Media hype or is it real?

When young, we were told that Pen is mightier than Sword. Now carrying a pen is as ornamental as sporting a tiepin. And all such swords have been relegated to the precincts of museums as memorabilia of a bygone post-iron age civilization. Gone are the pens. Enter the dot pens. The pen part of the dot pens disappears once again leaving the dot behind.

Today wars are not fought with swords or guns. Whatever little we see of these wars is by way of screen-savers. The actual conflicts run in the background _ the battle for commercial supremacy.

Instead of working for cross-purposes as the pen and sword used to do in the past, and taking cue from today's most happening events of mergers and takeovers, the dot and the com(merce) come together and a new avatar dotcom is born. This new force is all-pervasive and does not respect geographic boundaries.

After the break up of the USSR, the media did not have much to talk about _ cold war, real war, isms of diverse color and hue. Further in a uni-polar world, war machines have lost much of their significance. New ideas were to be mooted and exotic consumer items were to be devised to keep the Western economies running in full throttle, and help overcoming the inertia of stagnating living standards. The dotcom revolution, which is a product of an organic rather than a designed process of development, filled in the void. No wonder that the media lapped it up and promoted the concept from real to somewhat an unreal universe to attract the attention of the masses.

Life has become more colourful today. Streets are replete with banners, hoardings and festoons. Cybercafes sprang up in every street corner. The young and the old rushed to the teaching shops that mushroomed even in nondescript places to enroll in the revolution sweeping the globe. The mass euphoria apart, even the hitherto orthodox financiers have come under spell. They chase the dotcom enterprises with bags of dollar bills giving scant regard to the lessons on financial analysis and discipline they have learnt in the elitist business schools. Now such persons wearing dark pinstripe suits, rimless glasses and having cell phones are called angels. Where are those with a spotless white dress, stars all around, and a magic wand in hand?

Some people do not like dotcoms because the origin can be suspect and traced to the North American continent. Some hate these because they serve the commercial interests of the Western world and are not sensitive to the welfare of the poorer nations.

I like it because it works and can do good for people!

I also understand why suddenly the Heads of some of the mightiest nations and CEOs of large companies found reasons and the time to visit this country - definitely not for the love of it any way, and not even for a camel-load of goodies. It is all for the knowledge assets.

Traditionally, development comes through import of raw materials and export of value added goods. Following the same logic, in the knowledge field also, knowledge workers are being lured to their countries, to engineer the products, and sell solutions to us. Who does not fall flat when flattered? Even God does, so why blame the innocent fellows?

I do not understand why delegations after delegations visit the Promised Land bragging about our strengths in IT and solicit FDI. People in the business of making money would rush even to hell if the place appears promising.

Why the NRIs are to be reminded of the gene pool they are from in order to woo them to set up shops in India as a gesture of goodwill; or is it repayment of costs that the Government of India had incurred for making them what they are today. Remember, the proverbial mother proudly exhibits the gift from the son who does not stay with her to those who take care of her all the while!

Why should our revered Directors of IITs go with begging bowl to the non-resident alumni? If we cannot find our own means, we forfeit the right to exist.

But we are too complacent. Our life-support comes from the nostalgia of our golden past. We may take note of the new regime only when the Intel chips reach even the most remote corner of the country. Of course, our administrative feuds to safeguard interests will continue until we are swept off our feet by the foreign commercial force. We will contrive to suspect the true intention of the corporate. We also would waste time looking for a hidden agenda. We shall talk of market fundamentalism and get overwhelmed by corporate generosities. Till …

Disregard trivialities and get set! It's time for us to play the game.

— A. Lahiri

Information Today & Tomorrow, Vol. 19, No. 3, September 2000, p.1-p.2