The World Economic Forum released the study Using Information and Communication Technologies to Boost India’s Competitiveness, in the lead-up to the India Economic Summit 2010 in New Delhi on 14-16 November. The study analyzes India’s advances and challenges related to information and communication technologies (ICT) development for enhanced competitiveness and the creation of a truly networked society.
By offering a snapshot of the country’s networked readiness and by drawing comparisons with economies with similar characteristics and challenges (e.g. People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, the United States and Brazil among others), the paper aims to cast light on the weaknesses that should be addressed on a priority basis and point to possible solutions and best practices that would make India a truly networked society.
The study draws on the findings of the World Economic Forum’s Networked Readiness Index 2009-2010, featured in the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2009-2010. It underlines the remarkable strides India has made in the last two decades, emerging as a global player in sectors such as ITeS-BPO and by increasing ICT penetration and diffusion within its territory. At the same time, the challenges ahead, as well as the opportunities for better exploiting India’s many competitive advantages when it comes to networked readiness, are highlighted and discussed.
India ranks 43rd out of 133 countries in the Networked Readiness Index 2009-2010, as a result of a mixed performance across the nine categories covered by the index. India displays competitive strengths in areas related to human resources, preparation and willingness to use ICT by citizens, businesses and the government. In particular, ICT has increasingly been prioritized in the government development agenda as a key enabler of economic diversification, productivity increases and more universal service provision. On the other hand, ICT penetration rates remain extremely low, preventing a large part of the population to benefit from the revolutionary power of ICT.
A significant impediment in this sense is the extremely poor quality and development of national hard infrastructure, including energy and transport networks as well as fixed telephony. In parallel, despite the major market reforms that dismantled the license raj system in the 1990s, the regulatory environment for doing business must be improved by further cutting red tape and government inefficiencies and enhancing public governance.
The study intends to provide a useful basis for a society-wide discussion on how to further improve ICT diffusion and development in India in order to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the country’s several advantages in this realm and stresses the importance of a joint vision and effort on the part of the government and the civil society at large to address the pending challenges and turn India into a durable success development story.