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Despite India’s booming information technology industry and over 5 million broadband subscribers with a 7% internet usage penetration with over 81 million online users, the rapidly growing BRIC economy still lags far behind China and it’s BRIC colleagues in bridging the “digital divide“.
The 7% penetration online of Indians that are connected to the web pales in comparison with the 32% in China with fewer than 1% of Indians having access to mobile internet services, despite the recent leapfrogging of mobile networks and 3G services into the country.
A Digital Inclusion Index compiled by British risk analysis firm MapleCroft put India in the “extreme risk” category, meaning much of its population was shut out of the so-called “digital revolution.”
India stood at 39 on the index, far behind Russia at 134, Brazil at 110 and China at 103, which were classified as being at “medium risk” from lack of “digital inclusion.”
“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,” MapleCroft head Alyson Warhurst said.
Digital inclusion is also crucial in helping people take part in economic activities and improves democratic governance, Warhurst added. Broadly defined as social inclusion which ensures that individuals and disadvantaged groups have access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and are able to participate in and benefit from this, digital inclusion has been used to map out social models of disability in developing countries.
The survey looked at 186 countries to identify those nations whose populations were being stifled by a lack of “digital inclusion.” It used 10 indicators to assess to communications technology including mobile and broadband subscriptions.
Despite strong economic growth, the BRIC nations are still significantly outperformed by developed nations in the Digital Inclusion Index.
The countries with the best access to communications technologies included the Netherlands which was top at 186, Sweden at 183 and Britain came in 182nd.
Of the 39 countries rated at “extreme risk”, 29 were from sub-Saharan Africa, with Niger ranked number one, Chad number two and Ethiopia number three.