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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 05 July 2024

  1. Computer Literacy in India Needs a Reboot
  2. Climate Action and India’s Transformation


In today’s world, computer literacy is vital as critical services like banking, healthcare, and government services have gone digital. Being computer literate means having the knowledge and ability to use computers and technology efficiently, which allows individuals to access and utilize these services effectively, thereby improving their quality of life. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of computer and internet access for activities such as ordering groceries, online education, and managing banking and healthcare services.


  • GS2- Education
  • GS3- Inclusive Growth

Mains Question:

With a clear plan to run various public services with technology, a significant portion of the country’s population needs to be able to cross the digital divide. Analyse. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Initiatives in this Direction:

  • Recognizing the role of computer literacy, the Indian government initiated the Digital India campaign in 2015 to create a digitally empowered society.
  • Additionally, computer education is becoming a part of the formal education system from an early age in schools.
  • Various skill development and vocational training programs also aim to enhance computer literacy among youth and adults, especially focusing on underprivileged and marginalized communities to reduce the digital divide.

Recent Findings:

  • The recently released NSS 78th round of the Multiple Indicator Survey (conducted in 2020-21) provides individual-level data on computer literacy.
  • Computer literacy, defined as the ability to use a computer, was reported at 24.7% among individuals aged 15 and above. This is an increase from 18.4% in 2017-18 to 24.7% in 2020-21 overall.
  • In rural areas, it increased from 11.1% to 18.1%, and in urban areas, from 34.7% to 39.6%. These figures are concerning and challenge the nation’s digital ambitions.
  • Without significant efforts to universalize digital literacy, nearly 70% of India’s rural population will face substantial disadvantages.
  • Moreover, with the government’s goal to provide various public services through digital technology, a significant portion of the population risks being excluded.

Unequal Literacy Across Age Groups:

  • As expected, the proportion of computer-literate individuals in India varies significantly across different age groups. The survey indicates that computer literacy decreases with age, with younger demographics displaying higher rates.
  • This trend, commonly seen in societal contexts, reflects the disparity in access to computer education between younger and older generations, often referred to as a “cohort effect” or “generation effect” in social sciences.
  • Consequently, the overall computer literacy rate of 24.7% shows significant inequality among age cohorts.
  • It peaks at 45.9% among individuals aged 20-24 years and drops to its lowest point of 4.4% among those aged 65-69 years. Even within the youngest age groups, computer literacy has not yet reached 50%.
  • Given the growing integration of computer technology into all aspects of life, a substantial portion of the population may be left behind in the modern development journey.
  • For individuals aged 20-39 years, who are typically in their career or job-search phase, the computer literacy rate is only 34.8%. Moreover, there is considerable variation in computer literacy within this age group across different Indian states.
  • Our analysis shows a striking 55.1 percentage point gap between Kerala (72.7%) and Assam, where only 17.6% possess computer skills in this age group.
  • Economically disadvantaged states such as Assam (17.6%), Bihar (20.4%), Madhya Pradesh (21%), Jharkhand (21.2%), Uttar Pradesh (22.9%), Odisha (25.1%), Chhattisgarh (26%), and Rajasthan (27.6%) have less than 30% proficiency in computer operation.
  • Since computer literacy is crucial for the social and economic development of states, the lower rates in economically backward states exacerbate their disadvantage in benefiting from modern development.
  • If this divide is not addressed, the development gap across Indian states will widen. Bridging the digital divide and promoting inclusive growth requires sustained efforts from the government, private sector, and civil society stakeholders.

Understanding India’s Modest Progress:

  • One reason for India’s slow progress in computer literacy is that many schools and colleges lack the necessary infrastructure and qualified teachers to provide adequate computer training.
  • This deficiency significantly impacts young students and new graduates, potentially limiting their employment opportunities.
  • Although computer education is included in the school curriculum, there are notable gaps in access and instructional quality, underscoring the need to prioritize computer literacy in the education system.
  • Among older age groups, computer illiteracy can be attributed to a lack of motivation to learn or limited access to learning resources, as older individuals often show less enthusiasm for adopting new technologies.

Computer Literacy as a Necessity:

  • In today’s digital society, computer illiteracy can severely limit an individual’s opportunities and experiences.
  • It restricts job prospects, leads to social isolation, causes financial exclusion from online transactions and services, and limits access to vast information resources.
  • With the advancement of Artificial Intelligence, employers are increasingly looking for individuals not only familiar with computers but also capable of executing complex tasks.
  • Thus, learning to use a computer and the internet can help employees develop the skills that employers seek.
  • According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) survey (2014-15), adults without computer experience have a 52.5% employment rate, compared to 72.7% for those with basic computer skills.
  • A 2017 study by economist Gang Peng, “Do Computer Skills Affect Worker Employment? An Empirical Study from CPS Surveys,” found that computer skills enhance employability and worker productivity.
  • Additionally, Preston-Lee Govindasamy’s research in South Africa confirmed a positive correlation between computer literacy, employment probability, and earnings.
  • Furthermore, computer literacy exacerbates socio-economic inequalities by creating a digital divide and a skill gap, leading to unequal job market opportunities.
  • Those with better computer skills can leverage technology for personal and professional development, while those lacking these skills face barriers in accessing essential services, participating in the digital economy, and advancing their careers, thus perpetuating economic disparities.

Schools and Older Population as Focus Areas:

  • While India has made some progress in computer literacy, the reach and effectiveness of these efforts remain limited.
  • The data reveals significant disparities in both the level and distribution of computer literacy across different states.
  • The wide digital divide between economically prosperous and disadvantaged states poses a barrier to inclusive growth and development opportunities for large segments of the population.
  • To address this, schools should equip students with the necessary computer skills to fully participate in our rapidly evolving economies.
  • Ensuring that all graduating students are computer literate is crucial to bridging the digital divide.
  • The government should allocate resources to train computer educators and ensure sufficient staffing levels.
  • Additionally, for the older population outside the formal education system, targeted programs are essential.


The initiatives above should involve various institutions, including local governing bodies such as panchayats and non-governmental organizations, to effectively reach and empower older individuals with computer literacy skills. The government should conduct a thorough review of existing computer literacy programs and develop strategies to achieve higher literacy rates and reduce disparities in the coming years.


As the new government settles in, its approach to scaling up climate action will impact every ministry and sector. Key decisions will shape India’s sustainable economic path, establish its position as a leading voice of the Global South, and influence its fight for climate finance and justice over the next five years.


GS3- Environmental Conservation

Mains Question:

The new government should aim to take India’s global climate leadership to the next level with a ‘higher, wider, deeper’ plan. In this context, discuss an effective way forward strategy that can help India become a global climate leader. (10 Marks, 150 Words).

India’s Transformation:

  • Over the past decade, India has demonstrated significant commitment and progress in climate action.
  • It has evolved from a hesitant participant reacting to global climate developments to a proactive leader shaping narratives and institutions.

Key Achievements:

Global Institutions:

Ambitious Targets:

  • India has set bolder emission mitigation targets, including the 2070 net-zero goal and ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).
  • The net-zero goal emphasizes the importance of absolute emission reductions over intensity-based targets, sparking domestic debate among policymakers and the private sector.

Sustainability-Linked Policies:

Sustainability-linked economic policies are becoming central, exemplified by the creation of an Indian emissions carbon trading scheme, intended to operate for 30-40 years.

Future Goals:

  • In the next five years, the government must accelerate efforts to demonstrate that economic development can be sustainable.
  • India should adopt the mantra of “go higher, go wider, go deeper” to align its climate leadership with its economic growth.

A Plan for India:

“Go Higher” – Global Leadership:

  • “Go higher” refers to India’s ambition to take on a global leadership role in climate action. India could soon host major international climate summits, such as the United Nations Conference of Parties in 2028.
  • If India hosts this event, it must match the success of its G-20 Presidency. Given that global negotiations require significant time to reach consensus on contentious issues, planning must start immediately.
  • For example, India might aim for agreements like halting new oil and gas investments after 2030 or securing substantial commitments on adaptation finance to help developing countries combat increasing heatwaves, storms, floods, and droughts.
  • India should begin identifying potential significant outcomes for 2028 and start building alliances and addressing concerns now.
  • Additionally, India should continue to advocate for equity in international forums and position itself as a leader in global institutions that can deliver climate finance.

“Go Wider” – Sectoral Emission Targets:

  • “Go wider” means India needs to set and communicate clear emission reduction targets for sectors beyond the power sector.
  • India has made substantial progress in the power sector and will continue to meet its international non-fossil share and domestic renewable energy capacity targets. The next step is to expand these targets to other sectors.
  • For instance, setting clear targets for zero-carbon two- and four-wheelers would not only benefit urban areas but also promote mobility in rural areas, create jobs in clean energy and sustainability, and drive economic growth.
  • The past decade has shown that credible policy goals can prompt industries and stakeholders to act.
  • The upcoming Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) for 2035, due next year, presents an opportunity for India to broaden its energy transition targets.

“Go Deeper” – Sub-National Climate Action:

  • Finally, “going deeper” means emphasizing sub-national climate action and resilience during this government term. Some progress is already visible.
  • The Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) is supporting various Indian states with their net-zero plans through long-term climate and energy modeling.
  • For example, CEEW has collaborated with Tamil Nadu and Bihar to develop their recently released plans for a net-zero future.
  • The government should consider creating a Centre-State coordination group, incentivizing state-level climate actions through the Sixteenth Finance Commission, promoting the integration of scientific modeling capabilities into policymaking, and facilitating a unified data measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) system at the state level.
  • Given India’s federal structure, this recommendation is not about centralizing climate actions but ensuring better coordination of state-level actions without compromising their autonomy.
  • This can be achieved if the process extends beyond individual states trying to understand and respond to the climate crisis, with the Centre actively facilitating.


The new government should aim to elevate India’s global climate leadership in its new term, planning for the next four to five years rather than just one year at a time. India now has a seat at most international tables and must demonstrate its prowess.

July 2024