Abstract of Indians (833.1 million people) live in

Abstract

Modernisation of present day society largely depends on the numbers of
people using internet as a part of their daily life. India is going through the
important phase of modernisation with the help of revolution in Information and
Communication Technology and “Digital India” scheme launched by Indian
government. Since around 60% of the total population lives in rural or
sub-urban regions, so it seems to be very challenging to project the idea of
digital India to such populations. Here the term “Digital Divide” comes into
the picture which states about the disparity between information-rich and
information-poor people. Government schemes like ‘Digital India’ project are an
approach towards diminishing the digital divide. Libraries as a social service
institution has to play a major role in minifying the gap of digital divide.
They can impart crucial role in making India a global digital power. Librarians
and information professionals have to develop certain user-oriented skills and
redefine their service menu. The present paper aims to outline the different
areas in which librarians can work together to minimize the gap of digital
divide in rural as well urban regions. It also discusses the possible causes
for the digital divide in India. Keeping all the important factors of above
mentioned topics, this paper highlight the basic concept of digital divide and
role of librarians in uplifting the socioeconomic status of the common people.

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Keywords:    Digital
Divide, Information and Communication Technology, Digital India, Librarians.

 

1.         
Introduction

 

The soul of
India lives in villages as said by M.K. Gandhi. India is the 2nd
largest country in terms of population next to China. 68.84% of Indians (833.1
million people) live in 640 867 different villages (Census, 2011). India could
never develop without the development of its villages. Indian government had
launched many programs for the development of villages and villagers. But the
progress of the village community is not as much as expected. Recently, Indian
government has launched Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana to adopt a village by a
Member of Parliament every year. The Member of Parliament has to make all
around development of that particular village. Few model villages are created
with the help of this plan. The progress of these schemes depends on the execution
level. Even, most of the people living in villages are not aware of many
services launched by government. This problem can be solved by using digital
devices and internet. Internet is supposed to be one of the basic necessities
of the life these days. It is because most of the things are available online
such as shopping, banking, connecting people, travelling, hotel bookings etc. Much
information of daily needs is available through the internet. To make India a
developed country, the people of India should be well versed with Information
and Communication Technology (ICT) tools and should be connected to the
internet.

 

The following
chart is the list of top five countries in the world with highest number of
internet users. India is the 2nd largest country with most number of internet
users in the world. This may be because of the 2nd largest population of the
country. It seems that people of India are using digital devices in good
number. But this chart does not explain the ground reality of internet users in
India.

Table-1:
Top Five Country in the world with number of internet users

(Source:
https://www.statista.com/statistics/262966/number-of-internet-users-in-selected-countries/
)

 

The second
chart where percentage (%) of internet users is shown, we can see the actual
scenario of India using internet. Percentage of internet is a ratio of total
internet users and total population of the country multiplied by 100. This
second chart shows Indians are at bottom place in the list of five countries
that have most number of internet users in the world.

 

Table-1:
Top Five Country in the world with number of internet users

          

 

(Source:
1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/262966/number-of-internet-users-in-selected-countries/

http://worldpopulationreview.com )

 

This is the
actual ground reality of internet users in India where most of the population
are unaware of the digital devices and internet. The possible reason for this
data is the digital divide. Digital divide is the gap between those individuals
who use technology and those who do not. For a country to be developed the
digital divide must be minimized.

 

2.         
Digital Divide

 

Digital divide
is thought to be a gap between people that belong to various sections of
society at different socioeconomic levels in terms of their opportunities to
access and use information and communication technologies (ICT) and internet
(OECD, 2001). One of the major aspects of digital divide is the information
technology (IT). Information technology can be used to share and receive
information quickly. Hence, it is significant to know the gap between those who
have access to IT or those who do not (Boyd, 2002). Digital Divide is the process
of making strata within society due to inequality of opportunity to access and
use internet and digital technologies.

 

The digital
divide has many facets and multiple dimensions. For better understanding of the
digital divide, the understanding of all its dimensions is required. Table 3
summarizes these dimensions. These dimensions of the digital divide incorporate
a variety of social matters concerned with education, social equity, and the
appropriateness of technology.

 

Table-3:
Dimensions of Digital Divide

Service
availability

The services
made available through the use of ICTs should be freely available to all who
might wish to make use of them.

Awareness

Everyone is
aware of how they might be able to use ICTs for their own benefit

Opportunity
to learn and use new media

Everyone has
the opportunity to attain computer literacy

Mastery
of technologies

Everyone
understands which tools are best suited for which tasks.

Experience

Everyone is
able to accumulate sufficient experience with the use of ICTs to enable them
to fully exploit their potential.

Skills

Everyone has
the right skills for performing ICT related tasks.

Support

Everyone has
access to appropriate assistance when they need it to help them make good use
of ICTs.

Attitudes
(motivation)

Everyone is
encouraged to participate in the sharing of benefits available from equal
access to ICTs.

Content

Sufficient
content is available to enable everyone to gain benefit from ICTs.

Cultural

The other
dimensions are adapted as required to the cultures of all potential users

Disability

The other
dimensions are adapted as required so that disability is not a barrier to
equal enjoyment of the benefits of ICTs.

Linguistic

The other
dimensions are adapted as required so that language is not a barrier to equal
enjoyment of the benefits of ICTs.

Gender

The other
dimensions are adapted as required so that gender is not a barrier to equal
enjoyment of the benefits of ICTs.

Empowerment
of civil society

Structural,
political, and governance factors do not impede equal enjoyment of the
benefits of ICTs.

(Source:
Harris, 2002)

 

The above
table shows the multi faceted nature of digital divide. It encompasses a
variety of social issues and addresses the heart of the digital divide. The key
issue in digital divide is not unequal access to digital devices but rather the
unequal ways that digital devices are used (Warschauer, 2003). Most important
issue that addresses the digital divide is the awareness. Everyone is the country
must be aware of the technological innovations and know-how of the innovated
devices.

 

 

3.         
Cause of Digital Divide in India

                         

The factors
that influence the cause of digital divide include:

 

                      
i.     Computer
literacy: It is the ability of individuals to use computer and computer
related technologies. Disparity in this ability leads to digital divide.

 

                    
ii.     Tech
savvy operations: Individuals who are good at technology use have advantage
towards those who does not use it efficiently .They save their time than those
who are not good at using technology. For example using internet banking, ATM
machine etc.

 

 

                  
iii.     Use
of information: Information is received quickly by those individuals who
are more prone to digital devices. This can be very well visualized between
rural-urban communities. Urban people use information more frequently than the
rural one.

 

                  
iv.     Working
knowledge of English: Language barrier is one of the important causes of
the digital divide in India. Most of the online/digital applications prefer
English language and in India there is flood of languages. Many places in India
do not prefer English language. In fact they are not very used to English.

 

                    
v.     Internet:
Internet is necessity of the present time. People using internet have more
advantage in terms of comfort and convenience in the lifestyle than those who
do not use internet.

 

                  
vi.     Economic
inequality: Economic inequality is the unequal distribution of income and
opportunity between different groups in society. This inequality does not allow
some people to buy digital devices frequently. Even education is also affected
by economic conditions of a particular family.

 

                
vii.     Social
mobility: Social mobility is shifting from one social status to another,
commonly to a status that is either higher or lower. If there is shifting from
higher social status to lower, then there be a chance that families of lower
status are less used to digital devices.

 

              
viii.    
Digital inequality:  The disparities in knowledge and ability
of using digital and information technology among individuals with different
demographics, socioeconomic backgrounds, and digital and information technology
experience and competencies. In India, there is disparity of internet connection
between rural and urban internet connectivity.

 

                  
ix.     Low
literacy rate: The literacy rate of India is relatively low in comparison
to many countries of the world. This education disparity rate becomes the cause
of digital divide in India.

 

 

4.         
Digital India (DI) Initiatives

 

There are
various initiatives launched by Digital India project by Government of India in
three areas viz. infrastructure, services and empowerment. The vision of Digital
India programme is to transform India into a digitally empowered knowledge
society and economy. Although all the schemes in this program is somehow or
other aimed to minimize the gap of digital divide, but still a list of some DI
initiatives is given that has directly concern in minifying the digital divide
in India.

 

i.       
Study Webs of Active learning for Young
Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM): This service focuses on bridging the gap of
digital divide among students who have never touched digital devices. The
purpose is to bring into the mainstream of the knowledge society and economy.  It provides an IT platform that hosts all the
courses taught in classroom teaching from 9th grade till post-graduation. These
course can be accessed free of cost from any place and at any time. The module
of all these interactive courses is framed by good teachers in the country.
This service will aid in narrowing the digital gap in India.

 

ii.     
Sugamya Pustakalaya: It is India’s first
and largest collection of books (digital library) specially meant to serve
people with print disabilities. Several organizations collaborated together for
this library to end the ‘book famine’ 
faced by visually challenged people. Over 328900 books are available for access
where users can maintain their reading shelves online. Textbooks and
periodicals in different languages and different formats are available. Books
are present in various formats such as DAISY Text Only, DAISY Text Only and EPUB
with Media Overlay. This initiative will bring the visually challenged people
into the mainstream and helps in minifying the digital divide gap.

 

iii.   
Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM): This
application enables to perform your payment transactions simple, easy and
quick. They use Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for the same. There is
facility to perform instant bank-to-bank payments. In this mobile based
application, users can send and request money. Facilities like payment
reminders and split bills are also available through this application. This
application make a strong foundation to connect people of India nation-wide in
terms of their money transactions and help in minimizing the digital divide.

 

iv.   
Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta
Abhiyan (PMGDISHA): It is a training program for the Indian citizens from
14 years for age to 60 years to make them capable of operating computer or
digital access devices (like tablets, smart phones etc.). After completing the
20 hours in 10-30 days of duration, people will be able to send and receive
e-mails, browse Internet, access Government services, search for information,
undertake digital payment etc. This training programme aims to work especially
for rural communities across states and union territories and make them
digitally empowered. The objective is take to make at least one member of the
eligible house digital literate.

 

v.     
ePathshala: It is developed by Central
Institute Of Educational Technology (CIET), National Council of Educational
Research and Training (NCERT) and hosted by National Informatics Centre (NIC).
It is a platform which enables access to e-resources specifically eTextbooks.
It has separate modules for students, teachers, educators as well as parents.
All the NCERT textbooks are digitized in English, Hindi and Urdu
languages.  These eTextbooks will also be
available in local languages too. Work on more native languages is in progress.

 

5.         
Librarians’ Approach – Minimizing digital
divide

                                                                                  

There are many
people of different profile in the society who want to do some good work or
social work for the society. They hesitate in doing any good work for the sake
of the people around them. Librarians are a community that is meant to serve
its users. As minimizing digital divide is a challenging task for anyone, so it
requires patience, hard work and honesty from the people who are supposed to
serve the people in any form. Librarians fit well in this whole composition.

 

Information
managers: Librarians are trained in tracking down the information; store
and manage them to make it available to the users with little or no time gap.
They perform information packaging and consolidation work and bring in the
information in usable form for the readers.

Training:
Training is an important tool in minimizing the digital divide. Librarians can
aid in training the common people. They can frame a module or a workshop with
few technical sessions. Once the people get the taste and feeling of digital
devices, they will be trained very easily. In the next level, these first order
trainees will serve as trainers for other people. This will continue till we
minimize digital divide to zero level.

Authenticity of
Information: The basic difference between Google and library is the information
present on Google is not necessary true and authentic. The library keeps record
of only authentic sources of information and they take responsibility of the
authenticity of information.

 

Resources for
Families: Many working people who are not sure what the Internet has to
offer them do believe that their children need to know how to use computers and
the Web to do well in school. Workers accustomed to seeing the library as a
place for their kids to study can use it as a resource for their families to learn
about and use computers.

 

Information and
Media Literacy: Librarians can help in empowerment of common people through
Media and Information Literacy (MIL). MIL is significant step for promoting
equal

access to
information and knowledge. They promote free and independent information and
media systems. Librarians help in empowering citizens by providing them
understanding of functions of media and other information providers. This
information is used in daily life and help in diminishing the digital divide.

 

Categorization
of Information: They help in categorization and sorting of information on
the basis of their context such as private information and public information.
Private information does not allow anyone to seek and request for whereas
public information can be accessed on request.

 

 

6.         
Conclusion

 

In this
present era, it is important for everyone to cope up with the growing
technological innovations. At least basic knowledge devices are necessary for
making life convenient in this age. India is a developing nation and a hub for
social, cultural and economic activities. The people of India have to take
complete benefit for the government schemes like Digital India initiatives.
These initiatives are diverse and interactive in nature and can benefit to the
last section of the society. These initiatives will help in diminishing the gap
of digital divide in India. Digital divide is a good indicator of the
development of a nation. If digital divide approaches zero value, then it is
supposed that the most of the people are using digital devices and
technological application will be used exhaustively by the people. Librarians’
role in diminishing digital divide can’t be ignored in this regard. They play a
crucial role in nation building by serving the entire community of the nation.
They serve academicians, scientists as well as the common man through academic,
special and public libraries respectively. By making right provisions in their
approach and services, they can extend their outreach to all sections of
society. They can help in proper implementation of the Digital India
initiatives and other government schemes to the people of India living in rural
areas of states and union territories.

 

7.         
References

 

1.  
Boyd, E. C. (2002). Introduction to the special series on
the digital divide. Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging
Transdiscipline, 5(3), 113-114. Retrieved from http://inform.nu/Articles/Vol5/v5n3p113-114.pdf

2.   Chandramouli, C., & General, R. (2011).
Census of India 2011. Provisional Population Totals. New Delhi: Government of
India.

3.  
Gupta Neeru and Arora Kirandeep (2015). Digital India: A Roadmap for
the development of Rural India. International Journal of Business Management
,vol(2)2, pp1333-1342.

4.  
Harris, R. (2002), ‘ICTs for Rural Development: An Asian Perspective’.
Prepared for the Asian Regional Consultation on Rural Women in Knowledge
Society December 2002, Patancheru, India.

5.  
OECD (2001) “Understanding the Digital Divide”, OECD, Paris.

6.  
Pippa Norris, The Digital Divide: Civic Engagement, Information Poverty
& the Internet Worldwide, 2001, pp.123-126.

7.   Singh, Neena. 2007. Bridging the Digital Divide in
India: Some challenges and Opportunities, World Libraries.

8.   Warschauer, Mark. (2003). Demystifying the Digital
Divide. Scientific American, 289 (2), 42-47.

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