There had been a gradual shift in the implementation of digital technology in workplaces and schools, where there were a few established organizations offering online options for work and education. However, the pandemic exponentially accelerated this development and virtually moved everything online. To work a job now meant working from home unless it was that of an essential worker and to attend school meant joining zoom at 9 in the morning. Even before the pandemic there had always been a bridge between access and the ability to use the internet between the urban and rural areas. However, the pandemic has made this access and ability to use the internet essential to earn a livelihood or get educated. The digital divide between the urban and rural areas presents a challenge as it hinders the ability of those in the rural areas to earn a livelihood or attend schools. A challenge that affects the country’s overall development and leaves behind a portion of the entire portion.
According to the TRAI reports of the period 2018 to 2020, the overall percentage of teledensity of urban areas in 2018 was 161.07(%) and rural areas stood at 58.61(%) which was stagnant for urban areas but fell for rural areas 56.92(%). However, in 2020 the teledensity for urban areas fell drastically 137.47% but rose noticeably for rural areas 59.14%.
Having recognized this disparity, the government has strived to remedy the situation by launching numerous programs under the umbrella of “Digital India”. The long-term goal of this program is to prepare India for a novel future. They have pulled together and restructured pre-existing schemes and introduced new ones to fill in the gaps. The vision of the government is to digitally empower citizens, enhance digital infrastructure, and create government services on-demand online.
By having separated their visions they have created certain workstreams that can be worked on individually and then linked together for the common public good. Under the digital empowerment of citizens, they want to achieve universal digital literacy, but this is only possible if there is universal access to digital resources which is the first step undertaken by broadband providers. To make the transition easier, union and state services will provide the sites in Indian languages, with resources available for local and central workshops. Documents would now be uploaded to the cloud services like Digi locker to provide easy access to these documents. Certificates and registrations for vaccinations are now linked to your mobile number, so to access these certificates and register yourself, it is necessary to be able to link your mobile, hence making it crucial to be able to use handsets.
To achieve the first step, broadband infrastructure must be improved drastically. High-speed internet must be available for all to access important documents, bank accounts, identifications, etc. It is also required to attend school in this day and age and for leisurely use. By not providing a connection to parts of society, they are at an inert disadvantage as they are unable to connect with those who have an internet connection.
The government has also started making a lot of information regarding departments and public good agendas on its respective websites. They have also integrated departments to make finding information on new agendas and collaborative efforts easier in order to create a hub to make finding information easier.
There are, however, a few roadblocks before we can achieve the goal of a digitally literate country. A program of such scale must be planned and implemented with great conciseness while maintaining efficiency with the manpower and finances used. Under the umbrella project, there are multiple programs that must be enrolled with their own caveats and challenges. Most pre-existing programs must be restructured to better fit the agenda and made efficient whilst new ones must be created to fill in the gaps. Lastly, there stands a coordination issue where all the different departments have to relay information to each other constantly which has to be led by a constantly strong leader.
Hriday Arora, a high school student from Presidium School, Gurugram, seeing the whole situation from a ground level, penned down his thoughts about the same. Adding his views about Digital Divide in India he aims towards the development of the country and having better technology for future generations.
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