Technology, the main driver of progress, has now become the cause of inequality. The one who has the technology, the one who can use the technology, advances, on the other hand, the one who does not have the technology, who does not have access to the technology, and who cannot use the technology, is further behind, suffering from discrimination. The use of information technology to improve the quality of life of the poor and marginalized remains largely hidden.
In our country, there are already different types of discrimination, including financial, social, political, upper class, upper middle class, lower middle class, lower class, wealth disparity, and village and town disparity. Along with these disparities, the numerical disparity has become more visible before us. Due to inequality, the country’s poverty is not decreasing at the desired rate. This disparity exists in many areas of life as well as in terms of income.
Digital inequality has become widely visible in front of us, leaving behind many problems during the Corona period. It is undeniable that technology has changed people’s lives, making life easier and more comfortable. At the same time, it sets a lot of people back, it also has to be accepted.
Prior to the 2008 elections, the Awami League announced its commitment to building ‘Digital Bangladesh’. After forming the government, the party emphasized greater use of information technology in all areas through “Vision 2021”. With this in mind, the information and communication technology policy formulated in 2018 states that ensuring social equality and universal access is one of the strategies for the development of information technology. It is also promised to integrate backward communities, women and people with disabilities and people in need of special assistance into the mainstream of society through the use of information technology. Since then, there have been several advancements in the use of technology over 14 long years. In a bid to provide all the benefits of modern technology, including high-speed Internet services in remote areas, clean satellites are also being launched at enormous costs. Just as the corona pandemic has opened up various possibilities in the use of technology, it has also highlighted several limitations in building a digital Bangladesh.
Digital inequality is created due to the lack of necessary digital devices, internet connectivity and technological literacy among the poor and disadvantaged population. In addition, women are more victims of numerical discrimination than men. Inequality in the use of technology has further exacerbated the disparity among people in the country.
In a country where financial inequality has steadily increased in recent years, losing access to technology means paving the way for more inequality. Corona showed how the right to use the Internet is closely linked to the right to education. In a country where the top 10% of the income scale owns 77% of the country’s wealth, without internet access, the right to education will be lost. This has been demonstrated by Corona. And if you lose the right to education, you lose the right to feed your stomach.
Since the start of the Corona pandemic, many things have become dependent on technology. Education has become the most dependent on technology. Many educational institutions have started online classes after educational institutions closed. In this way, children from families that have financial stability can continue their studies. They have progressed using the advantages of technology. On the other hand, those who have not been able to take advantage of technology are being left behind. A large number of students remain beyond the reach of digital education programs. Currently, 55% of rural households in the country do not have access to the Internet. In addition, 59% of the rural poor and deprived do not have access to a smartphone and 49% do not have access to a computer. Children from these poor families are always behind in the race with children from wealthy families, lack of access to technology has put them even further behind.
Women are more discriminated against in technology. In this case, region, gender, and socio-economic status are also implicated in numerical inequality. In rural areas, only 42% of young women have a mobile phone against 78% of young men. Among low-income young women, the rate is only 27%, compared to 70% among young men. Among them, the regions of Mymensingh, Sylhet, and Rangpur generally lag behind in the use of information technology. People in poor areas, remote areas, grasslands, coastal areas, and areas affected by river erosion are technologically backward.
Government technology is increasingly trying to encircle the poor. Benefits from the social security system, vaccinations, allowances, and financial aid from the state in various fields, the state are trying more and more to make people more dependent on technology and as a result, more and more people are being left behind. account, which may not even be heard. In fact, all technology is designed with urban dwellers, the upper class, and men in mind, who are on the go with a computer or a smartphone. I will also see that in the regulation of this matter, what the “reasonable man” would think is the criterion.
But most people in Bangladesh are still unfamiliar with the technology let alone its words. Especially the girls. In Bangladesh, the number of mobile Internet users among women is still only 15%, while men are twice as many. According to various surveys, girls are even more dependent on people than on technology. The reason is social. In rural Bangladesh, where two-thirds of the country’s population lives, only a quarter has access to the internet. As a result, the distance between the digital world and reality is increasing.
So what to do? Boycott technology? At some point, there was a movement to keep computers out, to do it? Or talk about overcoming the limitations of digital technology and bringing it to the mainstream? Every user and citizen will have access to the technology regardless of gender, age, and economic status; You can make requests, and you can talk about it. The question then is how should the vision of technology be?
First of all, any technological means must be designed taking into account the social and economic status of all users. It can’t be a scientific method to do it first and then say there’s no movement without it. After seeing how people can adopt the technology, it should be introduced by the government. Second, those who aren’t tech-savvy need to reach out to other people, so they can rely on flesh-and-blood people. In this case, popular people in the area can be put forward. If they can easily explain the use of technology, then these people have some confidence in using technology. Difficulty in understanding technology in women and the elderly, crisis can be solved in this way. Third, it is important to connect more users with those working to use the technology at the government level. They can also understand what the last person is thinking.
Research into the mind of the common user of technology in this country is needed. Again, he needs to know who to complain to if someone has a problem. Otherwise, millions of illiterate and poor people in the country will continue to be deprived of various government financial aid programs. Simply put, if someone gets bogged down in a technicality of the social security system and doesn’t get services, where do they go? It is not the responsibility of the user to think of this solution. The responsibility lies with those who exploit this technology.
The inequality in technology exacerbates the existing inequality between the inhabitants of the country. It is already a reality in our class-divided society that not everyone has the same opportunities in public and private services. The information and communication technology policy formulated by the government is specifically mentioned in the section “Social equality and universal access”. It is now important to implement this policy and specific initiatives must be taken for this. First, information technology must be brought to everyone’s doorstep.
Bullying alone will not solve all problems, it requires research, research, practical initiatives and the successful implementation of these initiatives. The most important thing is to have sincerity. Otherwise, technology will become a new tool for discrimination.