From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : Internet usage in India and the digital divide
The recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) survey helps us gain an idea about the spread of awareness regarding the internet among people.
This newscard provides a picture of gendered as well as regional differentiation of internet usage in India.
Statewise Internet Usage
(1) Gendered data
- A very high differential is also seen among the female and male population who have ever used the internet. In every state, it is seen that the percentage of male users exceeds the number of females.
- The states and Union territories with the highest percentage of internet users among men are Goa (82.9 %), Lakshadweep (80.3 %), and Mizoram (79.7 %).
- Also, states like Sikkim (76.7 %), Goa (73.7 %) and Mizoram (67.6 %) have the highest percentage of female internet users. The lowest internet usage among men is seen in Meghalaya (42.1 %), Assam (42.3 %) and Bihar (43.6 %).
- In some states like Bihar, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, there is almost double the number of male internet users than female ones. Among women, it is seen in Bihar (20.6 %), Andhra Pradesh (21 %) and Tripura (22.9 %).
(2) Urban-Rural divide
- Except for West Bengal, there is no other state which shows a lower percentage of urban male internet users compared to rural ones.
- States like Goa, Kerala and Lakshadweep don’t show a huge variation in internet accessibility in the urban and rural areas.
- But in every other state, there is an approximate difference of 10-15 % between the two regions, with urban areas staying ahead.
Why it matters?
- The internet today has a very huge range and a big impact on the lifestyle and empowerment of people.
- Female empowerment and gender equality have been one of the UN-mandated Sustainable Development Goals that our country is trying to achieve.
- Good and affordable internet availability to women will be a big step towards fulfilling this goal.
Significance of the data
- Gender differentiation that is seen in the offline world also affects the variations that we have seen in the online world, which includes differences in education, employment and income.
- Sexual harassment and trolling are other reasons why people prefer to keep their female relatives away from the internet.
- Just like phone ownership was used as an indicator to understand the women empowerment situation in the country, this too can be an indicator for the same.
- The results from the NFHS-5 survey are still partial, but they have shown a great variation in the access to the internet among the states, between men and women and also between the rural and urban regions of each state.
- When we look at the differentials in the usage of the internet by women across the rural and urban regions, a huge gap is seen between the urban and rural women’s use of the internet.
- The variations are very high, with the percentage of women users of the internet in rural areas being just half of that in urban areas. These disparities paint a sad picture.