India has always been a land of paradoxes.
This is a cliche, and yet cliches exist because they are true. It is true for the reasons that everyone talks about — India’s 25% illiteracy paired with the world’s second-largest pool of trained engineers, the widespread use of bullock carts in a country with one of the world’s most advanced satellite programs, and India’s pre-eminence as a nuclear power though Delhi still suffers through daily power cuts. Yet this cliche is just as true for something people don’t talk about as much, the technology sector.
Only 0.1% of India’s apps were targeted for non-knowledge workers, which make up 60% of its population.
India boasts of its 279 million “knowledge workers” with strong English skills. These knowledge workers constitute 40% of the overall Indian working population (679 million), with the larger non-knowledge worker segment with weak English skills constituting the remaining 60%.
Yet only 0.1% of the internet apps churned out by India in 2016 support regional languages or address use cases relevant to the “non-knowledge worker” majority, such as finding water supplies or predicting crop harvest patterns.
The statement that India is a land of paradoxes could not be truer. However, this problem — that technology does not focus on the majority of India’s population — is merely a symptom pointing to a larger malaise in the ecosystem.