AIR spotlight summary on “International Internet Day”.
AIR spotlight summary on “International Internet Day”.
October 29th is the historic day where 40 years back from this day the Internet was born. Few young researchers and students had invented the internet which has become the lifeline of today’s world. In the 21st century Internet is in every walk of life. Even UN considers Internet to be a paradigm for development. When the world leaders endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the Secretary General endorsed the access to Internet as a parameter for development. Today almost 4.3 billion people do not have access to internet. In developing world its almost 2 people out of 3 still do not have access to Internet.
Growing need of Internet
- In 1995 the then government opened the Internet for the private sector. The present government schemes like Digital India, Skill India and Start-up India are connected to the Internet.
- Earlier the needs of the common man were food, clothing and shelter. Now it is food, clothing, shelter and Broadband connection. Without the broadband and Internet it is very difficult to survive. The daily routine like Railway ticket and Air ticket booking, banking etc requires Internet.
Importance of Internet
- 10% growth in the broadband means 1% increase in the GDP which is directly connected to the progress of our country.
- In Taiwan the advancement is huge and now the internet is into their daily life. Today internet is working faster than human thoughts. While talking about broadband our mind should be broad. Our objective should be how to penetrate broadband to the whole country, so that rural penetration will be there and our GDP will increase, financial power will increase and very soon we will find the next billion of internet will come only from India. This is possible only when the rural India is getting connected to the main stream of the urban India which automatically leads to the country’s progress.
- The women’s group which works under the flagship of Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and there is a cooperative called RUDI under SEWA where they are using the mobile application to sell their agriculture produce. This connects the agriculture value chain so well.
- Bringing all facilities which are not available in rural areas will be possible with Internet.
- BharatNet a highly scalable network infrastructure accessible on a non-discriminatory basis, to provide on demand, affordable broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps for all households and on demand capacity to all institutions, to realise the vision of Digital India, in partnership with States and the private sector.
- National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) aims to connect all the 2,50,000 Gram panchayats in the country and provide 100 Mbps connectivity to all gram panchayats (GPs).
Areas of Concern
- There is a large digital divide in India between rural and urban areas. The main problem is not about connectivity, but there are issues like accessibility and language. Right now the content on Internet is in English. The question is how to convert it into regional language.
- We cannot compare the Internet penetration with the mobile penetration. In mobile penetration the illiterate people know the basic usage of mobile phone like the red button is for disconnecting and the green button is for connecting the call. Whereas this does not work for internet. Here we require the application which should be user friendly so that any person should be able to run the application.
- Security is the major concern which has to be responded properly. India’s ‘Chalta Hai’ Attitude has to get rid of. The big corporates or big banks are not investing sufficiently for security purposes. If any fraud or misuse happens in banks, it will dilute the confidence of the public. People may not believe in the digital media and internet.
- Around 40% to 50% of access point of Wi-Fi, the password is very weak and in some it is without any password. The Internet has to be secured in a proper way so that no one misuses it.
Need for a local Entrepreneur
- For the entry into the internet we require a hand holding. This can be done only by the local entrepreneur. The local entrepreneur understands the requirement of the illiterate (in the sense of using computer) people of the rural area. The need is to put the local entrepreneur into the mainstream and should take internet to the last corner in the rural area. This gives the common man a total empowerment in terms of politics, finance and daily livelihoods.
- Why people don’t have access to computers is because they don’t have electricity. In an earlier initiative The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) took up the onus to provide the access to electricity and CSC to provide the access to internet.
- The CSC was not getting activated properly. The first issue was the connectivity and next was the local entrepreneurship. The corporate sitting in Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai cannot be a local entrepreneur. The local entrepreneur should be from the local area only.
- Earlier the CSC did not succeed because the local entrepreneur did not come forward. Now the CSC is going into the hands of local entrepreneur or the local post office. The ticket booking and all certificates from the government will be provided online. Distance learning education through tele-education and health facilities through tele-health.
Abuse of internet
- The child abuse and the women abuse in internet is causing nuisance over the internet. Looking at the cultural and social aspect of our country lot of low/middle income group are not interested about their children using the internet because of the content on child and women abuse.
- The government is working towards this by formulating proper rules. The government is taking help of some NGOs to identify those sites which are spreading the child abuse and blocking it at the origin if it is available in India and blocking it at the international gateway.
- The search engines should not provide the result of the websites whereby no one will be able to access. It is the responsibility of the internet service provider as well as the search engine and content provider to look towards this nuisance and make it a clean and productive internet.
- Taking internet to the rural areas will require the involvement of the civil society. The innovative partnership between Tata trust and Google which have started the initiative called Google Saathi / InternetSaathi, wherein they are providing internet to the rural women.
- Majority of the people without access to internet are the women and young people. Providing internet to them requires an innovative approach. This requires the collaboration between business, government and the civil society.