Archive for April, 2013

How can youth benefit from IT?

April 15, 2013


Today’s youth in India are truly the “Gen Next” and use IT extensively to make their personal and professional lives productive and enjoyable. Four key examples:

1 Learn every moment:

In today’s competitive world, learning is very important. Thanks to the Net – lectures, library and laboratory are fundamentally changing thru e-learning, digital library and remote laboratories. Online courses and videos (NPTEL from IITs, Open Courseware from MIT, iTunes University from Apple) and the whole MOOC (Massively Online Courses) make it possible for any student to access the world’s best knowledge repositories practically free. Thanks to Digital Library  (IEEE / ACM Digital Library, for example), all scholarly journals and conference papers and several books are available online. Remote laboratories make very sophisticated instruments and Robots available over the Net.

2 Keep-up with friends:

For youth, it is important to keep up with friends. In today’s Facebook dominated world, it is so easy to keep up, using mobile phones, smart phones, tablets or PCs. With wireless bandwidth improving constantly (2G, GPRS / EDGE, 3G and 4G), the reach is improving and the falling cost make things more affordable. Other communication options including SMS / MMS, Email, Chat, Skype have brought the whole world at your fingertips.

3 Shop smart:

Today’s youth can shop online for books (Amazon or Flipkart), mobile phones & gadgets (eBay or Infibeam), music (iTunes or Flyte), airline tickets (airline websites or Yatra) or train tickets (IRCTC); one can also get the best deal for any item of your choice at the click of a mouse. In the physical world, one has to physically visit multiple shops to get to know the best deal; in the cyber-world, there are integrators like MakeMyTrip for multiple airlines, or RedBus for multiple bus operators. You can use the credit / debit card or directly use online banking offered by practically all banks.

4 Enjoy and get entertained:

Finally, it is important for youth to enjoy good food, great music or fun party, all helped by technology. Ordering pizza for home delivery, booking a seat in a restaurant for you and your friends or throwing a party, can all be done online. For music buffs, who enjoy devotional music or Bollywood music, there are many options of buying music, listening to streaming-music or tune into FM Radio.

In short, IT has made inroads into all aspects of your day-to-day life. The challenge is to keep the priorities right, manage time and costs, and avoid information / communication overload.

Professor Sowmyanarayanan Sadagopan is the Director of IIIT-Bangalore. These are his personal views. He can be reached at

(Appeared in Education Times of Times of India on April 15, 2013)

How does IT help senior citizens?

April 1, 2013

Senior citizens in India often settle down in cities to take advantage of their professional connections. Information Technology helps them in four key functions.

1               Keep in touch with family and friends

With increased globalization, today’s senior citizens in India find their family members and friends spread across the globe. Earlier form of communication thru postal mail is just not feasible. Luckily, electronic mail and Video conferencing have suddenly shrunk distances. With free web-based email programs like Gmail and Yahoo Mail, one can be in touch with people around the globe effortlessly; with “chat” facility one can have interactive communication, often supplemented with voice / video, thanks to VoIP (Voice over IP) available in services like Skype.


2               Manage savings

For senior citizens, banking and financial services are important – getting pension credited, renewing fixed deposits and other investments (mutual funds and stocks). With practically all banks offering CBS (core banking services), one can do banking from the convenience of a home. Most CBS solutions offer online stock trading option as well. With Post Offices planning to introduce ATM, Core Banking and other services, and most insurance companies offering services online, senior citizens can manage practically all savings without depending on others.


3               Keep up with current developments

Professionals who have turned 60 and become senior citizens continue to be active till they turn 80+. Many of them will like to keep up with current developments in their profession as well as civil society. Luckily, most newspapers (Times of India, for example) are available free online. Most professional journals (IEEE Computer, for example) too are available at very low cost (Rs 1,000+ per year), permitting professionals to keep abreast of developments in their profession, not to mention “Current Science” that is free online.

4               Monitor health

Senior citizens need to monitor their health. While annual regular checkups are a must under the careful supervision of medical doctors, lots of informational articles can be read by accessing “Mayo Clinic” or ‘WebMD” sites. “GetActive” is a handy device (cigarette box size) that measures the number of steps, distance travelled and walking time throughout the day and upload the data to your personal web-site effortlessly (you simply plug into the USB port of an Internet-connected PC); it has memory for 30 days. Similar services would soon be available for blood pressure, glucose levels etc. If you have a smartphone like iPhone many free ”apps” allow you to monitor heart-rate, eye sight etc.,

Most of these services are free. All one needs is an Internet-connected PC!

Professor Sowmyanarayanan Sadagopan is the Director of IIIT-Bangalore. These are his personal views. He can be reached at

(Appeared in Education Times of Times of India, April 1, 2013)