RS 2: Bangalore

How the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ is bridging the digital divide

In comparison to developed, urban cities like Austin, the effects of the digital divide are substantially more noticeable in developing third-world countries such as India. Specifically, Naomi Canton’s article, “How the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ is bridging the digital divide” (CNN, 2012) takes a closer look at the problems and social impact caused by the lack of internet access in the majority of this vastly populous country. Similar to many other regions across the globe, the issue of the digital divide in India is merely an extension of the disparity between communities of varying incomes. In a country with a population nearing 1.5 billion, “twenty percent of urban Indians are connected” while only “three percent of rural Indians are” (Canton 5). For many residents in the rural areas of India, it is a daily struggle to obtain basic living necessities. As a result, internet access is the least of their problems let alone a priority. Fortunately, efforts are actively being made in order to bridge this digital gap. Dubbed “India’s Silicon Valley,” Bangalore utilized “an Internet Society Community Grant of US $9,000 [to train] everyone from tailors and glass cutters to cotton weavers and furniture makers to download pictures, e-mail, video conference, instant message, use Excel and Word, as well as promote their products on Facebook and Twitter” (Canton 11). With the internet now at their disposal, these craftsmen are able to better run their businesses as they have larger customer bases, competitive pricing, and overall improved efficiency. Moreover, many people are taking the initiative themselves to directly help those who are negatively impacted by the digital divide. In remote villages across the country, people such as Raghavendra Sathyanarayana are creating companies like CRAMNET that use “unused spectrum to provide wireless internet free of charge to the digitally disenfranchised in India” (Canton 19). With a reliable internet connection, these rural Indians are able to actively participate in the information revolution for the first time. Children are able to get an education through video conferencing. Adults are able to properly diagnose the sick and vaccinate their children as well as pay their bills. But while huge strides have been made in bridging the digital divide in India, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to fully close the gap.

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