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islamic voice logo

OCTOBER 2000

MONTHLY    *    Vol 14-10 No:166    *   OCTOBER 2000 / RAJJAB 1421H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

VIEWPOINT


Let IT not Bypass Us
'We will ignore IT at our own Peril'
IT brings global economic opportunities

Information Techonology Revolution

Let IT not Bypass Us

Maqbool Ahmed Siraj

THE Industrial revolution that displaced muscle power bypassed the world’s Muslims. Engrossed as they were in petty wrangles over grammatical nuances of the Islamic edicts, the Muslim masses could not even catch a glimpse of what Europe was undergoing, how mass production of goods generated wealth, and how the industrial culture transformed the life over continents leading to subjugation of the entire Muslim world.

We are again amid the throes of another revolution, the knowledge revolution in the wake of emergence of the Information Technology (IT). No sector of our life has remained unscathed from the induction of computers and the emergence of the Internet. Its implication are even wider than the industrial revolution. It threatens to render all the old methods and processes irrelevant and obsolete. And all at an astronomical speed.

Within five years, the IT has crept into a wide array of sectors of our life. Be it manufacturing, designing, banking, trading, education, construction, surgery, entertainment, writing, printing et al. Nothing has remained immune from change.

Some broader contours of this revolution need to be understood in order to perceive the future shape of the world.

  • IT will gradually eliminate the need for movement of labour and will instead move the jobs where workers are. Look at how Bangalore’s IT companies are preparing ledgers, payrolls, store inventories of the firms in the US, compiling medical records of US hospitals, recommending music clips or shooting sites for Hollywood films or formulating bus schedules for say, Chicago or Detroit.

  • IT will minimise environmental hazards and risks associated with, say, from cyclones, forest fires, volcanoes, pestilence etc. by early warning and through mass alarm system.

  • In IT the premium is on knowledge rather than conventional dependence on land, labour and capital. Trade, commerce and industry will be centred around knowledge. The nations will emerge powerful even without resources. It will be the knowledge that will add value to goods and services.

  • While natural resources depreciate, knowledge appreciates. Creation, sharing and application of knowledge will create wealth and dominance. Existing knowledge will be used to create new knowledge.

  • IT is changing the relationships between the media and the audiences. Earlier radio stations were broadcasting. Perhaps in the new role they will have to “narrowcast”, providing to the individual listeners what they need, according to their taste, time etc. Earlier mediamen needed to think what are the common needs of people. Now they will have to think how their needs differ. Media revolution banded the people together. IT revolution separates them.

  • The IT is changing the trader-consumer relationship too. Now the consumer cannot be taken for granted. He can answer back, inform companies or the grocer of his individual needs, tastes, etc. Customised manufacturing will replace assembly lines.

  • IT and globalisation are complementing each other, both in role and with their time of arrival. Competition is the key word here. A consumer (which includes a reader to a listener too) has before him the entire world to access for information, goods and services. It promises to lift the people above national prejudices, make people judge and verify lies fabricated and nourished by vested interests within narrow confines of nations or communities. Canards cannot be sustained for long. Poor quality products and faulty services are also likely to lose the race soon enough.

  • IT is inexpensive and is multimedia too. This greatly enhances the transfer of knowledge, know-how, skills and culture.

IT offers limitless scope in building communities out of dispersed people. It can reunite them culturally, emotionally and even economically. Muslims can create linkages for education, culture, language and between artisans ifta centres in widely dispersed pocket

Looked from this perspective a huge task awaits the community in shaping and developing stakes in the IT - dependent future where knowledge will constitute the bulk of the trade. In the words of Dr. R. A Mashelkar, Director General of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, when we buy a kilogram of steel, 90 per cent of it is material. But when we buy Windows 98 programme, 95 per cent of it is knowledge.

This scenario calls for certain basic changes in Muslim attitude. First the Muslims will have to shun the traditional obsession with resisting new technology. No technology is un-Islamic, only its uses could be right or wrong. IT is not alone a technology but a medium of knowledge. All future schools, universities and learning processes will be based on IT and printed word will increasingly vanish. In the past, the Muslim ulema blindly opposed English and irreversibly damaged the cause of education. They merely took English as the vehicle of alien culture but forgot that it was also the medium of science and technology which were emerging as the new tools of empowerment. A Muslim member of Parliament who recently suggested the incorporation of IT in the madrassa syllabus was countered with a similar attitude by a leading Alim who rejected it “because the madrassa students were already under heavy burden of theological nisab (syllabus)”. Obviously the fact that IT is the e-medium and e-language of future has still not dawned on him. Such scholars need to be told as to how easy would be information storage and retrieval if, say, all Ifta centres of the world are linked together through IT.

IT offers limitless scope in building future communities. Hiterto all new economic opportunities tended to disperse communities. IT serves to reunite-- at least culturally, emotionally and even economically-- all such diaspora-hit communities. One has to merely look at the phenomenal use of IT in bringing together the Non-Resident Indians.

The Muslim community in India should see in IT a new opportunity to network its measly resources, both in economic and cultural sectors. Just imagine how a Bhagalpur silk weaver or a Benares zari worker will be benefited if he has access to silk rates in Bangalore. Or the Muslim paper manufacturers of Sanganer (Rajasthan) can browse through directory of businessmen countrywide for direct linkage with exporters in Mumbai or Calcutta. Or just think of how Urdu, gasping for life in pockets of Uttar Pradesh or Rajasthan, could be linked to National Urdu Open University in Hyderabad. Information networking provides vast scope for the community to benefit.

The millennium - that has begun or is about to begin - will bring about a “knowledge society”. The Indian Muslim should think themselves fortunate enough to be in a country which has made a headstart in Information Technology. Perhaps, the Indian Muslims can lead the greater part of the Muslim world simply by staying on par with the countrymen. 

Top


Interview : K. Rahman Khan, Member of Parliament

'We will ignore IT at our own Peril'

K. Rahman KhanWE carry a huge backlog of backwardness. It can be swept away in one go by massive induction of IT skills within the community. It is wrong to think that it is a high profile profession. It will be the basic skill for future survival.

It is perhaps more than a Virtual Reality (VR) experience to do stock trading on the ICICI direct.com. One does it more professionally by a click of the mouse than being inside the stock exchange.

One should not think that computerisation or IT is eliminating jobs. It is creating more jobs. Look at Medical Transcription (MT) which is an IT-enabled industry. 99 per cent of people in the US are ensured and the field offers $ 15 billion worth of work annually. If India corness even 20% of this work, we can employ at least 200,000 people. All paper documents are being digitised by the US. It can offer business worth $ 10-15 billion to India.

Look how IT is entering the nooks and recesses of human life. Doctors in South Africa can now operate patients in any part of the world connected with the IT. One can ask a New York florist to deliver a bouquet to his neice in Manhattan on the birthday while paying through a bank card. Can you imagine humans could be ever so close?

Be it religious learning, tajweed, dawah, Ifta, IT could prove to be a boon. Muslims will ignore it only at their own peril.

Top


Interivew : Gul M. Iqbal, MD, GI System and Technologies, Bangalore

IT brings global economic opportunities

THE information Technology is a big boon. Muslims are represented only 2 per cent in vital sectors of national life. IT has given an opportunity to tangentially intersect and grow assertive.

IT offers global economic opportunities. It eleminates discrimiation prospects. Even women can opt for it and be a part of networked IT cottage industry.

I remembered how a Gujarati silk tie-maker enhanced his market value and reach by putting her meenakari ties on the Internet. Perhaps Muslim artisans in Muradabad, Aligarh or Jaipur can create useful linkages through websites on Internets. Recently we introduced computers among Muslims through centres attached to Mosques in Bangalore. This is small step. We need to go much far.

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