Three different sets of data are available on internet penetration and use in India – from TRAI, from the census and from IAMAI-IMRB. But even read together the data fails to provide a comprehensive picture of digital inclusion in India.The absence of meaningful data cannot be overemphasized as we set out to achieve Digital India goals.
India had 254.40 million internet subscribers by September 2014. That’s an internet penetration of 20.39 per 100. But the picture changes when you consider that 70.23% of them are narrowband subscribers and only 29.77% access a useful connection. Less than 6% of total internet subscribers use what TRAI defines as ‘desired bandwidth speeds’. Surely digital inclusion is about more than such basic connectivity? And while government policies such as Digital India set targets for the supply/infrastructure side of digital inclusion, who is looking at adoption or demand-side issues?
How does India, third largest economy in the world, compare with other BRICS nations on digital inclusion? There’s not one indicator – subscribers, penetration, affordability or speed – where India ranks anywhere close to the top. Digital India has some serious work to do if it wants to achieve its ambitious targets.
Globalexperiences reveal that training in the uses of the Net and training to enhance the ability to act collectively for the social good are vital accompaniments to the promise that the internet holds out for a more equitable and inclusive society.
In the absence of any specific central policy on the digital divide in India, this article pieces together the different programmes, including Digital India, that address internet access and adoption issues and aim to provide for digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen as well as the digital empowerment of citizens.
Not a single one of the Eighth Schedule Indian languages is used by more than .01% of the total websites in the world. Indian languages are severely under-represented in the internet world. Facebook, which provides options in 11 of India’s 22 Eighth Schedule languages, and Google, with its search engine options in 9 languages, seem to be doing more for linguistic inclusion on the internet than either the government or Indian companies.
Studies which focus on information and communication technologies (ICTs) as tools for new forms of instrumental communication and information processing take a technocratic view of technology, providing a perspective that understands notions such as ‘efficiency’ or productivity as the essence of technology (Bertot, Jaeger & Grimes, 2010a; Bertot, Jaeger & Grimes, 2010b; Lea, 2004). Generalisations about the imperatives of technology appear prominently in this approach.
Many e-governance programmes in developing countries reach into the furthest regions of the rural countryside. These programmes intend to bring governance services, via digital means, to citizens who have little access to modern governance mechanisms. This technology ‘contact’ brings with it new assumptions and new relations of governance; it emerges in a ﬁeld that is already dense with social relations that are both historically deﬁned and changing and re-forming in response to the onslaught of modernity.
As mobiles, PCs and web 2.0 technologies reach the poor, technology plays out in their everyday reality in creative new ways. The global poor are usually characterised as passive consumers. We need to shift this perspective of the poor and see them as active producers and innovators. As Heeks (2010) argues, disbursing ICT-enabled incentives for new incomes and jobs will require ‘a new view of the world’s poor’: one that sees them as innovative producers and agile agents of ICT products and services.
People use the internet, much as they did the telegraph since 1838, to keep in touch, be informed and be entertained. But the state’s intent for offering internet is often tied to e-governance and livelihoods. China’s experience illustrates the disconnect between top-down technology policy and bottom-up need-driven internet use, and prompts us to ask what access to the internet really means, what the internet should be used for, and who drives access and use
The Rajiv Awas Yojana recognises the right to land and security of tenure of the urban poor, requires slums to be redeveloped or upgraded in-situ, and mandates community participation in rehousing plans. Then why are slum-dwellers federations in Karnataka rejecting the scheme and governments continuing to push for one-size-fits-all multi-storeyed housing and PPP models?
13.9 million households were living in slums in urban India in 2011. While housing conditions within slums have improved between 1993 and 2008-09, BPL and Muslim households continue to have poor access to safe water supply and sanitation. They should be the focus of future policy
While increased social exclusion and religious polarisation are pushing Muslims to urban areas, poverty amongst urban Muslims is 13-16% higher than the national average. In the western and northern states in particular, communalised state machineries and politics act as barriers to the economic and social mobility of Muslims. Malegaon, Mumbra and Bhiwandi in Maharashtra illustrate how poverty is concentrated and perpetuated amongst urban Muslims
With income as the only indicator, an absurd 5% of Pune's population would be classified as poor. But the Pune Municipal Corporation itself accepts that 40% of the city lives in multidimensional poverty, suffering residential, occupational and social vulnerabilities. While Pune's poor have relatively higher levels of access to public services than the poor in other cities, a closer look reveals the extent of their vulnerability
Health, nutrition and wellbeing disparities in urban India are stark. Under-5 children in the most vulnerable sections of the urban poor are 2.5 times more undernourished than the urban rich. And their mortality rate is significantly higher than the urban aggregate. The urban poor are in fact far less likely to avail of ICDS and other schemes than the rural poor
Economic globalisation rides on the backs of millions of poor urban women, forced into cheap labour in an unregulated and insecure informal sector. The increased visibility of women in the workforce could actually be read as a sign of economic distress, not empowerment
This introduction demystifies terms such as 'the urbanisation of poverty', 'absolute' and 'relative poverty' and the 'informalisation' and 'feminisation of poverty', and points out why urban poverty needs a different approach and set of solutions from rural poverty. Pro-poor urban governance follows on an acceptance of the poor as integral assets of the formal city
In all the noise over whether the urban poor can survive on a daily per capita expenditure of Rs 33 rupees or Rs 47, we miss the point that we need to move away altogether from the income/consumption approach to measuring poverty to measurement on the basis of urban habitat -- including access to safe water, sanitation and a clean household environment -- and livelihood/disaster vulnerabilities