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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. Has digital illiteracy, particularly in rural areas, coupled with lack of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessibility hindered socio-economic development? Examine with justification. (250 Words)

    27 May, 2022 GS Paper 2 Polity & Governance

    Approach

    • Introduce the digital illiteracy status in rural and urban India.
    • Discuss how digital illiteracy and lack of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessibility hindered socio-economic development.
    • Suggest a way forward.

    Answer

    Digital literacy is the ability to navigate the digital world. It focuses on using technology – like a smartphone, PC, e-reader, etc. – to find, evaluate, and communicate information. Digital literacy can play a powerful role in helping people connect, learn, engage with their community, and create more promising futures.

    It has been reported that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in rural areas have slow uptake due to the low to no income, lack of ICT infrastructures, cultural differences, and many other reasons.

    Digital illiteracy in the present time of the pandemic has hindered socio-economic development to a great extent in rural areas. It can be concluded so by:

    • Children are not able to access quality education or attend virtual classrooms due to issues with internet connectivity coupled with frequent internet/electricity outages.
    • Lack of digital knowledge among rural youth kept them away from capitalising on myriad of employment and income generation opportunities. For example, e-commerce, IT services, etc.
    • Emphasis on digitisation and computerisation, while ignoring digital literacy, led to inaccessibility of government benefits and schemes to the vulnerable sections.
    • Digital illiteracy among women and girl-child in rural areas has increased the gender imbalance. Social, cultural, and institutional barriers influence digital inclusion.

    The digital divide is more than just an access issue and cannot be alleviated merely by providing the necessary equipment. The Standing Committee on Information Technology in January, 2019 concluded that the digital literacy efforts of the government are far from satisfactory.

    The government needs to focus on information accessibility, information utilisation and information receptiveness. Various initiatives such as Digital India, Internet Saathi Program, DIKSHA, etc. are commendable steps that are leading to positive socio-economic development in rural areas.

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