How internet and digital inclusion can help to transform the life of tribals in India? Discuss along with giving policy suggestions in this direction.
Published: September 8, 2017
One of the major challenges in the socio-economic development of the tribes is the fact that they are excluded from mainstream society. Because of this exclusion, a lot of tribes, as well as their unique cultures, are vanishing. As per estimation, India has lost nearly 250 languages in the last half century, and UNESCO has declared around 196 languages as endangered. Digital technology can play a vital role not only in the socio-economic development of tribes but along with that it can help in preserving their unique and rich culture. For example digitally recording their songs, dances & dialects can help preserve their folk culture.
Similarly, the tribals knowledge about traditional systems, sustainable living, medicines, farming, and architecture can be documented. This will not benefit them culturally but also from the economic point of view. For example, the Sahariya tribe have their local intranet developed by Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) through which they created a database of oral and traditional knowledge, art as well as culture.
A digital archive is not only a repository of information for preservation but this will also allow the rest of the world to see unique culture of these tribes. Internet access and digital inclusion can ensure better access to government initiatives, digital market linkages can enable tribal communities to exhibit their craft and agricultural produce to the world. Also, access to the Internet can help in basic features like telemedicine, tele-education etc. Also, internet access can help in their financial inclusion.
Digital initiatives like Traditional Knowledge Digital Library(Indian digital knowledge repository) which preserves the traditional knowledge, especially about medicinal plants should be promoted. The key is to bring the tribes of India under digital inclusion, this will help in their overall development along with preservation of their unique culture.