Despite its best attempts and some very creative thinking, the Indian government’s efforts to chart an independent course in cyberspace have met with consistent failures and frustrations. Its Cybersecurity Policy, published last month, is a case in point. Released amidst the growing controversy over revelations regarding the American electronic eavesdropping program, this policy document is the culmination of deliberations that the Indian security establishment has been carrying out with various stakeholders for the past three years.
Science & Technology
The Indian state faces a serious need to overhaul its mechanisms of accountability. According to a Pew Research Poll conducted in 2010, 98 percent of Indian citizens classify government corruption as a “very big” or a “moderately big” problem facing the country. There is good reason for citizens to be concerned. Every year, the government loses countless crores of rupees to bribery and embezzlement. Related to the lost money are the lost man-hours. Worker absenteeism, defined as the practice of staying away from work without good reason, is another huge problem.
Medical devices form a $200 billion global industry, which develops and manufactures essential healthcare equipment ranging in complexity from simple devices like thermometers and stethoscopes to complex devices like pacemakers, ultrasound machines and surgical robots. India’s medical devices market was worth $3 billion in 2011 and grew at roughly 15 percent annually in that year. It is expected to grow at a 16 percent compounded annual clip during the 2010-2015 period, far better than the 2-3 percent growth expected in this sector in the U.S. and Europe.
With the emergence of India on the global scene as a player parlayed by the information technology revolution, its aspirations have received a new boost. Aside from being an economic power, it now aspires to be a knowledge power; a center of innovation and creative ideas. However, it is not on track to do so. While India has the resources to make this happen, the absence of fundamental institutional change makes reaching this goal very unlikely.
Despite some recent stumbles, most economic and demographic metrics favor India’s growth for several more years. India’s economic expansion is typical; it comes from its current low levels of physical, technological, and human capital deployed and its absorptive power for additional such capital. Although the Indian economy is fairly broad based, it does suffer from some imbalances: the export sector is small, manufacturing is underdeveloped, and there is little high technology industry.
The increasingly complex and elusive media landscape has thrown fresh challenges to an unsettled ecosystem of media policy in India. Advanced communications technologies have fundamentally altered the ways in which information and meanings are delivered, organized and received. These new advancements call into question the efficacy of existing policy approaches to media, including the still-dominant conventional media.
The pleasure of speaking multiple tongues is that you will occasionally come across a word that would otherwise be lost in translation. Every language has these hidden expressions, which give away something unique or quirky about a culture. And like German’s schadenfreude, or the Yiddish kvetch, India has a particularly interesting one of its own: jugaad. A crude translation might be “making do,” but then that wouldn’t really do justice to all the shades of meaning, spanning the nefarious to the ingenious.
The history of modern science in India has too often been written about as a nationalist tale; sometimes heroic, sometimes not, with the scientist working with and within the massive energies released by the moment of India’s independence in 1947.
Since India and Pakistan claimed formal nuclear status in 1998, a debate has revived among nuclear optimists and pessimists on the consequences of nuclear proliferation. The original Sagan-Waltz debate has been followed up by Ganguly on the one hand, who optimistically argues that South Asia is stable, and Kapur on the other, who pessimistically maintains that there remain serious grounds for instability.
The satellite television “revolution” of the mid 1990s has dramatically transformed the landscape of media in India. The entry of multinational media companies, as well as a spurt in the number of English and regional language television channels with various patterns of indigenous ownership, have unleashed a new “visual regime.” Indian Readership Surveys show a consistent increase in the number of newspaper readers and other media audiences. Industry estimates paint a blistering image of an exploding media sector, with television occupying a pivotal position in such predictions.