Digital divide is defined as the gulf between those who have ready access to computers and the Internet, and those who do not. Over time, research has shown a strong correlation between income disparity and digital divide. To put this simply, more people offline = more income disparity.
In the age where (not commodity but) information is power, Mumbai is losing it’s grip on being one of the richest cities in Asia. Few know that 1 out of 2 people in Mumbai lives in slums. The income disparity in this city is at its peak and so is the digital divide.
The problems in Mumbai range from sanitation to health care and from food security to transport. As a city, Mumbai has numerous problems. No one person, organization or political party is capable of fixing every problem. However, in time we have realised that the biggest problem is lack of awareness and information. Not just on an individual level – but even on a governmental and industry level as well. We are an information deprived society.
Every Information and Communication Technology (ICT) research has pointed towards the fact that increased internet penetration and higher internet usage has resulted in greater economic development, higher democratic participation, enhanced education and healthcare systems and overall improved Quality of Life indicators.
The youth of this city needs to be more online but they simply can’t. Telecom companies like Vodafone charge 10 Paise per 10 Kb. To translate that into understandable terms – it sums up to over Rupees 4000 (or approx 54 Euros) for 1 Gb of data.
An average teenager in Europe consumes that much data in less than a week. What’s even more surprising is that most countries in Europe charge 5 to 20 euros for UNLIMITED 3G data access.
A city with majority of its population as the youth; there is a desperate need to address affordability in data access. Lack of clear policies by the government and the unsaid oligopoly of mobile data service providers like (Vodafone, Tata DoCoMo, Airtel, RCom etc) have created such unfair pricing models that as a city we will never be able to shift towards a digital society.
Millions (who could be online but) are most of the times offline because of affordability. Imagine all the creative voices we are missing out on. Imagine all the work that wasn’t done. Imagine all the time that we wasted trying to get decent connectivity.
Our city, Mumbai, is in desperate need for Free Internet spots. Our educational institutions and public areas like train stations need to be granted free internet access.
What’s amazing is that this doesn’t have to cost the government any money! A few technologists, advertisers and ISPs can get together if the government provides the necessary support/permissions to make free internet a reality!
To transform any society into an information society (as PM Narendra Modi envisions a digital India) it is important to understand the access to Internet should be free and without barriers.
[Tweet “Dear @dev_fadnavis: Help us bring #FreeWiFi – Mumbai will love you! @CMOMaharashtra #freewifimumbai”]
[Tweet “Dear @sjkunte (Municipal Commissioner), Help us bring #freewifi: Mumbai will love u! #freewifimumbai”]
[Tweet “Dear @AUThackeray, Help us bring #freewifi, Mumbai will love u! @uddhavthackeray #freewifimumbai”]