It’s time to double down on our digital expansion

Source– The post is based on the article “It’s time to double down on our digital expansion” published in the “mint” on 9th August 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Indian economy

Relevance: Digital economy

News– The article discusses the rapid growth of India’s internet economy. It highlights the uneven expansion and the need to broaden the internet base to reach everyone.

How has India’s internet economy been growing at a strong pace?

The expansion of internet access, the affordability of connectivity are significant achievements.  There is a rise in monthly Unified Payments Interface transactions. It has exceeded 10 billion with a value surpassing ₹15 trillion.

The Government also supports policies focusing on data security. Privacy regulations are aimed at creating more equitable online markets. Additionally, our export policy aligns with e-commerce.

The number of internet users has surged due to economical data tariffs. It has increased from 462 million in 2018 to 759 million users in 2022. This figure is anticipated to grow to 900 million by 2025.

What are issues related to the internet economy in India?

According to World Bank data from 2021, our internet penetration rate lags behind the world average.

According to this data, India was positioned at the 120th spot in 2021 in terms of internet penetration. The internet penetration rate is standing at 46%. This is below the global average of 63% and lags behind the mean for lower middle-income countries.

In comparison, the UAE led the rankings with 100% penetration, followed by the UK at 97%, and the US at 92%. China, which has a penetration rate of 73%.

The slower data speeds pose a hindrance, especially in case of new technologies like artificial intelligence. India’s median fixed broadband speed of 53.2Mbps is slow in comparison to other places. In Singapore, the UAE, and even Chile, speeds exceed 200Mbps .

Most concerning aspect is the unreliability of internet access, as indicated by our record of internet shutdowns.

In 2022, the country experienced 84 sudden shutdowns. The rest of the world combined had 99, according to Access Now’s count. This accounts for 45% of the total shutdowns globally.

What should be done?

It is essential to establish clear protocols for internet shutdowns based on thorough cost-benefit analyses.

The vision of an internet economy worth $1 trillion by 2030 is promising. India’s strides in this area have indeed been impressive.

However, there is still a need to substantially expand and stabilize our internet infrastructure. Taking prompt action on multiple fronts is imperative.

Clearly, there’s substantial work left to be done: a larger portion of the population needs to be brought online, and fewer individuals should be left dealing with frustrating buffering issues.

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