India Lags in Internet Access: Study

By Cindy Waxer March 30, 2011

India’s booming IT industry is growing at an astonishing rate of nearly 18 percent, according to a recent forecast by Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies). That’s compared with a global growth rate of the industry at 4-5 percent.

Yet India is the only country to be classified as “extreme risk,” meaning that the country’s population suffers from a severe lack of digital inclusion, in a recent study by British risk analysis firm MapleCroft. Based on MapleCroft’s Digital Inclusion Index, of 186 countries included in the study, India ranked in the lowest category, well behind Russia, China and Brazil in the grouping of emerging economies.

China (103) Brazil (110) and Russia (134) are also rated “medium risk.” The countries with the best access to information and communication technologies are the Netherlands (186), Denmark (185), Luxembourg (184), Sweden (183) and the UK (182).

“Digital inclusion is important in both enabling people to participate in economic activity as well as facilitating their participation in the very process of democratic governance and education,” states Professor Alyson Warhurst, CEO of Maplecroft, in a statement. “Digital inclusion has the potential to bring education to people in countries where educational infrastructure is limited and the development of cadres of teachers is still constrained.”

While the vast majority of Indians lack access to Internet services, the wealthier, more affluent segment of the population, primarily based in urban areas, enjoys unlimited use of modern communications technology. According to the study, the growth of the middle classes in the country, which now sits at around 30 percent of the population, has driven demand for consumer goods.

As for the reminder of India’s 1.2 billion inhabitants, most cannot afford Internet access (only 3 percent of households own PCs), lack the education required to use it effectively (India has secondary school enrolment rates of 55 percent and adult literacy rates of just under 63 percent) and are located in geographical areas that have little or no connectivity to ICT services.

Edited by Janice McDuffee

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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