RS 2: Bangalore

How the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ Is Bridging the Digital Divide

In a CNN article written by Naomi Canton, she describes how the city of Bangalore, India, attempts to bridge the digital divide. Canton begins her article by explaining how large India’s population is. Their immense population of 1.21 billion people consists of over 800 million Indians dwell in rural cities, while below 400 million people live in urban locations (1). The city of Bangalore is globally known for its innovations and software companies, however, many of Bangalore locals have yet to access the Internet (2). Many of these low-income families may never get the chance to access a computer. Canton explains that India holds almost the highest number of active Facebook users. She states that “according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Internet penetration across the entire population is still below 10 percent” (3). While many native Indians actively use the Internet, there is still a massive number of people who are excluded from this lifestyle. Canton also elaborates on how IAMAI’s research has determined that 20 percent of Indians who live in urban areas are associated with one another, and only three percent of Indians from rural areas are connected. Canton states that, as claimed by consulting firm Maple croft, “India is among the worst performing countries in the world for digital inclusion” (5). Since the population of India is so large, only a small percent of the country is able to access the Internet. Recently, it has been attempted to bridge India’s digital divide. One attempt is through the Internet Society (ISOC) which teaches Indians how to use the Internet. Canton gives an example of a man named Mr. Kemperaj who is from the northern area in Bangalore who creates pillow cases and lamp shades for a living. Canton expresses that “he used to travel more than 70 km every day to get a sample of his work approved by his vendor” (7). Now, with the usage of Internet, he is able to use the computer in order to send pictures via email while also searching for new innovations on the Internet. In addition, he is able to sell products and beware of coexisting competition. One of his newest sales routes is eBay (7). Craftsmen, like Mr. Kemperaj, had seen computers in the past but had never had the desire to use them. This is due to lack of knowledge; they were unaware that the Internet could resolve many stressors that they were facing (8). Many Bangalore locals had never been taught what a computer is, what it can do, or how to use it. Canton finds that another reason as to why it is difficult for rural villages to advance is due to the poor return on investment to the Internet service provider. Another way in which the city is trying to bridge their divide, Canton explains, is through Raghuvaran Sathyanarayana, a successful engineer from Bangalore. He plans to use his own innovations in order to come up with a company that would enable him to utilize left over spectrum in order to provide free, wireless Internet in rural areas (16). Overall, the city of Bangalore is widely known for its technological creativity. While in the past, many of its residents have not been granted the opportunity to access the Internet, the city will continue to strive to bridge this digital divide.

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