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उत्तराखंडी ई-पत्रिका

Monday, March 23, 2009

Digital Divide in Uttarakhand

Digital Divide in Uttarakhand
Bhishma Kukreti

Though, the term “digital divide” was in the air before nineties but it got popularity among concerned parties like schools, policy makers, social thinkers and various advocacy activists after American President Bill Clinton and his Vice President Al Gore used the term in a 1996 speech in Knoxville. The term “digital divide” is still a buzz of various media and forums and getting momentum too to bridge the digital gaps.

Usually, the term “digital divide” means the troubling and painful gap between those have ‘ever’ the access of computer and Internet and those who ‘never’ have used computer and Internet. Broadly speaking the term is meant for the difference between who have access in information and communication technology (ICT) and those who can not access ICT or can not afford to have the Internet facilities. The “digital split” is a very serious social issues for the human kind. There are already tens of gap among people across the world and Internet is becoming another medium of widening various gaps among people of same area and nations too.

Digital split is also a concern area for Uttarakhand. The time has come that the social activists, media and ploicy makers of Uttarakhand understand the concequences of digtal divide in the state. The differences between ‘haves’ and’ haves not’ in terms of ICT will create another class and caste not only in Uttarakhand, India but all over the globe.

The first and faremost gap of digital divide is lesser facilities of information and communication technology in Uttarakhand than many other states of India. The inequality of ICT facilities in Uttarakhand means lowering the growth opportunities for the telented Uttarakhandis who don’t have the access of computer learning and or computer and Internet access. The poor infrastructure for information and communication technology in Uttarakhand is a concern area in gaining various opportunities and services by Internet related services.

The biggest gap in ICT is computer learning facilities(either is or not) in various types of schools of Uttarakhand. The inequality in available facilities of computer learning in various schools and territories is the biggest apprehensive area of digital split in Uttarakhand. Those children deprived from computer learning at a particular age will face problems of contemporary competency.

The territorial differences in accessibility of the computers and Internet are another alarming factor of digital divide in Uttarakhand. 70% of population of Uttarakhand lives in rural area but the majority of people (living in rural Uttarakhand) don’t have the facilities of most important medium of this era. Already, there are various gaps of facilities between rural and urban Uttarakhand the differences of information and communication technology will widen the gaps of growth between rural and urban Uttarakhand.

The richer and elite Uttarkhandis may have the privileges of owning computers and accessing Internet facilities but poor, vary poor Uttarakhandis will never get the opportunities of accessing Internet the poor people of Uttarakhand will face the problems of “Information and Knowledge” poverty.

Uttarkhandis, who cannot get the opportunities of accessing Internet, will certainly become the victims of information and knowledge poverty.

There are various differences of facilities between males and females in Uttarakhand. Due to present social structure, the females of Uttarakhand are not getting equal opportunities for computer learning and accessing Internet too. This crucial aspects of ‘haves’ and ‘haves not’ of ICT will certainly widen the gender gap in Uttarakhand. In fact, the present discriminatory gaps are responsible factors for widening the gender gap for information and communication technology not only in Uttarakhand but also in other territories like Uttarakhand.

The lucrative job opportunities for computer learned youth and no opportunity for computer illiterates is another important factor of generating social division.

The Internet accessibility is below 4% of total population in Uttarakhand. Therefore, there are various emerging digital divide in Uttarakhand like age-gap, digital gaps among businessmen, ICT gaps among research centers, gaps of Internet accessibilities among gram panchayat, block-headquarters and other government or non-government institutions and the opportunity gaps for gaining various services of Internet.

Today, this digital divide is not showing any social problems but in coming immediate future this gap will create various social issues, hassles and frustrations among those who are deprived of information and communication technology. The available opportunities gaps between ‘haves’ and ‘haves not’ will divide the societies of Uttarakhand and will create various types of social unrest in the nearest future.

Internet or computer accessibility is a blessing for human civilization but it should be available to every body. The society, politicians, administrators and policy makers of Uttarakhand should come out with plan and implementing will power of those plans to bridge the digital divide in Uttarakhand. The immediate task before the policy makers of Uttarakhand is to provide competent computer learning facilities in each schools and Internet facility in each gram panchayats. The social workers and media should also come forward for creating awareness among Uttarkhandis of each age and gender to learn computer and take the advantages of Internet.

Copyright@Bhishma Kukreti/Mumbai/19/3/2009