Today I did some more research on the “Connecting the Unconnected” article related background information. This is followup to article I read in The Hindu on ICT enabling the under-served.
IMO, a certain intent to unduly promote Infosys was glaring. Infosys is an excellent co, but not famous for championing the cause of the underserved – thus the humour in the title Connecting the Unconnected made me sit up.
The troublesome parts in the article are
While India remains an active member of the UN’s IT-related programmes, it is somewhat glaring that in the ITU’s `Connect the World’ partnership of industries, governments and civil societies, India has not bothered to participate at government level.
Infosys was the lone Indian IT corporate player in this partnership while the M.S. Swaminathan Foundation and the Indian end of the Development Gateway foundation had the onus of ensuring that a reasonably upbeat message about India’s global intentions was conveyed.
It is true that Infosys – through Campus Connect program- is a partner in the ITU’s Connect the World program. But it is not the only one from corporate India as mentioned in the article.
Intel India through Friends of Special Olympics Bharat is another.
and Encore Software one of the makers of Simputer is another. Listed as:
ITU, Universal Postal Union, Bhutan Telecom, Bhutan Post, Government of India, Encore Software — Provision of e-services using post offices in Bhutan
Here it might be worthy enough to quote from the ITU web site about partners
Each Connect the World partner contributes according to their own circumstances and capacities. There is no cost to become a partner. Each partner is unique, and all partners have equal status.
That much about fact nitpicking.
Now let us see the corporate intent.
IMO, the Infosys Campus Connect program is an extended recruitment exercise of Infosys. The top 3 FAQ about Campus Connect listed in its website says it all:
1. What is “Campus Connect”? What are the objectives?
Campus Connect is Infosys’ initiative to help increase India’s competitiveness in the knowledge economy. Campus Connect aims at evolving a model through which Infosys and engineering institutions can partner for competitiveness, enhance the pool of highly capable talent for growth requirements in Information Technology (IT) space. It is aimed at creating an effective means of backward integration into the supply chain by going into the college campuses from where the IT industry gets the people for its growth.
2. What is the goal of Campus Connect?
The goal of Campus Connect is to build a sustainable partnership with engineering education institutions for mutual benefit.
3. What are the criteria to join the program?
The exact criteria will change from time to time. A variety of parameters are involved. Some of them are – College has good standards, students have good standards, Infosys has been visiting the college in the past, college is open-minded, college is a trend setter.
Not very inclusive even in the narrow chosen domain of e-learning. And barely satisfies the eligibility criteria set by ITU:
To be eligible for inclusion under the Connect the World banner, projects must include an element of in-kind or direct financial support beyond what companies would consider standard business practice. For example, a project using wireless technology to expand rural connectivity would be considered eligible if the company involved provides equipment, training and support services free of charge to one or more communities to get a network up and running and demonstrate the benefits of the technology. Such an initiative may lead to short or longer-term commercial opportunities, but is not in itself commercial.
With that I rest my case that Infosys got a undeserving praise in the Connecting the Unconnected context.
Mind you this is not a news item. It is an article. And I expect much better insight and clarity of opinion from seasoned (and very esteemed) journalist like Mr Anand Parthasarathy who is covering the Indian IT scene more than a decade now.
This even made me send an email to the Readers Editor of The Hindu. In the course of today’s research I found out that articles and editorials are excluded from the Readers Editor purview.
I started off the research with WSIS blog i-Witness and hope the trackback will set things straight.
Update: The Hindu gets into a controversy of sorts on the issue of How the Indian companies represent themself in International Events. And how it is covered in the press back home. Interesting to note the reference to a blog post mentioned in the Readers Editor’s weekly column.