Towards Bridging the Digital Divide: A Review of Selected ICT Projects in India
Knowledge is one of the primary resources, which is no less than land, labour or capital for improving the lives of millions of underprivileged people in developing countries. In the contemporary period, globalization has been fostered and accelerated by rapid expansion of Internet and extensive use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools in production, distribution and construction of goods and services (Human Development Report, 2001). In the aftermath of the new economic policy of 1991, India has achieved momentous growth in developing ICT enabled industries. While this has fuelled the economic and urban growth, it has also widened the gap between the country’s privileged urban population and the under privileged rural population. In spite of 50 years of planned development the basic infrastructure in rural India is very poor; out of 600,000 villages, nearly about 200,000 villages are without roads, about 80,000 villages do not have electricity connection and almost 230,000 villages don’t have a single telephone connection. Irrespective of all these infrastructure bottlenecks, in recent years the state, the central government and many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have initiated ICT related projects through which the digital divide could be bridged. While many of these rural ICT projects failed, many prevailed and have done credible work for the underprivileged rural population. This paper aims to presents a picture of the prevalent nature and scale of digital divide in India, and would also bring forth the functioning of selected rural ICT projects and their impact on the life of the rural people. Therefore, it would point out the success and failures of the projects. Finally, it would discuss the strategy to revise and renovate the policies for higher ICT penetration in the rural India. It also attempts to bring forth suggestions, based on existing literature and studies for equitable development and growth.
Keywords: Digital Divide, ICT
Mr Diganta Kumar Das
PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore
His current research interest includes the role of ICT in economic development,Dimensions of Digital Divide,use of ICT tools for societal gains, issues related to e-Governance and social implications of use of ICT in developing country context. His PhD research broadly includes a geographical analysis of ICT and dimension of digital divide in India and the role of ICT in economic development of India.