been slow to realize the advantages of the internet due to high illiteracy rates, lack of computer and technical skills and restraints imposed by the government and international institutions reducing basic cyber-freedoms,” she added.
“It is high time we realized that internet knowledge in any form will be a gift to one and all,” she finally underlined.
Somali reiterated that the ability to diffuse information to the masses or Hoi Polloi who may not even have access to basic resources makes the internet an ideal medium for communication for India’s disadvantaged.
Asserting that the Indian society should fully embrace the internet’s extraordinary potential to contribute to its progress, she proposed implementation of a national information communication and technology policy to facilitate education and training.
Such a policy could also transcend high cost connectivity barriers by allotting internet provisions to the underprivileged.
Globally, the internet reaches over half a billion users and the numbers are on the rise. Its universal availability can not only help India’s social and economic development, but can also transform its society as a whole. Or in Somali’s words, from the knowledge have-nots to the knowledge haves.