ROLE OF ICT IN DEVELOPMENT
Since the mid 1970s, there has been a steady growth in information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their application in development. The US and several West European countries have become information societies i.e. countries in which the production, processing and distribution of information software and hardware are the main activities. The ICTs may be described as “electronic means of capturing, processing, storing and communicating information”. The digital ICTs store the information as ones and zeros and transmit the data through telecommunication networks. The “older” communication technologies such as the radio and television are analog systems in which information is held as electric signals and transmitted through electro magnetic waves. Examples of digital ICTs are television, wireless cellular phones, communication satellites, computers and the internet. There has been a significant proliferation of each of these technologies in the third world since 1975. The Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) in India is an example of ICT. A recent phenomena has been the spread of public call services (PCOs) that provide payphone services as well as fax and photocopying services. The PCOs have proliferated in most urban areas and some rural areas in the Third World. A telecenter which is a PCO with internet services is common in urban areas but are still rare in rural regions. Uses Supporters of ICTs have advocated integrated rural development through telecommunications by highlighting many of their uses and applications in developing countries• Finding markets and farm produce, fishery catches and handicraft products, negotiating prices and arranging for transportation. • Arranging for the delivery of inputs such as raw materials, supplies and tools. • Obtaining and distributing information rapidly on markets, prices, consumption trends and inventory • Facilitating rural and eco-tourism and many other developmental measures taken.
Though its penetration is very low in many developing countries and it is still very much urban based ICT. New information can be fed into the community through existing channels such as the community radio. the Internet was ‘exported’ to Third World countries. the internet may be used to share news among developing countries. • In the area of community. Easy access to information going out about the community are valuable resources and the internet makes it possible. Internet can serve as an information resource as well as a research tool. • Lastly. The internet can be used to effectively document local knowledge practices and share it with outsiders as well as facilitate horizontal flows among rural communities and organizations. the National Association of Software Services Companies (NASSCOM) provided email services with video to connect immigrant taxi drivers in the city to see their relatives and talk to them at a cheaper rate than
. stores and interpersonal networks. it has significant potential for rural development in the Third World.
Participatory communication approaches place a great value in bottom up flows of information and delivering research results from the rural areas to the policy-makers in urban centres.
• Small businesses can exploit the internet to get the information on new markets and access critical business and financial information. The internet may be used to support rural development in many areas• In the area of agriculture. the Internet can serve as a gateway to global markets and information. development support functionaries such as local NGOs can use the Internet as a window to the outside world and publicize their work and seek donors while the health workers can use the internet to access technical information.In the 1990s. bulletin boards at local co operatives. Case Study In India.
it is imperative that the people themselves or their organizations directly control the ICTs and be able to design and interpret the information systems and the attendant technologies to derive the greatest benefit. other constraints will inhibit access to the information put out. especially in the rural areas and the cost to connect to the internet are prohibitive for the average user in a developing country. Whatever have been the disadvantages. and money to buy and access the ICTs’. some health workers praised the satellite system that has brought them email connections and cheap access to health information while others complained that the Internet will not pay for the aspirin and syringes. there are hardly any internet nodes in the rural areas of developing countries. In addition to very low teledensity. the quality of telephone lines is very poor.a telephone call.medium size entrepreneurs face many resource constraints that may prevent them from accessing the technology. at some point in future. Most of them were illiterate and it was a pleasant surprise for them. Almost all the nodes are situated in the urban areas and this may involve making long distance calls to connect to the internet if one lives outside the capital city or a big urban center. ICTs. Resource inequalities can include monetary resources such as starting capital. Once the recipients are able to access the technology. maintenance costs and taxes and infrastructure resources. though. Finally. a skills infrastructure to keep all the technology working.
.to. the rural poor and the small entrepreneurs may not have the usage skills and knowledge of English or the language in which internet messages are encoded. On a debate of the use of internet for awareness of health related information.a boon or bane for development The rural poor or small. the rural poor ay not have sufficient resources to actually use or apply the new knowledge. In addition. These constraints include ‘ a telecommunications infrastructure to make the ICTs work.
Local cultures also may harbor solutions to many of the problems at the grassroots. cultural. Local culture sin developing nations and elsewhere are not static. But if development is not to create greater misery for the majority at the periphery. viewing development as economic growth obtained through greater industrialization and accompanying urbanization. mental. It describes the type of modernization that has been achieved in West European and North American countries. The fact that they have survived centuries of hostile alien rule speaks volumes of their dynamic nature. In this approach. then we need a process by which not only mythical concept of the nation is developed but individuals and communities are also given the opportunity to create the type of society they want DECISION MAKERS ON THE ACCEPTANCE/UNAPPROVAL OF THE DEFINITION OF DEVELOPMENT The elites in every nation. Also. with respect to rightness and wrongness of certain actions and the goodness and badness of the motives and ends os such actions’. Development performance has been gauged via measures such as GNP and per capita income levels. In most developing countries. economic and political power is concentrated in the hands of small elite. usually men had the prerogative of deciding what their country needs. Any discussion of development must include the physical. and spiritual growth of individuals in an atmosphere free from coercion or dependency. People who are the objects of policy need to be involved in
. or some region into modernity. any definition of development by elites will be in a direction opportune to their interests. To talk of uprooting local cultures is not only naïve but also ethically indefensible. DEVELOPMENT The dominant paradigm assumes an ethnocentric conception of what progress should be.ETHICAL PERSPECTIVE OF DEVELOPMENT
The dictionary definition of ethics is the ‘branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct. LEVEL OF DEVELOPMENT Much of the work has been at the level of the nation-state. Even research at the micro level has been concerned with bringing the nation . In such circumstances. it has looked at development from a macro economic perspective. social. there has been no participation of the people at the grassroots.
What is needed today is a self examination by every intellectual and policy maker concerned with development. to reduce human suffering and not increase it. The concept of participation favored by bottom-up strategies with labels such as participatory communication systems and inter mediate technologies has been narrow: achieve widespread co operation in adopting better health care practices.
. emphasizing capital intensive technology and centralized planning.e. Development must aim for more egalitarian distribution of benefits as well as risks across all social and economic classes.the definition. design and execution of the development process. The western model as enunciated in the dominant paradigm is inappropriate for most developing countries. MORAL IMPLICATIONS AT THE POLICY MAKING LEVEL The focus of policy making needs to be on human development i. It has led to much corruption as well. This model. has served to increase the power and wealth of elites. increased agricultural production etc BENEFITERS AND RISK-BEARERS OF DEVELOPMENT We believe that any policy that continues to exploit the masses to the benefit of the rich and powerful is morally indefensible. An alternative model that stresses decentralized development planning with effective local participation would be more appropriate.
to empowering people so that they may articulate and manage their own development. DiazBordenave states it cogently. They argue that participation must be recognized as a basic human right. socialist feminists and others with Marxist leanings have cautioned against going too far in rejecting theories and methods of the social sciences to the neglect of real material structures that contribute to social inequalities. It should be accepted and supported as an end in itself and not for its results. symbolic rationality. and the strengthening of critical consciousness among the people in a community. Attempts at operationalization of the term ‘participation’ range from those that reflect the dominant paradigm: the participation-as-a-means approach— to those that genuinely represent the case for the context based paradigm: the participation-as-an-end approach. this people have not been able to do so due to a lack of genuine participation in developments strategies ostensibly set up to ameliorate their problems. To a large extent. as well as to progressive change. Epistemological plurality is the favored outcome which assume that language actively constructs meaning and that it is more valuable to discover representational meaning than to find explanations. cultural specificity. deconstruction of dominant ideology of power. The participation-as-an-end approach has received support from many scholars and administrators.STRATEGIES FOR PARTICIPATORY COMMUNICATION
Today. For development communication.” This approach could be visualized along a continuum: ranging from attempts at mobilization of the populace to co-operation in development activities. the post structuralism and post modernism embraced by leading theorists challenge universal truths and our notions of objective social reality. the combined effect of all these trends has been to encourage the acceptance of multiple meanings. urban slums and other depressed sectors must perceive their real needs and identify their real problems. change through human agency. At the same time. PARTICIPATION AND COMMUNICATION Communication constitutes an indispensable part of participatory approaches. political economists. Many scholars and practitioners over the past three decades have
. communicative action and structuration. “participation is not a fringe benefit that authorities may grant as a concession but every human being’s birthright that no authority may deny or prevent. People living in rural areas.
Canada has been in the forefront to make radio a community-oriented medium that responds to the community’s needs and contributes toward the development of the community. communication is performing its true functions—communicare or building commonness among the members of a group or community striving to change their present situation. the end being greater dependence of the people on a market control by the elites. workshop. communication channels are used to generate dialogue to help people understand each other and identify their collective problems. The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) are NGOs that supports communication activities through funding. In this approach. Communication is thus the vehicle for liberation from mental and psychological shackles that bind the people to structures and process of oppression. Domination of the poor and marginalized comes about in at least three ways—(i) control over the means of material production (ii) control over the means of knowledge production (iii) control over power that legitimizes the relative worth and utility of different epistemologies/ knowledges. the participation of the people was directed because. spatial structures in their societies. Used in this way. often the aim of the development projects was to achieve widespread co operation in increasing agricultural production. Other projects have specifically supported a variety of media empowerment outcomes in the developing countries. The goal of participation efforts should be to facilitate conscientization of marginalized people globally of unequal social. people at the grassroots were coopted in activities that in the end would make consumers of them for industrial groups and services. However. COMMUNICATION AS EMPOWERMENT PROGRAMS The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) based in Montreal. Participation. improving formal and non-formal education. thus. seminars. publications and consultancy services. the structure of elite domination was not disturbed.favored active participation of the people at the grassroots. Worldwide International Foundation (WIF). political. limiting family size etc. The AMARC has encouraged a role for radio as a vehicle for expression and participation of the community. The basic ideology of PAR is that endogenous efforts and local leaders will play the
. therefore. both national and international. In these bottom-up approaches. PARTICIPATION ACTION RESEARCH Participation Action Research (PAR) is dedicated to resuscitating both the power of marginalized people and their popular knowledge. was a means to an end.
the work of NGOs in Third World development has grown significantly. PAR AND SELF DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES The process of individual and collective empowerment via PAR is complex and reveals different forms and outcomes. the participatory development projects run by the NGOs have co-opted the liberation ideal of the PAR approach. causes a crisis in authority and creates a space for marginalized groups to influence social change. to promote self development efforts using popular participation approaches. disrupts the position of development as articulated by the dominant discourse as problematic. This has led to small scale and decentralized projects funded mostly by foreign donors. Grassroots organizations mobilize their own resources and skills with or without the help of external agencies such as the state or NGOs.
. The outcomes of PAR may be categorized under four interrelated topic Defensive Actions. The PAR approach.leading role in social transformation using their own praxis.These refer to situations where the poor and marginalized groups lack access to resources and opportunities to better their lives and the lives of their communities.These actions comprise initiatives that are alternative to mainstream development projects. Assertive Actions. Alternative Actions. Constructive Actions. Thus. Participatory development is far from being adopted in practice anywhere in a way which leads to major structural reforms and the transfer of resources away from those vested interests that control dominant social and political structures towards underprivileged people.These are aimed at protecting existing resources that are under threat of encroachment.These constitute self-help development projects initiated and organized by the community to satisfy local needs. attempts to create a counter discourse. by resuscitating and elevating popular knowledge. CO-OPTATION OF THE LIBERATION MOVEMENT In the last 10 years. erosion or outright takeover.
Its parent company. for each has something to offer. opportunities. and balanced nutrition. was founded 10 years ago by middle-class women to provide day-care and.
. is just one of the many groups in India that use theatre as a medium for development communication. only about ten-third of India population has access to radio. • Create and maintain a base of consensus that is needed for the stability of the state. Mobile Crèches. later. hygiene. flexibility is particularly important in a country as complex as India where two thirds of the people are illiterate. • Teach those ideas. Various such theatre groups operate throughout India. be it a Street play or a national radio program. The purpose of the communication must take precedence over the nature of the medium. It plays the following four responsible roles: • Circulate knowledge that will inform people of significant events. Lok Doot. educational facilities for children of New Delhi’s predominantly female construction workers. Radio has been considered a tool of national development since India drew up its first Five Year Plan in 1951.INDIAN MEDIA AND DEVELOPMENT COMMUNICATION
The role of media changes in development communication. Even so. skills and attitudes that people need to achieve for a better life. Now they try to educate parents as well as children. Its repertoire includes humorous skits on the value of literacy. although almost 70 percent of India’s geographical area could potentially be reached. In the field of communications. The government of India has long recognized the importance of mass communication. dangers and changes in the community country and the world • Provide a forum where issues affecting the national community life may be aired. and which is divided into 90 distinct ethno linguistic regions. a mobile educational theatre unit.
interactive talk shows on whether smoking should be banned. as in the case of the state-supported radio rural forums for agricultural communication in the 1960s. The open forums. undermined by the vacillating fortunes and commitments of rapidly-changing governments. RADIO The number of radio stations has increased from about 100 in 1990 to 209 in 1997. Some efforts have been made to use radio for social change. However. in particular.That role of media has been one of mixed successes. and open forums with government representatives responding to audience queries on human rights abuses or consumer rights. have been significant. or to promote adult literacy in the 1980s. More recently NGOs have helped broadcast programmes on women and legal rights. the state's forays into development communication. These programmes combine varying degrees of social value with commercial appeal in a competitive market. and in the long run. although very negligibly. some channels broadcast programmes with a veneer of public interest: soaps that incorporate socially relevant themes such as women's education and empowerment. TELEVISION In a bid to give Television a halo of social responsibility. have played an important role in familiarizing the public to the political and
. despite its tremendous reach and the fact that it presents the best option for low-cost programming. and teleserials advocating girls' education. But then the successes of SITE (Satellite Instructional Television Experiment) or the Kheda Communications Project are offset by the phenomenal failures of other projects such as PREAL. Listenership has either dropped or reached a plateau. Over the last four decades. in some urban areas. the ruling communication paradigm at that time. emergency contraception. radio has been treated as a poor relative for over two decades. But it is clearly a medium waiting for a shot-in-the-arm. thanks to the recent time allotment to private companies on five FM stations. In some cases listenership has risen. Today's vastly changed media scenario calls for a recasting of the role of media in promoting pro social change.
The six project proposals shortlisted for additional funding.
.legal system and in building a demand for political transparency and accountability. India initiated in 1996 collaboration with Channel V for an on-air and on-ground campaign for HIV/AIDS awareness. The collaboration includes training and sensitisation of VJs on issues relating to HIV/AIDS. In another effort. Leading dailies have over the last few years dropped their special sections devoted to development and health. especially. the role of print media has been defined more in terms of information dissemination and advocacy. An emerging trend – and one that also reflects the current programme focus of development agencies – is the targeting of specific segments of the audience. are in entertainment formats of musicals. and the distinctly urban educated readership profile. Cashing in on this trend. Given the increasing costs of newsprint and production.
PRINT MEDIA The very limited reach of newspapers and magazines. but this is especially true of English publications. talk shows and animation. Urban. all of which target children and youth. UNAIDS. newspaper houses have followed the piper in carrying ad -friendly fluff at the cost of more serious development and health reporting. in particular. India funded a BBC training for radio and television producers on reproductive and sexual health. middle to upper class youth. young adults (children and youth in the age group of 10-29 years constitute about 40% of the population). constitute a key target group for private channels. the Ford Foundation. and the pressure of market imperatives. The picture is a lopsided one: circulation figures are rapidly increasing as are advertising revenues. The low literacy rates and high production costs have also stymied the possibilities of smaller alternative publications that could potentially reflect the concerns of the development sector.
. these efforts have facilitated greater grassroots involvement in development. groups of non-profit documentation centers in the country have developed communications systems such as Indialink and Dianet that are focussed solely on development issues. including rural areas. The proposed project sees the expansion of public pay-phone offices that have mushroomed all over the country. By providing connectivity to grassroots NGOs and emphasising the documentation and information from within the country.THE INTERNET Recognizing that access to information and information technologies play a key role in development. especially given the constraints of the mass media. A World Bank funded project for National Agricultural Technology envisages a similar democratisation through the establishment of "information kiosks" in rural areas. into centers with computers for the inputting and accessing of data relevant to rural populations.
Lerner has predicted that the direction of change in communication systems in all societies was from the oral media to the technology-based mass media. Newer concepts of development such as self-help. In the early 1970s. live in harmony with their neighbours or lead more healthy lives. several international conferences addressed the idea of using folk media to promote development. They have served as communication vehicles and entertainment in Asia. In addition they have great potential for integration with the modern mass media. folk songs. story telling.
. ballads. The timeless traditional media present inexhaustible alternatives for experimentation in development communication. mime and more. Africa and Latin America for centuries. Folk forms also became vehicles for persuasive communication wherein modern messages exhorted the audience members to limit the size of their families. Many of the folk media formats are flexible. folk dances. therefore. Ranganath defines the traditional media as “living expressions of the lifestyle and culture of a people. Folk media has several advantages: they are part of the rural social environment and hence credible sources of information to the people. Folk media consist of a variety of forms: folk theater.ROLE OF FOLK MEDIA IN DEVELOPMENT
For a long time. grassroots participation and two way communication led to a re examination of the advantages of the traditional media as vehicles for these purposes. was characterized by a benign neglect of the traditional media. they were regarded as vehicles that would discourage modern attitudes and behavioral patterns and instead reinforce cultural values of the community. The period from the 1950s-1970s. Also mass media were hailed as indices and agents of modernization. Since traditional media are extensions of the local culture. Folk media are the products of the local culture. evolved through the years. They command the audience as live media and are ideal examples of two way communication. In the modernization paradigm. thus facilitating the incorporation of development-oriented messages in their themes. traditional or folk media were ignored in development literature. anything that was even remotely connected with the local culture was to be eschewed. rich in cultural symbols and highly participatory. puppetry.
Integration of folk media may be necessary to legitimize television among rural viewers. Ethical questions may be raised about inserting development content in folk media. Iran’s ‘Barnameh’ has been successfully adapted to radio and television. Efforts however should be made to preserve the originality of each folk form. there was a revival of this ancient Chinese folk form but it lost its original character. However by adapting it to fit the needs of television. Like other folk media. and may be inevitable to the future of the waning folk media. The semi-flexible media might permit the limited insertion of foreign messages through certain characters or situations. The Indian television and commercial films have successfully integrated elements of folk theatre. as it is possible these media may be fundamentally changed or even destroyed in the process. The flexible media provide unlimited opportunities for inserting development messages.CRITICAL ISSUES CONCERNING THE USAGE OF TRADITIONAL MEDIA FOR DEVELOPMENT There are some important concerns in using folk media for development. While folk media have great potential in communicating developmentoriented messages to rural audiences. songs and dances. However. adaptation need not necessarily change. Appropriating folk media for development is a delicate task requiring an intimate knowledge of the nature of traditional communication channels. The rigid forms are usually ritualistic. the popularity of once famous bag puppetry in Taiwan was on the decline. In terms of flexibility. assuming careful consideration of ethical issues. they should be employed judiciously. This requires intimate knowledge and context-based research. semi flexible and flexible. destroy or reduce the original popularity of a folk form. Another important issue involves the integration of folk media with mass media. Ranganath suggests that it is possible to categorize all the media as: rigid. ‘Kakaku’ of Ghana has become a successful serial over radio and television. very religious and reject all foreign messages. mainly due to competition from television. It gives the folk media a wide geographical spread while providing mass media with a rich array of information and entertainment themes from local culture.