According to Oxford University, India has among the lowest internet adoption rates in the world, with less than 20% of the population having access to the internet.
Every statistic you look up shows similar results: when it comes to progress, India is making a ton of it. Many of its cities are home to the fastest growing economies in the world, and dozens of top companies are moving entire sections of their production and research facilities to the country.
At the same time, India is a living paradox, with much of its population living in unimaginable poverty. While the growth charts look good for India, the charts that deal with the present reveal a different reality.
The information has been published by the Oxford University’s Internet Institute, who created an interesting map showing where Internet users live across the globe:
Who in the world is online?
South-central Africa is one place where we expected a low Internet penetration to show up - after all, those are areas that suffer from much larger issues than Internet connections being slow - but what’s surprising is India’s less than 20% population being online.
The data is not exactly new, as the Oxford researchers compiled information gathered in 2013, but the situation is not vastly different three years later.
India, home of the paradox
Let’s see just how different one country can be and how it could seem like you’re looking at completely different places, simply by changing your point of view.
Growing economy, bright future
On one hand, India seems like an investor’s wet dream. The country is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and its workforce represents a growing percentage in the IT sector.
Look no further than the CEOs of the biggest tech companies in the world - Google’s Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella - to see the quality of the Indian workforce.
The country itself is expected to quadruple its 2007 GDP in the next four years, and property prices across the country have increased in value over the past decade. Everything you look at points at fantastic business opportunities.
And while the IT and tech sector is the cherry on top of the cake, other industries are doing just as well:
- Agriculture is booming, with millions of tons of fruit leaving the country for export each year
- Militarily, India is one of the most powerful countries in the world, spending billions of dollars on its army and equipment
- The movie industry is also huge, with ticket sales overtaking the United States and Canada combined.
Present-day India is still struggling
As good as the future is shaping up to be, the present still has a long way to go. India’s struggling with widespread poverty, and when the basic necessities are still a long way from being adopted by the majority of the population, luxuries like an Internet connection are a second thought.
One of the biggest struggles that the country is fighting is an inequality gap between the rich and the poor - and that’s not a sign of a prospering economy.
Reports show that the gap between the poorest and richest Indians is widening, and the poorest 10% spend almost 15 times less than the top 10% on a daily basis.
What’s next: Even slow progress is still progress
If this image were to be updated with the stats for the end of 2016, I bet that the world would be a different place. In fact, I'm willing to bet that by 2020 the entire map will be red.
With so many projects aiming to bring stable and cheap internet connection to developing countries, this is the number one priority in the tech world.
And in a decade we're going to forget what cellphone or Internet coverage is - no more areas will be left where you can't
access the web or make a phone call.
The future will bring better technology, and more importantly it will bring existing technology to the people that need it most.
What does the map look like for your country, do you think it's accurate?