In these figures lies the silverlining.
Yes, it is true information-technology or communication revolution through deep tele-density cannot achieve the purpose alone.
But it is equally true that India cannot achieve the objective until it is technologically equipped to reach out to its masses – bypassing the ‘middle meddling’.
India needs to ramp up the process now and have to be consistent with the process – something that we can rely on more logically if it is weaved with involvement of global companies and thus many countries.
Big multinationals like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Qualcomm or even India’s Bharti are ‘big lobbying powerhouses’ that would ensure ‘straightness” of the process to keep their profits ‘straight’ and linearly up.
And they would ensure that at any cost when they get such a big market – the youngest nation in the world with 65% of its population below 35 – the population segment that is the first user of the products of telecom revolution and internet spread.
The UN Broadband Commission report (The State of Broadband) released on September 21 ranked India at 131 in ‘fixed broadband’ connections category and at 155 on ‘mobile broadband’ connections. These figures are significantly lower than what they were in earlier rankings – 125 for fixed lines and 113 for mobile connections.
But when seen relative to high telecom reach in India – to almost 80% of the population – and with 81 crore Indians below – the combination represent an unparalleled business opportunity.
The report says 18% individuals use internet in India (as in 2014) and the household penetration rate of internet is just at 15%.
So, the companies – the telecom operators, the internet outfits like the social media companies and e-commerce firms, the media outlets and everyone else – has a huge pool to capture.
India’s is already the biggest market of smartphones and is expected to have around 170 million annual of them annually shipped by 2018.
Reports also say India will have 500 million internet users by the end of 2015. And obviously most of the internet traffic would be mobile.
It is here that opportunity lies and it is here that India needs to trade cautiously to direct its politics.
Like carrying Doordarshan is mandatory on satellite channel platforms, government can make it mandatory for every operator to provide a ‘government devised’ communication channel to every subscriber – on telecom technologies – and on internet technologies. In fact, government can devise a communication package that works with mobile phones even in absence of internet connections.
India doesn’t need CSR activities but the ‘communication channels’ provided by the telecom firms and internet vendors.
Harsh Mander writes in his book – ‘Art, culture, poetry and films have a huge role to play in this (uplifting India’s poor). There are no people in the world who are as close to their cinema as we are.’
Quite logical. Add to it the most logical and most ‘pervasive’ communication tool – internet – through mobile phones.
Experts say India need huge investment to uplift its masses. Mander puts it at 10% of GDP. Other estimates also put it at such unprecedented level that it becomes impossible for government to implement that.
India needs industry partnership there.
And industries are ready to invest in India – in its huge market – on its human pool – a market with its middle class larger than Europe. A Financial Times report has put India as the favourite FDI destination surpassing China and the US.
That would provide the government the desperately needed platform for ‘insightful collaborative efforts’ to reach out to every citizen individually.
Yes, it is going to be a mammoth exercise – connecting hundreds of millions of dots – but it is the most practical way to do it.
The government needs to provide information first – and then must ensure it with follow ups – and furthering the process to weave an ecosystem intended help the last citizen of the country – through direct cash transfer – through more and more accounts – through government schemes and more importantly how to own those government schemes – through direct disbursal of every resource – ending the culture of meddling institutions like Gram Panchayats, community health centres, district monitoring committees and so on.
And the government needs to ensure that the distribution reaches to the more needy sections of the population – and not just to the middle class. The government must ensure the equitable flow – from its burgeoning middleclass to its ‘citizens-in-need’. It is good that this high tele-density reaches even to many poor – living below the global poverty standard.
These are just some of the thoughts. The universe of them to traverse is vast – and so are the opportunities.
Other parts of the write-up:
WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..
WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..LET’S CONNECT DOTS
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/