From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Nothing much
Mains level : Internet as a right
Kerala could have near-universal Internet access in a year’s time.
- Last week, the state cabinet for the Kerala Fibre Optic Network project cleared the path for a Kerala-wide optical fiber network by December 2020.
- It recognised that Internet access is a basic human right. No other Indian State has recognised Internet access in this manner till now.
- This is also in sync with the UN.
- It aims to touch every household in Kerala by delivering free Internet access to over two million BPL families. It aims to charge affordable rates for other families.
- It is to be set up by the Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd. and the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd.,
- It will connect 30,000 government offices and educational institutions.
- When complete, a State that already tops in human development indicators in the country, will be ready for a steep digital evolution.
- Rights – The role of the Internet in enabling freedom of speech and reducing inequality is huge.
- Progress – India has made huge leaps in providing Internet access to its people in recent years.
- A good part of the growth till now can be attributed to cheap data plans, triggered by the advent of Reliance Jio. According to a recent study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and Nielsen, the country has 451 million active Internet users.
- Huge in number – Internet have-nots still exist in the millions.
- Urban > Rural- Internet penetration is significantly higher in urban areas than it is in rural areas.
- Gender gap – It is also significantly higher for men than it is for women.
- Regional gaps – The best-performing State, Delhi-NCR, has an Internet penetration of 69%. The second-best is Kerala, with just 54%.
- Tech companies – Global technology companies have in recent years eyed the huge population of Internet have-nots as an opportunity. Some, like Facebook, came up with an idea of free access to a list of chosen sites.
There is no doubt that governments need to play an interventionist role in plugging this gap. Kerala could set a healthy example.