There is no doubt that the growing mobile prevalence has added vigour to the mission of transforming India into ‘Digital India’, the centrality of PCs (personal computers) is still unshakable in terms of its holistic capability for bringing in broader digital empowerment to almost every section of the society. This fact has again be corroborated—this time in a report commissioned by Intel India. Yes, the recent release of the Ek Kadam Unnati Ki Aur Impact Assessment report infers that the personal computing holds the key to India’s growth as a knowledge economy. The report, prepared by Kantar Indian Market Research Bureau (Kantar IMRB), endorsed by the Indian School of Business (ISB), and commissioned by Intel Technology India, reveals that PCs are instrumental in closing the skill gap, enabling upward socio-economic mobility, and achieving universal digital literacy in the country. Analyzing data from Common Services Centers in 11 states, where Intel India set up 100 Unnati Kendras for PC access and training, the report was unveiled by Sanjeev Kumar Mittal, Joint Secretary, Department of Electronics and IT; Navin Shenoy, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Client Computing Group, Intel Corporation; and Debjani Ghosh, VP Sales & Marketing Group and Managing Director, Intel South Asia.
For 54 percent of the respondents, PCs are the priority device for education-related activities and acquiring differentiated knowledge and skills. In fact, education-related videos and content dominated 58 percent of the multimedia consumption at the Unnati Kendras, especially among women entrepreneurs, self-educators, students and teachers – a demographic which represents the next-wave of empowered citizens in the fastest growing service economy in the world; 61 percent of India’s GDP is being contributed by the service sector. One of the factors contributing to this growth is the digital penetration in non-urban India, wherein the smartphone has enabled the rapid Internet usage and provided access to basic online services.
The report reinforces that as India transforms itself into a knowledge economy, digital skills must become a core competency for higher education and white-collar service-sector jobs, and that the know-how of productive technologies, such as the PC, will enable citizens to participate in this ambition. It highlights that the PC has a positive influence on soft skills such as leadership, communication, critical thinking, self-confidence and decision-making, widening the horizons of academic and career opportunities for non-urban aspirants.
Identifying the challenges to PC adoption in non-urban India, the Report cites that the lack of local language interfaces as a key barrier to PC acceptance, highlighting the need to create relevant vernacular content. In addition, over a quarter of the potential consumers cited the inability to afford PCs as a reason to not make the one-time investment in a PC, necessitating the availability of soft loans through easy micro-financing options. Conclusively, a balance of product, price, content, policy and on-ground support will be the catalyst to improving PC penetration in India’s emerging economy.
“The government has been focused on transforming India through technology, and it’s encouraging to see how public private collaborations are making an impact in this regard. Intel India has continuously demonstrated its commitment to the Digital India vision, and I’d like to congratulate them on rallying an ecosystem that has strived to make technology relevant for our citizens in the rural areas”, said Sanjeev Kumar Mittal, Joint Secretary, Department of Electronics and IT.
Navin Shenoy of Intel Corporation, said, “It is an exciting and important time for India as access to the internet and technology becomes readily accessible to more and more people, including non-urban communities. The PC is playing an increasingly critical role in enabling citizens across the country to use technology for the betterment of self and society, helping reduce the skill gap, and increase productivity. Intel is committed to continue investing in the transition of India to a digital, knowledge-based economy.”
Debjani Ghosh of Intel South Asia viewed, “The growing skills gap in India is estimated to create a deficit of more than 25 crore workers by 2022. This implies an urgent need to create knowledge workers, and technology can help accelerate this process. An isolated smartphone-based strategy won’t cut it, which is why we urge the government to additionally look at the other technology choices available, to ensure that we move from content consumption to content creation. This is the need of the hour if India wants to truly transform into a knowledge economy.”