The Perils Of Burgeoning Digital Divide

The fact that you are able to read this means you are eligible to be called ‘digitally literate’. The canon of digital literacy is increasing by leaps and bounds with each passing year and so is the divide between the digitally literate and the illiterate. So what exactly do we understand by the term ‘digital literacy’? It is the ability to understand, comprehend and utilize the functions of digital resources, predominantly computers to gain knowledge or information.

The fact that a growing population is becoming digitally literate is giving shape to a whole new class; hence creating a minority of the digitally illiterate. Many believe that the world is becoming a smaller place because of the Internet, but isn’t that also the reason why the world is breaking into more pieces?

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The phenomenon of fast paced urbanization happening since the past three decades is already one of the causes of the increasing rift between the urban and the rural population. Lack of digitization in rural areas especially in a country like India is becoming another reason for the urban-rural divide.

The digital world is a great space and medium to educate, connect and mobilize people and communities. However in a country like ours where the rural and the underprivileged population still lacks basic education, health and income opportunities, the pace of digitization is unfortunately dreadfully slow. Technology and digitization are now becoming the yardstick for growth and prosperity. This greatest threat posed to a national as well as global scenario. The ‘tech-comfy’ population has, at their disposition, the power and benefits of the Internet. The digitally deprived population on the other hand, is practically being cut out from the rest of the world and are being left behind. Imagine how much online education can aid to those who cannot afford or even travel to a school because it is too far or too expensive.

There is stagnation in the growth and development of these digitally illiterate people which will lead might rise to dangerous levels if not looked into in the near future. Be it employment opportunities, be it education, effective governance or be it social interaction, everything in the 21st century requires digital literacy. As long the digital divide continues to persist, the less privileged section of the society will continue to be deprived to have access to the access to the content and information the rest of the world has.

The mobile phone is the fastest growing technology ever known to mankind. So even seven out of 10 people in the bottom 20 percent of the world income distribution now have a mobile phone. This is pretty outstanding in the sense that people are choosing to go and invest in this technology when they don’t have access to electricity or running water or schools.

Sreyoshi Sen
A final year UG student at Christ University, Bangalore, I am from a small town in Gujarat called Bharuch. Currently I am an active volunteer at an NGO Centre for Social Action wherein I teach financially underprivileged children. I believe, in a culturally diverse nation like India, where we are divided by states, religions, cultures and even language, education is the only commonality that could bind us and not just create intellectual minds but minds that are driven by logic and reason.

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