Info highway and employment
INFO-HIGHWAY TO GENERATE 35.5 MILLION JOBS
NEW DELHI, Aug 6 (PTI)
The information superhighway can provide village-based jobs to
nearly 35.5 million educated unemployed and help the country
earn US$ 60 billion, say Internet specialists.
With ever increasing competition and saturation of domestic
markets, the multinational corporations and other small and big
enterprises have set their sights on the hitherto unexploited
global markets as a survival strategy and are, therefore, on the
lookout for specific market information. Such information not
only helps the companies in locating their potential customers
in a global village but also to foresee the needs of their
customers accurately. Moreover, it helps companies to go for
result-oriented strategic alliances and to reach customers with
the "right menu" on their doorstep.
According to an estimate, more than 1,00,000 US companies are
trying to reach the booming markets of Pacific rim countries and
"It is just a matter of time before everyone has their own infor-
mation agent on the market," says Mr. Jodi B Cohen, an authority
on interactive communications. "This is the area where Indian
info-workers can make money by selling filtered and accurate
market specific information to the needy companies of the world.
India with its rich human resources is the ideal place under the
sun to put up information laboratories," says Mr K J Francis, a
Delhi-based info-highway specialist.
"Anyone with a personal computer, a modem and a telephone can
now drive on the information superhighway and can tap computer
data banks and communicate via electronic mail (E-mail) to anyone
else on the Internet anywhere in the world," says Mr Henry N
Mendelsohn of the United States Information Service (USIS).
While conceding that access to Internet is not yet widespread in
India, Mr Mendelsohn says economic liberalisation has led to a
surge of interest in the information highway among Indian busi-
ness men, academics, government officials, students and lay peo-
"More and more homegrown home pages are being added to the high-
way every day. Internet access and E-mail are being introduced to
colleges, universities and schools," he says.
INFOPRENEURS: And thanks to the efforts of a few "infopreneurs",
who have realised Internet's potential to provide employment to
millions of their jobless fellow countrymen, India is very well
on its way to become the silicon valley of information labs.
The world's first 'very small information village' (VSIV) is
being set up at Vazhapally village in Kottayam district of Kerala
by Atlantic-Pacific Market Research Inc (APMRI), a think-tank on
the information superhighway.
"Each info-worker stands to earn Rs 3000 to Rs 4500 a month,"
says Mr Francis, founder director.
The proposed VSIV will have in built software to assess the
intellectual capital of the info-worker, the capability to access
information from anywhere in the world besides sending value-
added information to anywhere in the world.
BASIC PRE-REQUISITES: The basic pre requisites for establishing
viable VSlV are that it should have about 1000 educated, prefer-
ably unemployed, persons possessing good reading habits and able
to understand international business language.
"Moreover, they should be computer literate with capability to
read, subtract, store and retrieve information manually as well
as electronically", says Mr Francis, adding that the village
should have ten telephones, one post office, a functional library
and a Cooperative bank.
Explaining the system, Mr Francis says the job aspirants would be
initially trained to commercialise information collected from
whatever they are reading, seeing and experiencing. Thereafter,
they will be given a business address consisting of a post box
number, a telephone number, a voice mail - number and fax mail
and E-mail address, besides accessibility to a - modern computer-
Each VSlV system would have 100 network computers which would
be programmed for ten hours a day. Each info-worker would be
given a time slot of one hour to feed the information they have
collected, in the process enabling 1,000 workers to work every-
The information thus collected are customised to the information
seeking client's specific needs and would be stored in a super
computer with parallel lines across the globe through satellite
networks and strategic alliances.
"The idea is to build 'information depots' throughout India with
extended franchise agreements in other parts of the world for
marketing processed information," says Francis.
"Even if Indian workers succeed in tapping a meager five per cent
of the estimated US$ 24 trillion global trade, the business is
worth US$ 1200 billion, and at five per cent commission they gain
US$ 60 billion annually, which in turn would mean a monthly
income 6f Rs 4000 for 35.5 million infoworkers," says Mr Francis.
The APMRl director explaining the reason for choosing Kerala for
the first VSIV said, "telephones in all the villages, libraries
in 80 per cent of the rural areas and a large number of educated
unemployed, mostly computer literates, makes it very economical
to set up a VSIV in Kerala," he says.
He added that APMRl is preparing a list of one VSIV, estimated at
Rs three crore, in every State. As a first step towards realising
the ultimate objective of a "library on information highway for
every kitchen' (life kit), the APMRI has compiled an index using
the resources and facilities of the American Centre Library in
New Delhi to help students, researchers and the just-plain-
interested to find articles and stories about the information
"The indexed articles come from a variety of sources including
newspapers, magazines, scholarly periodicals and books drawn fr-
om the literature of many disciplines and library members can
obtain photocopies of the articles for a modest fee from any of
the American Centre Libraries in India," says Mr Mendelsohn of
SOURCE : Deccan Herald (Bangalore) August 7, 1996