Technology Policy Perspective: Critical Review of Software Technology Parks in India

Technology Policy Perspective: Critical Review of Software Technology Parks in India

Neeta Baporikar (Ministry of Higher Education, CAS - Salalah, Sultanate of Oman)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1646-2.ch004
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Clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers, and associated institutions in a particular field that are present in a nation or region. Cluster growth initiatives are an important new direction in economic policy. Almost every country, in the world, has pursued policies for the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) established in 1991, have certainly promoted cluster growth of high-tech software companies, played seminal role and enabled India to become “IT Superpower.” Today, these parks across over the country are synonymous with excellent Infrastructure and Statutory support aimed at furthering growth of Information Technology. The chapter aims to do a critical review of software parks, and the focus is to understand the importance of technology policy perspective - how it can be developed, enhanced through right inputs, and adaptation. It raises a number of questions: What is a right perspective and how should it be developed? What role can input and adaptation play? How should resources and capabilities be configured to develop the right cluster growth? This is to provide the reader with a suitable analysis platform for decision-making that enhances all phases of making effective technology policy so as to ensure growth and success for clusters through optimization of knowledge management process.
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The last quarter of the twentieth century witnessed a remarkable convergence of policies for new technologies. Almost every country, whether in Western or Eastern Europe, whether in North or South America, in Asia, Africa or Australasia, has pursued policies for the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Some of these were concerned mainly with the private sector, some with the public sector, in most countries with both, the precise mixture depending on the political regime, the structure of industry, ownership of the telecommunications infrastructure and so forth. These features were themselves changing fairly rapidly in many countries, most notably in Eastern Europe. But whatever the political and social regime, the preoccupation with ICT was observable everywhere and identified in numerous surveys by international organizations.

This common endeavour could no doubt be attributed to the widespread conviction that ICT was an extraordinarily pervasive technology which could be fairly characterized as a “General Purpose Technology,” i.e. one which could and would be used in most sectors of the economy and many different activities. In manufacturing industry almost every technique offered some possibilities for process control through computerization, whilst office functions offered even greater possibilities.

It would be true to say that just after the Second World War; the ICT enthusiasts were relatively few in number. In those days, it was nuclear technology which attracted far more public attention and far more government funds than ICT. It had been by far the most spectacular and the most effective and devastating technology of the war and it had been the direct result of a massive government programme for the development of technology – the so-called “Manhattan” Project. Enthusiasm for ICT was confined to those few people in the academic world who had pioneered small-scale computer projects, sometimes in collaboration with the military, for aircraft design, artillery computations, or decoding enemy communications. In those early days even firms, such as IBM who already had some experience of government projects were not at all optimistic about the future applications of computers in industry.

These perceptions changed radically in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Many new firms entered the industry and a wide range of new applications was rapidly developed, such as payroll and stock control. Costs fell by an order of magnitude and the speed of executing simple instructions increased by several orders of magnitude. As the technology was improved still further, and new software programmes multiplied, large numbers of people became familiar with them and social scientists, such as David Bell and Manuel Castells began to speak and write about the “Information Society” or the “Knowledge Economy.” These terms passed into general use reflecting the almost universal social acceptance of the new technology. Every human society of the past has of course been in some sense an information society but the use of electronic computers to record, store and disseminate information revolutionized the concept.

Probably, therefore, the development and diffusion of ICT has been the most widely supported technology policy of all time. At various times, and for short periods, the concentration of technological efforts and the proportion of government funds directed to another particular technology may have been somewhat greater. This may have been the case, for example, with aircraft technology and with radar in a few countries early in the Second World War. It was certainly the case with nuclear technology at the end of the Second World War and during the first decades of the ‘Cold War’. But for sustained activity over a very long period and with an enormous range of applications in the civil economy, ICT is without parallel. Moreover, it was and is also without parallel in the range of countries which have followed deliberate policies to improve and diffuse the technology and to extend the scope of applications.

In this perspective it is perhaps not surprising that both policy-makers and visionary scientists are sometimes engaged in trying to identify the next great “General Purpose Technology” which should be promoted in good time in order to keep pace with world development or even gain an early lead in world competition.

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