e-Literacy or Obliteracy

India’s Ker­ala state gov­ern­ment is count­ing on open-source soft­ware to boost its IT lit­er­a­cy rate.

Ker­ala has always been a leader in lit­er­a­cy, and now we want to make Ker­ala a leader in e-lit­er­a­cy,” said Ker­ala Chief Min­is­ter V. S. Achutanan­dan. “We believe that free and open-source soft­ware is an essen­tial com­po­nent in our dri­ve to democ­ra­tize infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy and bring its ben­e­fits to all sec­tions of soci­ety.”

While this effort is laud­able, on the oth­er hand, the Ker­ala gov­ern­ment took a left turn on retail.

The Indi­an Express reports:

The Left Demo­c­ra­t­ic Front (LDF) gov­ern­ment in Ker­ala is all set to bring in a law to ban cor­po­rate retail­ers, both Indi­an and MNCs, in the state.

This would be the first attempt of its kind in the coun­try. Divakaran said the Left in Ker­ala doesn’t intend to draw the line for big retail­ers at ped­dling food grains, as Bud­dhadeb Bhat­tachar­jee did for Ben­gal a few days ago. It will be a blan­ket ban and, accord­ing to the min­is­ter, the new leg­is­la­tion will more than make up for “the lack of teeth” in the Cen­tral Essen­tial Com­modi­ties Act.

We don’t want to tell MNCs from Indi­an cor­po­rates, both are bad for the state. We don’t want to go for a con­di­tion­al or lim­it­ed ban because we real­ly don’t want them here at all,” Divakaran said.

The leg­is­la­tion has the back­ing of the state’s pow­er­ful traders lob­by, the Vya­pari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithy, whose protest shut­down was a com­plete suc­cess.

With such pro­tec­tion­ist mea­sures, erect­ing insur­mount­able bar­ri­ers to free trade, Kerala’s con­sumers are sure to be left behind in India’s retail rev­o­lu­tion.

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  • bvn

    I couldn’t con­nect the two. The Open source move­ment in ker­ala, the way it has built up over the years, will be anoth­er ‘Ker­ala First’ exam­ple in the very near future. It is rel­ish­ing to note that, the issues raised by the move­ment is gath­er­ing storm in even the cor­po­rate board rooms. The com­pa­ny that I work for, an IT major and indus­tri­al con­glom­er­ate is push­ing hard for mov­ing into Open source. The sur­pris­ing fact is that, many con­sul­tant firms for this move into free soft­ware are small IT firms that mush­roomed in ker­ala due to the Govt and Left party’s sup­port for Open source.

    The retail part is sure­ly good for the con­sumer, but the impact it has on the aver­age retail­er, the small retail­er is very sad. this is based on per­son­al expe­ri­ence in the state. we need a retail over­haul, but it needs have a social con­trol, we can’t let 11% of the pop­u­la­tion out on the street in the name of somebody’s rev­o­lu­tion.

  • BVN: The two aren’t real­ly con­nect­ed as such, except for what I think is a con­trast: a move towards open source tech­nol­o­gy, and a move away from open mar­ket econ­o­my.
    If you check my posts in the “retail” cat­e­go­ry, you will find that I am against any kind of gov­ern­men­tal or social con­trol of the econ­o­my. I believe such pro­tec­tion­ist mea­sures only result in such states (or coun­tries) being left behind in terms of over­all growth, like India did for decades under Nehru­vian social­ism.
    And thanks for the update on the IT scene. It does throw more light into what’s actu­al­ly hap­pen­ing out there!