Citizens' Issues
Digital inequality warning sounded for urban India
Recent indications that India's Internet use is low and not reflected in the numbers of mobile phone connections and growth are buttressed by a new study that points to digital inequality in urban areas.
 
Carried out in Pune, a rapidly growing metropolis of 5.92 million people, its economy driven in large part by information technology, the study found:
 
- 82 percent of people surveyed in low-income neighbourhoods don't use Internet
 
- 56 percent of households have no Internet users at all
 
- 41 percent of non-users have never heard of the Internet
 
- 43 percent of people between 16-25 years of age do not use Internet.
 
The results are likely to be similar in more prosperous cities, such as Bengaluru and Delhi, worse in poorer cities.
 
Although Internet users in India are increasing rapidly, and the country is Asia-Pacific's fastest growing smartphone market, only 22 percent of the adult population in India uses the Internet, compared to the global median of 67 percent, according to this survey by Pew Research Center, a US research institute.
 
India lags behind most major economies and performs worse than Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Indonesia, among other countries, the data reveals.
 
Yet, in absolute numbers, India likely overtook the US and became the country with the world's second-largest Internet market, with 402 million active Internet users in December 2015. These figures clearly hide great variations, the Pune study revealed.
 
The study, "Towards Digital Inclusion: Barriers to Internet Access for Economically and Socially Excluded Communities", conducted in low-income and socially excluded neighbourhoods by the Centre for Communication and Development Studies (CCDS), a Pune non-profit organisation, provides rare empirical evidence of digital inequality.
 
Pune has grown rapidly over the last two decades to become the eighth-largest urban agglomeration in India. In 2015, Pune ranked second only to Bengaluru in software exports from India. The city has as many as 3.6 million Internet users (a 34% year-on-year growth), according to "Internet in India 2014", a report from Internet and Mobile Association of India.
 
These are the six main observations the study made about Pune's digital inequality:
 
I. 84 percent of women do not use Internet compared to 42 percent men. Only 26 percent of all Internet users were women, and 84% of all surveyed women do not use Internet, compared to 42 percent of all men.
 
There are several stereotypical beliefs that augment this gender digital inequality, according to the CCDS study. For instance: It is primarily men in the household who acquire smartphones, while women are handed down older, basic phones without data access, or feature phones that allow only limited Internet applications.
 
Parents believe that girls don't need mobiles, since they stay at home more than boys. There is also a widespread feeling that mobiles made available to women will lead to unwanted romantic liaisons and "exploitation".
 
Boosting Internet access for women has the potential to boost their participation in the labour force, according to this Mckinsey study. Recently, several villages in Gujarat banned mobile phones for girls and single women, a confirmation of widespread patriarchal norms hindering gender equality.
 
II. Better education increases chances of Internet access. As many as 56 percent of households with at least one member with a class 10 education or enrolled currently were "connected", meaning at least one Internet user, as compared to 14 percent of households without anyone with similar education.
 
The number of non-Internet users decreases with increasing education levels. Of those who never attended school/had any primary education, only 3 percent access the Internet, compared to 83 percent of those who are graduates and above.
 
III. Wealthier households are more likely to use Internet. Only 29.4 percent of households in the first wealth quintile (poorest) were connected, compared to 62.8 percent of households in the fifth quintile (richest).
 
IV. Younger people are more connected to the Internet. 53.5 percent of all Internet users were between 16 and 20 years of age. The percentage decreased with age, as the chart below shows.
 
V. Occupation plays a significant role in increasing access. 46.5 percent of Internet users were students, while 26.2 percent were in the service sector, establishing a link between occupation and access.
 
VI. Having a smartphone increases chances of Internet use. As many as 77 percent of households with a smartphone accessed the Internet, compared to 30 percent in households without a smartphone.
 
"Smartphone users are leading India's Internet growth," said this recent report from Google India. A direct correlation between access to Internet and smartphone ownership was noticeable in the Pew survey.
 
Only 17 percent of Indian adults own a smartphone, according to the survey by Pew Research. Only 7 percent of adults in low-income families own a smartphone; the figure for wealthier families is 22 percent.
 
Other key findings:
 
- As many as 27.5 percent of non-users reported that lack of understanding of the Internet and how to use it was a major reason for not going online
 
- Men are eight times more likely to use the Internet than women
 
- As many as 21 percent of non-users believe that the Internet is not useful for women
 
- The number was 32 percent for Internet users
 
- As many as 35 percent of male users and 24 percent of female users felt the Internet had increased their confidence and enhanced their personality
 
- Only 8 percent of users said they found the Internet useful in finding out about government benefits.
 
The CCDS field research was spread across six low-income settlements, 1,634 households and 5,999 citizens in Ambedkar Nagar, Janata Vasahat, Laxmi Nagar and Patil Estate in Pune Municipal Corporation areas and Anand Nagar, Mahatma Phule Nagar in the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation area.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Japan felt over 12,000 aftershocks since 2011 quake
Tokyo : Over 12,000 aftershocks were felt in the coastal areas of Japan since a powerful earthquake struck the region in March 2011, the Meteorological Agency said.
 
Quakes that are considered aftershocks of the magnitude 9.0 temblor are becoming less frequent but their frequency is still at double the level before the great quake five years ago and is expected to remain so for some time, Xinhua cited the agency as saying on Tuesday.
 
As of Sunday, 12,077 quakes that could be felt by humans had occurred in coastal areas stretching from Chiba to Aomori prefecture and farther offshore.
 
During the past year, 615 quakes occurred in the areas, compared with 306 on average between 2001 and 2010. During the first year since the powerful quake, 8,112 temblors occurred, followed by 1,583 quakes in the second year, 1,023 quakes in the third year and 744 quakes in the fourth year.
 
Many of the quakes that still hit have originated in coastal areas. Occasionally, however, a quake with a magnitude of seven or greater hit farther offshore.
 
The agency has not detected a significant change in the number of quakes originating on land before and after the March 11, 2011, quake.
 
After Japan was hit by the powerful quake in 2011, the agency designated as an aftershock zone an offshore area in eastern Japan stretching about 600 km from north to south and around 350 km from east to west.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Birds bid early adieu to Kashmir as temperature rises
Srinagar : Hundreds of migratory birds are bidding an early adieu to Kashmir this year because of unusually hot temperatures and scant rain and snowfall.
 
"Normally, the migration back to summer homes from the Valley by the migratory bird species starts by the middle of March, but due to unusual rise in temperatures and scant precipitation during the winter months, these avian visitors are leaving earlier this year", said Imtiyaz Ahmad Lone, wildlife warden (Wetlands Kashmir).
 
Lone said many species of migratory birds including Pintails, Mallards, Pochards, Wigeons and Shovellers have already left the Valley for their summer homes in Russian Siberia, Eastern Europe, the Philippines, China, central Asia and other places.
 
The wildlife warden said last year 567,000 migratory birds including Greylag Geese, Mallards, Teals, Pochards, Wigeons, Shovellers, Gadwalls and Pintails came to spend the winter months in the bird sanctuaries and other water bodies of the Valley to ward off the extreme cold of their summer homes.
 
"This year, we fear the number of avian visitors would be much less," said Lone.
 
Srinagar city recorded a maximum of 20.4 degrees Celsius on February 24.
 
Sonam Lotus, director of the local MET office, said this had happened after 76 years.
 
For bird lovers and wildlife wardens like Lone, this is real bad news.
 
"There are multiple factors responsible for lesser number of birds visiting the Valley this year. The biggest of course is the climate change, but shrinking areas of our bird reserves, pollution of water bodies because of discharge of effluents contribute heavily to affect the health of our water bodies", said Lone.
 
In addition to the migratory bird species that live here permanently during the winter months, there are many species which come for a while.
 
"There are many birds of passage like the Cormorants and Sandhill cranes which spend some time in the Valley both in the beginning of the winter season and towards the end of this season," he said.
 
The birds of passage then move on to Indian plains spending some more time in the Valley on return journey to their summer homes.
 
"This year, due to early spring setting in the Valley, the birds of passage could very well overshoot our water bodies by deciding not to spend any time here at all", the warden said.
 
The Valley's best known bird sanctuaries are the Hokarsar on the outskirts of Srinagar city, Hygam and Mirgund in Baramulla district and Shallabugh in Ganderbal district.
 
"Very few Greylag Geese came to the Valley this year. The Geese need much bigger water spaces for feeding and spending time.
 
As water bodies shrank in the Valley this year, most of the migratory bird sanctuaries hosted fewer numbers of Geese this winter.
 
The Wullar Lake hosted comparatively better numbers of Geese this season, but nowhere like the flocks that have been seen in the past.
 
In unprotected water bodies like the Wullar Lake and many others, poachers are reportedly shooting the migratory birds as the local wildlife department is understaffed.
 
"We are taking all steps to check poaching outside the bird reserves and we have seized many weapons and lodged cases against poachers. There is absolutely no chance of any poaching in the protected water bodies," the warden said, adding that any poaching would be happening in unprotected water bodies.
 
Under the laws of the land, shooting of birds is an offence and a stringent punishment is prescribed for offenders.
 
Migratory birds are great navigators travelling thousands of miles between their summer and winter homes.
 
"The eldest in the flock leads during navigation as others fly behind in a highly disciplined pattern. If the leader falls sick or gets shot during the flight, the second in the lead takes immediate command," said Lone.
 
Different species of the birds fly separately and that is why the maxim, birds of the same feather fly together.
 
The cackle of the migratory birds, their wonderfully variegated plumage and the majesty of their flight are a legacy Kashmir cannot not allow to wither away.
 
Lone said water bodies not directly protected by the wildlife department fall under the control of other government agencies.
 
"It is the duty of these agencies to protect the migratory birds as they are an important aspect of the eco-system of water bodies", Lone asserted.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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