Benefits Of Information Technology On Economic And Social Development

Abstract: The correlation between technology, sustainable development, socio-economic issues have assumed significance in the changing global world
In the new millennium, there is no denying the fact that information and communication technologies play a key role in the growth of a country. There
is substantial evidence that technology has power to harbor progress as it affects many dimensions of societal and economic aspects like education
health and quality of life. It is pertinent to develop an understanding about the methods and techniques in which technology can be utilized
respond to the emerging paradigms of development in a responsible manner. During the last two decades, the press in Kashmir found itself caught in a
whirlpool of dynamic changes as were the other media. The traditional role of media of transmitting and disseminating information to people has
undergone a vast change in its presentation and contextualization. This paper focuses on the on the role and extent of information and communication
technology (ICT) in socio economic development, highlighting the utilization of technology for sustained development and the potential of technology
as an enabler in the digital disparities existing in the developing world. It will also look at the policy perspectives in dealing with socio
political and techno-economic aspects in building ICT policies for development in Kashmir. It is in responding to these questions that the
relationship between development and ICT becomes evident

Key words: Technology, development, socio-economic development, reach, access, disparities

Introduction

Advances in information and communication technologies have facilitated global communication network that transcends national boundaries and has an
impact on policy. There is a prevalent credence that information and communication technologies (ICT) is significant for the development of a nation. Besides, the capacity of ICT to influence numerous facets of indicators of development cannot be diluted. Recent findings show that ICT, which includes the traditional media
comprising of radio television, press and the new computer based technology, plays a vital role in advancing economic growth and reducing poverty.ICT can be used to directly influence the productivity, cost effectiveness and competitiveness in industries. On the other hand, the results for not being able to recognize the benefits of ICT can also be devastating. It can be inferred that without a strategic integrated approach it will intricate to take advantage of the potential ICT driving the socioeconomic development. While the literature from various disciplines provides a
myriad of definitions and elements of socio-economic development, the fundamental question of what constitutes socio-economic development specifically one that is ICT-driven, from the perspective of ordinary citizens, remains unanswered. (Baqir,Neveed; Palvia, Prashant; Nemati, Hamid and Casey, Kathleen, 2011). In the 1990s, globalization and the increasing information intensity of economic activity, coupled with technological change made ICT critical to competitiveness and growth. The application of ICT to economic expansion, political and social development signifies development in various sectors of production and distribution, growth of political institutions and improvement in social structures and modernization. Information and communication technology ICT) is playing a vital role in connecting communities in national, regional and global development. ICT is being utilized to fight poverty, promote economic growth and support development efforts in the developing world. Most of these efforts are based on the international communication policy
debates which emphasize that creating digital opportunities is not something that happens after addressing 'core' development challenges; it is a key
component of addressing those challenges in the 21st century (G8, 2002). Nevertheless, there are roughly one billion people in about
in the developing countries without any kind of connection to communication technologies (United Nations, 2006). The growth of ICTs has been
by the forces of globalization and privatization on the one hand and integration of telecommunication and information technology on the other; some
of these effects have been experienced in the developing world. Meanwhile, the developing countries continue to experience the commercial divide
where e-commerce reaches only some and the digital divide is being regarded as one of the biggest non-tariff barrier to the world trade today

The term Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) was coined to reflect the seamless convergence of digital processing and telecommunications
As commonly perceived it is not limited to the modern hi- tech gadgets or networks. In fact, the ICTs have been in use since long, for instance, in
postal services and radio as communication medium to transmit information even to very remote places. For ease of use, we can divide these into old
and new ICTs wherein the former one includes Radio, Television, Telephone, Fax, Telegram, etc while the later comprises of data networks, e-mail
World Wide Web (or internet) and cutting-edge wireless & wire line technologies (Attique Ahmad,2009). Information and communication technologies
generally refer to an expanding assembly of technologies that are used to handle information and aid communication. These include hardware, software
media for collection, storage, processing, transmission and presentation of information in any format (i.e., voice, data, text and image), computers
the Internet, CD-ROMs, email, telephone, radio, television, video, digital cameras etc. The advent of personal computers, the Internet and mobile
telephone during the last two decades has provided a much wider choice in collection, storage, processing, transmission and presentation of
information in multiple formats to meet the diverse requirement and skills of people. Over the past decade, developing countries and international
development agencies have begun to formulate steps to incorporate ICT policies into their mainstream economic and development policies. National e
strategies focusing on e-governance, e-business, e-education and telemedicine involve the use of ICTs to benefit communities within and across
countries and regions

ICT for Development

A tool for socio-economic development, Hargittai (2002) and other studies have shown that the rate of information technology diffusion is correlated
to the general level of socioeconomic development. A most recent finding is that ICT plays a vital role in advancing economic growth and reducing
poverty. A survey of firms carried out in 56 developing countries finds that firms that use ICT grow faster, invest more, and are more productive
profitable than those that do not (Microsoft Whitepaper, 2004). ICTs can be used to directly influence the productivity, cost effectiveness
competitiveness in industries, which is the advantage developing countries can build their economies upon. Catching up on developed economies in
terms of application of technology and resulting economic benefits had never been that easier. On the other hand, the results for not being able to
adopt ICTs can also be disastrous

As the world economy begins to recover from one of the worst economic crises in decades, information and communication technologies (ICT) is bound to
play an increasingly prominent role as key multiplier for dissemination of information leading to growth considering the fact that the new media technology should be available ,accessible and well-developed when so many new messages being transmitted quickly and effectively. The emerging technology has ushered an era which has given the developing nations the potential channels of information and communication that can play an important part in economic and social development. The potent power of ICT is critical not only for developed countries for sustaining and
enhancing the usage of technology to share information and analysis in crucial areas like environment, health, labor conditions but also developing countries in fostering structural transformations, increasing efficiency and diffusion of technology within their territories and vis-a-vis more advanced economies. If ICT plays a central role in ensuring economic sustainability, it can and must play an equally central role in promoting balance between environment and development and as a key element of creating awareness, shaping public opinion required for revitalization of environment. Sustainability, in all its components
should be a priority for policymakers, businesses, and civil society alike to foster a more just, more inclusive and crisis-resilient world. ICT and
the ICT industry must now rise to the challenge.
The advancement in digital technology have further paved in viable measures for transforming the economies and communities which will enhance understanding, boost fiscal gains and provide people at the grass root level to play an important role in bringing about a change in their group and community. ICTs are persuasive and non-linear in nature providing the user with multiple ways in which to make optimum use of these technologies. The diversity and fluidity nature of the internet driven technology is blurring the distinction between the producers and consumers of media. Bewildering amount of information available through the ICTs has dissolved spatial and temporal boundaries and the way information is shared and disseminated is changing. ICTs for human development are not about technology, but about
people using the technology to meet some basic need. Understanding human requirements takes time and effort. User needs assessments are essential in
planning the introduction of ICTs to communities, no matter what their status or Human Development Index.
Information technology and other media have the potential to to enhance the prospects of various developments in any third world nation such as education, agriculture, economics, social infrastructure and other issues that can alleviate the poor condition of man. The new technology can be highly participatory in the field of communication. It has been noted in the developing the developing world the internet is considered to be a powerful tool for development that will allow countries to leap-frog ahead, economically and socially. Any nation keen on the development and well being of all its citizens and the healthy functioning of democracy has to provide access to information to everyone. Hamelink in his book 'The Ethics of Cyberspace' (2000) points out the inequality in the use of media. According to him, there is unequal access to the new networks and the services between the developed and underdeveloped countries.

From Digital Divide to Digital Opportunities: ICT Policies for Development

The success of green revolution in Asia specifies that a participatory approach and access to knowledge, technology and indicate service can effectively
contribute to expanding and energizing development in general and agricultural development in particular (Munyua, 2000). The government usually
has the resources, the infrastructure and the authority to implementing social policies aimed at reducing the digital divide. The biggest advantage of
the government intervention is its enormous reach and wherewithal to carry out and sustain a programme; hardly any other agency can come close to the
size of the government intervention (Joshi, 2004). The policy challenges to bridge the digital divide and turn it into digital opportunities
development in South Asia need to be focused on several issues. These issues include the levels of technology, the penetration and access to ICTs
content creation, identifying areas for ICT intervention, legal and regulatory frameworks, integration of the best of older media, the socio-economic
impact of ICTs on its people, integration of ICTs into the development agenda, and measurement and evaluation of benefits of ICTs in scaling up
development in the community
ICT as a change agent

ICTs are believed to bring about social and economic development by creating an enabling environment. Almost every single activity in the modern
world is becoming more dependent on the application of ICTs for one use or another. The benefits of ICTs reach even those who do not themselves have
first-hand access to them. Through ICTs, for example, a doctor in a rural village can get up-to-date information regarding certain diseases and can
use that information to advice and treat patients; an agricultural extension worker can learn new technologies, rainfall forecasts, commodity prices
etc and use that information to advice farmers in rural villages; etc. The importance of ICTs in development process was long recognized and access
to ICTs was even made one of the targets of the Millennium Development Goal, which emphasizes the benefits of new technologies, especially ICTs in
the fight against poverty. "With 10 percent increase in high-speed internet connections, economic growth increases by 1.3 percent" observed
recent World Bank report on Information and Communication for Development (World Bank, 2006). The same report also observed "connectivity
the Internet or mobile phones -- is increasingly bringing market information, financial services, and health services to remote areas, and is
to change people's lives in unprecedented ways

Following the Millennium Declaration, key stakeholders from various sectors came together in Geneva in 2003 and again in Tunis to discuss extensively on various aspects of ICT for development. There is undoubtedly a wide gap existing between the information poor and information rich. The vast majority in rural areas are still deprived of the benefits of ICTs.This is crucial in the developing countries where the gap between the rich and poor is of a high ratio. Towards this end, ten targets were identified to be achieved by 2015 along with
recommendations based on different action lines (ITU, 2005). These targets range from connecting villages, schools, health centers, libraries
government agencies to developing content, incorporating ICTs in school curricula and providing broadcasting services to all people in the world. The
action lines address issues related to, among others, ICT infrastructure, capacity building, cyber security, an enabling policy environment and ICT
applications in agriculture, education, business or the environment. One of the defining features of economic globalization is the rise of global media and media systems that tend to reflect the patterns of overall political economy (Herman and McChesney,1998).
Developing countries in Asia recognize the potential of ICTs for development of their economies and societies. The policies formulated have to address a multitude of factors such as levels of technology and supporting infrastructure, access to the internet, cost of ICT applications, the legal and regulatory framework and the integration of ICT policies into national and economic development policies before a nation can take full advantage of the potential of the new technology. Consequently emerging markets like China and India, have accommodated themselves into the wave of economic, technological and social change. International considerations of finance and trade balances are confronting the global business. Liberalization opened up many national economies to transnational activities wherein parts are manufactured and assembled in any country with efficient labor, technology and facilities.
Democratizing democratic societies and also bringing in democracy to non-democracies has been an important role of the internet driven technology. Emerging as a powerful alternative form of communication, it has played key role in setting the agenda for politics, governance and the media. Promoting participation and interactivity, the views of the users are accommodated as the lack of space constraint improves information content.
Incorporation of ICTs into Economic Policies and Development Agendas

The incorporation of ICTs into economic policies and national development agendas must involve the public and private sectors as both have important
roles to play in the diffusion of ICT applications. The private sector is primarily responsible for providing access and competitive private sector
led markets go a long way toward making these services widely available. The public sector's main role is to provide a sound policy framework
regulate markets where they do not work well enough on their own, and support additional service provision where markets do not achieve economic and
social objectives. The public private partnership can be seen where mobile phones are widely shared and rented out by the call by local entrepreneurs
serving as de facto public telephones. In the villages of Bangladesh, which are among the poorest in the world, women entrepreneurs provide payphone
services at a profit using mobile phones (Lawson and Meyenn, 2000). The public sector is an increasingly important user of ICT, particularly in
context of e- government, making it a major actor in fostering ICT uptake. In addition to regulation, the Indian government often plays a key role in
planning and procurement. It has convened task forces which led planning and reform, and both national and state governments have encouraged
investment in infrastructure and supported efforts to bring telephony and Internet connectivity to rural villages (United Nations, 2006
example of such a policy can be found in Andhra Pradesh in India where the higher bandwidth information transmission is being implementing under a
fully privately financed scheme

In India various State agricultural boards (APMCs) have formed an agricultural marketing information network by hosting a website www.agamarket.nic.in. This website links the various local markets, major agricultural markets and APMCs of the country and provides computerized market data, arrivals, dispatches, sales transport, losses and wastage along with other issues. These commodities have been divided into seven categories: cereals, pulses, fibres, spices, fruits, vegetables and oilseeds, which help the farmer to surf for the commodities marketwise. It is aimed to create a nationwide network for the speedy collection and dissemination of market information, which reduces intermediary costs and bring benefit to a cross-section of farmers and consumers.
E-health has been envisaged as one of the strategies using ICT in the administration and provision of health services and health information (World Bank, 2006). One of the applications is in the field of telemedicine. Hospitals and health centers in remote locations are linked via satellite with super-specialty hospitals at major cities and smaller health centers in distant and rural areas. Costs involved are minimized and it can alleviate prohibitive travel cost and associated costs for patients. Videoconferencing also opens up new possibilities for continuing health education or training for isolated or rural health practitioners.
An interesting private sector initiative is the ITC's International Business Division's e-choupal initiative in rural India to empower farmers and is
the single-largest information technology based intervention by a corporate entity in rural India. The e-choupal website www.e-choupal.com, provides
agricultural inputs, information about the products and services to enhance farm productivity, scientific farming practices, market prices of crops
home and abroad, and the weather broadcast all in local (Hindi) language. It even has 4-crop specific websites for Soya, Coffee, Aqua and Wheat. The
full contents of the website is available to the registered Choupal Sanchalaks only (lead farmer) who act as the interface between the computer and
the farmers due to their literacy constraints and these lessons are implemented by the farmers with the assistance of the ITC workers. This movement
is reaching 6,50,000 farmers of 6000 villages through 1,020 kiosks and in the coming decade is planned to cover
million farmers by installing 20,000 e-choupals

The developing countries are enthusiastic adopters of ICT policies particularly in trying to promote internet access. Chandrasekhar (2006)
the nature of diffusion of internet technology in India and suggests that there are two routes through which technology can impact on the quality of
life. Skilled labour plays an important role because it affects the absorption rate of ICT applications within a country. Elite users, who use the
technology to share information and analysis in crucial areas such as the environment, health, corporate practices, and labour conditions, can debate
develop, and contribute to creating international best practices in the relevant area. These can provide the basis for national policy and for
mobilization of public opinion nationally and internationally to change policy regimes. This would be the top-down, trickle-down means for the
technology to influence human development. The other route would be for technology to be diffused, leading to use and participation of the
disadvantaged in the formulation and implementation of policies as well as to the direct provision of improved services that affect the quality of
their lives. This is the more democratic face of technology and the most effective way in which it can be used to advance human development goals
Unfortunately, the current extent and pattern of diffusion of technology in India is such that it is the first of these that overwhelmingly
predominates and is likely to continue to do so in the foreseeable future. The global corporate ideology is firmly integrated into the discourse of the potential of ICT and are regarded as economic components of global economy. ICTs are central to the process of development and the impact of ICTs on development is not static.
ICT in J&K

The democratization of information, existing political structures and the receding transnational boundaries makes it pertinent to place these changes
in the context of their implications both for the individuals as well as the policy makers. The role and importance of the media is all the more
significant and critical in a place like J&K state which has been caught in an imbroglio in the South Asian region on the world map for nearly two
decades now because of which development issues took a back seat

In J&K, e-governance roadmap has been prepared with a vision to deliver various schemes at the doorstep of the common man. The state has made a
mission to take the state from a `least achiever slab' to the `leader slab'. Many IT projects have been initiated by the government where it wants to
focus on like agriculture, horticulture, tourism, rural development, education, health care and other sectors. This is also reflected in the outlays
embarked by the government for the concerned sectors. The underlying premise, because of the flexibility of ICTs, is to fasten the transmission and dissemination of information from the government to its citizens, provided the government is interested in sharing the information with the citizens, Inadequate information capacities of many third world countries are a serious obstacle to their own efforts to combat their issues that confront them in the process of development.
The initiatives taken by the government for development in present times gain more prominence and currency when the information is disseminated using ICTs . E-governance is one of the mechanisms used by the government for good governance as citizens, processes and ICTs are interconnected with ease. ICTs have been recognized as tool for connecting with the people and sharing information. Consequently, it will result in better transparency, improved information dissemination, higher administrative efficiency and improved public services and put the government through high level of scrutiny. ICTs aim and strive for the betterment of the world by spreading relevant information.

The IT policy of J&K lays the foundation stone for e-governance and other initiatives to provide guidelines for all related areas. IT in industry
education, employment and infrastructure has emerged as a key to the economic development of the region. The IT policy encourages e-tourism, e-health
and e-commerce in the State. The IT initiatives provide information about financial assistance, policies, interest subsidies, schemes. Setting up of
portals and kiosks have been encouraged for service delivery to the citizens. Establishment of CSC (Common Service Centers) on VSAT connectivity, CIC
Community Information Centers) have been aimed at taking IT to the grass root level. The Centre provides training and other IT facilities to the
rural masses. In J&K there is a lot of potential for using CIC's as service delivery centers. The state website of K&K government provides
information about employment opportunities, tenders and other relevant information. Automation of transport, e-agriculture, WIFI, e-tourism, e
tuitions, tele-counselling and telemedicine, mother and child care, e-districts are some of the ICT based initiatives of the government in the e
governance schemes of the J&K state.(JK Govt.2012) It is very important to harness the strength of ICT to provide effective and transparent service
to the citizens of the state

Conclusion

Technology driven world is a reality today. From agriculture to industrial, technological revolution ushered in a trail blazing change in almost all spheres of contemporary society. ICTs have emerged as one of the important parameters for the development and sustainability of a country. ICTs will enable surveillance to exercise surveillance over their citizens more effectively than before. The proliferation of ICTs in the home will individualize information, consumption to a degree that makes the formation of a democratic, public opinion no more than an illusion.

The process of development can be harnessed by the application of ICT. New digital technology create new choices for people in education, economics, production which helps in growth. This perspective offers an essential and vast change in economics, politics education, culture, environment. ICTs will grow and have a large expanse of productivity and also create employment opportunities, will advance and further the efficiency for other forms of production, whether independent and decentralized. In politics, growing access to increasing amounts of data and information will contribute to a better democratic process and the citizens will feel more empowered and information rich to participate in the decision making process at various levels. Nations around the world are making investments in ICT in order to bring their people together by establishing networks aimed towards development.

References
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Baqir, M. Neveed; Palvia, Prashant; Nemati, Hamid; and Casey, Kathleen, "Defining ICT and Socio-Economic Development" (2011). AMCI 2011
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