The Naga Digital Divide - Eastern Mirror
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The Naga Digital Divide

By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 01, 2016 12:22 am

The recently concluded second edition of the  e-Naga Summit in Kohima saw panellists from different sections of the society namely the academia, students, government and entrepreneurs along with experts sharing ideas on the vision of the department of IT&C to implement e-governance in Nagaland that would also act as a precursor to achieve the ultimate objective of making Nagaland as the next IT hub of South East Asia. The two day event as a platform was able to provide insights from different perspectives of the speakers and the participants bridging some gaps in the general understanding of Information Communication Technologies and its applications.

Along with the many thematic talks, one particular area of concern that was often repeated during the presentations and discussions was the misuse of social media and other over the top(OTT) messaging services like WhatsApp currently being in wide use by the youth who owns a smartphone with data connectivity. The most vocal against such practices were the lawmakers and some section of the civil society. Their ire  may be attributed to the politicians often becoming subjects of Internet memes in bad taste, trolls and adult jokes online especially in social media. However, it also indicates the digital divide that is still prevalent in the state but one that is caused not by economics but more to do with mindset as a result of the  generational gap.

A look into the statistics of the state proves this generational gap since it  indicates that Nagaland is presently in a state where society is led by a small number of leaderships of person in the higher age groups but the youth who are in majority are all looking for a platform to be heard, noticed and employed. The census of India 2011 indicates that Nagaland has  one of the highest number of populations in the 15-24 years of age bracket standing at 21.9%. Another 18.2% of the population is between the ages of 25 and 35 years. Moreover the total population below the age of 35  is a stunning 72.77% way above the country’s average of 65%. Consequently Nagaland has one of the lowest percentage of senior citizens with only 5.2% of the population in the ages of 60 years and above. Our lawmakers are therefore tasked with innovating ways to target these big chunk of the  population and to understand the needs and wants of the younger population more.

On the bright side notwithstanding the  generational gaps present, a smart government can easily find ways to reach out to these groups since there have been a sharp increase of the population in Internet presence and also the usage of mobile telephony with data access. The population has around 62.9% of people who has a TV, radio or both in their households and during the last census 53.1% of the  population had in their households either a landline or mobile telephone or both. The numbers are expected to have increased sharply with the presence of more service providers and the decrease in price of telephony tools and services. However what set asides is that all these numbers  rests on top one major demographic indicator; Nagaland has 71.14 % rural population. It is an indication that the communication scenario in Nagaland have sharply increased in the last two decades. This is where the government can leverage to spread IT awareness, its e-services and the sensitisation of e-governance.

The government can engage the population online using the existing audience that is already created by Social Medias like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, etc. not only to inform but also to receive requests and complaints. It should move  a step further by allowing feedbacks and discuss matters to help in running the affairs of the government so that its programmes are better equipped in reaching the people. The lawmakers need to accept the potential of this big section of the young population with increasing number of online presence and unless this group  is strategically targeted with something more worthwhile to do, the feeling of being disregarded resulting in the bad jokes, smear campaigns, trolls and the Internet memes against personalities might not decrease.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 01, 2016 12:22:56 am
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