By Dr. Vinayshil Gautam

Technological independence has to emerge as an important element of the national axiom.

“A nation’s skill formation on technology handling cannot be mortgaged to another nation’s need for technology transfer and their need for technological growth”, says the author.

The 1960s saw various services emerging, notably data in many forms. This included video-text, telex and facsimile. Carried over telephony and telegraph networks, infrastructure became the focus. Gradually telex and video-text waned while telephony, data, data-derived services and facsimile thrived. Now, email is well-established as a derivative of data services and numerous other variants have been developed.

Email is an important factor because, for some time now, it firmly marks the convergence of communication and computing. Telecomderived data networks are used, and so also are computer-based networks. Computer-based networks use local and wide area networks to the stage at which their information flows can be readily handled by the same switching technique that handles telephony information flows.

The emergence of multimedia services has followed. The emergence of mobile telephony has made portability both a ‘weapon’ of action and social incoherence. Access to networks is an important component of this transformation. Convergence with the entertainment industry has caused further decline of some professions – and industries – and the rise of new forms. These continually demand fresh purchasing and upgradation of capabilities.

The rules of investment have had to be rewritten as technologies have to be phased out sometimes even before the break-even period is completed! In many ways, transition of telecommunications from a service ethic to business ethic has altered the work desk situation. Ownership and control also seems to be migrating from Government agencies to business interests. This is an important dimension in management of governance. Good governance requires a perceptive understanding of shifting issues.

These shifting issues operate in the framework of international manoeuvring, and grow in the context of contextual, traditional capability. Happy times, when slogans like “greatest good of the greatest number” could carry acclaim because of ambiguous formulation, no longer give guidelines of sustaining public euphoria. Not long ago, debates on trans-national enterprises focused on their capital contributions, their impact on balance of payments and employment of home and host countries.

Today, one has to factor in the effects of technology on national industrial structures, competitive abilities and income distribution. Striving for technological independence is as important an element of the national axiom as the need of recognising the imperatives of technological interdependence. Those who sloganeer the wastefulness of ‘rediscovering the wheel’, need to be reminded that R&D is necessary even for absorbing technology. As the technological contribution of some TNEs become increasingly questioned, the need for emancipated regulation has become more insistent.

There is a great need to have methods of examining alternatives of regulating the transfer of commercial technology. The prospects of such methods need to be examined in a scholastic mode. The future of effective governance may be determined by the deftness of the ways in which this issue is handled. The ambit of technology transfer has to be widened from the broad sense of industrial design, product design, and process design to include other factors.

These would inter alia cover managerial systems; technical skills required to establish and efficiently operate industrial facility. With the permeation of information technology, the dangers of trespassing have grown and become real. There are no new issues of technology transfer. There are only new possibilities of technology breaching many traditional defences of Government systems. Clearly, there is a need to have a framework of governance suitable to the high tech era without necessarily forsaking some of the moorings of the past. There is an urgent need to re-understand the concerns of technology transfer.

The journey which began with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development-1(1964) needs to be revisited. The focus on capital goods, intermediate goods, human labour and information remains. What is new, is the need to study the cusp of IT and human skills which is a noman’s zone. Decoding traditional decision making patterns may give the key to the inscrutable problem. A nation’s skill formation on technology handling cannot be mortgaged to another nation’s need for technology transfer and their need for technological growth.

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