ISLAMABAD: “A pragmatist myself, I think we need recourse to both theory and practice to evolve reflections for better policies and even better implementation mechanisms.”
This was said by the Minister for Science and Technology, Rana Tanvir Hussain at the 2-Day International Workshop on ICTs for Development: Mainstreaming the Marginalised which was organized by the Inter Islamic Network on Information Technology (INIT) here on Tuesday.
According to a press release issued here, the minister said that the cost of the technologies is getting lower day by day and there usage and deployment is becoming ubiquitous. In turn, it is helping link people across communities, across regions and even borders.
ICTs have opened up new avenues for providing access to information, employment, social justice, transparency and have helped in combating extremism. He further said that the deployment of ICTs have expanded the horizon for all.
Equally true, it has proved itself as an equalizer for those at a disadvantage. It has given voice to those erstwhile unheard. In that sense the ICTs have strengthened the democratic ethos of a society.
The Workshop aimed to deliver a unique participatory based learning experience for the invitees. It will include presentations, panel sessions and open discussions around the theme of identifying ways through which the poorest and most marginalised can benefit from access to, and use of ICTs.
Such individuals and communities often include people living in isolated areas, people with disabilities, women, the urban poor, underserved rural areas, and the elderly. Enabling the poor and marginalised to gain benefits from the use of ICTs is essential if these inequalities that threaten social and political stability are indeed to be reduced.
The workshop will be conducted by Prof. Tim Unwin who has extensive experience in the area of ICTs for development and is considered a leading authority on the subject matter.
Professor Tim Unwin, the key speaker at the workshop, has been an outspoken critic of such arguments, emphasising instead that ICTs have led to dramatically increased inequalities between those who have access to them and those who do not. Such arguments emphasise that “development” is as much about reducing inequalities as it is about increasing economic growth.
A panel of highly experienced personal ranging from different fields with respect to the usage of ICTs will be supporting Prof. Unwin in creating a constructive argument that identifies some of the best ways of supporting the marginalised through the use of ICTs, and thereby reducing social and economic inequalities.
At the end, the Minister thanked Prof. Tim Unwin and other resource persons for their time and intellectual contribution for the event. He also congratulated Dr. S. M Junaid Zaidi, Rector, CIIT, the Inter Islamic Network on Information Technology and the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunications and offered the Ministry of Science &Technology’s unflinching support in implementing the recommendations.
The Inter Islamic Network on Information Technology was established during the 10th General Assembly Meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) in 2002. COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Islamabad is the host institution and Government of Pakistan is the host Government for the INIT.
The permanent secretariat of the Network is at the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan. INIT aims at directing and encouraging research, development and use of ICTs and associated systems in promoting collaboration and cooperation among its member states through building capacity, encouraging dialogue, maintaining databanks, assisting in education and training and automating the governmental and business processes.