The Indian Cyber Space has seen tremendous growth in terms of Internet users in the last 2-3 years. The penetration rate now lies at somewhere around 40%, which was a mere 10% in 2013-14. But when we are talking about the Indian Cyber Space, it has to be first demarcated into two areas: first, the urban area and second, the rural area.
Everyone is so acquainted with the present scenario in the urban areas but people rarely talk about the incidents in the rural areas.
Without any doubt, the present scenario is way better in the urban areas as compared to rural areas. By this comparison, I do not mean that the condition in the urban areas is all fine and good.
The major reason for me writing this post is the insights I gathered while delivering a workshop at Government Higher Secondary School, Nagda (District – Dhar, Madhya Pradesh). Around 300 students belonging to different classes from 9th to 12th were present. What came as a surprise for me was their interest in this subject matter. It did not only encourage me but also motivated me to reach more people in the rural areas. I made a number of observations while interacting with those students.
I have summarized them in the following bullet points:
- Giving an ATM card and a bank account to each and every farmer is a really good scheme. There is nothing wrong with it. But do they how to use it safely? Do they how to differentiate between a fraud call from their bank or a genuine call? Do they even know the name of the crimes related to debit cards?
Sadly, the answer to above questions and more such questions is a big NO.
- Instagram, Snapchat, etc. are simply the foreign terms. Or in the language of one of the students, I interacted with: “मेने इनस्टॉल तो किया था पर मुझे समझ ही नहीं आया की ये चीज़ क्या है?” (I did install the application but could not understand what actually it is.)
- One of the students even said that “फेसबुक और व्हाट्सएप्प को चलाना और समझना बहुत आसान है | दूसरी एप्प्लिकेशन को चलाना कठिन भी है और टाइम वेस्ट भी”. (Using Facebook & WhatsApp is quite easy. Other applications are not only difficult, but they are also a waste of time.)
- Believe me, when I say this, they are really curious people. They are not afraid of technology. Instead, they want to understand and use it. All they need is someone to talk to them in the language they understand. For example, conversational Hindi.
- Almost 90% of the students present used Facebook & WhatsApp but not even half of them knew that there is something on WhatsApp called Privacy Settings through which they can control what they share.
- Same was the case when I asked them about Privacy Settings on Facebook. There were barely 2 or hands that were raised as a yes to my question.
- It takes us back to square one. Since the beginning, we have been a firm believer that awareness is the only solution. It is imperial for an end user to completely know about the services or the applications he is using on a daily basis.
All the observations conclude at a singular point for me. With all those big schemes being launched rigorously, can there be a one about sensitization of the rural India? Let’s see what the government, as a prominent stakeholder, or any such organization, comes up with.