Gaon Connection Survey: Only 19.27% said they don't use the internet

In the nation-wide survey, 3,521 people said they don’t use the internet. Of these 3,521 people, 803 said they have internet facility, but they don’t use it and 2,718 people said they don’t have smartphones or computer using which they can use the internet

Daya Sagar

Daya Sagar   6 July 2019 2:11 PM GMT

Fifteen-year old Manisha Vishwakarma -- who lives in Bankatiya village, Sant Kabir Nagar, Uttar Pradesh -- is an avid footballer. She is the only football player in her district. Though she excels at the sport, but there aren't many facilities where she lives. She, however, gets good internet connectivity in her village. For her, videos of Ronaldo and Messi are now just a click away. She makes the most of this and learns dribbling directly from these world-class players.

Like Manisha, Vibha Kumari, who lives in Hardua, Madhya Pradesh, is glad that the internet has reached her village. She takes sewing classes. After coming back from her class, she learns newer techniques using the internet.

Indian villages are better connected today than they ever were. Internet is helping them to be better informed, better connected and also avail various government facilities.

The Gaon Connection conducted a nation-wide survey in the month of May in 19 states. We spoke to more than 18,000 people living in rural India and asked them to comment on issues that are plaguing them.

Among other things, their views were sought on digital connectivity and internet facilities. Many interesting facts emerged out of this survey.

Only 19.27%, 3,521 people, said they don't use the internet. Of these 3,521 people, 803 said they have internet facility, but they don't use it and 2,718 people said they don't have smartphones or computer using which they can use the internet.

Number of users are constantly going up

Pinku Pandey, 26, who lives in Pisava, Uttar Pradesh, said internet has made his life easier. He is currently looking for a job and has installed an app in his phone through which he comes to know about various job offers. Thanks to the internet he also gets to know about various openings at government jobs.

Rahul Trivedi, who lives in Sitapur, too believes that the internet has changed his life.

According to 2018 government data, India's population stands at 133.92 crore. Of these, 56 crore people use the internet. According to McKinsey Global Institute report, number of people in India using the internet will go up by 40% by 2023. The report said we will surpass China soon. At present, India is the second country after China in terms of internet users. According to the report, data prices have gone down by 95% in the past six years, which has led to the number of internet users going up.

Impact of internet on rural India

Eliseba Guriya, who lives in Manoharpur village, Western Sinhabhoomi, Jharkhand, said internet has changed lives of people in the interiors. "People are better informed and are learning newer techniques of farming," she said.

Saloni Tigga, who lives in the same village, said: "I help my children in their studies thanks to the internet. I learn how to make pickles and various species by watching You Tube videos. I sell papad and pickle and earn money. Her sister Salomi is active on many WhatsApp groups and she helps her sell her stuff."

As per 2013 government figures, 75 crore people living in 637,000 villages were deprived of the internet, but now things are changing. This was possible because of better network connectivity and availability of electricity. A 2013 research said number of increased internet users in India will have a positive impact on the Indian economy.

The Gaon Connection survey also revealed that the number of internet users has been consistently going up and people are using the internet to get information and to get entertained.

According to the Kantar IMRB ICUB report published in 2018, of the 56 crore users, 87%, 49.3 crore, Indians have been regular users of the internet -- 29 crore users live in urban areas whereas 49.3 crore live in rural areas. Of the 49.3 crore people, 97% use the internet on mobiles. This proves that the use of internet has gone up among people living in rural areas and those from the low-income groups.

The report further said that in rural India, number of of internet users has consistently gone up. In 2015, the number of internet users in rural India stood at 9%; in 2018 it stood at 25%. In 2018 alone, the number of internet users in rural India went up by 35% with respect to 2017. The report claims that by 2019 end, the number of internet users from rural India would go up from 20 crore to 29 crore.

A report by Boston Counselling Group said that by 2020, number of urban and rural internet users would be the same.

The Goan Connection survey was based in rural India which gave us a better perspective. The government is planning to start broadband facilities in villages. The plans is to also link internet and cable TV.

Influence of social media

In the Gaon Connection survey, of the 18,267 people who were interviewed, 80% people used internet through various means. Of the 15,549 people who use the internet, 6,883 people said that they use the internet to access social media sites like Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media sites. 5,440 people said they use the internet for both social media and also to keep themselves updated. 2,403 people said that they use the internet to watch videos.

According to data usage of Facebook and WhatsApp, the number of users has gone up consistently. In India, 35 crore people are active social media users. Facebook app is the most used in India, and around 20 crore people are on WhatsApp. This number is constantly going up.

Less educated use more social media

The Gaon Connection survey revealed that the use of internet varies depending on educational background of people. Those who are at least graduates use the internet to get more information. Those who are less educated, they use the internet for social media activities like WhatsApp, Facebook and TikTok.

Those who are postgraduates and above, only 90 of them watch videos using internet. These postgraduates and professional degree holders are not very keen on social media. Only 373 people of the 18,267 are active social media users.

Those who are uneducated or are not very educated, they use the internet for entertainment purpose. The surveyors met 373 people who were illiterate and yet were active users of Facebook and WhatsApp whereas 300 illiterate people were active video watchers.

Internet and gender equality

According to a Google report, increased internet consumption has led to women empowerment. The report said the women are now more aware and updated. Increased use of smart phones has also led to more number of women using social media. The women who were interviewed said that they use the internet to watch videos and for social media. But the number of such women is less in rural India.

The Kantar IMRB ICUBE report also mentioned that in the past one year, the increased use of internet has led to gender equality. As per the 2018 government data, of the total internet users, 42% users are females. They are also active users. As per this report, every day a man spends 78 minutes on Facebook whereas a woman spends 77 minutes on the internet.

Cyber crime threat is for real

Cyber crime expert Rakshit Tandon said that it's a good thing that the number of internet users in rural India has gone up and people are better connected, but there is a flip side.

According to National Crime Record Bureau data of 2017, more than 53,000 cases of cyber crime were reported.

"Data is cheap, which is scary. People are randomly using internet and no one has any control over what they watch. The social fabric is getting disturbed because of increased use of social media. People also get duped and the WhatsApp groups are also spreading lot of misinformation and fake news."

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