As digital adoption grows, safeguards are indeed required so that the internet is not switched on and off on a whim.
Digital technologies have no doubt impacted the Indian economy. With 560 million internet subscribers, India has, in fact, more digital consumers than any other country in the world, except China. India is rather digitizing faster than every country in the world with the exception of Indonesia, and in fact, about nearly 40% of its population has internet connectivity and has tremendous potential to grow.
Why shutting down the internet is no longer an option?
As far as most countries, the tipping point in digital adoption came when the cost of data dropped below 1% of average household income and smartphone penetration crossed 20%. For example at a given point of time, once Brazil and China passed 20% penetration in 2012, it took them just four years to cross 52% and 71% penetration, respectively.
As rapidly as the use of digital technologies has been growing so far, it seems clear that India is poised to witness greater acceleration. Over the past five years, the gross merchandise value of e-commerce doubled, and along the way, it has indeed completely changed the way one shops. Over the past four years, utilization of ride-hailing applications increased three-fold and, in the process, fundamentally inverted notions of vehicle ownership as well as usage.
Adoption is not limited to urban areas. Over the past decade, various digital platforms rolled out by the government have indeed penetrated deep into the rural hinterland, because of the increased telecom penetration and the coming together of key elements of digital infrastructures, such as identity and payment technologies.
Digital technology at a given point of time was a luxury meant for privileged people. Today, it is ubiquitous. In urban areas, digital platforms have so insinuated themselves into one’s way of life that they are often a reliable substitute for existing infrastructure. In rural areas that until recently had little to no access to basic infrastructure, they do have become the lifeline that does connect people and places which the system made use of to previously ignore. One has indeed reached a point where these technologies are not so much a nice-to-have, but an essential part of the infrastructure on which our national growth much depends.
The government in India has long operated on the belief that in a national security emergency, in case the internet gets shut down, it will prevent perpetrators of dangerous and illegal acts from communicating with each other.
Based on this assumption, Indian authorities have rather freely and frequently ordered internet service providers to switch off their internet access in various parts of the country.
According to internet shutdown.in, since 2012, there have in fact been a total of 315 internet shutdowns in India and that too, with the number of shutdowns having doubled every year since 2014.
Adoption is not limited to only to urban areas. Over the past decade, various digital platforms rolled out by the government have indeed penetrated deep into the rural hinterland, because of the increased telecom penetration and the coming together of key elements of digital infrastructures, such as identity as well as payment technologies