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A Giant Step?

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VoicenData Bureau
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For me one of the biggest and the most heart warming news was Akhilesh Yadav's (son of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party chief) assembly election manifesto, which talks about promoting English in schools and colleges, giving tablet computers to students, and building infrastructure. Frankly speaking, this is what Uttar Pradesh (which also happens to be my state and is said to influence political leadership and fortunes for the entire country), needs and wants.

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I am not promoting any specific politician or political party, because by the time this edition of Dataquest would have reached readers, new state governments would have been formed. But I am sure that information technology, education, and infrastructure would have moved several notches up in their overall game plan. It was not long ago when Mulayam Singh's diatribe against the English language and computers had shocked the Indian IT fraternity.

Frankly, this is a big development. If you look at most of the pre-election analysis in the media, change for development is what citizens want. And this is what is apparently deciding their votes. While some other states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have offered election sops around infotech for several years, it is nice to see such mindset shifts happening in Uttar Pradesh. The UP politicians are thankfully realizing the changing aspirations of Indians. And gearing up accordingly.

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Once again, if I take Akhilesh Yadav as an example, it is very interesting and heartening to see that his advisers for this round of elections include very young IT savvy professionals who have experienced the world beyond the villages and towns of Uttar Pradesh. They know about the opportunities that are coming out of globalization, and understand the aspirations of common people. These people are convincing Akhilesh, in real time, about the power of IT and English education as a tool to touch people's heart.

The IT industry also has a role it can play in helping this new generation of political leaders. These young and aspiring politicians, with a sincere desire to bring positive change (I believe) will not be able to deliver many of their promises if the industry does not support them in terms of making technology affordable and accessible to many of the people in these states. And this is where innovative business models have to be thought of. Also, investments need to flow into these places. Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai are already cluttered.

If Uttar Pradesh can change, I think there is hope for everybody. Besides the country as a whole, this should be big news for the IT industry too. It might be a single step, but it could be the giant step.

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