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  • President Inaugurates ICDL 2004: National Mission on Digitization to be set up soon

    24 February 2004

    India will set up a National Mission on Digitization of public libraries to preserve the invaluable documents and scriptures that have moulded the Indian social fabric and culture. To mark its beginning, India was firmly placed on the path to digitization by the President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam with the opening of the .International Conference on Digital Libraries (ICDL 2004) organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India, here today.

    The President said that the future belonged to the "Knowledge Economy" as against the "Industrialized economy," where by knowledge would emerge as the prime mover for development and wealth creation. He said: "In the 21st century, a new society is emerging where knowledge is the primary production resource instead of capital and labour. Efficient utilisation of existing knowledge can create comprehensive wealth for the nation in the form of better health, education, infrastructure etc. for improving the quality of life." Hence, prosperity of societies will depend on knowledge creation and knowledge deployment, he said.

    The President urged the agencies that are involved with digitization to form a knowledge management grid with better connectivity and better access to people through various Indian languages. To achieve complete digitization, Dr Kalam listed out a few steps. Textbooks should be the first. It must be followed by Tele-Education, Government file storage, Land Records Storage with links to e-governance application, and a digitized voters' list, he said.

    Speaking at the occasion, union minister for tourism and culture, Mr Jagmohan said that setting up a dynamic and dedicated National Mission on Digitization of National Libraries would help in increasing manifold the collective capacity of the nation's mind and its capacity to develop new ideas and attain greater heights in creativity and contemplation. He hoped that digital libraries would open many other windows of opportunities and create a number of avenues of high-level employment generation.

    Delivering the key-note address, Prof. N Balakrishnan, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore said there was an urgent need to create a consortium that would generate digitized content for all to access. Pointing at the space occupied on the Web, Prof. Balakrishnan said there existed a correlation between the web content and the GDP of nations. "Today 70 per cent of the content is English and English speaking nations are the richest. Even though Chinese is the most spoken language, its presence on the Web is negligible," he said. The question we must ask is "Can we make the Web a reservoir of knowledge?" he asked.

    Dr R K Pachauri, Director-General TERI highlighted the widening digital divide around the world. "But every challenge carries with it an opportunity, and what we have before us is the possibility of truly bridging the divide at a much faster rate than that at which it has been growing. The most important means to do so would be through defining applications in areas that serve the interest of the largest number of people." The technological innovation is most satisfactory when it is demand driven, he said.

    The International Conference on Digital Libraries (ICDL 2004) is being held in New Delhi from February 24-27, 2004.

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