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|October 13, 1998||
Fighting pollution with telecommutingTelecommuting is the answer to Delhi's vehicular pollution and increasing stress-related diseases, says one of India's top scientists.
Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre Director Professor T Vishwanathan believes that nearly 30 per cent of Delhi's workforce could function more efficiently from homes over networked computers.
According to him, the physical presence of an employee at the office would soon become impractical, given the increasing congestion on the streets of Delhi and other metropolises.
Besides the stress of travelling on polluted streets and the fear of arriving late, which can only increase as cities grow, there would actually be increased access to information on networks. This, naturally, would lead to greater efficiency.
With better transparency and access offered by a networked society, the fear of the unknown, a major cause for stress, would be reduced.
The networked society can bring about dramatic changes in the lifestyle of people in areas like education, work culture, environment and health. The concept of education is about to change from institution-based to home-based. Soon, every house would be connected to a variety of educational resources, libraries and teachers, Vishwanathan says.
Besides, education can turn into a personalised pursuit of knowledge in areas of direct relevance and interest, thus freeing the mind from superfluous information assimilated for the sake of passing an examination or bettering career prospects.
Telecommuting is already a reality in the United States where 35 per cent of corporate workers function via computers.
A networked society would benefit from environmental spin-offs by providing people the time and opportunity to get back to activities like gardening.
India is all set for the information age, having instituted strong education and training programmes in the non-formal sector as well as schools and open universities.
The government has also set up a task force under the cabinet secretary, with involvement from 13 departments, to plan and realise the national information infrastructure.
Scientists like Professor M G K Menon, who is closely involved with this, would help India leapfrog several stages of underdevelopment.
India would need to retrain and update the knowledge of professionals and familiarise the ordinary citizen with the use of information technology gadgets before it can fully exploit networks.
This, Professor Vishwanathan is confident, would take only four years to achieve.
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