Network readiness index says it has fallen behind in “most indicators”

India has slipped five places in the network readiness index rankings of countries released by the World Economic Forum and the business school INSEAD. The rankings indicate the relative position of countries in information and communication technologies (ICT).

The rankings, presented in the 10th anniversary edition of the Global Information Technology Report 2010-11, paints a picture of an India that has fallen behind in “most indicators.” This has resulted in its slipping to 48 from the 43rd rank last year.

The rankings assess the “conduciveness of national environments for ICT development and diffusion, including the broad business climate,” regulatory aspects, the human and hard infrastructure needed for promotion, the degree of preparation for and interest in using ICT by key stakeholders and the extent of its use by them.

India has lost ground most in the ‘readiness component' of the index, which is made up of individual, business and government readiness sub-components. The country's position in readiness slipped to 33 overall from 22 last year, the fall being the steepest in the individual readiness parameters, which include quality of the education system, adult literacy and tariff for fixed phone and fixed broadband Internet, among others.

Yet, the report notes India's rank of 21 in the individual readiness sub-component is impressive. “Government readiness is still high (47th), but ICT seems to have become less of a priority since last year,” it adds. It has also been ranked a competitive 33 in business readiness.

Infrastructure remains an issue, with the country being ranked 58 overall in the environment component, with the infrastructure-environment parameters fetching it a lowly position of 81 — in relation to factors such as Internet infrastructure and bandwidth, electricity production and percentage of population covered by the mobile network.

However, its performance has been viewed positively in the market environment sub-component. Despite “widespread red tape and distortive taxes,” the market environment is assessed rather positively at 41st, thanks to a sophisticated financial market, well-developed clusters, and the widespread availability of new technologies.

In the usage component, where the country has been ranked 67, the individual usage parameters have been ranked a poor 98 overall, with the mobile phone subscription to population ratio, percentage of households with computers and the Internet and broadband users to population ratio weighing down the ranking, among other things. The report, however, stated that while Internet access remained limited in India, mobile telephony “had been growing exponentially as a result of strong demand, increasing purchasing power, and also fierce competition and innovation that helped it improve network coverage and drive prices down.”

Last year's report had commented thus on India's rise in the rankings then from the 54th position to the 43rd (during 2009-10): “India is unlikely to pursue its fast-paced rise in the rankings unless it addresses some critical shortcomings having to do partly with the sheer size of its market.” Infrastructure remained inadequate to support the optimal ICT use in the country, it had said.

Among the BRIC countries, China continued its upward climb in the rankings to reach the 36th spot, while Brazil was ranked 56th and Russian Federation, 77th. China, ranked 59 in 2006-07, has been ranked a high 16 in the readiness component, 36 in the usage component and 57 in the environment component.