While there are discussions and debates considering ICT as an important aspect in reaching out to masses and thus bringing about desired social change, it is also essential to understand the context in which we are operating. Not undermining the potential of ICT to transform developing countries like ours into knowledge-based societies, IT sector as a whole has huge work to unfold in mapping the scope of their involvement resulting into a long-term positive impact – impact which can bring cheers to the face of millions of disadvantaged communities. If we attempt to understand this perspective, there are two types of technological interventions targeted at social development. First is to support and expand already existing processes amongst the demographic population who otherwise do not have access to these services. Second is to play a major role in establishing innovation induced creation of new activities and processes in its entirety. This century is witnessing manifold increase in interaction between human and digital media.
It has become increasingly important to have access to digital space to be abreast with the economic, political and social aspects of not just our own society but of the world as a whole. However, it is evident that not everyone is aware about these facilities let aside having access to them. India is a case study on digital divide where one section of society is leading the technological innovation and the other is in total disconnect from this reality. It is not just the cost element being the base of this divide but the widespread illiteracy amongst the socio-economically disadvantaged communities. This issue gets enormously compounded by the already existing societal biases related to caste, religion, gender, wealth, education and so on.
This interwoven issue with multiple complexities is surmountable if broken down into specific and realistically achievable tasks. Technology based corporates are looked upon to be enablers in this scenario obviously for their usage of these facilities and potential to reuse the assets to address access part of this digital need for the larger community. Capgemini believes in having a long-term engagement with impact oriented interventions. Providing computers and facilitating internet connection with few employees volunteering for training is not a big task for us, but when we look at a bigger picture and attempt to understand the scope of this issue, these efforts are not enough.
Having a scale of operation coupled with monitoring and evaluation process in place which would ensure large scale implementation as well as accountability from the corporate sector and civil society is a key to have a long Facilitating catalytic change through IT for social development. Innovation, digitalizing the content which are relevant in and for social space, creating digital platform to share/ interact on solutions and doing all this to a scale commensurate with India’s created demand would be major game changer and would catalyze the development process through IT enabled services.
Though computers and other technologies are needed but they have limitation to complete the demanded requirement. The IT service providers should look forward to have initiatives implemented around training and education of new generation rather than to have technologies resulting into short-term ends in themselves. To achieve this, at Capgemini, through CSR, we intend to have strategic approach towards building the capacities of communities to understand digital content and use the content for great empowerment and transformation.
By: Kumar Anurag Pratap, CSR Leader, Capgemini
This column has been previously published in ‘NO PROFIT HIGH IMPACT’ eNGO Challenge Award Book 2015