17 th May -World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD).
(Excerpts from my address on 17th May 2006 as Chairman Institute of Electronics & Telecommunication Enginners,Vadodara Centre, Source of information –ITU & published literature)
On May 24th 1844 Samuel Morse sent his first public message over a telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore. The message said “What hath God wrought”
It was the beginning of telecommunication era in the world.
Communication Network across the globe today integrates a huge range of technologies yet remains one of the most reliable system ever developed and is the planet’s largest man made object.
The International Telecommunication Union, then known as International Telegraph Union ,was established on 17th May 1865 in Paris as an impartial international organization within which Govt. and private sector could work together to coordinate the operation of telecommunication networks and services and advance the development of communication technologies. So it is 143 years ago ITU began facilitating world to communicate .
World Telecom Day was held for the first time in 1969 as a resolution of ITU administrative council.17th May is celebrated as world communication day across the world as birth anniversary of ITU to spread awareness about the role of communication technologies and to redeem our pledge to bridge technological differences and promote interconnectivity to all.
However, 22 years ago it was realized that not all people are sharing the social and economic benefits that telecommunication creates. In 1985 ITU released its landmark Maitland report known as the missing link, which was first to clearly identify the digital divide. Since the publication of the report ITU has been working to bring the benefits of Information and communication technologies to all humanity.
From the birth of telegraph, through radio and television broadcasting to satellite communication and to the internet to digital revolution in information and communication technologies, the work of ITU has helped harness the power of Science and Technology to fulfill the basic human need for communication. However, the true test is the extent to which today’s powerful knowledge based communication tools are able to connect different people across geographic, knowledge and information divides ,especially in the most impoverished countries.
In 2003 in Geneva the first World Summit on Information Systems was held.175 countries endorsed declaration and plan of action that embrace the idea of universal and affordable access to ICTs.
If we recall the earlier themes of World Telecom Day Celebrations
2000: Mobile Communication
2001: The internet Challenges opportunities and prospects
2002: ICT for all-empowering people to cross the digital divide
2003: Helping all world people to communicate”
2004: ICTs leading ways for sustainable development
2005: Equitable Information Society
2006: Promoting Cyber security
2007: Connecting the Young: the opportunities of ICT
2008: Connecting Persons with Disabilities: ICT Opportunities for All
The role of ITU has been evolving with its earlier focus on communication to ICTs to gradually shifting to information society for development of mankind .
Also to under- score its commitment to changing the global information society and help nations to bridge the digital divide, The second WSIS summit in Tunis in Nov.2005, therefore, proposed that 17th May henceforth be celebrated as World Information Society Day.(WISD)
UN General Assembly adopted resolution to this effect on 27th March 2006 .The
official celebration of WISD in 2006 was a cluster of web related activities which commenced from 9th May 2006.
In 2006 it was, therefore. a celebration with dual names of WTD and WISD .
World Telecommunication and Information Society Day:
In November 2006, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey, decided to celebrate both events i.e. World Telecommunication Day and World Information Society Day on 17 May as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) .
Theme for WTISD 2008 is :
“Connecting Persons with Disabilities: ICT Opportunities for All .”