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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2 thoughts on “e-Literacy or Obliteracy

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

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