If there some disappointments in India and they are related, it is with the growth of the computing base and broadband infrastructure in India, along with the Internet services. For many, a growth rate of 30-40% in computer sales would be very good. But considering the pathetically small installed base in India, this is not what India needs. Rapidly building up the computing and networking infrastructure in India is critical to address many of the challenges that we face in educating the masses, building real-time enterprises, and removing pain points from the government-citizen interactions.
Here is the picture from a recent news report:
Information technology researcher Gartner Inc. said India’s computer market grew 35 percent during the July-September quarter compared with the same period a year ago. One in every 10 computers sold in Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, is now in India, the report said, adding India is among the fastest growing markets for computers in Asia.
India, a country with more than a billion people, has been a laggard in adopting technology due to high levels of poverty and illiteracy, but faster economic growth in recent years has led to a surge in demand. As of March, India had 12 million computers and 4.5 million Internet connections.
Manufacturers and traders expect to sell about 4.2 million computers in the current fiscal year ending in March, 2005. The latest survey by Gartner shows that the growth in India comes from small businesses, banks and notebook buyers. “While the corporate market continued to look healthy, top vendors are now seen to be aggressively targeting the premium end of the consumer segment,” said Vinod Nair, a Gartner analyst.
Much is made about the need for local languages support on computers. In fact, both Microsoft and Red Hat have made this a key aspect of their India policy, and the next year will see them have releases covering most of the Indian languages. But this is still only one dimension of the problem. The triad of access devices, networks and services go hand-in-hand. And that is where a disappointing broadband policy has taken the wind out of the sails of the domestic market. What we are starting to get is always-on narrowband connections camouflaged as broadband. The need is for innovative wireless broadband solutions in the last-mile which can connect up with the fibre back haul that exists across India. Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwalas presentation discusses how India can achieve 50 million broadband connections in the next 5-6 years.
India also needs innovative Internet services. This is now starting to happen online railway reservation is one of the big e-commerce success stories. But much more has to be done to make the Internet a utility in our daily lives.
Tomorrow: Made in India
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