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How Digital Literacy Translates to Empowerment

Written by on Nov 21, 2015 | India Innovates

one laptop per child ndtv india innovates digital literacy

The two keys to unlocking India’s true potential lie in technology adoption and skill developments, experts speaking on NDTV’s India Innovates program have said.

From financial inclusion to healthcare and e-governance to education, digital literacy translates to empowerment in all spheres of the population, they said.

With fewer people dying and still fewer being born in the more developed parts of the world and the underdeveloped countries still struggling with infant mortality, the world is facing a grim future. There will soon be a ton of work to do and no skilled workers to do it.

This will also be the time when India hits the sweet spot of being a young nation revving to go. Both the government and private sector are scrambling with multi-level approaches to exploit this demographic dividend.

With its sheer size and its layers of social and economic roadblocks, any discussions about bettering India starts with a collective sigh. How can we stop the downward descent into hopelessness?

“If we are going to add 5-7 million youth, and we aren’t creating more than a million jobs a year, what are these kids going to do? Is this whole demographic dividend actually going to become a big drag?” said Som Mittal, former chairman of IT industry lobby NASSCOM.

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This magnitude of transformation requires uprooting and changing how we think, behave, do business, learn and go about our daily lives, experts say.

“We need breakthrough ideas – ideas that are going to completely transform the way we live, transform the way businesses are conducted, transform the ways in which people communicate with one another, transform the ways in which people are entertained and so on,” Uma Ganesh, CEO of skills development company Global Talent Track, said.

Vineet Nayar, former CEO of IT giant HCL, said, “So if we take a youth and inspire him, not just by getting him excited for the future, but give him the tools of creating a vision for tomorrow and a series of steps how he can go from here to there.”

“Digital India is the biggest transformation happening across the globe. And I think we must compliment PM Modi for coming out with this plan of something called Digital India. When he announced Digital India, most people were sceptical. (But) just imagine this 1.25 billion Indians are empowered by giving them access to the web. Once you get access to the internet, you get access to the accumulated knowledge of humankind for 5,000 years,” said T V Mohandas Pai, chairman of education group Manipal Global Education.

Vipin Aggarwal, founder of exam preparation website OnlineTyari.com said, “Unfortunately the reality so far is that Indian websites have only been in English so far and almost 85 per cent of the population can’t access these websites because they aren’t comfortable in that language.”

Woman hand choosing tablet from a bookshelf.

It is this literacy that is triggering a new wave of thinking – from young people thinking about embracing digital innovation to acquiring skills that give shape to their aspirations, from citizens accessing services to ease of financial transactions and much more.

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