About the digital dream

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There is a great push for the digital era. This is perfectly understandable given the lure of a technology driven ambience. It fuels an understandable scramble for modernity.

A look at the lay of the land in general and going-ons in the electronics world may be in order.
Technology in the consumer electronics domain has its roots in the American / Japanese /English/ German experience. The Economy of these countries is in-a-manner-of-speaking a ‘replacement economy’. The life of the gadget is over not by a natural wear and tear but when the corporate manufacturing brand decides to phase out one set of equipment with the invariable claim of an up scaled version. Very often up scaling is token, if at all. However the specification of the part is suitably altered to make sure maintenance/replacement of parts becomes an outdated concept. This obviously lubricates the wheels of the producer’s investment and a feeling of well-being is generated amongst investors. The backup of this economy has certain financial assumptions. Poverty is not seen as a factor.  For another these countries do not rank 98th in the human hunger index of a survey of 113 countries, as does India. There is no premium on fixed deposits in banks because the interest rates are low.

Compare that to what is happening in India. 9/10th of the populations in the so called retired category in India survives on income of fixed deposits. The remaining 1 percent keeps moving, through reemployment or survives on assets accumulated over the working period.

This variation alone is enough to show that the nature of consumer electronics in India cannot be viewed parallely with the nature of consumer electronics in countries named earlier on.

The results are for all to see. In April 2014 Microsoft stopped offering security updates patches and technical support for a very large number (72 %?) of the 2,02,000 ATM machines in India, run on windows XP. Today they are all a hackers’ delight. The news surfaces in business fora repeatedly. The argument forwarded is that it is for the banks to upgrade the software of the ATM’s.Globally Windows XP in ATM’s have graduated to Windows 7. India has yet to find its way.

Is it possible that the initial contracts were signed without reading the fine print ? The writer of these lines in the last few weeks has had two experiences of going through contracts with reputed organizations. In one case, because of certain office exigencies, he had to look into the possibility of opening an account with a multinational bank. The multinational bank representative produced a contract where in a font of size 6 (?) pts said everything which totaled up to protecting the so-called-interest of the bank, giving to the applicant practically no protection. Indeed, it went on to say that all subsequent changes in the rules and regulations of the said bank would apply to the customer even if he was not so informed. This would stretch the imagination of the most gullible and the cooperative ones. The story doesn’t end there. To download the software of a taxi provider you are asked to sign electronically on a statement that you have read all the rules and regulations! The present writer again wanting to be careful had to spent time finding out where he could get these rules and regulations. The source of information was difficult to get and when reached the website refused to download! Clearly if you care, you do not proceed.

The above is not the approach of a fevered mind. The newspapers have reported that suspected outages have become a menace across points of sale terminals at key Gurgaon outlets. The story rolls on and small vendors say that many customers are technologically simply not savvy enough to even use card swiping machines. The argument is for small changes. Obviously this will effect business. The cabbies refuse e-cash and want notes; machines which hang and you can’t operate it when you want to.
We would all love to go cashless. But perhaps it may not be too much to expect to put the delivery infrastructure in place.

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