(Dis-)Connected Youth in Bangladesh. De-Mystifying the Digital Generation

Friday, July 18, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: F204
Oral Presentation
Elvira GRANER , New Delhi Office, Heidelberg University, New Delhi, Germany
When speaking about the current generation, there is a strong tendency to epitomise them as the “digital generation”. While the overall role of communication has already been emphasised in McLuhan’s seminal publication on “Understanding Media” (1962) the more recent technical and technological changes of information technology (IT) have brought these developments to the doorsteps of countries, and their citizens, across the world. At the same time, these technological revolutions went hand in hand with massive internal social divides of those who have the access, and the purchasing capacities, to access and utilise these technologies. This debate, captured as the “digital divide” has given rise to more comprehensive studies about social inclusion and exclusion. The quintessence of these studies is to elaborate on the vast disparities of access to any form of digital media, particularly in (so-called) developing countries.

At the same time, these global developments pose quite a challenge for any government. In terms of national policies, the current Bangladesh government and their “Digital Bangladesh” policy places a strong emphasis on modern Information Technology services. In their Election Manifesto, they point out their past achievements, and argue that these “made it possible for Bangladesh to enter the digital age” (ibid. 2009, 2). In their “Vision 2021” they have epitomised this policy as “Digital Bangladesh”. Yet, the Bangladesh Youth Survey “Giving Youth A Voice” provides data that strongly question the success of this policy.