Residents of Limber village, in Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla, have been struggling to live the 21st-century life due to the digital divide.
While the country has been placed under localised lockdowns to check the spread of the disease, people have been staying home to break the transmission of the virus. However, locals of this village have been stepping out for various reasons —from uploading classes to the server, accessing those classes to migrating to the urban areas for better opportunities.
Manzoor Ahmad Chak, a school teacher, treks at least three kilometres from the village and then climb up a hill to find the 'spot' that supports high-speed internet connectivity. He, then, uploads the lessons on the state education department's learning system, reported The Indian Express.
He is accompanied by a bunch of students, who wait patiently for the lessons to download, and then class to begin. Even for online examinations, the students have to walk through the dense forest to reach this place to appear for the test. The village, which has 650 households, normally socialise at this place. The parents do not allow their wards to go out after 6 pm.
"Even within the village, people still go from house to house to stay in touch. About 20 per cent of the population migrates temporarily every year to provide education to their children," he added.
Chak, who has been in the teaching profession for the past 14 years, says that since the pandemic his students often come to his house notes and study purpose. As this being a small village in the country, Chak has to take the responsibility of teaching all the subjects. After Class 10, the students from this village have to move to nearby towns for further studies.
"It is Rs 70 one way in a jeep to Baramulla. With money for food, etc., it comes to about Rs 250 to attend a day in college. This is a lot for the low-income families here," Ahmad told the publication.
During the time of health crisis like the prevailing one, lack of internet connectivity is a big issue for the elders as they have the responsibility of keeping their loved ones safe.
Many residents have not been able to access and download their COVID vaccination certificates in the absence of internet connectivity. Reports stated that locals have to struggle since there is no ATM in the locality.
The Indian Express reported that Limber is one of the 150 villages in Jammu and Kashmir that are without effective mobile network access. Officials have cited terrain and remote location as the key reasons for the digital divide.