Making computers meaningful

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What a piece of work is a man! Till today computer is the most brilliant invention by him. Proper and effective use of a computer makes the user’s life easy, otherwise to him it is only an expensive toy. It is a man-made tool. But the basic difference between a computer and another tool is that a computer is a machine with a multiplicity of uses. Software is the programmes and packages that we use to interact with the computer. It can be said metaphorically software is the brain of a computer. Without software, a computer i.e. hardware can do nothing. It just remains as a shell.

A few days ago, some scientists of the Eastern Asia grafted the head of a koel embryo on to the body of a chicken embryo to study the behaviour of the allograft. It was a great surprise to them that the graft was behaving completely like a koel. The study encouraged the scientists to say that it is human brain not the heart at the centre of a person’s thoughts and emotions e.g. love, ability to feel emotion. Though computer has been flourishing day by day under the research of superb human brains, yet there is no reason to think a computer can exceed man’s instructions. Actually, man is behind the machine. The developed countries have been using computers for last three decades whereas the machine is still not easily available to people of our country due to the socio economic condition of the country. Thanks to the present Government for declaring its products absolutely tax and VAT free. As a result, computer is now affordable to higher middle class people. We are late enough to use computers extensively in our country. This delay has benefited us as our computers are unlikely to suffer from millennium bug or Y2K problem. Most database programmes of computers are date dependent. Computers, using two digits instead of four in writing a year will be making great mistakes in detailed reckoning from the 1st day of the 21st century. In the developed world, all sorts of business activities completely depend on computer. So the developed countries are living under the threat of Y2K. For facing the problem the countries are lacking in adequate manpower. This is a big chance. The developing countries like India, Malaysia, etc. are coming forward and providing the developed world with programmers. Bangladesh should avail herself of the opportunity.

Programmers were previously developed in-house by the IT companies which employed graduates from different disciplines. Formal computer education was limited to those few who completed their graduation from abroad and came back to Bangladesh. A few universities now offer bachelors programme for computer science but the number of seats is not commensurate with the demand.

The existing departments of different universities are not rich enough because of poverty. Moreover, NIIT, Aptech, ITI, Bhuiyan Academy and others are offering certified computer courses. But these are too costly to be affordable to middle class people. So many students despair of studying computer science. Our middle class parent even cannot afford a computer for his offspring. So many youths do not have the opportunity for using a computer. In this case, government should provide them with loan adopting the policy ‘pay as you earn’. Hope, it will increase the number of computer users and create skilled programmers. We should have computer courses aimed at testing the aptitude of students for the particular subject in intermediate colleges.

The information age has opened up a lot of opportunities for many countries including Bangladesh. We have plenty of educated and talented youth who have a zeal for this sector. It is a matter of rejoicing that the students of BUET are topping the ‘Authors Rank list’ prepared by Valladolid University of Spain. Our local software manufacturing sector now excels in expertise. We have already entered into the software export market. Though we have not yet made any commendable success in the international software export area, yet it occurs to me that we are getting on with our software manufacturing and export sector. I believe that we have high potential for future growth of software. But we have lack of skilled manpower and money. Government should have pragmatic and farsighted policy to strengthen our software infrastructure and prepare us for competing in international software export arena.

Software manufacturing is not an industry that can flourish over a night. For the advancement of the industry, we should get on with foresight, perseverance and diligence. It is a matter of great regret that policymakers are often found callous to our education system. We all ought to be cordial to and careful of our students. Often students indulge themselves in sick politics and try to get on the gravy train. In a few days, the so-called students become the nuisance of their respective Alma Maters. True education is thus conspicuously absent in each and every campus. So talented students are going abroad for higher studies and not coming back after the completion of their degree. They settle there and succeed by dint of merit. Government has to take pragmatic initiatives to stop the finishing of merit and the brain drain. Development of software export sector may encourage our programmers working abroad to come back to the country with their expertise. To boost the sector and attract investment in project oriented software development, setting up of an IT village with high speed satellite link is a crying need.

In our country, there is no internet in true sense. Unfortunately, it is a painstaking job to enter into IT world by using internet from the outside of Dhaka city. We all have learned the proverb ‘A stitch in time saves nine’. But our action is not consistent with our learning. There is a hearsay-the former government fearing the smuggling of secret information out of the county, refused the offer of connection to the internet work when Fiber Optic Cable passed internationally under the Bay of Bengal nearby Bangladesh. It is generally hoped a policy maker must have foresight, otherwise the advancement of the country may be crippled by time serving policies. The dialogue of development of the country is then simply rhetorical and pure bunkum.

The BCS International computer show ’98 in IDB Bhaban at Rokeya Sharini has overcome its previous deficiencies. The increased number of visitors has proved the success of the show. This year the show was set with a new grace and grandeur. It has certainly created awareness and galvanized competition which has increased consumer’s choice and decreased cost. BCS International computer show has raised our hopes in IT business. The software export sector is now expected to become the biggest foreign exchange earner for Bangladesh. Hopefully, we shall overcome!