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Treating the 'I' of 'IT' differently: World Bank

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CIOL Bureau
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NEW DELHI: With its long-term focus towards eradicating poverty from the face of the earth - The World Bank is looking up towards the IT way in order to achieve its goal. Zia Askari of CyberMedia News spoke with VP and CIO at the World Bank Mohamed V Muhsin, about the Bank's strategy for Indian region and its commitments in the area of e-gov and telecommunications. Muhsin was in New Delhi to participate in a conference focussed on e-transformation.



Are you satisfied with the progress that India has made on the e-governance front?

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India as a country has done quite a lot in terms of inculcating right kind of atmosphere when it comes to utilizing IT and its applications for the common man. However, much more needs to be done at the larger level. As India is a vast country so replicating small projects on a national scale becomes a big problem here.



This is one of the main focus areas for us moving forward, and we would be helping the government in replicating different e-gov projects on a national scale. We would also be providing some consultancy in this area.



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IT is largely seen as a big tool for the rich and developed countries. Why is it so that poor countries have not been able to realize its potential to the fullest?



Yes, the fruits of IT are largely been consumed in developed countries but now we have countries like India where there is a huge talent resource and the world is utilizing this resource pool. So even if these countries are not utilizing IT to the fullest, they are still a part of the overall chain.

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India is a country of contrasting colors - on one hand the global fast lane of entrepreneurial talent and technological creativity, a lane where Indian companies are fast being recognized for their IT talent globally. And in the other lane, are the 6,00,000 Indian villages where most of India's over 250 million poor people live on less than $ one a day.

How is the World Bank helping a country like India in bridging the digital divide?



Global issues related to poverty and economic development are interconnected - we live in one world. In this world, poverty somewhere is poverty everywhere. This is a big concern for us at the World Bank as well as for the governments, central banks, and other financial institutions.



We at the World Bank are fully committed towards enabling a better world. The challenge is to empower everyone to travel through the global information highway - with the help of access tools and knowledge.


The first and most critical pillar is creating the right investment climate for the region and then the second pillar would be to provide services to the poor. These services could range from telecom and communication infrastructure related services to as basic as drinking water related services. We must keep poor in the mind.



World Bank is working towards providing assistance to the Indian government in increasing the reach of its various identified e-governance projects and also in the area of increasing the reach of India's telecom infrastructure to the remote areas of the country.



How can the benefits of IT be taken to the poor community in developing countries like India?



While we always speak about information highway and how IT can change lives for the poor, we should not forget the importance of other media when it comes to reaching out to the poor of a country like India.



So we will have to take the 'I' (information) of the 'IT' and treat it separately. This information can be given by way of setting up an Internet connection at a remote village. But, where this is not possible - we must reach out in every possible way - with the help of other available technologies like radio or television. As we engage ourselves to generate the kind of - information reach- that a big country like India calls for - we would generate enough employment and new business opportunities for the poor of this country.


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