Underscoring its commitment to the “free growth” of the Internet, India has told the UN General Assembly that the cyberspace cannot be managed as a “private property” and its management should be “transparent and democratic” in nature.
“As a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and democratic society, India is fully committed to the free growth of the Internet,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Asoke Mukerji said at a meeting of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Development here yesterday. He said the international management of the Internet should be “multilateral, transparent and democratic.” “As a global common, cyberspace cannot be managed only as private property. The governance and architecture of Internet should reflect its global and democratic nature,” he said.
Highlighting the crucial role played by the ICT revolution in the development process, Mukerji, however, pointed to the “digital divide” not only between developed and developing countries but also between men and women. By the end of this year, there would be almost three billion Internet users, two-thirds of them coming from the developing world. The mobile penetration rate in developed countries is four times that of developing nations. In terms of usage, the penetration rate of 32 percent in developing countries compares with almost 80 percent in the developed world, and almost 90 percent of those without access to Internet are in developing countries. “The statistics also point to an abiding digital divide,” he said. Mukerji said there is a “significant facet” to the digital divide in the form of access of women to the Internet.
Citing a report released last year on ICT, Mukerji said the gender gap in women’s access to the web is even greater than that of mobile phones, with women being 23 percent less likely to use the Internet in low-to-medium income countries. “This lack of access is giving rise to a second digital divide, one where women and girls risk being left further and further behind,” he added. From a developing country’s perspective, Mukerji stressed, empowering women using enabling technologies can be a “game changer.” “By applying enhanced Information and Communication Technologies for women in education, healthcare, clean drinking water and energy, we can significantly empower their role as force-multipliers in society,” he said.
Mukerji said India has been one of the “unambiguous success stories” in the global ICT revolution and it is fully committed to making use of ICT to harness the developmental potential of its citizens. The UNGA had in its 68th session adopted the resolution on the Modalities for the overall review by the General Assembly of the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summiton the Information Society. Mukerji said India looks forward to commencing the actual review in June next year under the aegis of the UNGA.