Most of rural India doesn't know the internet exists

India’s rightly earned a place as one of the fastest growing countries in tech development but rural areas are still being left in the dark – with 84 percent completely unawareof the existence of the wibbly wobbly web. 

While the numbers are still devastatingly low compared to the boom in well connected towns and cities, it’s looking up a tad from the last report. The report, by the Internat and Mobile Association of India and looks at 2009, says that web usage in rural india was up 26.7 percent from 2008 – from 3.3 million to 4.2 million. 

The main reason for going online in rural india is pretty standard across the board – the vast majority of those online use it as a communications tool with 85 percent accessing emails. 67 percent used the web to watch video and listen to music and just under half at 48 percent used it as an educational tool. 

The main ways to go online in rural areas are by access points and cyber cafes. 13 percent of those surveyed are using the wealth of information on the web to pick up new agriculture and farming techniques. It’s a good start and proof of the power of the internet as an aid.

Subho Ray, president of the association, says: “With the proliferation of initiatives as e-Choupal, Shakti and so on, those who live in rural India have started using the internet appreciably for agriculture related aspects.”

We cannot confirm or deny whether ‘agriculture related aspects’ is akin to putting in an hour a month on Farmville.

As advocacy and rights groups continue to argue that the internet is a vital human right, it is laudable that India continues to implement access in all corners of the country. However as an important economic and social tool perhaps it should ramp up its push to pick up the pace. It is encouraging that areas where it has been made available have received it well – people are open to the idea and it needs further cementing in other hard-to-reach areas.

It is still way ahead of certain areas of Wales, for example in Craflwyn where the wheel was discovered for the first time just last week.