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India has been ranked 121st among 157 countries in terms of progress in the realm of information and communication technology (ICT) in a newly-released report of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which makes an annual assessment based on a wide range of parameters and data.
The ranking has been made on the basis of an ICT Development Index (IDI), a benchmark made up of 11 indicators.
It comes in the wake of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, in a recent report, ranking India 145th among nearly 200 countries in terms of the percentage of individuals using the Internet and 106th in the case of mobile broadband penetration.
Though India's IDI score had gone up from 2.13 in 2011 to 2.21 in 2012 in the report 'Measuring the Information Society 2013' released on October 7, its ranking declined from 120 to 121 during this period.
India's rankings in three sub-indexes which relate to access, skills and use, on which the IDI is based, are also in a similar range. In the skills sub-index, which evaluates ICT capability or skills in terms of indicators that include adult literacy as well as gross secondary and tertiary enrollment, India was ranked 117 in 2012, the same position it had occupied in 2011.
In terms of the use sub-index, which broadly measures the uptake of ICTs and the intensity of usage based on parameters such as Internet users per 100 inhabitants, fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, and wireless-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, India has been ranked 121st, up from 124 in 2011.
And the access sub-index rankings place India in the 122nd position, down from 114 a year ago. This sub-index has to do with ICT readiness in terms of fixed-telephone subscriptions, mobile cellular telephone subscriptions, international Internet bandwidth per Internet user, percentage of households with a computer, and percentage of households with Internet access.
Among countries in the region, the report takes note of the gains Bangladesh has made, up by four places to 135th in the latest IDI, with maximum gains in the access sub-index.
The report includes India among a group of 39 least connected countries (LCCs) with low IDI 2012 values. "In these LCCs, most ICT access and use is limited to basic voice and low-speed data services. While a number of LCCs have reached relatively high levels of mobile-cellular penetration, more advanced ICT services, including broadband Internet access, remain very limited," the report said. Most of the countries in this group are the least developed ones in Africa.
In terms of overall global rankings, the Republic of Korea, with a value of 8.57, leads the world, a track record it has set in recent years. The Nordic countries Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway follow with the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Luxembourg and Hong Kong (China) also finding a place among the top ten.
A new dimension that the report adds to the discourse on ICT is the increasing importance of 'digital natives' in the scheme of things: youths between 15 and 24, with at least five years' experience using the Internet.
Though India and some other countries like China, US and Brazil are predominant in terms of having large populations of digital natives, other countries like Iceland, New Zealand and Republic of Korea are in the fore when it comes to penetration in terms of the percentage of youth using the Internet. The trend is for high-population countries have high absolute numbers of digital natives, and for high-income countries to have digital natives making up a relatively high percentage of their population.
"Out of a total of 145 million young Internet users in the developed countries, 86.3 per cent are estimated to be digital natives, compared with less than half of the 503 million young Internet users in the developing world. Within the next five years, the digital native population in the developing countries is forecast to more than double," the report said. And that will make a difference to these countries.