95 crore Indians are out of reach of the internet, study claims
Internet is out of reach of nearly 95 crore Indians, a study conducted by Assocham and Deloitte has found.
It said, "Mobile data plans in India are among the cheapest in the world and the average retail price of smartphones are steadily declining, yet the Internet is out of the reach of nearly 950 million Indians."
“Internet penetration is increasing in India, the access to affordable broadband, smart devices and monthly data packages is required to spread digital literacy to make their ends meet, noted the study titled ‘Strategic national measures to combat cybercrime,’ jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and research firm Deloitte,” the report said.
The ASSOCHAM report attributed the lack of internet inclusion to the possible diverse cultures and language barriers that are needed ‘to drive digital literacy.’
“India has over 1,600 languages and various dialects. This diversity has resulted in strong language barriers. In areas where people only use local languages, integration of local language and technology is required to drive digital literacy,” the report said.
Along with this the fear of cyber-crime and breach of privacy is also high in India.
“In order to encourage people to switch to digital means, it is important to provide awareness and education on cyber security, risks and safeguarding of information on the internet,” the report said.
Adding to this the report said, “India faces a severe shortage of well trained and skilled workers. It is estimated that only 2.3% of the workforce in India has undergone formal skill training versus over 50% in the developed countries. This shortage is accentuated in the electronic and digital sectors.”
The top barriers to adoption of technologies in the economically weaker sections of society as well as in MSMEs include cost and affordability. "Most telecom operators so far have not invested significantly in development of high speed access networks in rural areas. Similarly, MSMEs also have low awareness of government and stakeholder schemes that could lead to numerous benefits," it said.
A key hindrance to adoption of technology is the low rate of digital literacy in India. Several initiatives undertaken by the government and other organisations are expected to improve the digital literacy rate in the coming years which will in turn result in an increase in adoption of technology and digital services.
While there has been an increase in localised content and applications, content still remains limited in several local and regional languages. Most applications that exist have been driven by the government. Private sector involvement remains limited to proof of concepts (PoCs) in limited test environments, it said.