DailyPost 2230

Is India caught up in the generic knowledge syndrome? Then the natural question is what is generic knowledge? It is the basic non-comprehensive understanding of an emerging knowledge area / issue / theme or technology, primarily through hearsay, some off the cuff reading or seeing and getting managerial updates on concerned projects. To a non-research and non-serious practitioner mind, it would give you a feeling of being an expert, at least a semi-expert, while being nowhere near it. For that reason, it is defined as a syndrome, a predictable characteristic pattern of behaviour under the above mentioned circumstances. Suffice to say, it is not a practitioner’s reality.

The generic, half-baked and non-workable knowledge is camouflaged as specialized knowledge, either knowingly or unknowingly but to the peril for any project, action, activity or decision making related to it. The super specialists rule the world, though being in the background. This group of these generic decision makers can barely interact with them and come up with a technically viable solution. The generic decision maker thus gets becomes fully dependent on the super-specialist and makes decisions provided on those crutches, which most of the times, is unreliable, given the knowledge and understanding gaps.

More often than not, such super specialists are not readily available in the public domain or are super costly. Under those circumstances, stock experts and even worse the vendors do this job. The power to decide and power to fund does give anyone either expertise or domain knowledge, truncated by it, you would only be able to deliver only commensurate to the knowledge and skills at your command. You can certify anything to be full and complete as is the case in most of the government and research projects, because of powers reposed in you and the hostage decision making workflow provided. It can be much worse if the commercials connected to the project are literally not understood by any decision maker.

This has resulted in broken and creaking projects / systems / capacity building/ research and academic accomplishments all around. The tragedy of the situation is that the ones who create these messed up projects, systems, workflows, databases etc are not even aware of it. They feel they have done the wisest job. When these keep on adding in a variety of areas, more so in the digital world, the stockpile of knowledge / expertise inefficiency leads to an arsenal with ammunition which can bottlenecks to every move. No owner can deliver on generic superficial knowledge leave aside sustaining it and building it. The building blocks of the tech digital world have been built in an iterative manner. This can only be the logical process, however difficult it might be.

Sanjay Sahay

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