950 million Indians still dream of ‘Digital India’

Article By : ASSOCHAM

A key hindrance to adoption of technology is the low rate of digital literacy in the country.

India may have the world's second largest internet user base, but internet connectivity remains out of reach for close to 1 billion of its residents, according to a new report.

"Internet penetration is increasing in India, the access to affordable broadband, smart devices and monthly data packages is required to spread digital literacy to make their ends meet," noted the study titled ‘Strategic national measures to combat cybercrime,’ jointly conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and research firm Deloitte.

Existing government infrastructure assets should be further leveraged for provision of digital services at remote locations. Digital literacy needs to be increased by providing institutional trainings in schools, colleges and universities; accelerating partnerships with global technology leaders and using the workforce trained under Skill India to impart trainings. An integrated approach between Digital India and Skill India needs to be constructed to design programmes and impart training.

The government should increase awareness regarding the value add of technology to increase technology adoption, according to the study. The benefits of technology such as increase in the standard of living of the weaker sections of society and enhancing financial inclusion should be communicated to citizens.

Private sector players should be incentivised to develop infrastructure, provide services and promote digital literacy as part of the Digital India program. Start-ups should be involved to create and customize apps to local needs to increase adoption of digital technology, added the joint study.

India has over 1,600 languages and various dialects. This diversity has resulted in strong language barriers. In areas where people only use local languages, integration of local language and technology is required to drive digital literacy.

Fear of cybercrime and breach of privacy has been a deterrent in adoption of digital technologies in India, the study noted. In order to encourage people to switch to digital means, it is important to provide awareness and education on cyber security, risks and safeguarding of information on the internet.

Mobile platforms and internet enabled programs should be used to improve the accessibility of training programmes. Credibility and recognition of certifications provided by various initiatives is key to successful development of digital literacy. Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) associated with sub-sectors should get industry inputs on curriculum, trainings and services. Further, industry players should be compelled to recognise the credibility of certificates issued, noted the study.

Skill training and digital literacy should be introduced as part of institutional trainings in schools, colleges and universities across India. Curriculum and interactive programmes should be mandated to ensure adequate digital skills of all graduates. Skill building for Digital India Building skills required to achieve the Digital India vision.

A key hindrance to adoption of technology is the low rate of digital literacy in India. 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.

While there has been an increase in localised content and applications, content still remains limited in several local and regional languages. Most applications that exist have been driven by the government. Private sector involvement remains limited to proof of concepts (PoCs) in limited test environments.

The speed at which digital infrastructure (especially fibre networks) is being developed needs to be increased. Existing government infrastructure assets (e.g., post offices, government buildings, CSCs) should be further leveraged for provision of digital services at remote locations, according to the study.

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