Technology can solve many of India’s problems easily and effectively. Most of the universities are functioning with fewer than desired number of teachers. Even among the available ones, many are poorly qualified and can hardly meet the desired standard of teaching of their subjects. How can then India’s education standard equal that of the developed countries? Similar situation prevails even in school education. Internet can help in mitigating the problem to certain extent.
More and more Indians now find learning made easy and interesting by their tutors online. Subjects may be anything, be it physics, electronics, or French or Japanese. I have written about Salman Khan who has done a great work to teach mathematics through video clips on You Tube. Huge number of students is getting benefitted through similar endeavours of many enthusiast teachers. Do-it-yourself learning is becoming a trend through Internet connections with broadband in increasing number of houses. Today an engineering student of any college across India can get access to whatever the teachers in IITs are offering to their students without going to IIT. The student might have failed to get admission into the elite institutes. But nothing stops him to get access to the lectures that IIT and IISc professors have posted on YouTube in a project funded by the Indian government. Following US universities, teachers of IITs have begun posting course content on YouTube. Already 40 streaming hours of IIT teaching video is available free for anyone, be he in Nagpur or New York. Even with huge shortage of teachers, the project will give engineering students a chance to access quality peer-reviewed course content for free. It’s been quite a success judging from the fact that one lecture on basic electronics has been viewed by a whopping 100,000 viewers. Under Phase 2 of the project, quality teachers from other institutes besides the IITs and IISc will also be roped in to prepare lecture videos. Potentials are great.
The growth of broadband Internet must reach in every nook and corner of India. The scope for the entrepreneurs to create contents of every subject, be it language, mathematics, or science, and provide to millions of students in schools and colleges of India, is really wide.
According to Akamai Technology’s Quarterly State of the Internet Report for the third quarter of 2008, India had 2.6 million Internet protocol (IP) addresses-up 23 per cent over the second quarter this year. However, most Indians continued to use the internet for e-mail and social networking. Again, India ranks a lowly 153 in the number of IP addresses per capita, with around 2.3 IP addresses per capita, compared to 30 for China and 360 in the case of the US.
According to the report, only 5 per cent of browsers surveyed had connection speed of 2 mpbs or more, compared to 64 per cent for the US.
India is at number 4 among the top 10 nations of the world with 81 million Internet users as against United States with 220 million, China 210 million and Japan 88.1 million
The internet emerged this year as a leading source for campaign news in US presidential election. It has now surpassed all other media except television as a main source for national and international news. For more than a billion people on the planet, the Web today is an alternate, digital universe that is gradually overtaking the analog, physical world as a source of information and connections.
Shopping in India is also going online in big way. More than a billion hits were registered on the top online buying and selling site eBay in 2007 with shoppers bidding on everything from phones and diamonds to stamps and lingerie. I bought Imagining India of Nandan Nilekani while I was in US from online. The book was waiting when I entered my premises. It is already helping the youngsters in match making or searching for homes for rental or purchase. There are many more areas where Internet will be of immense help.
Internet penetration and the number of its users will be a good measure of the development index of a country in years to come.