In keeping with the global information scenario, New Tech’s thrust areas have also been changing from one five year plan to another. During the Seventh Five Year Plan, the objective was to create a foundation on which the modern information activities could be built — therefore, introduction of computer technologies in LIS environment and development of endogenous capabilities were emphasised. The Eighth Five Year Plan was the period of consolidation, establishment of facilities for accessing the global knowledge base, and interlinking of Indian Information Centres were accorded priority. The Ninth Five Year Plan will see developments towards globalisation of the Indian Information market.
Some of the existing activities will require reorientation. The present library networks should evolve into information networks, with emphasis on non-bibliographic information for better market acceptance. Database development activities would also be in areas like business, financial, industrial, technological and public information. Apart from running short-term continuing education programmes, regular formal courses on modern IT applications may be set up. These apart, several new initiatives are in the offing as summarized below. During the current plan, the activities will be woven around utilization of information highways and the Internet. The programme will inter alia include :
establishment of a chain of web sites on different subjects
establishment of Internet training schools to run courses on web site management, home- page development and especially subject specific information searches
provision of Internet connectivity to library & information centres
development of web-based course materials of selected subjects
To encourage the growth of the nascent information industry in the country, a broad-based scheme to promote and support public institutions and private enterprises, in information resource development and service generation will be launched. At the users end, a systematic approach to sensitise and educate users enhancing their search capabilities will be evolved.
The reach of modern information systems hardly ever extends beyond the urban areas, and literate clientele. It is necessary that people living in rural areas, illiterate and backward communities also benefit from the fruits of information technology revolution. Further, certain items of information for the public that people ought to know for their day-today living and for coping up with the emergencies, would be packaged and appropriate dissemination mechanism set up.
New Tech has already taken steps for dissemination of information on patents through its information centres. Going further, New Tech intends to run a series of workshops on patents information for industrial R & D and seminars on copyright for library, information and software personnel. It also intends to build up a compendium of case studies on patents information and copyright, besides a database of frequently asked questions.
It is also felt necessary to evolve a mechanism for capturing information on folk wisdom, biodiversity , ethnic practices etc. This will serve two fold purpose, one to take benefit of the existing knowledge and material base, and second, to help registering these against uncalled for exploitation through patents by other countries.
Given today’s high cost of travel and the opportunity cost of time spent to attend training courses, New Tech will experiment with skill-upgradation through distance education courses using modern telecommunication systems like web-based teaching/learning and teleconferencing. However, for these, New Tech would piggy-back on existing networks.
Since information sources and services in the country are disparate, an information referral system will be established together with an intelligent gateway to facilitate our users accessing domestic and foreign information and foreign users accessing Indian information services.
In view of the rapid changes in the global and domestic information and information technology scenarios, a regular mechanism to continually monitor trends, assess their relevance to our conditions and to forecast the shape of things to come will be established. New Tech also proposes to prepare the Indian Information Report in the lines of the World Information Report brought out by the UNESCO.
The potential employers like industries, national laboratories often observe that candidates knowledgeable in modern information tools and techniques are difficult to find. Since only a limited purpose could be achieved through continuing education of practising library and information scientists, it might be worthwhile to catch them young. This warrants intervention at the library Schools. For this purpose, New Tech would propose to provide support to a few selected library and information schools for introducing subjects on modern information handling techniques under the New Tech scheme.
The CD-ROM has emerged as a powerful technology for application in decentralised information system development. However, in India we are yet to make a beginning. It is therefore proposed to bring out CD-ROMs on Indian bibliographic, numeric and directory type databases and also a CD-ROM version of selected Indian periodicals.
Since it is difficult for intending users to access libraries outside their own institutions, a scheme is being designed to facilitate utilization of large libraries by outside users especially those from industries. A pilot project on the concept is being set up in the IIT Delhi.