Old and new world competition . . !

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IT wasn’t too many years ago, every time the word ‘computers’ was mentioned, government employees would go on strike.

Millions of man hours were wasted as clerks continued to painstakingly and laboriously write in ledgers and huge books, what they could have typed and transferred to another department in seconds.

And we the public suffered, as successive government either scared to lose the employees vote bank, or succumbing to the threat of the ‘strike’ blackmail, differed decisions to computerize! Finally, they did, and today, we almost head the world in digital technology. But old world ‘brick and mortar’ continue their relentless battle.

And now it is, ‘We want level playing fields!’ they shout, ‘between us and online shopping!’ And somehow it sounds the same, like the fight between old ledger book clerks and computers.

Today, I don’t need to go to a store to look around and pick up what I want, I can do so on my laptop, safe within the confines of my home, and if the rates are cheaper than the ones in walled shops, I benefit, don’t I? So why should any regulation, except for quality if at all, be brought in?

During and after the pandemic thousands of employees have started working from home, and suddenly corporates have found they can give up huge office spaces, which they were paying a bomb for.

Do realtors and building owners shout, “Not fair! Start working from offices again!” No, they don’t, because it doesn’t make logical sense, and also, they are a smaller vote bank than shopkeepers.

But, who’s the real vote bank?
We of course, and we need to tell the government in no uncertain terms, we are happy sitting at home and shopping! Happy with discounts offered, and if our shopkeepers want to stay in business, they, like the government clerks of old need to find ways to compete with the latest ways of selling their merchandise!

During the lockdown, shopkeepers cried themselves hoarse that ecommerce firms who could have delivered commodities to our homes and kept us safe, had an unfair advantage, and should not be allowed to operate.

State governments listened to them, and our lockdowns were worse than prison sentences.

Decades ago, if we had listened to the protests of the VSNL and MTNL government nationalized phone companies, we would still be relying on landlines, instead of now being the largest users of mobile phones in the world, which has made almost all Indians connected to one another.

What an achievement! But for such to happen, we need to stop listening to those who are not moving ahead.

Help them with technology, help them think new ideas, but it’s to us the public, the actual vote bank, the government should lend a ear to. You cannot stop competition between the old world and the new, using threats..!

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