E-Exclusion (also known as digital divide) - where certain people and social groups risk being excluded from the Information Age. [Online Glossary of the British Institute for Learning & Development]. And, on the flip side, E-Inclusion is overcoming the digital divide using systems developed to lessen the risk of 'e-exclusion'.
The role of infrastructure and communication in development of a society or civilization per se cannot be over-emphasised. Since time immemorial, be it the invention of wheel, charting of trade routes to the Indian sub-continent, or invention of television there were singularities, each dictating the course of history and spelling rise and fall of great civilizations. In their footstep has come another technology that goes by the name 'Internet'. In its wake - the world has become a virtual workplace; communication has become effortless, real time and almost without cost; and all sorts of e-business and e-activities have flourished opening new horizons and new possibilities. Now the big question is, who will benefit from this technology, and who will lag behind and miss out on the road toward development and prosperity? Because, one thing is for sure - like its great predecessors, this phenomenon is bound to re-draw the demography of the world and thus spell out the identities of new rich and the new pariahs.
Now, where do we stand as a nation in terms of our readiness to book our place on this great boat? Well, during the last decade or so, we have seen a tremendous growth in mobile communication, prompting the economy to grow at a steady (though not spectacular) rate of average 5 percentage points. Unprecedented number of people have accessed internet for the first time through these mobile devices (this number is thought to be around 3 to 5 million as opposed to 1-2 million who access fixed line internet). Women are increasingly coming out and becoming part of the working force like never before. But, on the hindsight, much of the economic prosperity is lost due to corruption and mismanagement; IT and education are still not integrated; and, most importantly, leaders and policy makers seem to be unaware of the consequence of missing out on this e-train.
Nations around the world, even the rich ones are adopting rigorous and innovative measures to ensure e-inclusion for all of their population groups. Analysing their initiatives, following 4 strategies emerge which we can also consider for our nation:
Public-private partnership will be the key: Policy of tax rebate (in VAT and corporate tax) for corporations who are participating in increasing IT literacy among disadvantaged groups in France.
No alternative of innovative solutions: In Portugal, they are using the money received from operators by selling Wi-max and 3G licences in promoting e-Inclusion.
Youths have to be core to any strategy:
'Education and e-inclusion' feeds on each other: About, one thing we have to be really focused, we must not think of internet and IT as a successor or secondary to education and social uplift; rather IT should be the tool for achieving those goals. Things have become integrated and any plans for future should also be integrated.