A View on India’s Digital Future

There is little doubt about the best way of assessing both the success and potential of the internet to a country’s economy than the level of internet penetration.  This is the level of the population who have access to the internet in some form whether from a pc, laptop, tablet or even a smart phone.

For India the number is rising rapidly and many now have access, especially helped by  the popularity of mobile phones.  The rise of the web has of course been a success story we’re all familiar with yet it’s still continuing – it is estimated that some 5 to 6 billion more people will gain access to the web in the next decade.  The whole digital future of the world will begin to be shaped by these people, and it is expected nations like India will have a huge say in that future.


There are a few reasons why it is expected that Indians will have an online impact.  It is of course a very populous place, yet many Indians have high aspirations too, in fact many Indians already have turned to the internet as a place to improve their lives.

This is important as although the internet has the potential to improve peoples lives and employment possibilities, it needs people to become ‘producers’ on the web not just ‘consumers’.  Simply put although there is great advantage to simply being able to access the internet, it is the people who create content and a web presence who are able to create employment and wealth using it.

The signs are positive, as well as having great aspirations many Indians have a decent education and specifically access to technology educations.  Over the years many large tech companies have set up bases in India producing a new generation of web designers, programmers and IT related employment.

Web literacy is therefore well founded and lots of Indians are set up online with a variety of digital based businesses.  Usage of tools and digital applications is in many areas quite common place, I found many digital entrepreneurs using the free Smart DNS trial service who someone had recommended.  These tools are essential to help build a business in somewhere like India where there are still some built in disadvantages to doing business from there.

For example payment pre-processors are not always available there, whilst Western web businesses can quite happily choose from lots like Paypal, many of these are restricted from India meaning it’s difficult to take payment for goods and services.   Using some sort of VPNs/Proxies etc means that no only can they watch UK TV abroad free but also can access resources in other countries without these built in restrictions and compete on a slightly more level playing field.

More on Financial Literacy Problems

It’s a subject that is becoming more and more relevant over the years, in truth it may be even more important than just normal literacy.  There are a huge number of  reports and surveys pointing to the low level of financial literacy among young people all over the developed world.  In fact when you see the huge debt problems that have dragged down economies and banks, then perhaps it’s time to start taking this a little more seriously.


The latest survey of financial literacy of any note was conducted by CNN who looked at 15 year olds in over 18 countries.  The results were quite surprising,  with the US students ranked about midway.  The top results went to the Chinese students, but there were good performances from Belgium, Estonia, Australia and New Zealand.  Within the tables though were worrying statistics like 20% of US students didn’t even make a level of ‘baseline efficiency’.

The reality is that if a subject is  not learnt at school it is often not learnt in adult life either.  Just as not being proficient in reading and writing can cause huge issues for adults, arguably financial illiteracy can wreak even more chaos.  It’s something that worries a lot of people, that adults often simply have no idea about debt, it’s costs , how to borrow money and paying it back.  You can travel around very poor areas with high levels of debt and see individuals driving around in cars which cost multiples of their annual salary.

The survey doesn’t really suggest that Chinese have all the answers to financial education though.  The students who were studied were hardly representative of the population as a whole.  Many of the were considered ‘gifted academically’ and they were all from China’s financial centre – Shanghai where education is generally far superior to rural areas.  But perhaps the lesson is that people with wealth and education, are more likely to have more success with money in the future.

There are definitely some lessons to be learnt though from all the countries who have done well.  All of  the top performers had financial literacy elements in their curriculum from a country wide basis.  Indeed there is an extensive financial literacy effort in Australian schools who are often recognised as being pro-active in many areas of education.  For example many pupils there take an interest in European economics and news, often logging in to BBC Iplayer Australia like this -

One of the issues that the US has is that decisions on what is taught in the classroom about finance is actually devolved to the states themselves rather than being mandated from a Federal level with many opting out of these recommendations. It does seem rather crazy to ignore financial education considering the amount of chaos large levels of private debt have helped cause in the last few years.

The world is growing ever smaller, and the financial skills of citizens of every country are likely to have a growing effect on the success of a country. The Japanese economy was built on a mountain of private debt and rampant materialism, it’s spent decades in the doldrums ever since that bubble of consumerism simply blew up the economy at the end of the last century. There are some excellent documentaries around the world about the effect of high levels of private debt in many European countries – they’re accessible by using a UK VPN for the British ones in any case.

Digital Literacy a Key to Success

There’s a growing belief that digital skills are vital for pretty much all sectors of society in the 21st Century. However there are sectors of most societies that are becoming more disadvantaged due to the lack of these skills.

Being digitally literate means that we can engage and use all the many digital methods of communication that are second nature to many. Whether it be at work or home the ability to share, communicate and disseminate information using digital communication methods is becoming as essential as basic literacy.

Without these skills there’s no doubt people will be at a disadvantage, but many are finding themselves in this situation through no fault of their own. Most of us are at ease with a laptop, computer or tablet and will happily communicate using whatever medium is available. A chat conference via Skype sounds very complicated but the majority of teenagers would have no problem engaging with this format. If you haven’t come across these digital tools though it can seem incredibly intimidating especially in a work environment.

Just as some people will happily use something like a proxy or VPN in order to access BBC iPlayer USA (normally this would be blocked because the BBC is only available in the UK), to others it might sound hopelessly complicated. The reality is though that over the last few years most digital technologies have become incredibly easy to use.

Nearly 30 years ago the first version of the Windows Operating System required a substantial level of technological skill to operate it successfully. You had to understand device drivers, batch files, operating systems and memory management. The newest versions of Windows and indeed all the operating systems which sit on our phones, laptops and computers require virtually no technology knowledge at all, most are intuitive and a little hands on experience is all that’s needed.

That’s why engaging with people who have limited access to this technology is so important. From the outside it seems complicated and difficult but the majority of people will pick up most of this technology very quickly when given the opportunity. Setting up technology rooms or displays in libraries is an ideal way to transfer this knowledge quickly and easily.

This sort of approach is not intended to create technology experts who can configure your laptop in seconds or set up a Smart DNS system on your new TV. What it does do, is to help people who may have developed a slight fear of this sort of technology and a feeling of being left behind. Today’s technology is deliberately designed to be all encompassing and there’s little reason for any sector of society to be left behind.