As India struggles to augment its economic growth in the face of rising inflation and slowing consumer demand, the importance of making long-term investments in internet infrastructure over the next five years cannot be overstated. Currently, India's internet penetration is only 10 per cent compared to an average of 40 per cent in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, China and South Africa. Providing increased internet accessibility to a greater portion of our population could help extend the benefits of the flow of information and exchange of ideas, e-governance, and e-commerce activities to rural areas, thus helping overall growth. The internet currently contributes around 1.6 per cent ($30 billion) to our gross domestic product. A report by McKinsey and Co notes that this contribution could rise to as much as 3.3 per cent ($100 billion) by 2015, provided we achieve our potential in terms of the number of users. The report also estimates that while the current levels of expenditure in internet infrastructure are estimated to create six million direct and indirect jobs by 2015, ensuring greater investment could potentially increase employment by an additional 16 million.
Investment should be focused on issues such as increasing the number of secure servers and average bandwidth per capita and driving deeper penetration of PCs. Real-time applications could also be provided across different sectors - from agriculture to health care - to enable producers and consumers to track real time prices and procure goods online in a transparent manner.
Letters can be mailed, faxed or e-mailed to:
The Editor, Business Standard
Nehru House, 4 Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg
New Delhi 110 002
Fax: (011) 23720201
All letters must have a postal address and telephone number