Digital divide implies the gap among those who have access to digital technologies and those who do not have such access. The term assumes that such an access differential leads to social disparities owing to the differences in the benefit bestowed upon those who use this technology and those who do not use it. The term has gained significance as most nations around the world have started looking at this disparity as a hurdle to their overall economic progress. The rising disparities arising out of this phenomenon have been gaining attention world wide both amongst planners as well as critics.
According to the United State National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA), digital divide refers to the gap between those who do not and those who do have access to computers and the internet. During the process the notion of a digital divide and its logical implications, social problems can be addressed through provisions of computers and internet accounts have seemed increasingly problematic (http://www.ntia.doc.gov/).
The difference is not necessarily determined by an access to internet, but by an access to ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) and to media that the different segments of society can use. With regard to the internet, the access is only one aspect. Other factors such as the quality of connection and related services should be considered. The most discussed issue is the availability of an access at an affordable cost. There are various definitions of the term ‘Digital Divide’. Bharat Mehra defines it as “the troubling gap between those who use computers and the internet and those who do not” (Bharat Mehra, http://www.wikipedia.org/Digiatl_divide). The term initially referred to gaps in the ownership of, or regular access to a computer. As Internet access came to be seen as a central aspect of compiling, the term’s usage shifted to computers but also access to the internet. Recently, some have used the term to refer to gaps in broadband networks access. The term can mean not only unequal access to computers hardware but also inequalities between groups of people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_divide). In the early 1990's, Tim Bernes-Lee developed the global hypertext system, the World Wide Web, with an aim to provide a common space where information could be shared without barriers. The expansion of the Web may have surprised even its creator. In less than ten years, the online population has grown to 180 million individuals across all continents, while an estimated 250,000 sites are added to the Web each month (www.net-surfin.com/page4.htm). Rapid expansion is not unique to the Web. Computers, a strange word some fifty years ago, are now common household items and integral parts of educational systems in many countries. At the end of 1998, more than 40 percent of the households in the United States owned computers and one fourth had Internet access (NTIA, 1999).
Cite this article:
Mohammad Swalehin , Ms. Sadaf Nasir. Digital Divide in India and China: A Comparison. Research J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 2(4): Oct. - Dec., 2011, 181-185.