We live in a world where many of its inhabitants are unable to access the Internet due to the area they live in, the cost of access, lack of resources to make access possible, and more. Developing countries like India are stagnant in progress, which greatly affects their economy – it is difficult to conduct business and trade, its citizens who live in rural areas are not able to attain technological skills to find jobs leaving the professional unemployment rate high, and workers are unable to find the information they need most in order to thrive. Unlike India, developed countries such as the United State and Europe are able to find use in mobile technologies that have allowed their cities to make progress that stabilizes their economies. This phenomenon, called the digital divide, “refers to the technology capacity gap between those who have accesses to rich digital information and those who have not” (Lei & Zhou, 45). When India does not have the ability to lift themselves out of this gap, it becomes a social responsibility from the people who can make a change. How can the people who ‘have’ aid this country in order to improve their economy? How can those with sufficient Internet services and capabilities create an opportunity within India to have digital access that will make their economy more efficient, plant a higher stake in the global market, and increase consumer activity to find more economic benefits (Singh, N. et.al, 4)?
I am creating a social justice smartphone app, called techUPindia, geared toward people in developed countries who can help make a change for the Indian economy for the better – its intention is to bridge the digital divide and one day erase it altogether. Due to the lack of smartphone access in India (specifically rural and poor areas), those citizens are unable to benefit from using this application directly. techUPindia’s goal to raise awareness, drive conversation, and build donations to create more access within the country. Because there are many users who will be unaware of the digital divide and its effects on India, there will be a few pages on the app giving plenty of information on the concept itself and why India needs to rise above it for the sake of their economy and development. There will be text and visual examples of the state of the current economy with limited or no access and examples of where the economy will be with employment and skill sets in the projected future.
techUPindia will not just TELL users what the problem is – the app wants to find ways for people to help improve the situation! There are a few initiatives already in place to help get rid of this digital divide, such as e-Choupal, which focuses “on the mechanisms and processes, especially related to information flow, by which the empowerment of farmers actually happens” through Internet kiosks, and Mark Zukerberg’s Internet.org, which was able to launch its app and “basic Internet services”, such as Translator, Wikipedia, news sites and much more just earlier this month (Venkatesh & Sykes, 241; “Internet.org”, 1). Another plan in action is the Digital India initiative, which focuses on rural India and will bringing “electronic delivery by 2018” (ET Bureau, 1). This application with have a page designated to featuring these initiatives, along with others. Their mission and goals will be highlighted, and users will have the option to donating money to make these plans more of a reality for Indian citizens. There will be another page on techUPindia emphasizing the need for volunteers for these organizations and with the app itself and how people can get physically involved beyond the already generous donation. Finally, there will be a community page where users will have the opportunity to share their opinions, ideas, and suggestions for ways we can help kill India’s digital divide in order to spur their economic needs into priorities. techUPindia will not be the cure-all for India’s digital and economic woes, but we plan to make a huge change and raise more awareness for an issue that we tend to be blind to when it comes to our own experiences and opportunities.
ET Bureau (2015). Bridging digital divide, with focus on rural India: Ravi Shankar Prasad, Economic Times. Retrieved from http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-02-05/news/58838257_1_digital-india-digital-literacy-rs-sharma
“Internet.org App Now Available in India” (2015). Internet.org by Facebook. Retrieved from http://internet.org/press/internet-dot-org-app-now-available-in-india
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
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