RS2: India

Bridging the deep digital divide in India

The digital divide in India is evident and can be defined in two ways. First, the more obvious of the two, is the technological inequity between rural and urban India. Seventeen percent of rural India has access the internet whereas 60% of those in urban areas can access the internet. The second way technology divides the nation is through gender. The article states that “women only make up for 29% of India’s internet users” (para. 1). Regardless of which groups are on what side of the digital divide, there is a problem that needs to be fixed because the divide “prohibits marginalized communities from experiencing the benefits of digital speech and weakens their ability to contribute to India’s democracy” (para. 1).

The article goes on to list the few futile attempts India’s government has made to rectify the obvious digital divide. Initiatives like the India Digital program, which aimed to make government services digitally available nationwide, and the Public Internet Access program which attempted to facilitate financial services online, appeared helpful, but in reality were not the best ways of reaching out to those lacking internet. Throughout the years the peripheral parts of India have slowly been given internet access but not at the rates that India’s government has wanted. This greater internet access, however small, has given areas of India a means to starting political movements across the country. Internet tools such as “live-streaming allows marginalized communities to broadcast uncensored versions of their lives and is a means of circumventing conventional narratives in the media” (para. 4). Online private initiatives like Dalit Camera, a YouTube channel that tells stories about the historically oppressed member of the Dalit community, have also been successful in using “media to empower minority voices” (para. 7). Although this channel was removed in 2017 because of claims of copyright infringement, it still served as a tool to spread stories that may have otherwise never been told. In fact, one student used the YouTube platform to discuss the “discriminatory behavior towards lower caste students” (para. 7) by a faculty member. The video was meant to show how discrimination from castes still existed despite the 1989 Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act (prohibiting suppression from castes). Overall, minority communities in India, and everywhere, “can raise concerns, voice their opinions and freely participate in democratic debate” (para. 9) through the internet.

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