Toys and Kits
THE YEAR TWO THOUSAND (Y2K)
We wish our readers a very prosperous, peaceful, healthy and happy new year, the year two thousand (2000).
This year has been ushered in with much fanfare and hoopla in affluent countries and also in parts of urban India by the business and commercial establishment_hoping to cash in on the 'new millennium' hype. We are in a way used to much of this happening around us months ahead of 31st December, every year!. Unlike earlier years,however, the switch-over to the year 2000 from nineteen hundred ninety-nine (1999) was accompanied by the so-called Y2K problem and apprehensions about its possible widespread ill-effects. The Y2K problem, as a matter of fact, has been discussed for several years now, especially in USA where computerisation is far more intensive and extensive than anywhere else in the world alongwith widespread automation in almost all sectors. But, as always, we in India have the bad habit of aping the Americans in whatever they do _ whether appropriate, relevant, or not _ and our media are quite adept at reproducing or at repeating almost parrot-like whatever is fashionable or current in the American or western media And this is what has happened in the case of the so-called Y2K problem! In India, computerisation is a relatively new phenomena in so far as its implementation is concerned and the extent of automation using computer chips is hardly of any significance or consequence in relation to our size. In any case, even where computers are in place, they are used with human interfaces and human intervention. So Y2K, as far as India is concerned, hardly deserved the hype and attention focussed on it.
The Y2K problem arose because early computer programmers (to economise on storage memory) decided long ago to use only 2 digits for expressing a year, never imagining that their programmes would still be in use in the years past 1999. Thus, any computer-software doing period-dependent calculations or operations could go haywire on encountering the year 00 and interpret it variously as 1900 or undecipherable and thus lead to uncertain consequences some of which, depending on what the calculation is used for, could be disastrous, chaotic, or result in cascading disruptions in computer-automated operations.
Because of all the space and time devoted to Y2K in our media, this issue somehow also got mixed up with the "millennium" question. Apparently, through an oversight, someone important must has referred to January 1, 2000, as the beginning of a new era where all the computer softwares would be rid of their Y2K bug _ likened to the beginning of a new millennium!. It got picked up quickly by the business community as a rare opportunity to promote sales of all kinds! Imagine the difference this made to what would have just been another celebration of a new year (2000), something that is done every year!. By making this out to be a rare event _ once in a thousand years, and the start of a new century which comes but once in hundred years _ they stood to gain by orders of magnitude in terms of the size and scale of business that would get generated!.
The fact of the matter, however, is that the new "millennium" _ as per the Christian calendar in widespread use across the globe _ would only begin on 1 January 2001, simply because we started counting years from 1 AD and not from 0 AD. So it was 1000 years only in the year 1000 AD and not 999 AD and 2000 years would end only on 31st December, 2000.
So don't be surprised if, after a few months, the business people "realise" this
mistake and start all over again to build tempo for celebrations of the "real"
millennium beginning on January 1, 2001.