If the Indian society has to become a knowledge society, then it is important that every Indian becomes a knowledge worker. We need to recognise the concept of a knowledge worker in the broadest possible sense. It is not scientists and technologists alone, who will be knowledge workers. Even a farmer can be a knowledge worker, provided he understands the soil that he is sowing his seeds in, he understands why and how of the micro nutrient and pesticide addition that he makes, he lives in an information village, where he has the benefit of short and medium range weather forecasting to plan his farming activity and so on. If he does so, then he will be a continuous user of knowledge and he will be knowledge worker.
I had the privilege of witnessing some truly novel models being tested by M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation on creating new knowledge systems in the villages around Pondicherry last week. The knowledge system for sustainable food security in the Pondicherry villages has its goal the empowerment of rural women, men and children with information relating to ecological agriculture, economic access and utilisation. Such a knowledge system is being managed by local youth at the Village Knowledge Centre, from where the computer-aided information system is operated. Farmers, who are becoming the knowledge workers, are also being trained to maintain a “Soil Health Card” to monitor the impact of farming systems on the physical, chemical and microbiological components of soil fertility.
If a customer becomes a knowledge worker, he will change the market dynamics. We take great pride in the white revolution that took place in India, with India emerging as the largest milk producer in the world last year. But let us remember those early days when some producers began diluting the milk and customers could not determine its quality before buying it. It was empowering the customers with knowledge with simple kits to determine the buttermilk content, that put emphasis on quality, and led to the qualitative and quantitative growth of milk production.
Enlightened citizens empowered with knowledge will be able to see the crucial link between, namely environment, ecology, economics, equity and ethics. They will not be then guided by misinformation fed by vested interest groups. But they will use their knowledge to decide on their own as to what is wrong and what is right. They will not stop projects that lead to economic development, but they will stop those that lead to destruction.