Kolkata, November 5, 2016: To create awareness about digital divide that has become the new caste system of the world, the book release of ‘India Connected: Mapping the Impact of New Media’ was organized at the Kolkata Press Club on Saturday, November 5.
Edited by Dr. Sunetra Sen Narayan and Dr. Shalini Narayanan, the book outlines the influence of social media on Human lives while contrasting it with the traditional media. Not just that, it also accounts challenges that lies ahead of us and the opportunities that social media flags in the Indian setting.
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Dr. Narayanan says, digital divide is created due to factors like gender discrimination, income, differently abled people, literacy, and connectivity or speed. If we control them, we can bridge the gap.”
The book release was followed by a panel discussion on New Media and Historical Exclusions: The Challenges Ahead that focussed on the digital divide based on income, gender, and disability.
Documentary filmmaker and Chairperson of West Bengal Commission for the protection of Child Rights- Ananya Chatterjee Chakroborti says, “Digital Divide is the new caste system in the world and there is a huge gap between country’s rich and poor. But, an organisation called IndiaUnheard is doing a fabulous job in bridging the gap.”
IndiaUnheard is the first ever community news service launched by Video Volunteers. This new initiative is constituted of a network of community correspondents who are trained to tell unique stories; stories about their own communities; stories which are otherwise left untold. The website flags the stories of the plight of these people as well as their success stories.
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Dr Uma Shankar Pandey, Head of Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of Surendranath College for Women, Kolkata says the problem is that in India, there are 25 crore people who have access to the internet, but the rest 1 billion are deprived of it.
“There is more to this one, what makes the gap worse is that there is 27% gender inequality, which means that boys have more access to internet than girls. Also, there is 12% urban-rural gap, which means rural people are less likely to have access to mobile or internet connections than urban people. This creates a class divide,” he adds.
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“What’s striking is that new media has also brought with it, imposition of a value system,” says Vice Chancellor of Jadavpur University Prof. Suranjan Das. Media can be the torchbearer of ethics, once it is separated from biases.
Among the distinguished authors who contributed to the volume of the book are Prof Stephen McDowell of Florida State University, Tallahassee; Dr B P Sanjay, Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Hyderabad; Prof J Jethwaney, IIMC and others.
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