Digital Divide – Digital Literacy Mission

The term “Digital Divide” refers to the difference between individuals within or outside the families, businesses and geographic areas in various socio-economic levels with regard to both their opportunities in accessing Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and also the use of the internet for multiple purposes. This study investigates the economic, social and political consequences of digital inequalities and also the inequalities caused due to several demographic and socio-graphic profiles of information users. This study considers antecedents, occurrence and consequences of digital divide and includes the barriers of digitization. This study also provides several propositions on the role of libraries to bridge the digital divide in the context of use of internet and computer. It is also tried to explain briefly how libraries can use various digital facilities like mobile phones, wi-fi facility, AIT Technology, JAWs usage etc. to serve its information user in a better way and also can minimize the gap of using digital divides in different levels of the society.

In 2014, the Indian government launched the Digital India initiative, which aimed to boost the country’s physical digital infrastructure, and shift government services online. Broadband would reach 250,000 villages; wi-fi would reach 250,000 schools; and a push would be made towards both universal phone connectivity and universal digital literacy. As of last October, the investments involved totalled a cool US$68 billion. While half of all Indian men have a mobile phone, fewer than one in three women have one.

By 2016, internet penetration was estimated at 29% (with possibly fewer than 2% of households having a fixed internet connection). Look deeper, and you can see the two main features of India’s digital divide.
The ministry of India website provides a digital literacy program –

First is the urban-rural divide: around half of urban households have internet access, far in excess of their compatriots in the countryside.

Second is the gender divide: while half of all Indian men have a mobile phone, fewer than one in three women have one. Plus, in some rural areas, females are banned by community leaders from using mobile phones. This gap between men and women goes much deeper than mobile phone ownership or internet access. In some key areas, women still lag men in India. The Literacy Rate census in 2011 found that the female literacy rate was 65.5%, compared to 80% for men. Almost a quarter of girls have already left school before they even reach puberty. In short, many females are currently still on the wrong side of the digital divide.

It is 2019 now. Fixed broadband subscriptions have gone up from 82,409 users in 2002 to more than 18,733,454 users today, according to World Bank data. Mobile subscriptions, too, have gone up from 13 million in 2002 to more than one billion today. Internet users have gone up from 1.54% to 29.56% of India’s population. Yet, almost 70% of our population is still unconnected. The digital divide is still a plaguing challenge.

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