Residents of developed areas, such as our own Philadelphia, New York City, and Los Angeles, are so used to having access to technologies such as smartphones and laptops at our fingertips, but people tend to forget that there are still many places that are disadvantaged technologically. Underdeveloped and developing areas are at a loss with no Internet access (let alone computers), reliable mobile phones and networks, and even televisions. The lack of these resources of information and communication cause economic issues that plague the countries affected. This problem is further explained in a concept called the digital divide, which “refers to the technology capacity gap between those who have accesses to rich digital information and those who have not” (Lei & Zhou, 45). This divide displays inequalities between races, income classes, cities (rural or urban), and the disadvantaged are not benefiting from it by any means. If these ‘new’ technologies are finally introduced, economic opportunities will rise for the countries that cannot seem to advance without Internet and computer access. What can be done for a country that is limited digitally, and how can they be pushed to the next level of development with their already low amount of resources?
India, a developing country inhabited by many low-income families who do not have the opportunity to experience reliable and convenient Internet access, is a victim of the downside of the digital divide. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been able to accelerate economic and social change with the introduction of radios, but in this day and age, Internet access is the most necessary mobile enhancement to connect the country even further (Singh, S., 106). The country is disadvantaged because Internet costs are high, along with no general access to computers in the first place. Internet technologies have been clearly noted to create a large impact on the way people connect, do business, and find out information. A country like India does not benefit from this, which puts them below the digital divide. With more digital access, economic efficiency will improve, their place in the global market will prove to be more competitive, and consumers within the country will find more economic benefits (Singh, N. et.al, 4). The unfortunate part of a heavy desire to get rid of the digital divide is the fact that the poor lack other serious issues, such a basic health and education, and those are issues that the government is more involved with, though they could be aided with better Internet connectivity. In order to bridge that gap of the divide, people must look at the “existing conditions of income levels”, the technological infrastructure, and government action (or lack thereof) to create viable solutions that can propel India’s economy into something more progressive (Singh, N. et.al, 2).
There have been many attempts to improve the economy in India, but the of the primary issues is the lack of Internet and computers due to the digital divide. Countries who need plenty of help do not deserve to be disadvantaged due to a lack of resources and information that could change the way things are run. One of the solutions would be to “improve the delivery of basic services […] that might have been otherwise inaccessible to” the poor (Signh, N, et.al, 4). Internet kiosks serve a great purpose in rural areas to find out any basic information about conditions within and around the country. For example, farmers can use these kiosks that could provide “highly customized information […] in a timely manner” to be able to continue to run their business and remain profitable (Venkatesh & Sykes, 254). The government can also provide Internet services at a low cost, whether that be in the home or in centers for public use. When people have access, this increases “educations levels […] which in turn can lead to improved healthcare and higher paying jobs because of increased skills” (255). Lastly, social responsibility can make the largest impact on a country like India. “Digital divide initiatives” created by corporate organizations can play an immense role in economic development (255). Raising money for the awareness of an issue like the digital divide can do wonders; people can donate money for kiosks, computers in schools, or laptops for households. Money can also be raised to create access networks in certain areas that can be available to the poor. When these initiatives succeed, then the resources will be used to advance the country economically. The digital divide can be diminished with the right thoughts in mind to improve the economic infrastructure, and the citizens will be able to benefit in a way that will only open up more skill sets, higher education and literacy, healthcare, and more.
Lei, J., & Zhou, J. (2012). Digital Divide: How Do Home Internet Access and Parental Support Affect Student Outcomes?. Education (Basel) 2:45-53/ DOI:10.3390/educ2010045
Singh, N., & Zhou, Y., et.al (2013). Bridging the Digital Divide in Rural India. Review of Market Integration 5(1):1-42. DOI:10.1177/0974929213496499
Singh, S. (2012). Digital Divide In India: Measurement, Determinants, and Policy for Addressing the Challeneges in Bridging the Digital Divide. Digital Economy Innovations and Impacts on Society:106-125. DOI:10.4018/978-1-4666-1556-4.ch008
Venkatesh, V., & Sykes, T.A. (2013). Digital Divide Initiative Success in Developing Countries: A Longitudinal Field Study in a Village in India. Information Systems Research 24(2):239-260. http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/isre.1110.0409