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Indian girls face digital divide. Pixabay

A majority of young girls in India have no or limited access to either mobile phones or computers, and this gap has widened alarmingly during the Covid-19 crisis, shows a new survey. According to Unesco, the lockdown in India has affected 158 million girl students, impacting their dreams of formal education and of better lives.

The survey by New Delhi-based NGO Centre for Catalyzing Change (C3) — conducted across 29 districts in 10 states covering 4,100 respondents — found that there is a crisis of access to digital devices for adolescent girls in India. “Access differs from state to state. Karnataka is where the maximum amount of adolescent girls enjoyed easy access to digital or mobile devices, with 65 percent.

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“Boys have easier access. In Haryana, the gender gap is the widest, while Telangana reported the lowest difference between the percentage of boys and girls having digital access (12 percent). Family attitudes and biases restrict the time given to girls to access a digital device — 42 percent of girls are allowed access to a mobile phone for less than an hour in a day,” says the NGO.

According to C3 Executive Director Dr. Aparajita Gogoi, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities girls in India face, and “we need to work to keep them in school”.

A crisis of access to digital devices for adolescent girls in India. Pixabay

“Covid-19 has highlighted a deep cesspool of the digital exclusion, but through data and insights we wanted to bring forward how intense an effort is required to overcome the gender divide in digital access,” adds Osama Manzar, Founder Director of the Digital Empowerment Foundation.

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The survey reveals that financial affordability is a major cause for lack of access. “Seventy-one percent of the girls do not own a mobile phone because they cannot afford it. 81 percent of families say they cannot afford one, while 79 percent do not have a computer at home. Financial constraints further alienate young girls from technology. 84 percent of girls do not have the money to spend on internet access.”

Notably, 65 percent of teachers and 60 percent of community organizations say that being a girl is a factor in accessing digital technology, as “most parents felt that a mobile phone is ‘unsafe’ and an ‘unhealthy distraction’ for an adolescent girl”. Even when families and adolescents can afford smartphones, computers, or other digital devices, it is always the male family members’ usage of such devices that is prioritized, found in the survey. (IANS)


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On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.

Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.

Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).

Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.

India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.

He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.

Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.

The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.

Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.