High speed internet for Digital India

Most of us believe that technology is easily accessible for the rich. The well affluent can afford the best of inventions for mere amusement. Rich has the liberty and money to travel across the world in style, eat in luxurious restaurants and use flagship gadgets on the very launch day. The fact that the rich have more chances to survive cancer than the poor proves the fate of the less fortunate in this divided society. The world is surely divided but technology is the change enabler.

The key enabler of technology is affordability. Dr Hans Rosling, a Norwegian statistician says that South Asian and African economies have seen a magical transformation of skipping the needs of life. People who didn’t get chappals could get cycles over the period. The same happened here in India. The people who didn’t get a chance to use landline telephones are now using smartphones which run on latest 4G LTE internet. 20 crore Indian has a 4G connection on their smartphones. A 4G feature phone from reputed brands would be a game changer. Washing machines and refrigerators are common in Indian homes whereas it’s a privilege to have one in developed economy. As we talk about upgrading urban transport and smart cities, IoT will bring transformational change in the way we live.

Bridging the technological gap in India.

The gap between people who use internet and people who don’t is shrinking. 3 billion of us are online just email, facebook or twitter post away. The ambitious program of BHARATNET aims to provide high speed 100 Mbps internet through an optical fibre to 2,50,000 villages. With this comes IPTV services, online MOOCs education, internet banking and the whole range of government IT services.

Since the controversial decision of note ban, our nation is exploring collaborations in the world of fintech. The most benefitted are the payment services like PAYTM and BHIM. This has to be the largest ever migration from cash to mobile payment. PAYTM and BHIM combined has around seven crore active users on their systems. Financial technologies like these will bring ease in life as well as businesses.

Aadhaar, when launched, was meant to be mere social security card to clamp down on subsidy leakages. Now, it enables fingerprint banking through Aadhaar Pay. Ex- RBI governor Raghuram Rajan proudly said in an event that India will have the most sophisticated payment systems in the world. He’s damn right. Today, global MNCs like Samsung, Apple, Paypal are eyeing big in Indian fintech space.

The South Korean way

South Korea is the world leader when it comes to technology. The country has the fastest average internet connection speed of 20 Mbps in the world. In South Korea, 98% of the educated people use high-speed internet while 89% of less-educated people do the same. A Pew survey study suggested that the internet gap between the old and the young is the narrowest in South Korea.

Samsung recently unveiled world’s first ever LTE railway technology on Busan Metro. Korea plans to have 8,000 km of railway lines covered under LTE-R. High technology investments like these have diminished the income gaps. Elders get the best medical treatment. By 2030, South Korea is projected to have highest life expectancy for both men and women.

India is on the right track. With younger population, we have the demographic and technological advantage. We need to encourage our start-up ecosystem to develop innovations for India and the world. As India grows, the income gap between the rich and poor will narrow. Technology is not just a tool. It can give learners a voice that they may not have had before.

Chaitanya Kulkarni (Twitter.com/chai2kul)

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