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
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.
Deregulation of ISP markets in countries around the world should enable more professionals to get online access to global information, he 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
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.