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Digital India: how much digital is urban India?

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Pune: A new study carried out in the city indicated that India’s Internet use is low and not reflected in the numbers of mobile phone connections and growth. The study points towards the prevalence of digital inequality in the urban areas.

Carried out in Pune, a rapidly growing metropolis of 5.92 million people, its economy is driven in large part by information technology, the study found:

– 82 percent of people surveyed in low-income neighborhoods don’t use The Internet

– 56 percent of households have no Internet users at all

– 41 percent of non-users have never heard of the Internet

– 43 percent of people between 16-25 years of age do not use Internet.

The results are likely to be similar in more prosperous cities, such as Bengaluru and Delhi, worse in poorer cities.

Although Internet users in India are increasing rapidly, and the country is Asia-Pacific’s fastest growing smartphone market, only 22 percent of the adult population in India uses the Internet, compared to the global median of 67 percent, according to this survey by Pew Research Center, a US research institute.

India lags behind most major economies and performs worse than Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Indonesia, among other countries, the data reveals.

Yet, in absolute numbers, India likely overtook the US and became the country with the world’s second-largest Internet market, with 402 million active Internet users in December 2015. These figures clearly hide great variations, the Pune study revealed.

The study, “Towards Digital Inclusion: Barriers to Internet Access for Economically and Socially Excluded Communities”, conducted in low-income and socially excluded neighbourhoods by the Centre for Communication and Development Studies (CCDS), a Pune non-profit organisation, provides rare empirical evidence of digital inequality.

Pune has grown rapidly over the last two decades to become the eighth-largest urban agglomeration in India. In 2015, Pune ranked second only to Bengaluru in software exports from India. The city has as many as 3.6 million Internet users (a 34% year-on-year growth), according to “Internet in India 2014”, a report from Internet and Mobile Association of India.

These are the six main observations the study made about Pune’s digital inequality:

I. 84 percent of women do not use the Internet compared to 42 percent men. Only 26 percent of all Internet users were women, and 84% of all surveyed women do not use Internet, compared to 42 percent of all men.

There are several stereotypical beliefs that augment this gender digital inequality, according to the CCDS study. For instance: It is primarily men in the household who acquire smartphones, while women are handed down older, basic phones without data access, or feature phones that allow only limited Internet applications.

Parents believe that girls don’t need mobiles since they stay at home more than boys. There is also a widespread feeling that mobiles made available to women will lead to unwanted romantic liaisons and “exploitation”.

Boosting Internet access for women has the potential to boost their participation in the labour force, according to this Mckinsey study. Recently, several villages in Gujarat banned mobile phones for girls and single women, a confirmation of widespread patriarchal norms hindering gender equality.

II. Better education increases chances of Internet access. As many as 56 percent of households with at least one member with a class 10 education or enrolled currently were “connected”, meaning, at least, one Internet user, as compared to 14 percent of households without anyone with a similar education.

The number of non-Internet users decreases with increasing education levels. Of those who never attended school/had any primary education, only 3 percent access the Internet, compared to 83 percent of those who are graduates and above.

III. Wealthier households are more likely to use Internet. Only 29.4 percent of households in the first wealth quintile (poorest) were connected, compared to 62.8 percent of households in the fifth quintile (richest).

IV. Younger people are more connected to the Internet. 53.5 percent of all Internet users were between 16 and 20 years of age. The percentage decreased with age, as the chart below shows.

V. Occupation plays a significant role in increasing access. 46.5 percent of Internet users were students, while 26.2 percent were in the service sector, establishing a link between occupation and access.

VI. Having a smartphone increases chances of Internet use. As many as 77 percent of households with a smartphone-accessed the Internet, compared to 30 percent of households without a smartphone.

“Smartphone users are leading India’s Internet growth,” said this recent report from Google India. A direct correlation between access to Internet and smartphone ownership was noticeable in the Pew survey.

Only 17 percent of Indian adults own a smartphone, according to the survey by Pew Research. Only 7 percent of adults in low-income families own a smartphone; the figure for wealthier families is 22 percent.

Other key findings:

– As many as 27.5 percent of non-users reported that lack of understanding of the Internet and how to use it was a major reason for not going online

– Men are eight times more likely to use the Internet than women

– As many as 21 percent of non-users believe that the Internet is not useful for women

– The number was 32 percent for Internet users

– As many as 35 percent of male users and 24 percent of female users felt the Internet had increased their confidence and enhanced their personality

– Only 8 percent of users said they found the Internet useful in finding out about government benefits.

The CCDS field research was spread across six low-income settlements, 1,634 households and 5,999 citizens in Ambedkar Nagar, Janata Vasahat, Laxmi Nagar and Patil Estate in Pune Municipal Corporation areas and Anand Nagar, Mahatma Phule Nagar in the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation area. (Devanik Saha, IANS)

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Realme Aims to Become Top Online Smartphone Player in India During Festive Quarter

According to the firm, it is also investing in offers worth Rs 300 crore for its prospective buyers in the upcoming festive seaon

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Realme, Online, Smartphone
Surface-mount technology or SMT is a method for producing electronic circuits wherein the components are mounted or placed directly onto the surface of printed circuit boards (PCBs). Pixabay

Armed with a quad camera-system smartphone in every price segment along with an investment worth Rs 300 crore for its surface-mount technology (SMT) lines, Chinese handset maker Realme aims to become the top online smartphone player in India during the festive quarter, the company’s India CEO said on Friday.

“We have just invested Rs 300 crore towards eight new SMT lines this quarter for Diwali season to make sure that this festive season people keep getting unprecedented supply of stocks,” Madhav Sheth, Chief Executive Officer, Realme India, told IANS.

Surface-mount technology or SMT is a method for producing electronic circuits wherein the components are mounted or placed directly onto the surface of printed circuit boards (PCBs).

According to the firm, it is also investing in offers worth Rs 300 crore for its prospective buyers in the upcoming festive seaon.

Realme, Online, Smartphone
Armed with a quad camera-system smartphone in every price segment along with an investment worth Rs 300 crore for its surface-mount technology (SMT) lines, Chinese handset maker Realme aims. Pixabay

“We are also the only brand offering quad-cam phones under Rs 20,000 in India,” noted Sheth.

Realme currently shares a facility with its parent company OPPO in Greater Noida and will continue to share the same facility for manufacturing its upcoming portfolio of handsets.

“With the new SMT lines, our current manufacturing capacity which is 1-1.2 million devices a month will more than triple to 3-3.5 million,” Sheth told IANS.

Almost two-third of the online sales during this festive season is likely to be driven by Realme and Xiaomi, according to Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Counterpoint Research.

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“They have a good momentum which is likely to continue. Last year’s festive season was a record quarter for India. This year too, we’re anticipating that the online channel would do well in the festive season. Brands that are doing well online like Realme would drive the online festive sales,” Pathak told IANS.

The Shenzhen headquartered handset maker became the second-largest player in the online segment, driven by a strong online push and good performance of its affordable series — Realme C2, Realme 3, and Realme 3 Pro, according to Counterpoint Research’s Q2 report.

“They are covering the price tiers fast… The online segment is growing so I think they are at the right place at the right time,” noted Pathak.

The handset maker currently has a retail presence in cities including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Surat, Ludhiana and Chandigarh, and is also expanding footprint to meet the growing demands of customers.

Realme, Online, Smartphone
We have just invested Rs 300 crore towards eight new SMT lines this quarter for Diwali season to make sure that this festive season people keep getting unprecedented supply of stocks. Pixabay

The company launched its first smartphone with 64MP camera — the Realme XT — in India last week.

Also Read- Sub-Saharan Africa Lags Behind All Other Regions in World in Reducing Child and Maternal Mortality

The phone comes in three storage variants — 4GB+64GB, 6GB+64GB, and 8GB+128GB — priced at Rs 15,999, Rs 16,999 and Rs 18,999, respectively. (IANS)