Sunday, June 7, 2015

Power to the Digital Nation

When I leave my College after 6.30 p.m., I usually catch Market Mantra on the All India Radio while driving home. Apart from the happenings in the stock market, experts are called to discuss economy and developmental issues of the country. In one of the broadcasts a few days back, there was an interesting discussion on infrastructure development and the importance of power generation.

Though I did not catch the name of the expert, he made some important points. He spoke about how the present government was quite on track in the development of infrastructure, but was quite critical about the issue of power generation. He said that one of the industries that the government was trying to get to invest in India was the electronic industry, more specifically, the companies manufacturing Integrated Circuits, which  are the heart of all electronic goods. To manufacture electronic chips, the plants require uninterrupted power supply. Even a second of interruption can severely affect the quality of these electronic chips because the miniature nature of circuitry.

Now why is this so important for media students? We have to remember, that the media world is rapidly converging into the mobile space. Almost all content generated now, is made for multiple platforms of delivery, and probably the most important is the mobile devices. Though India has made rapid progress in digital media - India has already surpassed the US in terms of Internet users - with India's population, there is a tremendous scope for expanding the digital media market. Despite the huge numbers, the percentage of India's population using the Internet is still low.

The present spurt in growth is because of proliferation of the 3G networks across the country, along with the availability of cheaper smart phones. However, we still depend on imported chips to be installed into our mobile phones, keeping the price of smart phones still beyond the reach of a huge population. If we want to really become a digital nation, we need chip manufacturing units in the country, and that can be only possible with uninterrupted electric supply. This cannot be achieved by depending on the hydro-electric or thermal power generation, and certainly not on fossil fuels. We will have to turn to renewable resources like the solar and wind energy, and of course, atomic and nuclear fuel. There is simply no option but to build more nuclear reactors to make progress. There are issues in land acquisition, rehabilitation and environmental safety, and they need to be addressed. But is there a viable alternative, really?

Those in the media certainly know the importance of producing and distributing content over mobile phones. And we know that there is a HUGE market out there, waiting to be tapped to sell the media products to. I know this is a rather long shot, but India's media can really grow only if the idea of Digital Nation takes shape, and, in turn, that dream depends on power generation capacity of the country.

Here's a link to Digital india website : https://mygov.in/