Changing ratio of download to upload content on web: Towards a shared and open economy


There is a strong desire in the country to promote an entrepreneurial culture, which not only serves social needs through market but also non-market channels. Not every body can excel in all links in the knowledge and value chain for the purpose. Some can produce useful knowledge while other can add value, develop products and services, and deliver it to those who can afford to pay for it but also to those who cant.  Much of this requires open access solution databases in various sectors. Paradoxically,  India is very high in downloading content but very poor in uploading content, particularly open source (and record in Indian languages is even poorer). India has about 25 per cent population having access to Internet as against China’s fifty per cent population. Indian has more people having access to net than USA but our share in content-shared in open with the world at large is awfully low.

We complain about increasing western influence on our worldview, perceptions, outlook to life and frame of reference. Some of it is quite meaningful in fact. But some of  it may not be so. But how does a country become a global leader without taking lead in sharing widely useful content?  Indian experience in dealing with climate change risk at community level is very rich. Imagine if under MGNREA (public employment guarantee  program) just ten days out of 100, were spent on mapping positive community experiences in dealing with such risks in agriculture, livestock or other livelihood sectors, India might become a world leader in Climate resilient knowledge dissemination.  Similarly grassroots innovations, children creative ideas, outstanding traditional knowledge, grandmothers’ tales, folk culture, art forms, biodiversity, threatened skills, and so much more, can be mapped and uploaded. It will promote lateral learning, but will also influence global design, culture and understanding of how a sharing and a caring culture need to lead the global transition to a sustainable development future. When I requested former President Dr Kalam to write to then PM, Dr Manmohan Singh, he promptly did saying that mental and just not menial work need to be promoted under employment program. It was ignored then and also later by National innovation council. The current government may also  ignore it as it has already done regarding so many other ideas for enriching innovation eco-system. But I will persist.  After all, Indian renaissance cannot be delayed far too long. It will take place, whenever it does through a sharing, caring and daring cultural pluralism.

What are the risks if we become mainly a downloading culture and not uploading culture? Indian will be seen as a insatiable consumer of goods and services, ideas and institutions. Local/indigenous innovations in thought, ideas, institutions and culture will remain stifled. New trends in art and culture, education and technology will be aped more than shaped by local experimentation and creativity. It is  very gratifying to hear about Imran, the teacher from Sanskrit school, Alwar (  )   who has made 43 apps for open access education (recalled by the PM during his UK visit) with more than 18 million screen views and 2.5 million users  at Android platform. If we can harness the creative power of million more school and college teachers, workers, farmers, artisans etc., and share these widely on multiple open access platforms, a small change will begin.

Once mind starts believing in inclusive methods, ideologies and technologies, the tendency for believing in discriminative, exclusionary and myopic unjust worldviews will automatically go down. Now, you understand why governments of various hues are so wary of open source sharing, caring and daring creative and compassionate culture?


Visiting Faculty, IIM Ahmedabad & IIT Bombay and an independent thinker, activist for the cause of creative communities and individuals at grassroots, tech institutions and any other walk of life committed to make this world a more creative, compassionate and collaborative place