Overview of web Index and focus country
Web index was introduced by World Wide Web Foundation in 2012. The main aim of this index is to examine the impact of web on the economical, political and social progress of countries. In 2012 report of web index data for 86 countries were analyzed and ranking was provided for each country. There are four major areas on the basis of which the ranking of a country is calculated. This includes area of access, relevant content, empowerment and freedom and openness. There are various sub-sections under each of these points. The web index is prepared taking into consideration both the primary and secondary data. The primary data is derived from assessment of the expert researchers which are mostly evidence based(World Wide Web Foudation, 2015).
For the current research report, India has been selected as a focus country. It is third largest economy in Asia and one of the fastest growing economies across the world (Pradipbhai, 2013; The Global Economy, 2015). Even though the country is growing at rapid rate, there are many serious economic and social problems (UNDP, 2015). The percentage of people living below the poverty line is one of the highest in this region(The World Bank Group, 2016). Also the country lacks far behind in terms of human development index (HDI). Other problems include inadequate infrastructure, unemployment, high infant mortality rate etc (Panagariya & Mukim, 2013). Since India has one of the largest population around the world, the use of web can have significant impact on its social and political economy (Web Index, 2013). So it has been selected as focus country for the current research. Performance of India on the different parameters of Web Index has been discussed below.
Presentation and analysis of data
One of the Web-Index used is the universal access, which is used to measure the investment in internet infrastructure, skill development and education by a county which will help its citizen to use web. The universal access of India has been measured in terms of three different sub-index namely the communication infrastructure, accessibility and affordability and education and awareness (World Wide Web Foudation, 2015).
Communication infrastructure has been measured in terms of secure internet servers per million populations in India. As shown in the figure below the proportion of population using secure internet is continuously increasing over the period of time (TRAI, 2015). However as compared to the global mean of 374.92, India’s performance is not good. Even though it is the best performer among the South Asian nation, it is ranked 48 out of 86 countries included in the Web Index.
Figure 1 Secure internet server per million populations in India
Figure 2 Comparison between India and South Korea in terms of secure internet server per million population
Similarly the communication infrastructure has been measured in terms IXPs, which shows whether the country has internet exchange point (IXP). Content Networks and internet service providers use IXP to exchange the internet traffic (Singhal, Khatri, & Jha, 2014). In case of Web-Index, if the country has IXP it was coded as 1, otherwise 0. So, as shown in the figure below, all the values for India since 2007 are 1. This indicates that the India has IXP to provide internet services to its citizens.
The best performing country in terms of communication infrastructure is South Korea, whereas the worst performing country is Myanmar.
Figure 3 Availability of IXPs in India
Access and affordability
Another sub-index of universal access is the accessibility and affordability of internet service in the country. In this case the access and affordability of the internet in India is measured in terms of mobile broadband monthly subscription per GDPC. As the figure shows there is decline in the monthly subscription per GDPC in India which indicates that the affordability of internet in India has improved (Agarwal, 2017). In other words the Indian citizens are able to use mobile broadband in cheaper rate as compared to previous year. The decline in the subscription rate in India is due to entry of new companies in the telecom sector. With new players in the market there is increase in competition, leading to decline in the price (Bedi & Kharbanda, 2014).
Figure 4 Mobile broadband monthly subscription per GDPC
Figure 5 Comparison between India and Germany in terms of mobile broadband subscription per capita income
This shows the mobile subscription in Germany is much lower as compared to India. Even though the Indian cost for broadband is also declining, but the gap between Germany and India is still significant.
Education and awareness
The last sub index in the universal access is education and awareness among the citizens. It is a well known fact that increase in the level of education helps to improve awareness not only in internet but also in other social and economic matters (Kumar, 2012; Vora, 2010). So to investigate the education and awareness in India two different indicators has been used in this case.
Figure 6 Gross enrolment rate in tertiary education in India
The first one is the gross enrolment rates the tertiary education in India. As the figures shown above the rate have increased over the period of time which suggests that every year more people are enrolling for the tertiary education. There has been significant increase in the rate after 2010. However this shows only the gross enrollment rate, the true impact can only be analyzed by the net enrolment rate. This is because dropping out is one of the serious problems in Indian education system (Kumar, 2012; Sanjay, Gupta, Gautam, & Meena, Shri, Hari, 2014).
Figure 7 Comparison between Qatar and India in terms of tertiary enrolment rate (female :male)
Comparing the results for the enrolment in tertiary education between India and Qatar shows that India is far behind the top performer. One of the reason may be the huge population of India. However India should spend more on education to improve its ranking.
Figure 8 Secondary school enrollment rate in India
Another indicator of the education and awareness in India is the secondary school e enrollment rate. As shown in the figure above the enrolment in the secondary education is continuously increasing in India. The enrolment rate has increase from 59 in 2007 to around 70 % in 2013. Indian government has introduced various scheme and programs to encourage students to go for secondary education, due to which there is improvement in the enrollment rate. The Right to education introduced in 2009 has significantly affected the enrollment rate, especially in the primary school. With increase in enrollment in the primary school there is high probability of increasing enrolment in the secondary school also.
Freedom and openness
The second sub-index included in the Web Index is freedom and openness in the country. This index examines to which extent the citizen of country have rights to opinion, information, privacy and online safety. This sub-index helps to analyze the role played by the government in particular country, i.e whether the government allows its citizen to express their views on different issues or there is some restriction posed by the government to control.
Figure 9 Press Freedom in India
The freedom and openness in India has been measured in terms of press freedom and political rights. As shown in the figure above the press freedom in India has degraded over the period of time. Higher score indicates less freedom to press and lower score indicates more freedom to press. This indicates that the Indian press is still not able to get full freedom to express their views and the news and information is still regulated. India is ranked one of the lowest among the South Asian countries in terms of press freedom (Reporters without borders, 2016; Web Index, 2013).
Figure 10 Comparing press freedom in India and Norway
Lower the score better the press freedom in the country. So the results from the above graph show that press freedom is much better in Norway as compared to India. In 2012 the press freedom in Norway declines due to which the gap in the score decreases. However there is no improvement in Indian press freedom.
Figure 11 Political rights in India
Another indicator of freedom and openness in India is measured in terms of political rights. In terms of political rights India’s score has been 2 for all the years included in the Web Index. The mean value is 3.80 which show that as compared to other nation political rights of Indian citizen are lower. India is ranked 48th in terms of political rights, which is lower than other neighboring countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh.
The third index in the Web-Index is the relevant content which maps the content available for the citizen in each country and also web use by its citizens. The main objective of this sub-index is to measure whether the content available online in particular country is relevant to its citizens or not. If the content is not relevant then the impact of web is not effective.
Figure 12 Government online service index
The relevant content in India is measured in terms of government online service index which measure to which extent the government is providing information online about its services and other relevant information. As shown in the figure above Indian government has improved its online presence and the information provided to its citizens about has also improved. However there is no improvement after 2011 as the score is same between 2011 and 2013.
Figure 13 Number of internet users (per 100 people) in India
Another indicator of relevant content is the internet users per 100 people in India. As the figure shows in 2007 only 4 people out of 100, were using the internet which has increased to 15 people out of every 100. Number of internet users in India has increased significantly after 2013 which is not shown in the Web Index. Even though the numbers of users are increasing the average speed in India has not improved (HuffPost, 2017).
Figure 14 Comparing the number of internet users in India and Singapore
Singapore is one of the developed countries and comparing the number or internet users shows that the India is far behind the it. The numbers of users are increasing in India but the gap is still very high. India should learn from Singapore about the implementation of new technology and encourage innovation in the country.
The last indicator of Web-Index is the empowerment, which measures the difference made by Web in four different areas namely economy, politic, and social and environment. In this case the empowerment in India is analyzed in terms of political impact.
Figure 15 E participation index in India
The E-participation index has been used as the indicator of political impact in India. E participation is used to measure the extent of use of services provided online by the government to its citizens and also the interaction between different stakeholders in the decision making process. As shown in the figure above the E participation index of India has increased significantly after 2011.
Figure 16 Comparison of India and Singapore in terms of e participation index
As showin in the figure above the e-participation index in Singapore is significantly higher as compared to India. This shows that people in Singapore are more active in interacting with government in the decision making process as compared to India.
Evaluation and recommendations
On the basis of the above analysis of India in terms of Web index it can said that India has a lot of scope for improvement in all the four sub-index. In case of universal index India is ranked 62nd with total value of 44.06. However the mean score is 55.03, indicate that the performance of India is below average. To improve its score in universal access India should focus on improving the infrastructure in the internet. Since the population is huge a large amount of investment is required. Indian government can follow the public private partnership (PPP) model to improve the infrastructure (Nagaraj, 2013; Votano, Parham, & Hall, 2009). Similarly the speed of internet is also one of the lowest which should be improved. One of the important differences between the well performing country and the India is the difference in the R & D expenditure. The total expenditure on R&D in India is less than 2 % of the GDP (The World Bank, 2015). So India needs to allocate more money towards this area.
In terms of educational awareness, India has improved its position over the period of time; however there is need to change the education system. Current education system focuses more on theories and classroom learning only. It should change its focus towards practical learning and more skill development courses (Jahan & Selvarani, 2015). The high enrolment rate in tertiary education in Qatar shows that systematic planning and investment in the education sector helps to improve the education level in the country. Education sector is an important sector when it comes to the development of a country.
The freedom and openness index in India is one of the lowest with score of 57.42. Iceland is the best performer in term of freedom and openness and the Saudi Arab is the worst performer. In terms of political rights India has performed better as compared to the freedom of press. So the Indian government should relax its policies for press. The regulation should be minimal for press so that the people can express their opinions. Also there were many issues related to social media posting in India, which needs to be addressed properly. As shown in the previous section the press freedom in Norway is much better as compared to India and Norway is much developed country than India. So, India should change its policies and priorities towards press and allow the sector to work independently.
Relevant content and web use in India has improved over the period of time; however the Indian government should focus on providing more and more information online. Most of the government services are still available offline only which needs to be changed. Similarly the Indian government should focus on setting of the fiber cable all across the country to improve the speed of the broadband service. Also the entry of the new players in the telecom industry is very tough due to complex rules and regulations. So the government should make the rules simple and friendly for the investors so that the private investors can also contribute.
Lastly in terms of empowerment India’s score of 40.41 is less than the average score of 41.40. In terms of empowerment United Kingdom has topped the list whereas Haiti is the worst. India can learn from the political and economic policies in United Kingdom. The political systems are more transparent and the economic policies are more target oriented. So India can learn from the developed nations to improve its ranking in all the four sub-index included in the Web-Index.
There are certain limitations in the Web Index. The Web –Index data is not up to date. Since there are many changes in the economies after 2013, so the index should be updated accordingly. Apart from the four sub-indexes other index should be included to capture more areas. Another limitation was that the data for all the indicators was not available.
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