Saturday, 25 March 2017

With one foot in the past and the other in the future India faces a digital paradox

Unlike the dramatic decline of the media in the west brought about by smartphones and the internet, the situation in India could not be more different. The value of the Indian newspaper industry has in fact grown by two-thirds in the past six years, and, according to KPMG, is predicted to fluctuate comfortably between 12 and 14 percent for the next several years.

The contradictory growth of print media is a perfect example of the Indian digital paradox, an amazing phenomenon where India — a country of more than 1.2 billion people — is developing in a distinctly different manner than the west.

Popular culture references to India tend to focus on the “developing” aspects, often skirting over the fact that the country is the seventh largest economy in the world, the fourth largest IT and tech hub, the second largest population of English speakers after the U.S. and a nuclear and space power. However, that said, a quick tour around bustling cities like Mumbai or Delhi will highlight the stark differences between different socioeconomic groups living just meters from each other.

We see the “first India,” which is currently competing to become the world’s biggest Amazon, Facebook, Uber and Apple markets within the next few years. The majority of people fortunate enough to live in higher-income demographics are on par in every way with their peers in the west: highly educated, using the newest technology, fluent in English and often educated in foreign universities.

In the same way as young people pick up papers in their own languages now, as smartphones become cheaper and more accessible, they will pick them up too. For now, though, the amazing social economic makeup of the country provides a fertile ground for certain industries to grow in a manner not seen anywhere else.

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