RS 2: India

How the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ is Bridging the Digital Divide

As the world’s second most populous country, India has fallen behind the curve on the information revolution. In the article “How the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ is Bridging the Digital Divide,” Naomi Canton with CNN investigates how such a large country has struggles connecting its citizens to the internet. With a “population of 1.21 billion,” including “more than 800 million” living in rural areas and “just under 400 million” living in urban areas, “internet penetration across the entire population is still below 10 percent” as of December 2012—when the article was written. For comparison, internet penetration in the United Kingdom and United States is about “80 percent.” Further, Canton says that“20 percent of urban Indians” are connected to the internet, a while mere “three percent of rural Indians use the internet,” making India one of the “worst performing countries in the world for digital inclusion.” India has technology hubs such as Bangalore, a huge city for entrepreneurs and home to a number of top global software companies, which has been called “India’s Silicon Valley.” However, even in large cities like Bangalore, most of its citizens still do not know how to access or use the internet. Canton explains that large companies are aware of the enormous digital divide within India, and how international corporations are working to solve the problem. Corporations such as the Internet Society (ISOC) are “training everyone from tailors and class cutters to cotton weavers and furniture makers” to use the internet and help grow their businesses. Ankush Bagotra, chairman of ISOC Bangalore, explains that many Indian merchants/business owners have “seen computers and heard of the internet but most [have] never used it or wanted to use it as they did not realize it solved a lot of problems for them.” Bagotra also says that business owners are aware that “paying a monthly data fee is also costly and they don’t appreciate how it can benefit them,” expediting simply processes by using programs such as “e-mail, video conference, internet message, Excel and Word, and…Facebook and Twitter.” In addition to ISOC, the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) has been “installing wireless networks in remote tribal regions using wasted spectrum” to deliver free internet connection to rural committees.

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