ISP Boom Will Boost Indian Online Database Market
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India's recently liberalized ISP policy should help boost the market for companies providing online access to scientific databases, according to Mark Garlinghouse, Asia-Pacific director of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI).
Speaking at the recent "Web of Knowledge" seminar in Bangalore, he announced that his company was launching two Internet-enabled database services for the Indian market: Current Contents Connect (an awareness and alerting tool) and Citation Indexes (which helps measure scientific output via journal references).
Philadelphia-based ISI, a subsidiary of Thomson Corp., produces information databases in fields like pharmaceuticals, healthcare, engineering and business. Information can be accessed via the World Wide Web or organizational intranets.
"What we essentially provide via the Net is a scientific portal which we call the 'Web of Science,'" Garlinghouse said.
Despite the Asian economic crisis, Garlinghouse said the market for online databases will continue to remain healthy.
"Online access to updated scientific and technical information will continue to play an important role as a building block for discovery," he added.
"Now that the ISP monopoly has been lifted, India needs to look at creating powerful content and knowledge infrastructure," said N.V. Sathyanarayana, managing director of Bangalore-based Informatics.
Infomatics is a Rs. 140 million company ($3.5 million), involved in the compilation, consolidation and distribution of CD-ROM and online databases.
It has tie-ups with other international database companies like Silver Platter, Reuters, Elsevier, McGraw-Hill and UMI. It manages titles like Exim India (trade policies), India Business Insights Database (news abstracts), and CABSAC (South Asian Agricultural Literature).
"We also need stronger and more efficient linkages between the industry and educational institutions," said Prof. C.N.R. Rao, president of the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore. "Informatics involves not just information but integration," he said.
But care must be taken to avoid an electronic publishing gap and a knowledge gap between scientific establishments of the North and South, said Prof. S. Arunachalam, distinguished fellow at the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai.
Signs of synergy are just beginning, between various segments like defence establishments, CSIR, and the University Grants Commission.