Ushering Technology

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The media, the government, the market is buzzing with talk of digitization. The preparedness for it seems to have just about begun while expectations continue to soar. Which way the trend will go, will be a testimony which time will provide. In the mean while the insights on management of change may help to chart out a definite path. Clearly this intervention will not be the first, for technological up gradation. It will certainly, also, not be the first for modernization. Yet, as of today, it looks more tentative than is good for evoking a robust confidence in its steady progress. This is so, because it needs to be, adequately registered that there will be limited digitization without being accompanied by adequate change in the culture of the market place and service providers. Advertisements on dealing with the drivers of 3 wheelers, tailors and whatever else do make a point. They are good as far as they go.

Modernization is a multi-linear process. Development is a version of modernization which has to be culture specific. It moves best, when it energizes, cashing in on the aspirations of the individual and communities. An illustration will prove the point:
There are territorial aristocracies say in Gujarat of Kanbis and Patidars , in Eastern UP and Western Bihar there is the community of Bhumihars. The list can be multiplied. The point, to be made, is the need to harness the collective psyche of these communities for development. More specifically the historical patterns have to be factored in. To be considered ‘distinguished’ in the Bhumihar community one has to be financial well off. Hence a relatively less prosperous Bhumihar, when he arrives with a job,say, in a multinational corporate entity or lands a job abroad from where he starts remitting money displays particular type of behavior pattern. His first thought, is more likely than not, to let his financial prosperity be noticed by his community. He will do so, at times by building a Pakka house if didn’t have one or undertaking ostentatious spending during festivals or ceremonies or rituals. His idea would be to let the community know that he has arrived in the elite group.

For him to go in for tools of digitization may not fit in with his overall plan. He would much prefer to deal in cash, making a public display of what he has, rather than discrete payments in the digitization mode. Even the credit card may not fit into his scheme.

It would be erroneous to assume that all cash transaction are by definition symbolic of ill-gotten money. To give further cultural illustration when his Daughter-In-Law or daughter or Son-In-Law is bid farewell the elders much to give a few thousand rupees in cash rather than in presents acquired through their credit card. The latter methodology may not fit in with his overall scheme and objective. This kind of a cultural paradigm cannot be wished away by flaunted westernization.
The major flaw in attempting a straight line modernization is that it is a badly disguised western oriented theory which believes that all developing societies are and bound to be heading towards the ideals of contemporary western society.

The kind of resistance which Anglicization, Europeanization  Americanization is facing in parts of the world cannot be resolved by armorial intervention. Vietnam alone, should have been a lesson to those who could read the writing on the wall.
These larger international patterns are visible even in national developmental paradigms and micro level. All traditional systems will not get debunked. They cannot be debunked in all parts of the world and at all levels, even though Kentucky chicken or McDonalds may be witnessed in the unlikeliest place.

Progressively there is a tendency for individuals, family, groups, and communities to live in multiple concurrent worlds.
Digitization as a thought, as a service, as a product has to be adopted at a micro level by individuals and at a more evolved level by communities, to make the kind of progress its protagonist seek to achieve.

Embedding it in social realities is the better way forward. Worthwhileness of a cause by itself may not suffice.

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