Due to expense, there was controversy in New Zealand mid last year when an Auckland school required the purchase of some sort of digital tablet such as an iPad by every new student. However, India may have developed new technology which overcomes the problem of expense and allows hundreds of millions of Indians in remote rural areas to connect to the internet. It may also soon make Indians the biggest single internet user population in the world.
The new device is similar in function to the Apple iPad – but the major difference is that it can be made and sold for under £35. Professor Prem Kalra, who is a team leader at the Rajasthan Indian Institute of Technology, has commented:
“We expect that within five or 10 years everyone will have one – and every year there will be greater capacity. There will be children learning, farmers checking on irrigation or crop prices, pregnant women getting medical assistance, all through the Aakash [the name of the new device]. It is empowerment on a global scale,”
Indeed, the internet has become power on a global scale and a connection to almost anyone, anywhere. It has revolutionised the way we communicate and ended any country’s ability to keep entirely to its self when citizens have the ability to send out photos within seconds of any event. Currently China and the United States are the biggest internet users, with India third. Obviously this is mainly because of these countries’ large population size. However, will the internet soon give a voice to more and more of their many citizens in an unprecedented manner?
Reuters also recently obtained a report from the China Internet Network Information Centre, publishing the results mid last week. The report disclosed that China had 505 million Internet users at the end of November 2011- a figure that exceeds the entire populations of many countries, including the United States. That figure is despite only 37.7% of the population having access to the internet, so there is plenty of room for growth. This compares with Internet penetration rates of more than 70% in China’s East Asian neighbours, Japan and South Korea.