Technology is a great leveller; it can reach the fruits of governance to the masses and change the lives of people at the lowest strata of society in a way that could nary have been imagined even two decades earlier. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the other day, the ushering in of 5G communication and technologies can positively impact governance of the nation, as well as vastly improve ease of living and ease of doing business while benefiting every critical area including education, health, agriculture and infrastructure. It could ensure better quality services and products, both in the public and private sectors, and address the burning issue of unemployment.
As Prime Minister, Mr Modi was pointing to the opportunities 5G and 6G could bring in. Nevertheless, the government he heads has a responsibility to ensure that the digital divide that exists in the country today is bridged instead of being widened at every single critical point.
The pandemic and the lockdowns that accompanied it exposed the chinks in India’s digital armour. It may be argued that India fared better than many other nations but the reality is that we, as a nation that boasts of being on the frontiers of technology, have failed our people. The Covid-19 vaccination programme hit a roadblock since thousands of villages had no access to the Internet even while the Supreme Court asked the government what alternatives it had kept open to ensure that the decisive weapon against the virus reached the last village. Reports and studies have meanwhile shown that the education of a large number of children suffered irreparably owing to their inability to access online classes.
The 5G testbed that Mr Modi launched is sure to ignite the imagination of the young crowd and the startups that will come up with products and services that could command global respect but the government’s job is to see that the country invests sufficiently so that its results reach India’s vast unserviced villages....