A recent joint study conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Deloitte Research have found that 950 million Indian citizens are out of reach of the internet.
Even though internet tariffs have significantly decreased and cheaper smartphones have been making their ways into the market, the study points out that spreading digital literacy in India is of paramount importance.
The study titled ‘Strategic national measures to combat cyber crime’ states, “Existing government infrastructure assets should be further leverage for the provision of digital services at remote locations. Digital literacy needs to be increased by providing institutional training in schools, colleges and universities.”
The study also points out that given the diversity of Indian languages, integration of local languages in Digital India programme is the way to go in order to project the advantages of technology.
Another key factor that hinders the growth of a digital India is the shortage of skilled workforce. Only an estimated 2.3% of India workforce has undergone formal skill training, which is significantly lower than the world average of 50% among developed nations.
“An integrated approach between Digital India and Skill India needs to be constructed to design programmes and impart training. Private sector players should be incentivised to develop infrastructure, provide services and promote digital literacy as part of the Digital India program,” the study adds.
Most of the telecom operators haven’t been investing in providing high-speed internet connectivity in rural areas, which certainly isn’t an enabling environment as we make strides towards a digital nation.
A low rate of digital literacy also hinders people being able to adopt technology. People in India are also scared about the breach of privacy and cybercrime, which is another hindrance towards people accepting the digital way.
The government should also take measures to encourage people to make the switch to digital by spreading awareness on how to safeguard information on the internet and also about the risks of the platforms.
Digital literacy is the need of the hour.
“Several initiatives undertaken by the government and other organisations are expected to improve the digital literacy rate in the coming years which will, in turn, result in an increase in adoption of technology and digital services,” the joint study states.
The study highlights that until and unless private sector and government join hands to improve the digital literacy — which also enables people to see the advantages of using technology such as improvement in the standard of living — the situation will remain quite the same.
As the internet penetration increases in India, educating the masses about the utility of the internet is key to forming Digital India.