“Modern Technology has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity.”
It is the 21st century and no one would have thought, that we would need the technology to such extent that it become a tool for survival of entire human race in a fight against COVID-19. Governments are sharing advisories, Dos and DONTs on various social media platforms, cable TV, Radio and all possible media sources are being used to spread awareness. But the question is, if everyone has the capacity to afford smart devices/phones on which such information can be read/shared, what is the level of penetration for technology in current scenario.
Importance of Technology during Pandemic
The most effective and protective measures against COVID-19 is to maintain social distancing and wash hands on regular intervals. A technology which can help eliminate the need of touching such surfaces which are used by multiple users is IoT(Internet of Things) which includes smart devices like AC, Fridge, TV sets etc. which can be controlled by various AIs(Artificial intelligences) like Alexa, Google Assistant etc. Smart water and beverage dispensers are also being used at corporate houses to avoid any kind of human touch and thereby curb contagion at work place.
Not only IoT, several governments across the globe have come up with various applications on smartphones which indicate any potent infected area or person nearby a user thereby giving warning.
Even hard cash/money transactions are being banned in many countries fearing the spread through currency notes and only online payment gateways and internet banking practise are used for any type of transactions.
Due to closure of schools and educational institutions, online classes are being taken by teachers and faculties to make up for the losses of students and to continue their studies in next standard or semesters.
Scenario in Poor and Developing Countries
Countries like China( 1.45 billion population), India(1.3 billion population), Pakistan, Bangladesh, African countries where high population density has dragged down the development rate, Technology still seems a long ball game for these countries.
According to World Bank, Rural population in India was reported at 65.97% in 2018 which is around 0.86 billion people residing in areas where the technology awareness as well as cover is at minimal rates. Many of the villages suffer from critical shortages of electricity with 12-16 hours of power cut in a day, by this one can imagine the extent of technology cover in these areas. The situation in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, Kenya etc. is even worse.
The guidelines, Dos/DONTs which is being circulated by the governments are not reaching a larger chunk of the overall population who is in desperate need of this information due to pre-existing unhygienic set ups they are being living in, this is the “Technological Lag” built due to economic disparities in our society.
How it’s affecting the Children?
Most of the schools and educational institutions are closed due to lockdown. Children with higher social and monetary status are able to continue their studies by enrolling in online classes, but the poor are stranded with no such means of laptop/smart devices to continue their studies which has led to high rate of dropouts in many schools.
This will not only adversely affect the literacy rates, but will also lead to less educational and vocal skills which may later translate to child labour. Nearly 1.6 million children from poor families are affected in New Delhi which is the capital state of India; one can imagine the rate of disruptions in India and on global level.
UNESCO has said over 154 crore students around the world are affected due to the COVID-19 related school closures and has suggested a six point strategy to combat the problem which includes:-
- Leveraging teachers and communities
- Adopting appropriate distance learning techniques
- Considering the digital divide
- Safeguarding vital services
- Engaging young people
In the Poor and Developing countries where people are fighting for their lives to secure a one-time meal in a day for themselves and their families, this six point strategy looks nothing more than a joke.
In countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. where the people are migrating in large numbers, few years back all these countries were suffering from crisis of Rapid Urbanization, where many feared loss of Food security because of the migration of people in huge volumes from rural to urban areas with less people left in villages to support the existing agricultural machinery. But this pandemic has reversed the process now, the extent to which ruralisation will happen now is unknown and it will open new challenging fronts for the governments in coming times.
Technology was considered a luxury until now, but this pandemic has turned the tables making it a necessity for all of us. Now lies a herculean task in front of the governments of equipping their citizens with basic technological tools especially in places where people are still devoid of basic necessities of life like food, shelters and work.