India’s relationship with the internet has been one which has inspired much marvel and wonder. Not only has India leveraged Information Technology in order to leapfrog several infrastructural developments which were perceived to be essential, but it has also provided a blueprint for internet adoption which has caused both developed and developing nations to rethink their digitisation strategies.
India’s journey towards becoming a Digital powerhouse has been guided by the efforts of various stakeholders and industries coordinating to adapt the internet to the Indian masses. The two most prominent developments are access to affordable data, and access to affordable devices.
Unlike the global perception of Internet proliferation, which envisioned personal computers and high-speed WiFi connections in each household, the Indian perception of an online India which has emerged over the past decade is quite the contrary. The high cost of computers and the high capital expenditure in enabling WiFi had made digitisation in India untenable in the foreseeable future. However, the identification of the potential of 4G technology, combined with the advancements in Mobile phone production nurtured an environment where the utility of internet adoption far outweighed its costs. This phenomenon was further amplified by the investment in the development of software, applications, and UI/UX tailor made for mobile users as well as Indian users.
These subsequent developments have also been a part of what constitutes India's Global role in the conversations around internet adoption and digitisation. The immense success of internet adoption in India through the mediums of Mobile Phones and Cellular data acted as a proof of concept and attracted innovators and investors to work towards proliferating the new paradigm of internet utilisation.
The widespread adoption of digital technology also allowed the room for emerging technologies to have an avenue into the life of the average Indian, making it a utility that could be leveraged to solve legacy problems that have plagued developing nations. This phenomenon can be witnessed in the payments sector in India. The rapidly growing internet user base has been utilised to create payment solutions for Indians, where the banking infrastructure has fallen short. This has enabled several quality-of-life improvements, ranging from Direct beneficiary transfers to access to financial services for the severely marginalised across India.
Similar trends have been witnessed in fields such as Education and Entertainment where the internet has become an effective delivery mechanism for specialised services which might be in demand in a region where there is an inadequate physical infrastructure to access these services.
In the global context, these achievements became seminal. Such developments allowed for progress which can now be seen bearing fruits across the developing world. Moreover, even developed nations are now witnessing mobile phones playing a larger role in internet penetration, thanks to the paradigm shift India initiated.
India's internet journey has been one of reimagination, innovation, and coordination, allowing stars to align for the digitisation of a country that went from negligible internet penetration to having the cheapest data in the world. This phenomenon was enabled by regulatory support and entrepreneurial competition, which allowed widespread access to Smartphones and data, and subsequently spurred innovation in the development of mobile and data technologies.