Business is a critical partner to build an inclusive information society, ICC tells UN Commission

  • 26 May 2008

Business is a willing, ready and committed partner to help build an inclusive information society, Subramaniam Ramadorai, Chair of Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS), and CEO & Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services based in India, told the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) today in Geneva.

“Today, the global information and communications ecosystem is helping build a more inclusive information society,” Mr Ramadorai said in his opening keynote speech during the CSTD’s annual progress review on this theme. The Commission is tasked with assisting the United Nations in the follow-up to the World Summits on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva and Tunis.

“BASIS and my own company, Tata Consulting Services (TCS), are working to promote the development of this ecosystem,” he added.

BASIS was launched by ICC in 2006 to bring business experience to the processes and forums established by the WSIS summits.

In his speech, Mr Ramadorai outlined several challenges to building a more inclusive information society, including the need to revolutionize learning methods to increase access to information and services for the illiterate, and the need for more “killer applications” for the rural poor, such as mobile phones, which could be in more widespread use if governments slashed taxes.

He also urged CSTD to consider assessing the way some of the WSIS action lines are addressed, and urged a pragmatic approach and continued emphasis on fostering dialogue among all stakeholders, as well as calling for the development of statistics on ICTs to gauge progress since the WSIS.

Mr Ramadorai also isolated a number of issues facing the continued development of the global ICT industry, such as investment and entrepreneurship, and productive policy approaches that promote them, and the need for consistent approaches to intellectual property protection across the world.

TCS, India’s leading IT consultancy, is in the vanguard of finding workable solutions to building a more inclusive information society in the developed and developing world alike. For instance, a total of 100,000 rural residents in India have taken the TCS adult literacy program, delivered in eight languages. TCS supplied software for the Indian Governments National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which is expected to allow 3.5 million rural households to register for wage-holding jobs in the state of Andhra Pradesh. To expand the pool of qualified technical talent to address looming shortages, TCS offers IGNITE, a seven-month training programme for science and math graduates to train them to be software engineers. Such projects confirm that multistakeholder involvement is essential for success as it is the combined experience and views of business, governments, civil society and technical experts that produce the most effective approaches.