DailyPost 1977

Democracy without democratization of knowledge is deadwood. What is democratization of knowledge? It is a slightly far-reaching term, which encompasses within itself, data to information to some quantum of findings by any established process, which gives the feeling to the citizens of a democratic nation that he or she is empowered. Knowledge by its very definition for mass use means a tool that would help them make informed decisions and add to their ease and comfort of life. Conversely, without that knowledge, they would be inconvenienced. That comfort is unknown, because they would have never experienced it. Do we even have a knowledge framework, which should be the bare essential for any democratic nation? We the people’s first right is democratization of knowledge and lots of our rights would seamless flow out of it.

We are still in the stone age of knowledge, lack of a workable one, to make our democratic life a success. It is the job of the state, if the citizen is to fend for himself day in and day out to his disadvantage, how does the preposterous concepts of Knowledge Economy fan out for  him. The first struggle was with the information itself, lying in government files, kept away from the non-prying eyes of the citizens. They would have just needed it to go ahead with the daily governmental chores or for some immediate requirement or crisis he would have landed into. It can also be used by right thinking individuals and organizations, who work for the larger social good. The right to information was awarded to us through a legal mandate. What have the governments made of it, we will leave it for some other day.

The impact analysis of RTI on democratization of ease of living and bringing sanity to the system will long be debated.* The intangible has been confounded now. The data world is even more curious. The digital age has brought the citizen right in the center of the digital cesspool, leaving aside its democratization and availing the benefits of an open data policy. The de facto practice is that it should be made more and more difficult for the citizen to get data. What governments did earlier in a technically crude manner, now the corporations are doing it in a much more sophisticated technical way. And now the governments have followed suit. The non-availability of data was a much lesser crime against the democratic citizen, compared to the variety and depth of surveillance at play.

When the battle for information has become a faint war cry now and new data has gone the intrusive way, can it ever converge into a democratization of knowledge? Knowledge cannot hang in mid-air nor can it blossom in a vacuum. It has to come through the data and information way to be finally processed into knowledge, which can be delivered as a product, depending on the requirement of individuals, organizations and enterprises. Finding this missing piece today has become a full-time job in the  vibrant Indian democracy, but for the people in power. We have deprived the basic tool to our toiling masses, the most relevant one for their existence. Knowledge can turn out to be a soothing balm even for the most deprived.  If he can’t make use of it directly, there are a large number of people who will help him, if that knowledge is readily available.


Sanjay Sahay

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