Statistics galore. It looks as if Sri Lanka seems to revel in the information age like almost no other nation. The island is among the highest ranked in the world when it comes to network readiness. Going by the Global IT Report we stand eighth in the whole of Asia and as the best in South Asia. A feat in any measures no doubt. The ranking is based upon the affordability of ICT facilities, social impact of ICT etc.
There’s more. Twenty-five percent of Sri Lankans are computer literate. And 25 percent households have got at least a desktop computer. Country is almost in to total capacity in mobile phone usage, 20 million of them and counting. With majority of phones with internet accessibility and the ever expanding fixed line operations it’s safe to assume that the average family in Sri Lanka is connected to internet at least a little time of the day.
We make money out of IT too. With earnings over $800 million in ICT exports in 2014, Sri Lanka is projected to overtake the earnings from tourism in no time.
Take a peek at the Colombo Stock Exchange and it’s the communication industry which dominates the bourse, to no surprise at all.
The government has been generous with many a public place in Sri Lanka coming under free Wi-Fi and to cap it all Google is coming to towns with their balloons. Now, that’s a world’s first. Sri Lanka is destined to be the very first nation to come fully under the LOONS project.
Taking all in account, the island is fully geared up to take on the wired up world of web as eager as any, and actually better than many.
And then the flip side. We do posses few more records as well. Rather dubious ones at that. We top the world in the search for pornography in the internet. Rather interesting ‘first’ for a nation, thousands of miles away from the westernized shores and this is a back water in the Indian ocean after all far away from all that jazz.
And this rating, obviously mostly coming from among the young population of the country, is worthy of a cause for some concern. It has to be stated that click in some kinky content in the net doesn’t make a bad human and the very widespread availability of such material doesn’t require a genius to discover pornography online as well.
But the fact remains that the new found habit of the nation makes some interesting reading. Let’s take the worst case scenario. One wonders whether the statistics have a role in the increased occurrence of violence against women in the island. Preferably not, as most offenders would belong to the older and less internet-savvy age groups. Yet, the habit could come with a price to pay, if not now may be later.
It’s no understating that in a highly conservative den as ours the element of curiosity towards the ‘taboo subject’ may be quite high. It’s understandable quite so, given the reluctance of the education system to take up the most ‘relevant’ of all subjects in a manner deserving its importance.
But what’s more pertinent is as to what makes us the world champs in curiosity about ‘that’. It’s certainly an uncomfortable index to top the list. No doubt the stats should open the eyes of nation’s educators and those who administer education.
An inward search is in order simply to find out the ‘how’ and ‘why’ factors related. Is the cause seemingly aloof and arrogant ignorance of sex education in Sri Lanka coupled with the ludicrous reluctance to take up the topic with the young? Is that the factor which drives them to heavily indulge in search for the ‘truth’ themselves? Has it been an off shoot of the pathos of the aftermath of a highly destructive armed conflict just over? Or a fallout of the unrest among youth? Or is it just that we Sri Lankans are a curious lot anyway? Are we simply walloping on the newfound information freedoms now only to cool down when ‘enough is enough’?
Whatever… Sooner we get there, to the truth, the better.