India improves rank on network readiness

India improves rank on network readiness

New Delhi: On the back of a boom in mobile telephony, a thriving software services industry and the government’s increased focus on bridging the digital divide, India has improved its position by 11 ranks to 43 on the so-called Networked Readiness Index (NRI), a World Economic Forum (WEF) study said.

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The study, Using Information and Communication Technologies to Boost India’s Competitiveness, was released on Thursday in New Delhi. The NRI provides a framework for gauging how countries are leveraging information and communication technologies to increase growth and development. The index is calculated by the WEF and INSEAD.

Irene Mia, senior economist and director, WEF, and the author of the report said that though India’s jump in ranking is remarkable, its progress was still slow compared with that of some other nations in terms of usage and infrastructure.

“India’s digital divide is a manifestation of its economic divide too," she said. For instance, Vietnam has moved from 70 to 54 and Pakistan, from 98 to 87.

Sweden is at the top followed by Singapore, while the US is at fifth position. Among the so-called Bric countries, China is at 37 and Brazil at 61. While countries such as the US and Malaysia are ahead of India in most counts, in terms of individual readiness, the South Asian nation surpassed the other two with a ranking of 7.

India’s “high level of readiness does not seem to have translated into similarly high levels of usage", Mia said.

The report said low individual usage and poor infrastructure environment were worrisome areas.

According to the report, while India has emerged as the second largest mobile market after China with 600 million mobile subscribers in April, in terms of PC and Internet penetration, it remains a laggard. In 2009, India had 5.1 Internet users for every 100 people, which compares poorly with the corresponding figures of 39.2% and 28.5% for Brazil and China, respectively.

Karthik Ananth, director at Zinnov Management Consulting said that India’s IT infrastructure is a work in progress.

“Affordability has been the biggest roadblock as service providers are still thinking about how to deliver low-cost solutions to the masses," he said.