India is on track to register its entire 1.25 billion population using its Aadhaar digital ID, the World Bank said today, which it said would help the government to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups in its welfare schemes.
“Technology can be transformational. A digital identification system such as India’s Aadhaar, by overcoming complex information problems, helps willing governments to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups,” the World Bank said.
“India is on track to register its entire population using its Aadhaar digital ID,” the Bank said in its new ‘World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends,’ authored by Co-Directors, Deepak Mishra and Uwe Deichmann.
The report said that while the internet, mobile phones and other digital technologies are spreading rapidly throughout the developing world, the anticipated digital dividends of higher growth, more jobs, and better public services have fallen short of expectations, and 60% of the world’s population remains excluded from the ever-expanding digital economy.
“Digital technologies are transforming the worlds of business, work, and government,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.
“We must continue to connect everyone and leave no one behind because the cost of lost opportunities is enormous. But for digital dividends to be widely shared among all parts of society, countries also need to improve their business climate, invest in people’s education and health, and promote good governance,” he said.
Kaushik Basu, World Bank Chief Economist said it is an amazing transformation that today 40% of the world’s population is connected by the internet.
“While these achievements are to be celebrated, this is also occasion to be mindful that we do not create a new underclass. With nearly 20% of the world’s population unable to read and write, the spread of digital technologies alone is unlikely to spell the end of the global knowledge divide,” he said.
The report noted that digital technologies can promote inclusion, efficiency, and innovation.
More than 40% of adults in East Africa pay their utility bills using a mobile phone.
There are eight million entrepreneurs in China-one-third of them women-who use an e-commerce platform to sell goods nationally and export to 120 countries.
India has provided unique digital identification to nearly one billion people in five years, and increased access and reduced corruption in public services.
And in public health services, simple SMS messages have proven effective in reminding people living with HIV to take their lifesaving drugs, the report said.
As per the report, in 2014, China has the largest number of internet users, followed by the United States, with India, Japan, and Brazil filling out the top five.
But the lives of the majority of the world’s people remain largely untouched by the digital revolution.
Only around 15% can afford access to broadband internet.
Mobile phones, reaching almost four-fifths of the world’s people, provide the main form of internet access in developing countries.
But even then, nearly 2 billion people do not own a mobile phone, and nearly 60% of the world’s population has no access to the internet.
The world’s offline population is mainly in India and China, but more than 120 million people are still offline in North America.
The digital divide within countries can be as high as that between countries, the report said.
The report mentions about some of the success stories in States like Kerala and Bihar.