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India fares poorly in global ICT ranking

11 April 2012

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India stood 69th among 142 nations in inherent ability and capacity to leverage information and communication technologies (ICT) for progress in the recent series of Networked Readiness Index reports.

In an annual report published by the World Economic Forum and INSEAD, which ranks countries in terms of global information and communication technologies (ICT) according to latest series of Networked Readiness Index; India ranked 69 this year. This is a further slip from its 43rd position in 2011.

The report that examined 142 developed and developing nations in terms of their ability to leverage advances in ICT’s to drive economic productivity and social development, saw China almost 20 ranks ahead of India, at 51.

The report underlines that overall India delivers a very mixed performance with encouraging results in few areas and a lot of room for improvement in the political and regulatory environment. It also showed the need to improve in areas of business and innovation environment, in which the nation was rated 71 and 91 respectively.

Referring to the long procedures of paper work that needs to be completed before starting any business processes in India, the report highlights, “Extensive red tape stands in the way of businesses and corporate tax is among the highest of all analysed countries. For instance, it typically takes four years and 46 procedures to enforce a contract.”

The country ranked 117th in the individual usage pillar. The report emphasised on the relatively low figures of ICT being used in the country. It states that there are 61 mobile subscriptions for every 100 people and a mere 7.5 per cent of the population uses the Internet. Since only six per cent of households own a PC, broadband Internet remains the privilege of a few, with less than one subscription per 100 people. Upgrading skills and infrastructure would contribute to increasing these figures, states the report.

However, India ranked fairly well in terms of availability of new technologies and venture capital, intensity of local competition and the quality of management schools.

The report suggested a need for up gradation of skills and infrastructure, “fierce competition and innovations” had made India the leader in ICT affordability. It went on to state, “Although penetration is still limited among the population at large, businesses are early and assiduous adopters of new technologies. And the government is placing a great deal of emphasis on ICT as a way of addressing some of the most pressing issues. Whether this vision will translate into a transformation of the economy and society remains to be seen.”

Despite major advances made in the ICT sector, India faces hindrance in trying to overcome several factors. The biggest and the most basic being the need for efficient and continued power supply to its increasing population; the essential requirement for such technologies. Secondly, the technology needs to percolate to all parts of the country, especially the poor in the rural areas. An imbalanced distribution of such, can hardly be called a success story.

While on one hand this sector is seen as a promising solution to ensure a higher GDP and overall economic growth, on the other the Indian government fails to ensure basic pre-requisites needed for such technologies to be properly implemented. Till these short-comings are covered, the success of such ICT initiatives seems in jeopardy.

Click here for the complete report

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