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Development support Communication

Development support Communication

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Published by Fahad Usmani

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Published by: Fahad Usmani on Sep 02, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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An explosion of technological innovations, which have accentuated new modes of knowledgetransformation and communication patterns, characterizes the 21st century. The most recentof them - new information and communication technologies - which comprise digital,convergence of computers, satellite and telecommunication technologies, have demonstratedunlimited potential to trigger rapid and fundamental changes in the overall social, economicand cultural environment of societies and industries.Knowledge and information are two key ingredients required to facilitate development andbring about social and economic change. Traditional media, print, radio and TV have playeda major role in disseminating information to people so far. But, the recent evolution of communication technologies has engendered a paradigm shift in the mode information isdisseminated and knowledge exchanged. Participatory and interactive communication, whichwas robustly espoused by development communication scholars but not put in place forpractice, has now been made possible with ICT.Notwithstanding ICT’s inherent capabilities to
wire the world 
, its emergence has spawnedexcited debates about harnessing the new communication technology for developmentactivities. While theories surrounding ‘ICT and its contribution to development’
have begunto emerge in a surge, the obsession with the new technology (for most part, world wide web)and the new-found impulse to make the most of it have led to a host of initiatives undertakenby private and public organizations to deploy it in development support programmes.With the imperatives of accelerating socio-economic development in rural areas mountingunabatedly, the rise of ICT is seen as a boon. ICT is regarded as the key ‘driver’ of change inrural areas. But, its low penetration in rural communities goes to prove that ‘ICT fordevelopment’ is still urban-based and its rosy-eyed implications for alleviation of problemswill become skewed save for precise policies and implementation plans.With developing countries warming to the potential of ICT in addressing their developmentproblems, policies are formulated to introduce information and communication technology inrural centers so as to be used as catalysts of development. New initiatives are being taken tohand down ICT to farmers and spur them on to avail of the facilities bestowed by it. Toenvisage an integrated knowledge society and a common goal of ensuring rural development,unified efforts need to be put in by all stakeholders. ‘Achieving an integrated rural Internetdevelopment approach in a given nation or region requires the collaborative participation of agencies, organizations and government services’ (Richardson, 1997).ICT, by virtue of certain technological traits, will help farmers surmount this handicap. Theycan ‘exploit the Internet to get information on new markets and access critical business andfinancial information’ (Srinivas Melkote, 2002). Farmers could promote their products andhandle simple transactions such as orders over the web while payment transactions for thegoods can then be handled off-line (O’Farrell et al 1999:4). Farmers and their associationswere able to sell their produce at much higher prices than they could fetch in the local marketand strategize on what quantities and when to produce. Users of the centres found theInternet to be a cheaper, timely and appropriate communicationoption(Balit1998,Masias1996).Moreover, ICTs are capable of transgressing the limitations imposed by the older media inthat it cuts out boundaries and helps users establish unimpeded connectivity and networkingwith people. Secondly, it confers greater degree of autonomy and freedom to operate. Thisentails a decentralised system wherein rural communities and their inhabitants can exercisecontrol over content. This subsumes decision-makingrightsaswell.ICTs can empower rural communities and give them “a voice” that permits them to contribute

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