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Don't just be the change, mass-produce it...

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What does it mean to : "Be the Change, we want to see." Many of us grapple with this advice, so did Pranav (Silkboard) and I, when we recently met. Alex Steffen at goes a step further and applies it to our present context: "If our world is really looking down the barrel of environmental catastrophe, how do I live my life right now?” asked an email I got recently. I know the standard answer: Be the change. This motto -- shorthand for Gandhi's instruction that "We must be the change we wish to see in the world" -- has become ubiquitous. And while a sensible person will appreciate the essential wisdom behind Gandhi's words, in the context of sustainability, this shorthand has become associated as well with another idea: that the being the change is a lifestyle choice. In this context, Be the change in fact usually means Buy the change. It means living a standard consumerist lifestyle, but varying the products one consumes to include "green" clothes, cars and furniture... or at best going without a few things you didn't need anyways. Here we crash headlong into one of the most painful, difficult and confusing realities of life today: varying our lifestyles will not create the kind of change the world needs to see. Ensnared in huge systems whose major by-product is destruction, it is nearly impossible -- if we're looking at the problem with clear eyes -- to truly be the change. more at " What are the lessons for Bangalore ? IT and communication technologies are quintessential to mass-producing change as I recently argued in a seminar called "Bangalore Poised - Does it need an Upgrade and a New Calling Card ?": "With environment degradation costs weighing down heavily on quality of life, food and energy security and on sustained economic development, the need to repair, restore and revive our relationship with the natural environment has never before been so urgent. The fact that this degradation has happened mostly in a short span of last few decades raises grave concerns about prevailing beliefs, ideologies and lifestyles. “Green” technologies, designs and lifestyles – which help us recover lost ground and to chart out a sustainable future - hold the key to our future survival and sustenance. This was the theme of a new seminar series called Green is in the Front. The inaugural seminar on Bangalore Poised focuses on a city that has seen amongst the most rapid deterioration of its natural environment – its climate, air quality, water bodies and greenery – and paradoxically, which also holds plenty of promise to develop solutions and to promote lifestyles to turn around for it and to emerge as a national and global hub for green technologies and design, as it has done so successfully in the realm of information technology. It is no co-incidence that many of the green solutions require IT-intensive infrastructure to manage demand and to reduce wastage – of clean air, water, fuel, time, health, space and other resources – by designing “context-specific” solutions. 15 years of its glorious rise later, Bangalore's IT industry has tapped into a scarce pool of talent - engineers, graduates, post-grads and management professionals. Should it continue to primarily export all its services? Or should it contemplate developing solutions for the country beginning with Bangalore itself and self-regulate to commit 15-20% of its resources to the local needs. Just as farmers cannot export 100% of their produce even if agricultural produce prices become lucrative in the international market. Just as the country would have a food crisis and millions would starve, IT companies are "crowding out" rupee-denominated companies for skilled labor force from the market, making it scarce or cost-prohibitive for companies addressing local needs. How do we gear up for a healthy and appreaciating rupee that is close to its purchasing power parity and make it attractive to do business locally? In a remarkable way, a healthy domestic market will also provide a buffer for “outsourcing” export-oriented companies not to undercut each other on their billings to appropriate projects and upgrade to a new phase of Innovation-led growth. Will this be Bangalore’s new calling card. Organized on 15th of August on the 60th anniversary of our independence, from the clutches of the colonial rule, it befits to ask ourselves and to assess: How free are we today? – to breathe clean and fresh air, to walk without severances in our own neighborhoods, to access drinkable water, to eat and live healthy and to choose our livelihood – in the city or village, we live in. Regards, Vikash


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hi, i have added vision as one of the tags. i think it is important that we think of our cities at different scales. this article should help in setting up that discussion. though the thrust is on IT and environment, it presents certain generic diagnosis that is valid across a spectrum of issues. coming to IT, at Silkboard's previous website we had all discussed the use of IT to some depth. infact in a sense praja itself is an outcome of those discussions. so there -- the byproduct of discussions over the network. ;) one of the things we discussed is attitude. IT is not about hitech. it is not your next mobile fone model. it is about automation. whether it is information on websites, interactive capabilities on webites or automation of internal govt processes it is about information, transparency and enhancing capability. Just maintaining up a solid and meaningful set of how-to guides on a website, involves clearing many internal cobwebs and a major change of attitude and shows an active commitment to openness. Now when i mean faq list, it means no-nonsense, no frills, text only, fully referenced, user friendly interface for faqs. when you make a complaint system, dont ask for administrative classifications like ward number that most people are not likely to know. or provide me with information about how to relate what i know to what you want to know. and so on... IT is also not about niche. yeah sure not all are connected, but all know about the network and there are so many cases of people, who dont use network for anything otherwise, seeking out the network and trying to work it. about the calling card... there are some movements their is egovernance, there is mapunity, there are initiatives of many govts. Then ofcourse there is Praja. :) BTW... RTO automation is underway in KA. you can give infosys 100 acres of land if they take up open source automation and maintenance of all the govt processes across the state. :) comment guidelines

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