Recently there is a news article going around in social media about the recent Global Information Technology Report 2016 published by World Economic Forum. According to this report, India has slipped two places to 91 among 139 countries in Networked Readiness Index (NRI) compared to the year 2015. For those who are not aware of this term NRI, it indicates a nation’s degree of preparation to participate in and benefit from information and communication technology (ICT) developments. In other words, it gives a comparative idea about a nation’s digital awareness and preparedness, digital infrastructure, skill, usage and affordability of internet, social and economic impact of it etc.
Supporters of certain political parties are rejoicing by sharing this post which for them is a proof of the failure of one of the pet projects of the govt; ‘Digital India’. Media is also trying to portray this as a failure of current govt by showing how India slipped from 68th place in 2013 to 91st place in 2016. Let’s get into the truth behind all this.
This is no secret that a certain section of media is trying its best to malign the current govt by hook or crook. So they started to describe this report as a big failure of the govt by comparing India’s position in 2013 to 2016. It is interesting to see the years chosen by them. Either they are trying to give a sensational figure or trying to hide the failure of the previous govt by not comparing the numbers between the years 2014 and 2016 which would be appropriate as the present govt took over in 2014 May and the report generally comes in June end. Because by doing this they are hiding the fact that according to the report of 2014, India slipped a staggering 15 places from 68th in 2013 to 83rd in 2014!
Now let’s go back a bit and evaluate India’s position in this report in the past 15 years which will give us a statistical idea of India’s performance in the field of ICT. When this NRI ranking was introduced in the year 2001, India was at 54th place among 75 countries. In 2004-05, when the UPA-I govt took over, India was placed at 39th among 104 countries. After UPA-I came to power, India slipped slowly to 54th place in 2008. It is worth mentioning that the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) was launched in 2006 by UPA-I and admirers of the previous govt say that Digital India is nothing but remodeling of this NeGP. Nevertheless India improved its position in the 2009 report to go up to 43rd place among 133 countries. After UPA-II came into power in 2009, the real slip started and India, from 43rd place in 2009, came down to 83rd place in 2014; a staggering slip of 40 places! I have no idea where these champions of IT were then and why haven’t they asked any question to that govt.
Now let’s come back to the current report of 2016. In the first line of the performance overview itself, the report says that India has improved in the fields of Political & Regulatory Environment and business & innovation environment. The drop is mainly attributed to the rapid rise of other countries though domestic problems like lack of infrastructure and low level of skill among people are also to be blamed. As the ‘Digital India’ mission started in the year 2015, obviously it will take some time to materialize on field. Developing new infrastructure; both for data transmission and electricity, skill development, increasing awareness can’t be done overnight. So let’s leave haters to do their job and hope India will do much better in the future in its mission to become fully e-literate.