In one of the social networking sites, I saw a banner flashed by one gentleman on his home page – wittily enough – campaigning for a popular Indian cricket commentator (Harsha Bhogle) for the post of India’s President during India’s last presidential elections – “Bhogle for President”. Not that I have any less regard for Harsha, but it immediately struck a chord in me about a similar-sounding campaign – ‘ICT for Development’ or ‘ICT4D’ and the debacle the ‘field’ itself is currently going through.
There is a growing feeling among development practitioners and organizations that ICT4D was more hype than hope (!) and was a misplaced development focus. We are clearly witnessing a gradual trend of fading institutional support for ICT4D. Today, fewer institutions support the field or support it with the same consistency we saw in the past.
As the editorial of ITID Volume-3 puts it, ‘As we move from cheerleading enthusiasm of the ICT4D roaring 1990s to the reactionary pessimism of the early 2000s – when nothing seemed to work – to the synthetic smart-experimentation stage of today…’, we need to ask, what went wrong?