Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Embrace the Future

Wasim's vision for the future is one that builds on information technology. How can we get there?

(Mr. Wasim Hussain, 29, was born in Srinagar. He attended Government High School and the Gandhi Memorial College, both in Srinagar. He has completed graduation and is pursuing his Master's degree in political science through Distance Mode of Learning. He took an English speaking course through the Islamia College of Science and Commerce and an advanced diploma in Information Technology. He has completed diplomas in web design and software design. Wasim has worked at the University of Kashmir since 2000, and is presently in the Directorate of Internal Quality Assurance (DIQA) as a senior computer assistant. He has received awards both as a student and as an employee for his performance. He enjoys writing and reading books. Wasim writes under the pen name of Wasim Ali.)

We've a Dream

Life without knowledge is hard to live in an age like ours. Man lives locally, thinks globally. To get rid of these challenges there is a solution. To make our state a computer skilled state – an information state. What does a person need to know today to be a full-fledged, competent and literate member of the information society? We all have to participate. Should everyone take a course in creating a web page, computer programming, TCP/IP protocols or multimedia authoring? Or are we looking at a broader and deeper challenge - to rethink our entire educational curriculum in terms of information?

Perhaps a brief sketch of such a curriculum, with stress on what is needed in our higher education will inspire such debate. The curriculum may help the government to formulate its policies as per the demand of time. This prototype curriculum attempts to include the old concept of "computer literacy" no doubt everyone should learn BASIC knowledge. There are seven dimensions of literacy which have been identified by various philosophers and eminent scholars of information technology.

Tool literacy, or the ability to understand and use the practical and conceptual tools of current information technology, including software, hardware and multimedia, that are relevant to education. This can be taken to include the basics of computer and network applications as well as fundamental concepts of algorithms, data structures, and network topologies and protocols.

Resource literacy, or the ability to understand the form, format, location and access methods of information resources, especially daily expanding networked information resources. It includes concepts of the classification and organization of such resources.

Social-structural literacy, or knowing that and how information is socially situated and produced. This means knowing about how information fits into the life of groups; about the institutions and social networks - such as the universities, libraries, researcher communities, corporations, government agencies, community groups - that create and organize information and knowledge; and the social processes through which it is generated - such as the trajectory of publication of scholarly articles (peer review, etc.).

Research literacy, or the ability to understand and use the IT-based tools relevant to the work of today's researcher and scholar. For those in graduate education, this would include discipline-related computer software for quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis and simulation, as well as an understanding of the conceptual and analytical limitations of such software.

Publishing literacy, or the ability to format and publish research and ideas electronically, in textual and multimedia forms (including via World Wide Web, electronic mail and distribution lists), to introduce them into the electronic public realm and the electronic community of scholars. Writing is always shaped by its tools and its audience. Computer tools and network audiences represent genuine changes in writing itself.

Emerging technology literacy, or the ability to adapt to, understand, evaluate and make use of the continually emerging innovations in information technology so as not to be a prisoner of prior tools and resources, and to make intelligent decisions about the adoption of new ones. Clearly this includes understanding of the human, organizational and social context of technologies as well as criteria for their evaluation.

Critical literacy, or the ability to evaluate critically the intellectual, human and social strengths and weaknesses, potentials and limits, benefits and costs of information technologies. This needs a historical perspective, a philosophical perspective, a sociopolitical perspective and a cultural perspective.

Once we start to take information literacy seriously in this multi-dimensional sense, we have left far behind us the world of short courses on "Getting Started with Windows," "Surfing the Net" and "Bibliographic Instruction" although clearly they have a role to play. We are really talking about a new curricular framework: one that equips us not only with a bunch of technical skills but with a broad, integrated and critical perspective on the contemporary world of knowledge and information, including its origins and developmental trends, its redefinitions of experience and social life, its philosophical justification, biases and limits, its potential for human emancipation and human domination and for growth and destruction.

Isn't it time to rethink what this educational goal means at the present juncture of the information society? Shouldn't people learn computer programming as much to become computer scientists? What are we creating? And is anyone paying attention? Is Govt. really keen to take some stern steps and make our society a computer literate society? Is there any clear policy framed by the government or by our Hon’ble Minister which would be the remedy of the challenges which may come in front of us during the period of globalization. Is there any work done at grassroots level vis-à-vis at school level which can make our students able to face every challenge in future, in view of the fact that Information Technology has equal role in all the subjects.

The State government set-up the information technology policy in the state during the year 2004 perhaps before 200 years the concept of information technology was being sketched in western countries. Actually Govt. never considered the demand and need of the people of the state and what are the challenges ahead to the students and how to eradicate them. Is there anyone to realize the necessity of information technology so that people "no longer be limited to a mechanical knowledge of the procedures of the arts or of professional routine," so that "they will no longer depend for every trivial piece of business, every insignificant matter of instruction on clever men who rule over them in virtue of their necessary superiority?" so that “people can make themselves able to access at any corner of world through world wide web”. The policies framed by the government for the development of the Information Technology are no where known by an individual there is a need to take some revolutionary steps to widen the dimension of information technology in the state and involve the interests of students and people.

In the era of globalization information technology has taken a tremendous importance at every individual’s life. Educated citizens would not only be able to manage their lives properly: "They will be able to govern themselves according to their own knowledge; they will no longer be limited to a mechanical knowledge of the procedures of the arts or of professional routine; and this would be made possible not only by improving and democratizing education but by simplifying conceptual schemes through the integration and unification of science, and the development of graphical representations of logical and scientific ideas and theories. Thus the average citizen and student of the state would be able to make the use of information technology as an important tool of its day to day life.

There is a dire need to get knowledge about the information and Science technology, its concepts and questions which carry so many queries like who owns information? What's the difference between a piece of information and a copy of it? Who should have access to it? Is the Internet a public good or a private one? Should anyone regulate internet content, and if so who? What should the property rule of the information economy be? What are the bounds of privacy in information? Could the government economic crises be alleviated by a "bit tax"?

If the Information Society is to be free - especially if we share the illumination goals of abolishing unnecessary inequality and creating a society of liberty - then let us have vision of computer literate state. Let us contribute to liberty through advancing citizens' knowledge, through democratizing education. Let us design a comprehensive, multi-dimensional and thoughtful information literacy curriculum.

1 comment:

unplanned plan said...

mr.wasim ,
i have just read ur article through this blog.its nice indeed.i would like to share my views.actually,few days ago i have returned from kashmir university rather i should say kashmir.some academic perpose make me interesting to go there.from that day i m really very much fond of the state.first i was fond of the state as every indian fond for its beauty,but till then i fond of its socio-historical glamour besides its natural beauty.the technology which u descride required for the people of state,it is quite true for our other indian states also.though i m associated with the subject of humanities group (not any technological subjects),but i m giving my full support to pursue ur views.lastly, as an academician and of course as a human being my heartiest wishes for u and every kashmiris .may success kisses ur dreams.