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India clocked 200% increase in rural internet subscriptions in six years

The Economic Survey 2022-23, tabled by the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman, in Parliament today stated that penetration of the internet in India’s rural areas grew an impressive 200 per cent between 2015 and 2021, compared to the 158 per cent growth clocked by urban areas in the same period. The Government attributed the growth of internet in rural India to its ‘Digital India’ programme, which was launched in 2015.

“Before 2014, access to digital services was perceived as a prerogative of urban households. However, with the vision of developing digital infrastructure as a core utility for every citizen, Digital India as an umbrella programme was launched in 2015. It has added more internet subscribers in rural areas in the last three years (2019-21) than in their urban counterparts (95.76 million vis-a-vis 92.81 million in rural and urban areas respectively),” according to the Economic Survey 2022-23.

The Government also called the growth of the internet in rural India a “major shock absorber” during the Covid-19 pandemic when both businesses and consumer demand were impacted. “Digital infrastructure created over the years ensured not just the continuous transmission of information but also added economic value when businesses went digital. The 200 per cent increase in rural internet subscriptions between 2015 and 2021 vis-a-vis 158 per cent in urban areas, reflects the increased impetus the government is putting to bring rural and urban digital connectivity to the same level,” it stated.

The Economic Survey also called the rollout of 5G services a “landmark achievement in telecommunications” in India. It further commended all stakeholders for their contribution towards the thriving Digital India story. “While the digital journey started with Aadhaar as a medium for service delivery at the doorstep, UPI strengthened the digital payment infrastructure. With other initiatives like CoWIN, e-RUPI, TReDS, Account Aggregators, ONDC, Open Credit Enablement Network (OCEN) etc. at different stages of implementation, India has developed a unique and cogent digital story to tell,” the Govt stated in the latest Economic Survey. BusinessToday

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