Decoding inequality in a digital world( The Hindu, GS-2,3 Science and tech, economy, governance)

Decoding inequality in a digital world( The Hindu, GS-2,3 Science and tech, economy, governance)

Context:-Technological changes in education and health are worsening inequities.

    • Covid-19 pandemic led to increased use of digital technologies in services, especially healthcare and education. This also led to inaccessibility to these most important services.
  • Economic inequality has increased:
      • super-rich have even become richer
      • The major Indian population is suffering a huge economic setback
      • widespread job losses and income shocks
      • education and health are getting rejigged in ways that make access more inequitable
  • Data:-
      • National Sample Survey data from 2017, only 6% rural households and 25% urban households have a computer.
      • 17% in rural areas and 42% in urban areas have access to internet.
      • Oxfam suggest that between 27% and 60% could not access online classes 
  • Why
          • lack of devices
          • Lack of shared devices
          • inability to buy “data packs”, etc. 
          • lack of stable connectivity.
          • many lack a learning environment at home:
          • 25% Indians lived in single-room dwellings in 2017-19.
    • privileged are getting ahead because of the privileges they enjoy.
    • health care.
      • public spending on health (barely 1% of GDP) 
      •  ‘out of pocket’ (OOP) health expenditure (of total health spending) in India was over 60% in 2018.
      • private health sector in India is poorly regulated in practice
      • Digital “solutions” create additional bureaucracy such as mandatory ADHAR card
      • use of CoWIN to book a slot makes it that much harder to access
        • website is only available in English
      • Issue is that government is making a Health data base in the form of providing health services but lack of data privacy law can endup this data in the private companies hand and these companies may deny the services to the poor or may increase their charges to them.
  • Solution
    •  health expenditure on basic health services (ward staff, nurses, doctors, laboratory technicians, medicines, beds, oxygen, ventilators) is to be increase
    • laws against medical malpractices are enforced strictly
    • digital solutions will obfuscate and distract us from the real problem.
    •  We need political, not technocratic, solutions.

Download Daily Current Affairs of 11th May 2021

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