Is making things online, taking away the rights of those people who are not digitally literate, or those who do not have the resources? In the times of COVID-19, when all things – from studies to work – have moved online, is this right in a country like India? Are all the people of India really so competent, skilled and well-to-do?
“In the times of COVID-19, all things – from studies to work – have moved online!” This feels good to hear, but what is the truth of it? Does it match the reality? Have all the children of the country really been able to benefit from online education, online banking, online shopping or online registration for any scheme?
In a developing country like India, whose total population is 135 crores, where all citizens are not yet literate, let alone educated; how far is making things online correct?
Literacy in India
According to a survey, the overall literacy rate in India is 77.7%. In the rural areas of the country, this rate is 73.5% and 87.7% in the urban areas. The male literacy rate is 84.7% and 70.3% among women.
In a country like India, where the literacy rate is so low, how low must the digital literacy be?
Around 40% of the population is living below the poverty line, illiteracy rate is more than 25-30%; and among more than 90% of the population, digital literacy is next to nothing.
What is online technology?
Using online technology, you can access education, banking, shopping or register for any scheme with the help of internet and other communicating devices; while sitting at home.
Many surveys and news articles have assessed that India is not capable enough to make all things online. There are many villages in the country where there is no electric supply even today and people still use firewood to cook food.
When it is difficult to provide even LPG in such villages, how will internet reach there?
On one hand, making things online has made life easy for some people; on the other, it has made life difficult for many who don’t have a phone and internet, through which they can access things online.
As things are going online, the demand for phones is also increasing. A labourer who earns only 5000 a month, is compelled to get a phone for the studies of their child. But they are unable to purchase the phone, because they are not capable of it. Their children have to leave studies because of this.
There are many children in the country who left their studies due to online education, and were forced to work.This is an infringement of their right to education (Article 21A: Right to Education).
If a farmer wants to avail the benefits of scheme, they have to submit an online form; if a labourer wants to get the corona vaccine, they have to register online. So, those who do not have the knowledge of online systems, have to let go of their rights.
Making things online is just taking away the rights and advantages of people. Those children who do not have phone or internet access, are deprived of their right to study and are discriminated. Online exams in universities is injustice against those students who do not have a phone, a quiet room and an internet connection. Making things online is just taking away the rights of the poor who do not have a phone, internet or any other means, and don’t know the use of such systems.
Making things online means delivering power into the hands of a few who are already well-to-do, competent and skilled. And those who do not know the use of the internet have to be dependent on others or lose their rights.
Our country is not yet capable to make all things online; or perhaps no one has made the effort to make the country capable. Everybody is just busy filling their own pockets. They don’t think about those poor or rural people, who still don’t have access to the basic necessities of life; let alone making things online.