A popular topic discussed in class this week was the “Digital Divide” and it immediately made me think about my past trip to India. Fall semester of 2012, I lived in India for over three months and access to technology; especially the Internet was a noticeable challenge. An article published by CNN in December of 2012 titled “How the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ is bridging the digital divide” put the digital divide in India into perspective.
With a population of over 1.2 billion, India Internet penetration across the entire population is below ten percent. Many may find this statistic alarming since India has the world’s second highest number of Facebook users. India is among the worst performing countries in the world for digital inclusion. The digital divide is clear and evident in India, and is specifically noticeable in the areas of wealth, education, occupation and location. This divide is most noticeable in the rural and urban areas of India. Only 20% of urban Indians are connected to the Internet compared to the three percent of rural Indians being connected to the internet, and of the three percent, only eight percent of them are computer literate. The digital divide has become a huge disparity for India, especially those living in rural areas. India has only 22 million Internet subscribers which is less than two percent of the population.
Why aren’t Indians being connected to the Internet?
According to a IAMAI survey 59% of Indians living in rural India who do not have access to the Internet blame the issue on not having internet connection, but 35% blame improper electricity supplies and 39% have no PC at home, There is often no telecoms network infrastructure in Indian villages. Only 0.4 per cent of rural Indians access the Internet from their mobile. 37% of non-users believe they have no need for the Internet and 42% are not aware of the Internet. Another barrier is language. Many people from rural areas do not speak English and there is limited content online in the array of different Indian languages.
Bangalore, the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka is often referred to as India’s Silicon Valley because it’s the city focal point for technology. It has the largest amount of technology entrepreneurs and is home to the worlds most successful software companies. Specific efforts have been made by The Internet Society (ISCOC)’s Bangalore chapter to address this divide. “Using an Internet Society Community Grant of US $9,000, ISOC Bangalore is training everyone from tailors and glass cutters to cotton weavers and furniture makers to download pictures, e-mail, video conference, instant message, use Excel and Word, as well as promote their products on Facebook and Twitter (Canton).” Additional efforts have been made by the Digital Empowerment Foundation in New Delhi, India. This foundation focus is to connect