ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) and Social Sustainability: A Counterview

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In a vastly globalising scenario, ICTs have the potential to homogenize, by gradually effacing local socio-cultural norms and knowledge traditions. These technologies clearly signify a large scale ‘invasion’ of the local spaces. They also result in greater absorption/integration of the locality into the over-arching national and global streams. This has become particularly acute with some of the latest of the ICTs – the cable television network (with access to worldwide channels) and the internet. In a developing country like India, the first one has penetrated to almost every village in some states. This along with the pervasiveness of internet in urban areas – has introduced a huge change in consumption patterns, aspirations, cultural norms and general lifestyle. It is an ongoing process marked by ever greater homogenization and ever increasing threat to traditional mores and knowledge traditions. The danger becomes all the more pronounced as the latter’s capacity to disseminate is a far cry from the ever increasing power of the former. However, with a new world view and approach, the same ICTs can be used as effective channels, not only to resist homogenization, but also to disseminate local traditions to the global stage and enable genuine plurality and inter-cultural dialogue. The possibilities look particularly bright with the new thrust on taking the internet to rural areas under the rubric of ‘ICTs for Development’. Though much of these programmes are oriented towards material improvement, they can be used creatively to earn the localities their rightful place in the ‘knowledge economy’ and ‘knowledge society’. This paper will discuss the need for this and the ways to achieve

Keywords: Globalisation, ICTs, Knowledge Society, Knowledge Economy, Plurality, Inter-Cultural Dialogue
Stream: Social Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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John Bosco Lourdusamy

Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

John Bosco Lourdusamy is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Science, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India. Lourdusamy had obtained his doctorate from the University of Oxford [May 2000] for his thesis on “Science and National Consciousness: A Study of the Response to Modern Science in Colonial Bengal, 1870-1930”. While at Oxford, Lourdusamy had also been a Queen Elizabeth Visiting Scholar to the Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. [1996-1997]. Hailing from the state of Tamilnadu in India, Lourdusamy had his early school education in neighbouring Pondicherry. He went to Loyola College, Chennai for his B.A. in History [1988-91]. Thereafter, he completed his M.A. [1992-1993] and M.Phil [1993-1995] at Pondicherry University before going to Oxford in October 1995. Dr.Lourdusamy has authored two books : Science and National Consciousness in Bengal, 1870-1930, (2004) and Religion and Modern Science in Colonial Bengal (1870-1940), (2007). His other areas of interest include: Science, Technology and Rural Development; Socio-cultural impacts of ICTs and Digital Divide.

Ref: S08P0213