NEW DELHI: Digital story in India is intact. At least 8 in 10 individuals in India own a mobile phone and digital technologies are spreading rapidly. The popularity and effective use of digital technologies on daily life of Indians has influenced socio-economic life positively in India, says a new World Bank report.
With nearly a billion people still not connected to the internet, the opportunities for increasing access to digital technology for creating higher growth, more jobs, and better public services are significant for India, finds the World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends, which was launched in India yesterday.
India is currently the largest exporter of ICT services and skilled manpower in the developing world. The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry today employs more than 3.1 million workers, 30 percent of them are women. In rural India, a three-year awareness program on opportunities in the BPO industry increased women’s enrollment in relevant training programs, as well as school enrollment among young girls, by 3–5 percentage points.
Biometric registration, authentication, and payments in India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the world’s largest workfare program, reduced the time for paying beneficiaries by 29 percent and leakages by 35 percent, a recent survey report estimates. All this has the potential to significantly raise the efficiency of government service delivery.
“The digital revolution is transforming the world, aiding information flow and creating huge opportunities for growth and poverty reduction. India’s Aadhaar program is today a model for many countries and recent initiatives like Digital India has the potential to generate greater digital dividends among all sections of its society,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India. “However, to reap the full benefits will require affordable and wider access to the internet and skills that enable all workers to leverage the digital economy.”
Even while having the largest number of offline population in the world, India has the third highest number of internet users by absolute number, only behind China and the United States. Moreover, adoption of digital technologies shows great variation within the country: very high for government and relatively low for businesses, especially among small and medium enterprises.
The WDR metrics of connectivity and complements shows at the end of 2014, India had more than 200 million internet users, compared to 665 million in China. Fewer than two out of every five Indian businesses had an online presence compared to almost two-thirds of firms in China. Total spectrum allocated to mobile communications in India is 288 MHz as opposed to 630 MHz in China. The cost of residential broadband service in India is 6-10 times more expensive than in China.