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Title Digital divide and digital dividend in the age of information technology
Author(s) D Vidyasagar
Source Journal of Perinatology, Vol. 26, Pages 313-315
Publication Date April 2006
Abstract In the third millennium, we are more connected to the rest of the world than at any time before, thanks to the internet technology (IT). The first meeting of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva in 2003 expressed the hope that every corner of the world would have access to internet and be linked via IT by 2015. As predicted, this technology continues to penetrate the rest of the world slowly but steadily. For instance, news is being instantly transmitted around the world via IT. So also IT is being used to sell consumer products worldwide, from New York to New Delhi, from Peoria to Pretoria. Internet technology is revolutionizing our lives and empowering people the way steam engine did in the 19th century and the automobile in the 20th century. Internet technology is not only transmitting information but also changing the lifestyle of people around the world. It is not just providing entertainment but also empowering people to become entrepreneurs, businessmen and farmers. It is bringing people together like never before, crossing social and economic barriers. Internet technology also has the potential to change political structure. In effect, IT is bringing about great social reforms quietly, reforms that Karl Marx had only dreamed of. There is increasing evidence regarding the role of IT in improving access to information in improving health, education and, therefore, economy across the globe. This is the Digital Dividend.

However, there exists a wide gap in accessibility to IT for majority of the population in the developing countries and for poor people living in the developed countries. This phenomenon is known as the Digital Divide. The second WSIS summit held during November 2005 in Tunis, Tunisia focused on bridging the digital divide. The differential access to IT raises important concerns regarding the potential negative effects of the digital divide on the poor nations. Whereas the rich countries are rapidly gaining huge dividends from internet connectivity, poor people in both the rich countries and poorer nations of the world are lagging behind in reaping the benefits of digital connectivity.

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