India is growing rapidly when it comes to the internet. Over the past few years, we have tremendous growth and dependency on the internet for doing all types of daily chores, which has multiplied amidst the Pandemic of 2020. The availability of the internet has also changed drastically vis a vis the people’s needs. This, in turn, has altered the social and cultural dynamics of our country. But, are we aware of how it will shape the future of India, and how the technology and population need to change to fit each other, keeping in mind India’s Cultural Paradigm?
The birth of new electronic media has changed the way we live and communicate today in more ways than one. The spread of internet culture is very important in making people’s lives easy and convenient during difficult times amid the unusual scenario of lockdown that we faced. Everything is technologically linked and communication has become far easier and faster than it used to be, so much so that it seems surprising to many people to date.
“the computer in every home, or at least in many of the homes in industrialized countries constitutes in effect a major transformation.”
~ “New technology’s new home” Article by Ravi Poovaiah and Dr. Ajanta Sen Poovaiah (IDC, IITB)
The Internet is becoming the need of a common man today and everyone wants more. Everyone is accustomed to a life with video calls, online services, gaming, and many other things that require an internet connection. The Internet has helped in managing a somewhat regular lifestyle where everything happened from home. During an online music concert, the performer said “I thank god that we are living in 2020, I thank god that we have this technology so we could be connected with no latency, see each other’s faces like literally, you are here.” (RM, Leader of a South Korean Band-BTS). Had this pandemic arrived a few years earlier, our country would not have been able to cope with the drastic changes due to a lack of technology. School, Offices, Movie Theatres, Shopping, everything shifted from offline to online in the blink of an eye and not everyone was ready for such a change.
The problem with this is that the infrastructure and reality of our country do not support such technological advancements. To accommodate every new technology, we will need to be at par with the developed countries to keep up with the pace of the same. Our country is very influenced by the west and we often find ourselves trying to imitate the social and cultural aspects of developed countries. This creates an imbalance between reality and expectations. It is far from where we are and what we can achieve.
So, the question that arises is that “are we once again to go back to the paradigm of working with hand-me-downs, or is it possible to envisage a new paradigm for the way new technologies and the new media can be made to work in the interests of the developing nations as well?” (Quoted from “New technology’s new home” Article by Ravi Poovaiah and Dr Ajanta Sen Poovaiah (IDC, IITB))
It is not possible to keep up with the pace of developing technologies given the age and advancements of our nation unless we take a step towards developing technologies to accommodate and suit our world and not vice-versa. This is where Designers and Software developers come into play. They need to proceed towards designing to meet the needs of the people keeping in mind the reality of our country. But sometimes we might not be aware of our own conditions the way we should be and so we try to modify our world to a place outside products.
Culture free products which originate from other countries might not necessarily fit the need of our country since they are designed to be for a specific area. So rather than blindly accepting the global products, we must devise our own methodologies that cater to our needs in the best way possible. At this time, careful monitoring of global products is also required.
“an effective design paradigm is one that emerges from or closely follows in the path of a country’s development paradigm.” (Sen Poovaiah, 1998)
Design development goes hand in hand with the cultural shift of a country. Design is done keeping in mind the user and what they think and what they want, which is affected by the cultural trends in their surroundings. The key point is to understand how the design-development relationship is very important and why it needs to be studied for a better future for our country.
It is also important to understand why we face this situation more than in other developing countries. If we look at the history of our country and the cultural drift that it has experienced in the past, we can see that there have been multiple intrusions in our country and even though we managed to stand up and about after that, there have been repercussions. India has been exploited by many countries throughout the 19th century. This left some prominent stains on the cultural dynamics of our country wherein we have always been influenced by western and other cultures. India has strong diversity when it comes to social and cultural trends but a lot of them have been the result of outside influence which is why we have been used to accepting these changes as our own. This has led to a substandard growth of the country in the fields of design and technology.
Internet and technology are an inseparable part of our lives now which puts the design developer in a tricky situation since he is the one who needs to make sure to create the desired output with the limited resources available in a developing country like India. The core purpose is not to keep juggling with the current problems and reshaping it into a different one, but to actually arrive at a meaningful solution contrary to what has happened in the past where technologies that were developed for one purpose, but used for vastly different ones.
The problem will be solved not when we are able to use technology that is out there, but when we get to develop the way we want to and create a convenient life for a common man.