Double down on efforts to end internet poverty

Context: Lack of digital access today is no small measure of deprivation. The internet is not just a basic necessity, but has become fundamental to civic and economic life.

What is the situation wrt digital connectivity in India?

As per studies, little under half the country’s population are active on the internet, but users in rural India rose 45% from 2019, outdoing the urban count on growth.

Hand-held telecom devices remain the primary mode by which 99% of users get on the digital highway.

By Nielsen data, 60% of rural and 41% of urban residents remain offline.

Budget smartphones and dirt-cheap data.

What are the upcoming challenges?

Global supply chain issues due to Ukraine crisis and COVID freeze in Shanghai.

High-speed data had tariff hikes in 2021

Hence, India’s digital divide may deepen just as the state’s embrace of the net for service delivery tightens.

Way forward

Internet poverty can have severe consequences.

The longer we have digital have-nots, the harder it will become for our worst-off to come up. Unmitigated inequality would put India’s economy at risk of middle-income stagnancy. Let no citizen get left offline who’d rather not be.

Source: This post is based on the article “Double down on efforts to end internet poverty” published in Livemint on 9th May 22.

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