Pandemic widens digital divide in desert state

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Jaipur, May 23 (IANS) Covid-19 has widened the digital divide in the desert state as gadgets and social media-friendly sections of society are finding easier access to education, vaccination and medication compared to those in rural Rajasthan.

The vaccination drive is slow in the villages as villagers find it tough to access the CoWin app.

Leader of Opposition Gulabchand Kataria, an MLA from Udaipur, said, “Around 90 to 95 per cent of people from the cities of Gujarat are coming to villages in Udaipur, Banswara and Dungarpur for their vaccination as rural Rajasthan is yet to learn how to register for vaccination on CoWin app.”

In his letter to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Kataria said that 70 per cent of his constituency comprises tribals who are unable to get vaccination slots on the app.

“Youth in Udaipur villages residing in Gongunda and Khairwada do not know how to book a vaccination slot online. The same is the case with those living in Pratapgarh and Banswara,” he said, adding the inability to book vaccination slots could lead to unpleasant situations.

The digital divide is showing up in other areas as well. In-person classes have been stopped in schools across the state since last year. Those unable to attend online classes fear they could lose out to those who have laptops and phones. “In the long run, our children could suffer and trail behind kids of their age group once the pandemic is over,” said Sandhya, whose child studies in Class VIII in a government school.

Another parent, Girija, is worried for her child who cannot access online classes. “How are our children expected to be promoted to the next class when they have not studied anything in the last one year?” she asks.

Besides vaccination and education, medical help is another area where those using social media are seemingly better placed than those not tech savvy — they tweet and tag their political representatives when in need for medical help, unlike those who cannot do so.

Former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, BJP state president Satish Poonia and former deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot are among the senior politicians who are available on social media, working with their teams to reach out to those seeking medical help.

Vidhi, a Jaipur resident, said, “My father got a ventilator bed while another neighbour of ours could not as we asked for help on Twitter and they were unable to do so.”