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Science Technology

Third World Research, Development & Innovation 222

tovarish writes "It is nice to see that countries like India are trying to research communication techniques in backward and rural areas. While tech savvy people like us enjoy the latest gadgets it is quite a challenge to develop gadgets which actually help the poor and illiterate. While India's satellite launches and outsourcing news are already covered in slashdot umpteen times, sometimes her sensible achievements should be covered too."
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Third World Research, Development & Innovation

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  • Economic Uses (Score:5, Interesting)

    by principor ( 754410 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:47AM (#10493095)
    There's a book that gives a good use of communication in developing nations. It's by CK Prahalad, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. [] It gives the example of how installing an internet terminal in rural Indian villages has helped them set the market for their livestock. They can log on, check the prices for the day and then head to market as more knowledgeable sellers. This keeps them from being taken advantage of and does a lot to help both their confidence and economic prosperity.
  • Priorities? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BigChigger ( 551094 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:55AM (#10493157)
    Wouldn't it be better to not teach these people to read and help them with water and food qualiity first?

    At least do that before we can get them electronic gadgets like CD and MP3 players so they can transfer they money to the RIAA.

  • by eutychus_awakes ( 607787 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:58AM (#10493190)
    Here [] is a short list of web definitions for the "Third World". You might be surprised - it wasn't originally meant to mean what we now think it means.
  • Worlds (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:58AM (#10493191) Journal
    What qualifies a country to be in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd world? You always hear about 1st and 3rd world contries, but what is a 2nd world country? Are there any examples? China and India have bustling cities that have the comforts of a 1st world contry, but also areas of vast poverty. So where do they belong? My gut would say that should be the definition of the 2nd world countries that we never hear about.
  • I remember a story (Score:4, Interesting)

    by earthforce_1 ( 454968 ) <> on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:01AM (#10493212) Journal
    About a microloan program, where very small loans would be given to poor individuals in remote areas, who wanted to start their own businesses. One woman in a remote village used such a loan to buy a cell phone. Prior to this, there were no phone service at all. She would charge her neigbours to place calls using the phone, hence becaming the defacto phone company.

  • Re:Are we allowed to (Score:5, Interesting)

    by greenhide ( 597777 ) <> on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:03AM (#10493224)
    In many ways the Indian attitude towards education is superior to our own.

    Unless things have changed drastically in the past few years or so, while the attitude towards education may be great, their willingness to supply the funding behind that attitude is not.

    In my opinion, technology does not, in and of itself, solve any problems. There must be attitudinal changes, particularly in the government. Closer to (my) home, this explains why, despite spending more and more each year on computers and other technologies, the US continues to lag behind other countries in education and in how much most current students know and how well they apply that knowledge. It's an attitudinal problem. We train our children to be too focused on education as a means towards a high-paying job, so they don't value knowledge unless they feel it directly translates into acquiring wealth. And that's the *successful* students. Many others, mostly raised in poor environments with limited educational resources and households were both parents *must* work in order to feed their children, have resigned themselves to working in the service industry for the rest of their lives and thus don't take any interest in education.

    I'm not sure if these same psychological dynamics have started up in India yet.
  • Third World.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by digital.prion ( 808852 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:07AM (#10493251)
    really just means Non-White.. I say this not to be abrasive but true.. Take a look at your nearest world map and start pointing at every place that "qualifies" as THIRD WORLD (what ever that means) - then to contrast point at all the places that qualify as "FIRST WORLD". BTW.. Where is the Second World?
  • What I saw... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bayankaran ( 446245 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:14AM (#10493308) Homepage
    Last year I was travelling the length and breadth of this vast country.

    In the last ten years, the biggest changes in India are the spread of ATM's and mobile phones. When the state run BSNL started cellular services in 2002 in rural Indian towns, there were stampedes to get the application form.

    What you dont find is decent broadband and good roads. Broadband may happen soon with Reliance Infotech putting fiber. But no chance of roads getting better.

    And the country proves the trickle down theory favored by World Bank and IMF will not work. I am yet to see anything trickling down. And the country is liberalising for the last 10 years.

    Does that mean liberalisation is bad?
  • by Cryofan ( 194126 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:17AM (#10493335) Journal
    Yes, it is true. America does less science research per capita than do many of the European nations, especially the countries that Rightwingers love to call "socialist", i.e,. Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, etc. All these countries and some others in Europe publish more science papers (in peer reviewed journals) than does America (some of them publish TWICE as many papers per capita as does America). Gee, I guess that blows away that neoliberal/laisseiz faire argument about America capitalism being the "driving engine behind improving technology, quality of life" etc., and how all those welfare states in Europe are just parasites on America....yawn....

    Also, America is even behind 3rd world countries like India & China in terms of science research papers when looked at on a per-capita-wealth basis (numbers of papers per unit of wealth per country). Note on the graph how much to the right America is when compared to, say, India. India publishes more peer-reviewed science papers more capita wealth than does America.

    THis is all based on the study entitled "Scientific Impact of Nations" by King for 2004. You can get a link to the pdf version of the paper and see a graph of science papers per per-capita-wealth here [].

    Well, you learned something today, huh? Now go watch the debate Wednesday and listen to Bush and Kerry tell us about how America is the greatest nation on earth.....

  • Re:Must be hard... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:26AM (#10493421)
    What about the US? How about we stop building weapons and educate our children? I mean, come on!

    It sounds like a great analogy, but I think most studies have demonstrated that increased per pupil spending doesn't accomplish very much.

    Besides, in the US at least, the increased spending generally goes for social welfare type programs (meals, social workers, kids dubiously labeled "learning disabled") within the schools instead of increasing the quality of education itself (better teaching, better teaching materials, etc).

    The schools which seem to have the biggest problems are usually inner-city schools with large numbers of minority students and immigrants -- no amount of money short of individual tutoring will help them. Anytime you aggregate all the poor kids together, they're typically going to just demonstrate the social backgrounds they live in. Bussing doesn't help -- white families simply move outside the administrative authority of the bussing regeime, and some minority leaders have also complained that integration "undermines their cultural identity" (the result being "right to be ignorant and unemployed.")

    It has been suggested that inner city schools could be "saved" by shipping their students to boarding schools in rural locations. It solves many of the social background issues the kids have (crime, neglect, diet) while putting them in an environment where education is their biggest priority. Minority leaders decry it as concentration camps, and conservatives won't pay for it, and it leaves some meaningful questions about family life. Strangely it's worked well for the British aristocracy for centuries.

    Overall, you're right that big-ticket weapons systems are a waste of time. Nukes are a valuable big stick to carry around, but primarily the money should be spent on mobile tacitical troops, although Iraq has taught us the value of APCs and tanks in urban combat.

    I'd spend the military savings on domestic infrastructure -- urban transit, telecommunications and environmental cleanup. Spending more on the school is just too problematic to get a payback.
  • by harisheldon ( 664070 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:06PM (#10493881)
    Ya, but Japan wasn't looted to the extent India was by the British either. The British left India only after they had finished stealing all the wealth that was in India. In 1950 just after the British were done looting, the female life expectancy in India was pushed down to 38 years. In Japan in 1950 it was 63.1 years. In 1998 in India it increased to 63.7 while in Japan to 83.3.

    In 48 years, the female life expectancy went up by ~26 years in India while in Japan it went up by 20 years and ~12 years in the US.

    So India just was pushed much behind by the British and had a longer distance to climb.
  • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:18PM (#10494046) Journal
    Ok, I don't have the exact quote, I am not a specialist of the domain but here is what I learned, in France, about the expression "Tiers-Monde" (Third World) :
    It would have been coined by a french journalist who made a parallel between the poor countries of the World and the "Tiers-Etat" (Third state) which were the official representation of the french people before the revolution (the 1st state was nobility and the 2nd was the Church) it was under-represented (1/3 of the voices in debates but it represented 98% of population) mainly poor people (peasants for the most) and almost starving to death due to large taxes. The problematic the journalist was raising was : For how long will this "Third World" undergo its poverty and injustice ? Will it revolt like the "third state" did ?

    So here it is. From this definition, I would say that the characteristics of a third world country would be that it is under-representated in global negociations and that there is a certain level of wealth to be attained. Each criterion is very subjective, India has clearly a great weight in world decisions but it has also a very important poor population, less than most african countries though...

    I tend to use more the words "under-developed" countries and "emerging (or emergent, how do you say that in english ?) countries" if most of the population is poor, it is under-developed or emerging. If it has a strong economic growth (like china or india), it is emergent and, if we have faith in capitalism, it means the poverty will finally fade away.

    Third world seems to have a strong "under-developed" connotation. Or maybe it is just me...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @02:46PM (#10495744)
    OK, China's main export to the US are computers and electronics and the main US export to China are soybeans.

    Which one is 1st and which one is 3rd world ?

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen