India, China nowhere in top league of networked economies

April 10th, 2008 - 1:04 pm ICT by admin  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, April 10 (IANS) Despite its status as a world leader in information technology, India does not figure among the top 20 of the world’s most networked economies. In fact it has slipped four places to rank 50 in the Global Information Technology Report for 2007-2008 published by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF).

China, the hub of global IT manufacturing, lags a shocking seven places behind India in the overall ratings for 127 countries published Wednesday.

Europe remains the most important player in networked readiness this year. Denmark is the single most networked economy in the world, followed by Sweden and Switzerland. Eight other European countries figure in the top 20 - Austria, Britain, Estonia, Finland, Germany Iceland, the Netherlands and Norway.

The failure of India and China to make it to the top 20 is mainly on account of their poor infrastructure for information and communication technologies (ICTs), said Irene Mia, senior economist of the Global Competitiveness Network at the WEF and co-editor of the report.

“India and China have progressed enormously in the last decade or so, becoming global leaders in high tech services (notably India) and goods (notably China) exports. Nevertheless the areas and clusters of excellence present in those countries are not the only reality,” Mia told IANS.

“If you look at the global picture, bearing in mind we took a snapshot of the whole country in both cases, the infrastructure for ICT is still lagging behind - 71st for India and 86th for China. So is individual usage - 109th for India and 80th for China,” she added.

By contrast, developed countries are striding rapidly ahead with an increased recognition of connectivity as a key component of public infrastructure in general, the report said.

“New definitions portray high bandwidth connectivity as a necessity, perhaps even a public utility on the order of drinking water,” it added.

The report said many developing countries such as India were now adopting next generation technologies such as WiFi and WiMAX to boost connectivity and leapfrog past technologies dependent on copper wires.

“In India, WiMAX is publicised as 30 times faster than 3G mobile technology and 100 times faster than wireless data rates, and has been widely anticipated to cure the problems of rural connectivity,” it said.

“It has been promoted as the answer to India’s last-mile connectivity issues, which have hampered Internet take-up in rural India.”

By early 2007, Motorola and Wateen Telecom, a subsidiary of UAE-based Warid Telecom, had rolled out a WiMAX network in 17 major cities across Pakistan.

Among Asian countries, South Korea, at ninth place, notched up one of the most impressive improvements by going up 10 places from last year. Other Asian economies featured in the top 20 are: Singapore (fifth), Hong Kong (11th), Australia (14th), Taiwan (17th), and Japan (19th).

India is down four places at 50, while China improved five positions to reach 57.

Mia said Nordic countries have featured consistently among the top ten over the last seven years - an achievement she attributed to “a continuous focus on education, which resulted in top class national educational systems”.

Other factors in their success included a culture for innovation with an outstanding public and private disposition to create and adopt new technologies and a business-friendly market and regulatory environment.

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