Friday, September 02, 2005

Award winning Essay

Here is an essay I wrote back in early 2000, when I was in my 1st year of engineering. The essay won an Award of Appreciation in the Commonwealth Eassy Competition, organised for students across all 54 commonwelath countries.

"Implications Of The Internet On Global Society And Culture"

Throughout human history, a breakthrough in technology always brought in a change in society and culture. A civilization having a higher and more productive technology ruled over those having lower levels of technology, be it related to scientific, military or economic activities. Thus the most significant social development of the last millennium was the Industrial Revolution in Europe, which boosted up productivity to unprecedented levels, far higher than those prevailing in other parts of the world. No wonder, therefore, the European powers dominated the economics and polities of the whole world for the last 3 centuries. However, the development of Information technology (IT) in the later part of the 20th century slowly tended to level up the technological knowledge of different countries, owing mainly to the Internet. In this regard, development of the Internet has perhaps been the most significant event after the Industrial Revolution.

There is, however, an essential difference between the Industrial Revolution and the IT Revolution inasmuch as the former gave an edge in technology to "developed countries" but the later aims at undoing this very "edge" by disseminating technological know-how across the globe in no time, thereby narrowing the gap in technology. In fact, the real impact of IT revolution and Internet has nearly begun. Its full impact will be felt as the years roll by in this new millennium. Considering the potential of the Internet, it can be forecast with reasonable conviction that it will diminish most of the barriers, which presently separate the nations, societies and cultures of the world and will slowly but surely lead towards a global society and culture. An endeavor has been made in this essay to examine the extent up to which this transition may be possible within foreseeable future.

Over the centuries, man-made barriers have evolved in many directions of human societies due to one single deep-rooted human desire for survival and better living, even at the cost of others. These barriers have been manifested in the forms of political, military, commercial, racial and religious identities. These identities have been painstakingly guarded with secrets and scores of legal frameworks, national or international. More often than not these separate identities are in conflict with each other, necessitating intervention by global bodies like United Nations, Human Rights Commission, Red Cross etc. If we go a little deeper into the mechanism of these conflicts, we may find that these thrive on the foundation of distrust, misinformation etc., culminating in confrontation. In other words, barriers in communication and information promote misunderstanding and inter-community conflicts. Free access to all kinds of information through Internet will greatly enhance understanding between communities and nations.

Interaction through Internet being direct and "one-to-one", it also breaks the barriers erected by interest groups and liberates the individual from the dictates of the group representing him/her in the matter. This, in turn, encourages exchanges of free opinion across the globe, so essential for human freedom. Global opinions can be generated on any issue in no time through the Internet, crossing the barriers on nationality, religion, race, political groupings etc. In other words, we may witness a "global society" conforming to a certain human thought, every time humankind is confronted with a global issue.

As mentioned earlier, technology has always been the main determinant of economic superiority. Internet had now made it possible to reach into the secrets of technology through a global network. The whole spectrum of technology, right from research to its application is, by and large, available on the Internet. The technology could be anything, from economic activities to military purposes. Some time back, the appearance of secret satellite photographs with respect to some countries was in the news. Such a thing would never have happened a few decades back. Whole encyclopedias and even libraries are now available on the Internet. Slowly, all forms of human knowledge will be only a mouse-click away. Any individual, organization or country having the resources can adopt the knowledge for social use. Though it will take quite sometime for all developing nations to reach the technology levels of developed ones, Internet will surely speed up the process of leveling up. Eventually, the whole human race will enjoy the benefits of all technologies available in the world.

When we talk about technology and knowledge, we also have to look into emerging scenario of education and training. With the Internet one can be virtually present in any classroom, workshop, laboratory or hospital for his or her knowledge. Complete courses of universities may be run on the Internet, making distance-learning more comprehensive and qualitative. National universities may turn into world universities. This will also make education and training immensely cheaper for one and all across the globe. The quality of education and training will gradually get standardized all over the world.

Internet will also bring in a revolution in the work culture of different nations. Globalization of economy will put immense pressure on quality, productivity and cost of products and services. This pressure will compel each country and each company to adopt the most productive and cost-effective methods. In turn, this will generate a more efficient work-culture of "perform or perish". Over several decades, this will tend to create a uniform global work-culture.

As we know, the administration and management of social activities in different countries are highly influenced by national history, traditions, faith, culture and political thoughts. More often than not, such styles of management and administration do not prove to be optimally beneficial to the concerned societies, as is being witnessed in many developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. All over the world, there is a slow transition from authoritative and autocratic system to democratic system in political setups. This is due to the basic human urge freedom of thought and equality in human rights. The process had so far been rather slow due to man-made barriers in free exchange of information and thoughts, as also due to various geo-political considerations. Internet is sure to speed up this process of transition by breaking such barriers of information and thereby generating global public opinion. Democratization of polity will lead to democratization of administration and management.

Industrialization and urbanization have degraded global environment to alarming levels. The new generations of mankind have to fight tooth and nail to control this degradation and restore degraded ecology to sustainable levels. This will can for universal social awareness and concern, as well as continuous checks and monitoring of the status of environment across the globe. The efforts of national governments, global bodies like UN and NGOs like Green Peace are to be integrated and coordinated through the Internet. It is not unlikely that environment management will turn out to be a global movement for human survival and will involve all age groups of people of all societies. Internet will serve as the main vehicle for this global movement.

A society is formed by cooperation of individuals committed to a common cause. A global society can be formed only through global cooperation of individuals and groups having a common objective. In the past, success of global movements has taken years to materialize, owing mainly to hurdles in communication. Internet will remove this hurdle. Faster communication and decision-making will usher in faster global cooperation and formation of global societies. Even conflicts will get resolved on the Internet, making cooperation more feasible. As all audio-visual media like telephone, wireless, television, fax, computers etc. will get integrated, all human communication from newspapers to marketing will be literally on fingertips of individuals, bringing the global communities closer and closer. New vistas of global cooperation will open up through Internet, as never before.

By far the most remarkable development due to Internet that is likely to occur in the following decades will be the freedom movements across the globe. Global societies will join together to fight for freedom from tyranny, terror, torture, deprivation, discrimination, destruction, hunger, hatred and human miseries as such. Internet will greatly reduce the need for deploying commissions, representatives, observers etc. and expenses therefore. Free flow of global public opinion and the pressure arising out of it, will serve as a deterrent against all excesses. Societies will be able to compare their levels of freedom form man-made miseries and the needy ones will raise call through Internet for global help. Due to globalization of societies, it will be difficult to defy global opinion for a long time. In fact, no such movement will remain "regional" in future. All human concerns will be "global".

One of the main reasons for disparities in human is the lack of understanding and appreciation of human rights. The form, content and extent of human rights need wide and universal publicity so that each human being knows them clearly. Extensive use of Internet will make it possible sooner than imagined. No human rights movement will succeed unless humans are aware of their rights. Internet will make them aware. From awareness of human rights will come the awareness of human responsibility. More responsible human societies will be less prone to conflicts. Lesser conflicts would mean lesser loss of human energy and resources for such activities, which do not benefit human society. Conversely, more human energy and resources will be available for the well-being of mankind. Internet will play a positive role in achievement of this objective.

Human creativity is manifested at its best in the form of art and culture. The finest of human feelings are represented in literature, paining, sculpture, dance, drama, music, cinema, telefilms, photography, customs etc. The forms of art and culture are as numerous as the human societies. Every human society desires to experience the art and culture of others. Till recently this was possible only through museums, art galleries, festivals, exhibitions, books and to some extent through audio-visual media. With multimedia Internet, access to most forms of art and culture of the world societies will become easy and cheaper. There will be greater and greater interaction between societies for understanding and appreciating each other's art and culture. This development, along with other aspects of globalization mentioned earlier, will bring human societies emotionally closer and closer. While some diversity in culture will remain due to diversity in human creativity, there will also develop a unity amongst global communities in understanding, appreciating and promoting each other's art and culture, as a global objective.

Like all human activities, there will also be good and bad sides of the Internet. While some of the good implications have been outlined above as visualized by the young generation of this new century, some undesirable implications are also feasible. Internet may be misused for indulging in spying, piracy, fraud, terrorism, electronic warfare, unethical practices, false propaganda etc. As the human civilization has survived despite human misdeeds, so the good implications of Internet will survive over the bad ones.

The overall implications of Internet will be highly weighted towards positive aspects of human developments, human fraternity and human well-being. It will usher in a new kind of commonality in all human activities, social thinking and creative expression. This commonality will lead towards evolution of a global society and global culture. We the youth of this new century, will not only participate in this great transition, but will also perhaps be privileged to be the first generation of true "world citizens".

3 comments:

harsha said...

Hi man, came to ur blog thru nikhil's....a very good essay. You must have been a major geek to write this in ur 1 yr at engineering! I hardly managed to make sense in my writings then(may be now also)... :)

Shubham said...

@Harsha,

Hi dude, howz life@NITIE? Thanks for liking my blog. Me and Nikhil had started blogging almost at the same time, May 2004 to be exact. So, you can say that we were one of the early birds in the blogging world. Now almost everyone seems to have a blog. It is a great way to express your thoughts and stay in touch with your friends.

About the essay, ya, a lot of effort had gone into it. It took about two weeks to write. Anyway, the effort paid off :)

chaos said...

Hey shubham...
its worth that effort... man... this is damn good... deserves the reco it got...

cheers