The global tech community might acknowledge India as an IT superpower, but the country’s performance at providing basic computer skills and internet access to its citizens to drive personal growth has been far from satisfactory. Consider a few facts:
Internet penetration in India is an insignificant 10%. The internet is primarily being used—that too in urban areas—as a medium for social networking and entertainment in India, while its immense potential in enabling widespread access to education, healthcare, employability and access to government services is still largely untapped.
A McKinsey report states that there will be 330 million Indians on the internet in 2015, making it the second largest connected population in the world, however even with that number India’s internet penetration will be a mere 28%. What’s more surprising is that for India to reach 40% internet penetration, a number that will match China’s penetration at that time, it will need to notch up more than 500 million internet users! This is no easy task.
While the current situation is still grim, the silver lining in all is that, change is underway in multiple ways. Whether it is the government’s commitment to the National IT Policy, which aims to provide affordable access to information and public services for enhancing efficiency, transparency and leverage the use of ICT as a driver for social inclusion or the roll out of the National Fibre Optic Network by Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL), which will connect 250,000 gram panchayats with true broadband by 2015.
From an industry perspective, the US chip maker Intel has undertaken some laudable initiatives towards accelerating digital literacy and providing the benefits of technology to the grass roots. Recently, the company concluded the second phase of its nationwide integrated campaign to spread the relevance of personal computing and drive adoption of technology amongst consumers. The campaign was focused on reaching out to potential first time buyers in the country with the aim of increasing awareness about the benefits of technology and accelerating PC usage. The second phase of the campaign reached out to 20 million households with the message of domestic digital