950 million Indians are out of reach Internet despite having cheapest mobile data plans in the world

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Nearly 950 million Indians are still living without internet at a time when mobile data plans offered by the country’s carriers are among the cheapest in the world and the average retail price of smartphones are steadily declining, according to ASSOCHAM-Deloitte joint study. The research study however added that internet penetration is increasing in India. It added that the access to affordable broadband, smart devices and monthly data packages are required to spread digital literacy to make their ends meet.

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The study said that 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 training's in schools, colleges and universities; accelerating partnerships with global technology leaders and using the workforce trained under Skill India to impart training's. An integrated approach between Digital India and Skill India needs to be constructed to design programmes and impart training,” it added.

ASSOCHAM-Deloitte joint study also urged the government to increase awareness regarding the value add of technology to increase technology adoption. 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 incentivized 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.

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Fear of cybercrime and breach of privacy has been a deterrent in adoption of digital technologies in India. 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, it added.

The study also noted that the low rate of digital literacy is a key hindrance to adoption of technology 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,” it added.

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