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   Alien Technology
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
27 Mar 2011

Ignorance may not be bliss

At about the time when the Bhakra Dam was being built in the early 1960’s, a little known political movement was simultaneously gaining ground. Oblivious to the technology of generating power from flowing water, the proponents of the movement argued instead that power extracted from water will render the fluid sterile. Though the argument couldn’t stand the test of time, it did create some ripples in the corridors of power in Punjab.

The time may have changed but our ignorance of technology persists, in fact it has grown with each new gadget hitting the stores. The mobile phones and iPods bear testimony to the growing ignorance; only miniscule users are conversant with the myriad applications these gadgets come loaded with. While access to technology in itself is empowering, alienation from the same may have serious consequences especially when a tool is supposed to offer life saving results.

Alien Technology explores the intriguing levels of technology alienation, which is leading to the creation of a new kind of class system based on technology literacy. The pace with which corporations are rolling out new gadgets, a sense of inadequacy grips those who lack the ability to get a better sense of the technology. A vast majority may survive technological alienation and it indeed does but at the cost of being socially tagged as ‘less intelligent’.

Has technological sophistication made humans lesser intelligent? It indeed has, as child-like instinct of playing with new equipments using simply a screw driver is no longer possible. No wonder, our incessant obsession of technology has grown alongside our persistent ignorance of it. Using real-life examples, author Ananda Mitra engages the readers on a subject that has yet to catch the imagination of a vast majority, for whom ignorance is bliss.

Written in lucid language, Alien Technology is a timely introduction to a subject that has far reaching social and psychological implications. Ignorance and alienation can work against the masses in a variety of ways. Aren’t there computer users who still use predictable passwords, readily download any application or share details online, holding themselves vulnerable to computer hackers?

Alien Technology
by Anand Mitra
Sage, New Delhi
224 pages, Rs 295

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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