India’s Digital Divide
The coronavirus epidemic has allowed us to reevaluate how our institutions and economy may operate in these trying times through the innovative use of online platforms. However, can this constantly expanding digital infrastructure cause more harm than good in developing countries like India?
Vastly of what we knew was altered by the pandemic. Being restricted to the four divisions of our homes meant that economizing could no longer operate as it once did and that it was urgently necessary to adapt to new situations. Corporations began moving their work online as a result of COVID norms, educational institutions began employing online learning environments for their classes, restaurants and food establishments moved their attention to delivery, and online sales began to soar. Everyone adapted to endure these unsettling times, but because many services were online, a sizable portion of the population was unable to access them.
In India, about 500 million people have cell phones, leaving more than half of the inhabitants without one, according to a survey by the market research firm TechARC. Despite a 15% rise in smartphone penetration during 2018, India still glaringly lacks the necessary infrastructure to create the transition to the digital age. It is highly challenging for the poor to investigate work that involves digital comprehension because of the inaccessibility to digital equipment, which exacerbates the usability gap between the poor and the rich.
The incapacity of the government and the education sector to provide online instruction and learning to significant portions of rural communities, where families could not buy smart gadgets and where internet connectivity issues remain poor, may have been the sad effect of this pandemic. According to a survey conducted in September 2021, only 8% of children in India’s rural areas and 25% of those living in cities had credentials for regular online education.
Academic places continue to be out of the poor’s reach when it comes to offering access to a variety of information on the internet. Due to the pandemic, libraries were essentially closed to the general public. As a result, a significant amount of academic content and related discussion naturally moved online. Even if the internet is accessible, it can be quite difficult for people from lower socioeconomic levels to participate in these intellectual environments. Because academic content is kept behind paywalls in online archives like Jstor, it is particularly difficult for disadvantaged college students to get important data for their study and use. The pandemic has practically prevented the needy from accessing internet educational materials because it has limited offline modalities of schooling.
Approximately 80% of Indians, or 190 million people, do not have a bank invoice, according to the 2017 Global Findex study from the World Bank. The survey discovered that 48% of those who do have bank accounts have inactive ones, the highest percentage of dormant accounts anywhere in the globe. Going cashless is still a pipe dream if the first requirement for digital transactions, having a bank invoice, is not met.
According to the Center for Sustainable Employment by APU’s “State of India 2021 – Working One Year of Covid 19” report, the pandemic has caused an additional 230 million people in India to become poor. In every way, the epidemic has widened the gap between the elite and the general populace. While moving the majority of the job online has its advantages, it has also produced a very elite system that excludes the disadvantaged. After the epidemic, the upper class has been the only group that the digital world has catered to. For example, the more privileged a person is, the easier it will be for them to replace traditional ways of transaction and join making the entire procedure less time-consuming for them; this is the cashless flow of money.