Monday, 17 October 2016

Time to Bridge Digital Divide Gap in Digital India

The term “Digital Divide”, is a social issue referring to the differing amount of information between those who have access to the digital devices, internet along with other IT services and those who do not have access. The term became popular among concerned parties, such as scholars, policy makers, and advocacy groups, in the late 1990s.

The major reasons for bridging the digital divide gaps are Social and Economic Equality, Social Mobility, Democracy and Economic name the few(2). All these issues are somehow interlinked and point in the direction of need of Information Communication Technology (ICT) services through computer or mobile phone access with internet and communication applications for many services such as security, safety, health, crime control, emergency service, peoples career, civic life, social welfare services, public decision making processes, productivity improvisation etc. and many more. The under privileged sections of society having no access or less access requires the focus more.

Current Scenario

As the PM Mr. Narender Modi said in the NITI Aayog annual conference, held in Vigyan Bhawan, Delhi in September’2016, “we are in a world, where the “change” is constant and we are just “variables”, we must change for growth”. It is noticed that the growth is not required in major metros, but in the upcountry, as the person working on a project at this level is not aware of latest technology and doesn’t have appropriate resource knowledge to participate.

Govt. has launched many projects like Kisan Call Centre, Life Line India, Bhoomi Project, Gyandoot Project at rural level in the past to bridge this gap. The Government is determined to see the benefits of Information Technology do not remain confined to higher classes of society and intends to use ICT to provide new opportunities to segments of society who do not see opportunities to improve their quality of life. The government shall take the following catalytic, pro-active and enabling steps in this direction:

Enabling Literacy and Education for the masses
Fulfilling local information needs of the people
Educating citizens about their duties
Enabling e-tourist
Enabling women
Enabling & Educating  underprivileged children

Upcoming Projects

Microsoft is working with device makers in India to make technology accessible to more people to help bridge the digital divide(1). Microsoft is working with 20 local partners, including Micromax and iBall, along with multi-national partners Lenovo and Acer to bring new form factors to the Indian market through affordably-priced devices. In this direction Microsoft is trying to work on devices that are able to access information that is stored in specific cards and smart chips issued by the government, and can be used in medical profession for health sector in India as used in Europe already. Micorosoft is working with their local partners to understand the unique requirement of the Indian market, where with biometrics, ID or scan elements can come together to create custom devices that will serve the specific needs of the country.

In addition to Digital India workshops being organised in 120 universities, covering 2,400 colleges and 30,000 students, Infosys co-founder, Kris Gopalakrishnan, recently turned in an ambitious report on how to realise the Digital India programme.

Google has also set a digital locomotive in motion by announcing plans to build on its initial success in creating WiFi hotspots around railway stations, in partnership with the telecom arm of Indian Railways.

Mobile has the potential to drastically accelerate economic growth in India, as well as overcoming a range of social challenges, such as closing the digital divide and bringing financial inclusion to all segments of the population.To spread the awareness on the many companies multinational companies like GSMA are coming forward with conference “GSMA Mobile 360 Series – India”, representing the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organizations in adjacent industry sectors. It is one of the first steps towards highlighting Mobile as the Key Enabler for Development of India focusing on programs including Mobile Money, Connected Women, Digital Identity and Agriculture.


The digital divides is persistent and still with us but many private sector companies, the educated sections of society and government are throwing the thrust for bridging the gap at all levels possible along with building a well informed and literate society. Since India’s heart lies in its villages, the rural sector is still left behind in terms of right resources and people to provide them with powers and channels to be part of latest communication system, so more efforts required for promotion of services at this level. The exploitation of the latest technologies and forward thinking approach of the government at this time presents both the opportunity and the security bridging this gap of digital divide, which will surely play a critical role in the country’s economic and social development along with giving industries of developing countries a competitive advantage.


1. Celis, Alvaro.Microsoft focussed on closing digital divide in India, says Global VP Alvaro Celis. [interv.] Danish Khan. september 23, 2016.
2. A Brief View to Digital Divide in Indian Scenario. Ipsita Panda, Durllav Charan Chhatar and Bulu Mharana. 2013, International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 3, Issue 12, December 2013, pp. 1-7.
3. Iansiti , Marco and Richards, Gregory L. .Information Technology Ecosystem Health and Performance. Boston  : Harvard Business School Working Knowledge , 2006.

Dr. Harsha Ratnani
Associate Professor
Dept. of Information Technology

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