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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. Discuss the impacts of the digital divide on the education and the health sector. (250 Words)

    27 Dec, 2022 GS Paper 2 Social Justice


    • Stary your answer by briefly providing the facts regarding digital divide.
    • Discuss its impacts on education and health.
    • Give some measures to reduce the digital divide gap.
    • Conclude accordingly.


    • Digital divide is a term generally referred to showcase inequalities in physical access to technology as well as the imbalances in resources and skills needed to effectively participate as a digital citizen.
    • As per ITU’s World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database, only 43% of the population in India uses the internet. The IAMAI-Kantar Report ICUBE 2020 suggests that there are 58% male internet users and 42% female internet users in India.
    • Further, the National Family Health Survey 2020–21 (NFHS), however, shows a significantly larger gender gap in internet usage. The NFHS Report suggests that only 57.1% of the male population and 33.3% of the female population had ever used the internet.


    • The digital divide has created a new distinction basis in the society that has critically influenced daily operations and livelihood of persons in globally. The ability to fully access the internet is creating disparity and segregation witnessed in different fields today.
    • Impact of Digital Divide:
      • Education:
        • Unfair Competitive Edge:
          • The poor will remain void of crucial information presented online concerning academia, and thus they will always lag, and this may be summed up by poor performance.
          • Hence superior students who can access the internet have an unfair competitive edge over their less privileged counterparts.
        • Disparity in Learning:
          • The people in lower socio-economic classes are disadvantaged and have to undergo long hours of cumbersome studies in meeting the objectives of the course.
          • While the rich can easily access schooling materials online and work on their programs in a flash.
        • Decreased Productivity Among the Poor:
          • Most underdeveloped countries or the rural areas tend to produce half-baked graduates because of inadequate training due to limited research abilities as connectivity to the internet is limited besides having low cadre training equipment.
        • Accentuates Social Differences:
          • Digital illiteracy reduces the chances of finding a job and accessing quality employment, which has a negative impact on the workers' economy.
      • Health:
        • In healthcare, the digital divide can lead to disparities in patient portal adoption, telehealth care access, or ability to utilize patient-facing practice management software, like online appointment schedulers.
        • Inequitable Access to Trusted, Reliable Health Information:
          • At an individual level, misinformation, disinformation and a lack of information all serve as barriers to a person’s ability to pursue health.
          • At a systems level, a lack of high-quality, timely information can result in wasted resources, ineffective health interventions or further increasing the gap in health equity.
        • Lack of Representation in Public Health Systems and Services:
          • Information systems and the data they collect often do not equitably represent populations, for example, undercounting members of vulnerable communities or not collecting the right data to diagnose inequities in the health system.
          • When data is not representative and inclusive, the analysis and use of this data will be inherently inequitable.
        • Lack of Health and Digital Literacy:
          • Health literacy is described as the ability to acquire, process, and understand the fundamental healthcare statistics and system and then apply these to make befitting healthcare-related decisions.
          • Along with the technological and financial restraints, health literacy also poses a major setback to accessing online health services.
          • It means the capacity to find as well as use digital content and create and share it. Some causes, like access and communication problems, physical and mental restrictions, as well as social factors like age, gender, and literacy, not only drive the digital divide and digital literacy but also health literacy.
        • Therefore, digital tools and approaches have an enormous role to play in addressing the need for trusted, reliable health information.
      • Strategy to Reduce Digital Divide:
        • The UN includes the reduction of the digital divide (SDG 9) in its Sustainable Development Goals. That is why, in many places' initiatives have been launched to facilitate access to technology. Here we mention some of the most relevant ones:
          • Digital literacy programs: They instruct people in less-favoured areas of Internet use to improve their personal well-being.
          • Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI): This project, led by an international coalition of governments, businesses and civil society, aims to lower the cost of broadband in specific areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
          • Free Basics: This initiative, promoted by Facebook and six other technology companies, aims to provide free access to a number of websites through a mobile application.
          • Starlink: This project, promoted by tycoon Elon Musk, is launching satellites into space to provide high-speed Internet and global coverage at affordable prices.
        • Indian Initiative:
          • National Education Policy, 2020: It aims at making “India a global knowledge superpower” and further revamp education so that it could be easily access even by the downtrodden section of the society.
          • Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA): It aims a digital platform to teachers giving them an opportunity to learn and train themselves and connect with the teacher. community.
          • PM eVidya: It is a programme for multi-mode access to digital/online education.
          • Swayam Prabha TV Channel: It’s a dedicated series of TV networks that air cohort courses for students of various classes.


    • The digital divide poses severe social implications. The inability to access technology has the potential to increase existing social exclusions and deprive individuals of essential resources. With the increasing dependence on digital technologies and the internet, the digital divide has ramifications on education, health, mobility, safety, financial inclusion, and every other imaginable aspect of life.
    • Therefore, the need of the hour is It is to improve the existing digital infrastructure to ensure physical access to ICT to different sections of society. At the same time, underprivileged groups need to be motivated to incorporate technology into their daily lives and digital skills need to be imparted to allow such a change.

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