Digital deficit hampers inclusive growth: Kathuria

Digital deficit hampers inclusive growth: Kathuria

Prof K T Ravindran, Dean emeritus, RICS School of Built Environmnet New Delhi (L), Rajat Kathuria, Director and Chief Executive Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) New Delhi (C), and Partha Mukhopadhyay, Senior Fellow,

Digital deficit is coming in the way of achieving inclusive growth although the telecom industry has attracted around $6 billion investment.

Talking to DH on the sidelines of a CII event on digital infrastructure, Chief Executive and Director of Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) Rajat Kathuria said India's mobile and internet achievements are a study in contrast. 

Digital deficit is defined as limited access to internet or broadband connection.

"Even though the country has seen over a billion mobile subscribers, we have only 83.5 million and 362 million users of internet and broadband," Kathuria said.

He also pointed out that the digital deficit is affecting the rural and urban divide. "We all know how the Bharat Net initiative work is progressing. It is high time that public-private partnership and right of way issues are addressed to minimise this digital divide," he said.

Lauding the government for coming up with a new telecom policy, he said the country should take steps to make various avenues like satellite telephone, opening the C and Ku bands. 

"We should be careful in holding the spectrum auction since it will affect the financial health of telecom companies and ultimately the consumers will suffer. We should also think of opening E and V bands for public," said Kathuria. 

He also pointed out that digital connectivity is important in Indian context as it facilitates communication and commerce. "It will eventually propel economic growth. I hope the new National Telecom Policy 2018 will play a bigger role in achieving Digital India initiatives," he said.