OP-ED: A new basic need

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It is about time we considered access to technology instrumental to living a decent life

Basic needs refers to the minimum elements that human beings need in order to lead a decent life. Food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, sanitation, and education — these are what we usually think of when this term strikes our minds. But it’s time to welcome a new inseparable member in the basic needs family — access to technology.

Be it learning or earning, communication or recreation, everything is experiencing higher rates of modernization through automation and digitalization due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The existence of a single sector cannot be imagined now without technology. That is why access to technology has become compulsory.

A few vital points of attention have been specified below, which will continue to cause greater damage if effective measures are not taken soon, and if access to technology is not considered a basic need.

Survival: People need to involve themselves in economic activities to survive. As we know, the four essential economic activities are resource management, production of goods and services, distribution of goods and services, and consumption of goods and services — operational processes, all of which are rapidly coming under the umbrella of modern technologies. Hence, being technologically adept is a must for participating in income-generating activities and making a living.

Education: Though nearly all the students across the globe are going through academic hiccups now, students who are not financially stable enough to avail access to technology are struggling more with their education in this online learning era.

Such students could barely make any academic progress during the pandemic. Due to this backlog, they will have to spend more time than usual to complete their education.

Because the later they get access to technology, the later they will get access to education. Subsequently, they will need much more time to catch up with students who are conveniently enjoying the privilege of formal education online.

National economy: Presently, developing and least developed countries are under economic threat mostly due to insufficient tech-savvy human capital. They have already been struggling economically for a long time. This pandemic has only made things worse.

So, if their human resources cannot have access to technology with proficiency soon enough, these countries’ sufferings will disappointingly keep multiplying. It will become more and more difficult for them to reach their future development goals.

Additionally, they may fail to secure their existing economic achievements as well, leading them to bear numerous other economic casualties.

Business: A lot of businesses are going through serious crises. Most of them are going through these disasters due to a lack of familiarity with technology. Not being solvent enough to automate their business process is also a big reason.

Already a large number of businesses have been devastated globally. Continuing to let things be as they are will further contribute to making things worse.

Unemployment: As per a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), around 114 million people lost their jobs in 2020 due to Covid-19. It is mostly thought that these people lost their jobs because of the collapsed financial condition of employers.

But the reality is that a large portion of this figure is caused by those people who were unable to acclimatize themselves with the modern working environment.

Because of that, a lot of people are unemployed even after completing their education as they do not have enough electronic literacy. Not familiarizing prospective workforces with technology before it’s too late will endanger their professional future gravely.

The list is endless.

The situation makes evident what has to be done right now. Securing existing basic needs will also become impossible soon if this issue remains unaddressed for long.

That is why access to technology must also be considered a basic need, and concerned bodies should maximize their efforts in devising endeavours to meet the needs of those who remain technologically underprivileged.

Nafis Ehsas Chowdhury is a freelance contributor.

Source: Dhaka Tribune

Date: 28 June 2021