Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Not a Digital Divide

October 21st, 2003 · No Comments

Atanu Dey points out the fallacy of the phrase “digital divide”:

It is not the digital divide that is preventing the poor from benefiting from ICT. It is the fact that they are poor that is preventing them from benefitting from ICT. Not just benefitting from the use of ICT, the poor also are not benefitting from the advances in medical technology, in cosmetic surgery, in plasma tv technology, ad nauseum. It is not the digital divide, stupid, it is an income divide, it is a wealth divide, it is an opportunity divide.

If the poor had money, they would not be poor, and like all non-poor, would be able to buy all sorts of stuff — including, but not limited to — digital gizmos. They would buy education, clothes, food, houses, cell phones, cd players, dvd players, plasma tvs, and computers. There would not be a digital divide. It bears repeating: the digital divide is not the cause of poverty nor is it the cause of the persistence of poverty. The digital divide is a result — an effect, a consequence — of poverty.

Now coming to India: India does not have a digital divide.

If a vanishingly small number of people have something, there is no divide. For instance, it is pointless to talk about a BMW divide: we are all in the same boat when it comes to having BMWs and therefore there is no divide. So also, to a first approximation, Indians don’t have access to the Internet, except for a few million people. And the few million who do have it, have to pay inordinate amounts of money to get a slow uncertain connection.

Tags: Emerging Markets

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