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Make the internet accessible, open and safe for all Indians to close the digital divides

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NEW DELHI: At least 8 in 10 individuals in India own a mobile phone and digital technologies are spreading rapidly but with nearly a billion people still not connected to the internet, the opportunities for increasing access to digital technology for creating higher growth, more jobs, and better public services are significant for India.

The `World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends,’ launched in India today, the aggregate impact of digital technologies has fallen short and is unevenly distributed. Therefore, greater efforts must be made by countries across the world to connect more people to the internet to create an environment that unleashes the benefits of digital technologies for everyone.

The report recognizes India’s early success in digital technology when it became a global powerhouse for information services. India is currently the largest exporter of ICT services and skilled manpower in the developing world.

Even while having the largest number of offline population in the world, India has the third highest number of internet users by absolute number, only behind China and the United States. Moreover, adoption of digital technologies shows great variation within the country: very high for government and relatively low for businesses, especially among small and medium enterprises. 

The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry today employs more than 3.1 million workers, 30 percent of them are women. In rural India, a three-year awareness program on opportunities in the BPO industry increased women’s enrollment in relevant training programs, as well as school enrollment among young girls, by 3–5 percentage points.

Biometric registration, authentication, and payments in India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the world’s largest workfare program, reduced the time for paying beneficiaries by 29 percent.

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