India came 47th in the overall Inclusive Internet Index ranking for the year 2019. The Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by Facebook, has published the Inclusive Internet Index for a third consecutive year. It covers 100 countries, up from 86 in 2018, representing 94% of the world’s population and 96% of global GDP.
India has showed notable progress in the past year with regard to web accessibility. India also has plans to promote Internet access and e-inclusion for women, but its gender gap is statistically significant. The index benchmarks Internet inclusion across four categories: Availability, Affordability, Relevance and Readiness.
Web accessibility standards have improved globally, led by low-income and lower-middle-income countries. The average web accessibility score improved by 9.7% compared with 2018. In low-income and lower-middle-income countries, scores improved by 29.4% and 23.5%, respectively.
Globally, the gap between those with access to the Internet and those without continues to narrow, following progress in access, affordability and quality of coverage. However, there are also widening digital divides. Low-income countries are seeing a lack of progress in Internet access and network coverage improvements, with a marked slowdown compared with last year and the progress made in other parts of the world. Affordability is also declining relative to monthly income in many nations, which disproportionately affects people in low-income countries and women, both of whom are more reliant on mobile devices as their primary means of accessing the Internet.
The percentage of households connected to the Internet globally increased on average to 54.8% from 53.1%, a modest improvement of 3.1%. In a positive development, gender gaps in Internet access are narrowing globally, led by low-income and lower-middle-income countries. On average, men are 24.8% more likely to have access to the Internet than women, compared with 31.5% last year. In some countries, women’s Internet access actually exceeds that of men, with the Philippines, Ireland, China and Argentina having the largest majorities.
Mobile broadband subscriptions are stagnating, and mobile data costs relative to income have increased in nearly half of the countries in the index.
The Internet has become a crucial tool for improving livelihoods, but entrepreneurs, the under-employed and people in low-income countries are especially vulnerable to poor connectivity.
Concerns about online privacy remain high, and trust in information on the Internet from governments has retreated in the West. Despite lingering privacy concerns, people are increasingly shopping online. Whether this continues in the future may hinge on attitudes toward online safety and security.