Digital Divide & Gender Digital Disparities in India
The article 'Digital Divide & Gender Digital Disparities in India' covers important aspects related to technological innovations and digital transformation.
The article 'Digital Divide & Gender Digital Disparities in India' covers important aspects related to technological innovations and digital transformation. The article further explains gender divides in terms of digital access are also a major concern to be solved.
Pithily put a plethora of technological innovations and digital transformation have paved the new way for the general public to adapt to a more flexible, convenient, and interconnected world. The internet is vital for communication and information gathering when starting a digital transformation path. The COVID-19 pandemic showed the world the value of digital media when it was up to the administrative authorities to effectively use the medium to provide administrative support to those who were most impacted.
A key turning point in the history of aiding and support was the creation of the Arogya Setu app and the introduction of a helpline number. During the global crisis, digital technology has become a potent tool for giving access to millions of people. Even though the growth and importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) are continuing at an alarming pace, it has also resulted in a stark divide in the population known as the digital divide. The article aims to focus on various aspects of the global digital divide as well as the digital divide in India in order to provide a thorough understanding of these issues.
Understanding the Digital Divide Concept
The term "digital divide" or "digital split" refers to the gap between those who have access to contemporary information and communication technology and the person who doesn't have access to it but still lives in this society. In particular, it illustrates the differences between demographic groups and geographical areas at various phases of Internet and communication technology use, including social, economic, and other categories.
The digital divide exists between urban and rural areas, between the educated and uneducated classes of society, between economic classes, and worldwide or across all industrialized nations. Additionally, it is the divide between those groups in modern society who already have regular and efficient access to digital technology and the internet and those who are still vying for access.
India's digital divide in various forms: The following are some aspects of India's digital gap that have an impact on access to information and communication technologies:
Gender Difference - Particularly in developing countries, gender difference on the internet is growing exponentially. Additionally, although cell connectivity is rapidly growing, the growth rate is not proportionate. Even after 75 years of freedom, or at the time of "Amrit Kaal," that is, "AAZADI KA AMRIT MAHOTSAV," women's classes continue to struggle and fall behind in accessing modern technology.
According to reports from different studies, Indian women are generally 15% less likely than men to own a mobile phone, and assuming even if few women do own mobile phones but they do not have access to the internet, which is keeping them out of the technological and modern world in general.
Social Digital Divide - Through internet access, the general populace of every country in the world is able to form close bonds with one another and with others who have similar hobbies. Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others help to establish an online peer group based on shared interests. By enabling and paving the path of connectivity between those who are connected to the internet and those who are not, the use of the internet has produced societal stratification by bringing the people who were unable to connect with the rest of the world.
Angles of Digital Divide in India
1. The Urban-Rural Peak
The digital peak between India’s pastoral and civic areas during the lockdown was stressed not just in the education sector but was apparent far and wide, be it telemedicine, e-commerce, banking, and e-governance, all of which came accessible only through the internet during the lockdown. Services similar to online classrooms, fiscal deals, and e-governance bear access to the internet as well as the capability to operate internet-enabled biases like phones, tablets, and computers.
As per the report by NSO, the utmost of the internet-enabled homes is in metropolises, where 42 have internet access. In pastoral India, still, only 15 are connected to the internet. Across India, only one in ten homes have a computer — whether a desktop, laptop, or tablet. Nearly 25 of all homes have Internet installations, penetrated via a fixed or mobile device. The civic-pastoral difference in digital peak is apparent from the extent of internet penetration in the country.
As per the NSO, there's lower than 20 Internet penetration, indeed, in States with software capitals similar to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. As per the report by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in 2018, total internet viscosity in the country stood at about 49 per cent. Of that, 25 per cent lived in pastoral areas and 98 per cent in civic areas.
According to the rearmost report released by TRAI, the country had over 160 million wireless subscribers in February 2020, and over 10 million in February 2016. It means civic subscribers increased by 74 million ( from 579 million to 643 million) and pastoral subscribers by 86 million ( from 431 million to 517 million). This indicated growth in introductory telecom installations and not digital progress.
2. Gender Digital Inequalities
India has among the world’s loftiest gender gaps in access to digital technology. Only 21 of women in India, in comparison to 42 of men, are mobile internet druggies, according to GSMA’s 2020 mobile gender gap report. The report says that 79 of men enjoy a mobile phone in India, whereas the number for women is 63. While there are profitable walls to girls ’ retaining a mobile phone or laptop, artistic and social morals also play a major part. The manly-womanish gap in mobile use frequently exacerbates other inequalities for women, including access to information, profitable openings, and networking.
3. Regional Digital Divide and Intra-State Digital Inequality
In terms of people that have access to computers or the know- style to use the internet, States too greatly differ in the matrices. Southern countries are more digitally knowledgeable than their Northern counterparts. Kerala is the state where the difference between pastoral and civic areas is the least. Uttarakhand has the greatest number of computers in civic areas, while Kerala has the most number of computers in pastoral areas. Himachal Pradesh leads the country in access to the internet in both pastoral and civic areas. While the public capital has the loftiest Internet access, with 55 homes having similar installations, Odisha is at the bottom, with only one in ten homes having Internet.
Talking about the Intra-state peak – While civic areas are more digitally knowledgeable, pastoral counterparts are lacking in the separate countries. Kerala has the least inequality, with further than 39 of the poorest pastoral homes having Internet, in comparison to 67 of the richest civic homes, whereas Assam shows striking inequality, with nearly 80 of the richest civic homes having the Internet access and 94 of those in the poorest pastoral homes in the State don’t have the access.
4. Difference due to knowledge/ digital knowledge
Having Internet access is no guarantee that one can use it. 20 of Indians above the age of 5 times had introductory digital knowledge. Just 40 in the critical age group of 15 to 29 times, which includes all high academy and council scholars as well as youthful parents responsible for tutoring youngish children. Further one in five Indians above 7 times still cannot read and write in any language. Over the last decade, knowledge rates have increased from 71.7 to 77.7, with the loftiest earnings coming among pastoral women.
A State-wise split of knowledge rates also throws up some unanticipated results. Andhra Pradesh has the country’s lowest knowledge rate, at just66.4, significantly lower than less developed States similar as Chhattisgarh (77.3), Jharkhand (74.3), Uttar Pradesh ( 73), and Bihar (70.9). Kerala remains at the top of the pile with 96.2 knowledge, followed by three northern States Delhi (88.7), Uttarakhand (87.6), and Himachal Pradesh (86.6).
5. Verbal Digital Divide
More than 80% of the content on the Internet is in English, so countries where people are more competent in English are more digitally competent. Digital Divide in India – goods/ Counteraccusations Educational, The digital peak in India, will affect the capacity of children to learn and develop. Read about Digital Education in India. Without Internet access, scholars cannot make the needed technology-related chops. Social Internet penetration is associated with lesser social progress in a nation. Therefore, digital peak, in a way, hinders the social progress of a country.
The pastoral population is suffering from a lack of information due to the Digital peak in India. This will only strengthen the vicious cycle of poverty, privation, and backwardness. In the age of social media, political commission and rallying are delicate without digital connectivity. The digital peak will increase profitable inequality between those who can go the technology and those who don’t.
Governance translucency and responsibility are dependent on digital connectivity. The digital peak affects governance enterprises negatively. Government Initiative to Bridge Digital Divide in India the Government of India, is taking a significant way towards acquiring capability in information and technology to manage India’s Digital Divide.
[A.] The Patriarchal culture of India: India’s culture is relatively patriarchal in nature, and the degree of demarcation and oppression intensifies as we move from civic areas into pastoral spaces. These overrule of agency frequently prevent them from having particular access to the internet in the domestic sphere, and when they do it's frequently governed by the manly numbers in the family. Access to the internet and unsupervised use of mobile phones-marriage is frequently perceived as a threat to the women’s ‘ character ’ and when taken the case post marriage, the use of phones and access to the internet is frequently seen as dislocations to their duties in the homes. Women in public frequently refrain from having exchanges on their phones in the public sphere, stewing judgment.
Therefore, performing in widening the gender-grounded digital peak. Therefore, in this social elevation post-COVID-19, it was observed that women were largely lagging behind or rather barred from this fleetly growing digital frugality, especially in areas like skill training, online training, employment openings, and entrepreneurship. Digital ignorance and ignorance hindered the process of women entrepreneurs shifting to online business post-COVID-19. The gender divides in terms of digital access have a significant impact on women’s commissions and their overall profitable development.
[B.] Economic restrictions and Poverty: One of the prominent causes of a digital gap in India is restrictions in the form of the economy and poverty per se that limit the resources and prohibit women from getting access to the internet and using new technology. As per the Bloomberg report, approximately 600 million people within India use the internet, which is 12% of the internet users in comparison to other parts of the world.
As per the IAMAI-Kantar Report ICUBE 2020, 58, in India, the ratio of men and women using the internet is 58:42. The ratio of rural males and rural females who are using the internet is 47.6 % : 24.6 %, whereas the ratio of urban males & urban females having used the internet is 72.5% : 51.8%. It becomes important to note that urban men are in the majority whilst rural women are the minority regarding internet access throughout the states.
[C.] Infrastructure: The lack of basic infrastructure such as electricity, internet connectivity, and computer hardware in remote and rural areas makes it difficult for people living in those areas to access digital technologies.
[D.] Education: The level of digital literacy and access to quality education in India varies greatly across different regions and communities. This makes it difficult for many people to understand and use digital technologies effectively.
[E.] Language barriers: India has a diverse population with over 22 official languages, which can create linguistic barriers in accessing and using digital technologies.
[F.] Gender inequality: Women in India often have limited access to digital technologies due to cultural and social barriers, which can further exacerbate the digital divide.
[G.] Government policies: Government policies and regulations can also play a role in creating or reducing the digital divide. Policies that promote broadband access and digital literacy can help bridge the gap, while policies that restrict access or limit competition can exacerbate it.
Overall, the digital divide in India is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach to address. It will take efforts from the government, private sector, civil society, and individuals to ensure that all Indians have equal access to the benefits of digital technologies.
The digital divide in India has multiple implications for political, governmental, social, economic, and educational outlooks. Without internet access, political empowerment and mobilization are a challenge in the social media age. Transparency and responsibility demand digital harmony. Internet penetration is linked to a country's socioeconomic progress. Therefore, a country’s socioeconomic growth is hampered by the digital divide. Rural India suffers from getting information due to the digital divide.
It serves only to exacerbate the tragic cycle of poverty, wants, and backwardness. The digital gap divide creates economic disparities between people who can and cannot afford the technology. Technology and those who cannot. Finally, the digital gap influences children’s divide and affects children's ability to learn and develop. Students cannot only develop the necessary technical abilities and skills if they have access to the Internet.
1.) Digital India enterprise by Government to ameliorate internet access in the country, various enterprises under this are –
- In 2011, the BharatNet design was launched to connect 0.25 million panchayats through an optic fibre (100 MBPS) and connect India’s townlets.
- In 2014, the government launched the National Digital knowledge Mission and the Digital Saksharta Abhiyan.
- In 2015, the government launched several schemes under its Digital India crusade to connect the entire country.
- PM Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan was launched in 2017, to usher in digital knowledge in pastoral India by covering 60 million homes.
2.) Supreme Court: Seeing the significance of digital knowledge, the Supreme Court of India has declared the right to pierce to the Internet as an abecedarian right, making it a part of the right to sequestration and the right to an education that comes under Article 21 of the Constitution.
3.) National Education Policy, 2020: It points towards making our nation “India a global knowledge superpower” by introducing several changes from the academy to council position in the Indian education system with special emphasis on digital education.
4.) Internet Saathi Program: The Internet Saathi Program was launched in 2015 by Google India and Tata Trusts. The end of this design is to grease digital knowledge among pastoral Indian women.
5.) Optical Fibre Network (NOF- N), a design aimed to ensure broadband connectivity to over two lacks (200,000) gram panchayats of India.
6.) DIKSHA (Digital structure for Knowledge participating) platform- DIKSHA is the public platform for academy education available for all countries and the central government for grades 1 to 12 and was launched in September 2017. As part of PM eVidya blazoned under the Atma Nirbhar Programme, DIKSHA is the ‘one nation; one digital platform’ for academy education in India.
7). Unnati Project – Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL): It strives to ground the digital peak in seminaries by giving pastoral scholars with poor profitable, and social background access to computer education.
8). Gyandoot is an Intranet- grounded Government to Citizen (G2C) service delivery action started in the Dhar quarter of Madhya Pradesh in January 2000 with the binary ideal of furnishing applicable information to the pastoral population and acting as an interface between the quarter administration and the people.
9.) Digital Mobile Library: In order to bridge the digital peak in a larger way, the government of India, in collaboration with the Centre for Advanced Computing (C – DAC) grounded in Pune.
10.) Online Massive Open Online Course MOOC courses relating to NIOS (grades 9 to 12 of open training) are uploaded on the SWAYAM gate; around 92 courses have started, and 1.5 crore scholars are enrolled.
11.) On Air Shiksha Vani, DAISY by NIOS for else-abled, e-PathShala- Radio broadcasting is being used for children in remote areas who are not online (especially for grades 1 to 5).
12.) E-pathshala- There should be an E-pathshala for pastoral and civic scholars and furnishing them with study accoutrements so that those who are the downtrodden section of the society find themselves in a position to access to the internet without any barrier, whether social, economic or political.
Conclusion & Way forward
Structural development: The creation of indigenous Information and Communication Technologies development under Atmanirbhar Abhiyan can play a significant part. The promotion of budget mobile phones is the key; we should explore migration to new technologies like 5G. It would resolve some of the bandwidth challenges. The creation of request competition between service providers may make services cheaper. Effective diapason allocation in large conterminous blocks should be explored.
Promoting Digital knowledge needs special attention at the academy/ council position. The National Digital knowledge Mission should concentrate on introducing digital knowledge at the primary academy position in all government seminaries for introductory content and in advanced classes and sodalities for advanced content. Advanced digital knowledge will also increase the relinquishment of computer tackle across the country. Likewise, when these scholars educate their family members, it'll produce multiplier goods.
Promotion of Regional Language: State governments should pay particular attention to content creation in the Indian indigenous languages, particularly those related to government services. Natural language processing (NLP) in Indian languages needs to be promoted.
TRAI: It should consider putting in place a believable system. This system will track call drops, weak signals, and outages. It ensures the quality and trust ability of telecom services.
Cyber Security: MeitY will need to evolve a comprehensively-security frame for data security, safe digital deals, and complaint redressal.
Telecom Ombudsman: The government should appoint officers and also set up a telecom ombudsman for the grievance’s redressal.
Post of Controllers: Controllers should minimize entry walls by reforming licensing, taxation, and diapason allocation morals.
 Physical Research Laboratory v. K.G. Sharma, (1997) 4 SCC 257; Federation of Rly. Officers Assn. v. Union of India, (2003) 4 SCC 289.
 Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India, (2020) 3 SCC 637.
 Trevor Cloak, The Digital Titanic: The Sinking of YouTube.com in the DMCA's Safe Harbor, 60 Vanderbilt Law Review 1561 (2007)
 Amandeep Aggarwal v. Govt. (NCT of Delhi), 2021 SCC OnLine Del 2049.
 Ritesh Sinha v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2013) 2 SCC 357
 Ashoka Kumar Thakur v. Union of India, (2008) 6 SCC 1.
 Ian Clarke, We Still Need Libraries in the Digital Age, Available Here