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The Indian Mobile Sector: Growth, challenges, opportunities, & its response to Covid-19

The telecom industry in India is witnessing rapid growth. India is today the world’s second largest telecommunication market, with 1,177.02 million total subscribers as of January 2020. The telecommunications industry can be divided into three segments—mobile, wireline, and wireless (internet) services. As of January 2020, the wireless market in India accounted for 98.25% of the total subscriber base, and rural subscribers comprised of 43.69% of the total telephone subscribers, according to a TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) report[1].

With ‘work from home’ becoming the new normal in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, telecom services and the internet have become vital for everyday life. The telecom sector is being used by the government to spread awareness about the pandemic, as well as to trace and track infected people to break the chain of transmission. Despite the crucial role played by the telecom sector during the period of lockdown, the pandemic has also adversely affected telecom service providers, from mobile to internet service.

The industry lost around 2.8 million subscribers during the month of March, and 8.2 million subscribers during April 2020, according to an India Ratings and Research report[2]. The telecom operators most affected were Vodafone Idea Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd. However, Reliance Jio witnessed an increase in its subscriber base during the same period.

India had over 500 million active internet users (they accessed the Internet in the last one month) as of May 2020, according to IBEF (India Brand Equity Foundation)[3]. Despite the downturn, telecommunications experts believe the Indian telecom market will maintain steadiness, thanks to the dynamic nature of the industry.

According to the global telecom industry body GSMA, India is expected to become the second-largest smartphone market globally by 2025, with around one billion installed devices. The report also said India is expected to have 920 million unique mobile subscribers by 2025, which will include 88 million 5G connections. The social distancing measures due to the pandemic have led to higher dependence on digital tools, like video conferencing and webinars, which in turn has increased the demand for telecom services. However, the telecom sector is also facing some major hurdles due to the pandemic, government regulations and customer acquisition.

Apart from inadequate internet penetration, there is a significant gap in user subscription of mobile sim cards. The estimates, according to the GSMA Report 2020, indicate that there is 78% mobile connection penetration across the country. It is a common occurrence for people to have more than one sim card. So, we can infer that in 2019, for every 100 persons, around 78 of them had sim connections. This does not mean that they all used smartphones or availed of internet facility. The smartphone adoption in 2019 stands at 67%, 4G use at 56%, 3G at 11%, while there is a strikingly large figure for 2G use— at 33%, according to GSMA report 2019[4].

Even as the world is moving towards 5G, in India the usage of 4G internet has not been optimal. There is huge scope for digitalisation in our country provided these services are properly utilised. The paper analyses the current standing of the mobile industry in India. Primarily looking at the GSMA 2020 and IBEF reports, the paper attempts to understand the growth, opportunities, challenges of the mobile sector in India, including the emergence of 5G technology. The paper also attempts to analyse the telecom industry’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

[1] Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) 2020;

[2] Economic Times;

Telecom industry loses 82 lakh subscribers in April, pressure to continue: Report;

[3] IBEF Report

[4] The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity 2019;

Date: 23rd November 2020
Author: Meghna
Reviewer: Ritu Srivastava

Focus Areas: Digital Access
What We Do: Research & Advocacy
Resource Type: Research Analysis

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India’s Rural Health Infrastructure: Time to fulfil the lack of the need

India’s public health infrastructure remains woefully lacking, with little having changed in the 73 years since Independence. India’s GDP spending on building healthcare is very little. Though the country’s expenditure on healthcare has shot up substantially in the past few years, it is still very low in comparison to other nations. Public expenditure on healthcare as a percentage of GDP for 2017-18 was a mere 1.28 percent. Total healthcare spending in the country, including the private sector, rose to 3.6 percent of GDP in 2016, but even this is very low compared with other countries. The average for OECD countries in 2018 was 8.8 percent of GDP, while healthcare expenditure in developed countries like the US was 16.9 percent; for China, it was 5 percent, for both Germany and France it was 11.2 percent, and for Japan, it was 10.9 percent.[1]

The current COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that building health infrastructure is the need of the hour. It has put the spotlight on the severe gaps in our healthcare system because of which the lives of hundreds and thousands were negatively impacted. Another factor to note is the unequal distribution of facilities. The national capital Delhi particularly has the highest number of hospitals in comparison to its population and size. There are 9 SDH and 47 DH functioning in Delhi[2]. Only three states, Madhya Pradesh (MP), Uttar Pradesh (UP), and Odisha, have a higher number of functioning District Hospitals than Delhi. The health facilities in Delhi are also better, as it is the nation’s capital. It is apparent that importance was given to building healthcare facilities in Delhi, much more than in the other areas. It is a common sight to see people from neighboring states coming to Delhi to get treatment. This unequal distribution of resources has been only increasing.

The number of SCs in rural areas are functioning without HW(F) and HW(M). In Rajasthan, 63.8% of SCs do not have female health workers. In the northeast region, Mizoram and Sikkim, have HW(F) in all SCs, whereas Arunachal Pradesh has the highest percentage of SCs functioning without both and the percentage stands at 23.7%. Digital infrastructure is not properly developed in few states located in the hilly regions. It is noteworthy that Manipur, Odisha, and Telangana have a very well developed digital infrastructure.

This paper aims to analyse the Rural Health Statistics of 2018-19 highlighting current rural health infrastructure and how it varies from state to state. The paper also focuses on the gaps that exist in the digital infrastructure. To begin with, the pre-existent system will be discussed, and then the changes that Ayushman Bharat brought in will be stressed on.

[1] Samrat Sharma, ‘India spending more on healthcare now, but yet not as much as others; here’s how much US, China spend’, Financial Express, 8 April 2020,

[2] Table 7, Section 4, Rural Health Statistics

Date: 28 September 2020
Author: Meghna
Reviewer: Ritu Srivastava

Focus Area: Health
What We Do: Research & Advocacy
Resource Type: Research Analysis

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5 ways to manage your ‘Online Reputation’

In this day and age, ‘Online Reputation’ is essential because it gives you control over your presence online. We all have a reputation that precedes our identity, but we do have the option to be in- charge of our reputation online. It gives us an edge to discredit any misleading information and showcase achievements and accomplishments. Thus, allowing us to put our best foot forward.

Online data is readily available for everyone to see, and people give their judgment based on the data we share online. From potential employers to colleagues and landlords, everyone can see those little traces of digital spill that we leave behind. If one is not conscious enough, it might be a problem in the longer run.

How can you fix your online reputation and clean up those digital errors? And how can you maintain a healthy and positive digital profile? Don’t worry! Just follow these simple steps:

Research yourself online

The first way to make a difference is to Google yourself.

  • See what is already out there about you. Clear your browsing history and put your name in different search engines and see for the results that come up you could also try altered permutations and combinations like nicknames, initials and various variations of your name.
  • Type other things about you as well, like the school or the college that you have attended. The company that you have worked for. The place that you have visited. Websites of previous employers that you have worked for.
  • Make sure that you are looking for images, photos and videos.
  • Don’t forget to check out the personal pages or blogs as well to see if they have mentioned you anywhere and explore the pages of your friends as well. See if you pop up in those windows. If you have made a business website make sure that you understand the comments and reviews. Make use of constructive criticism.

Assess your  digital information

Take into account all the online information you have gathered and ask yourself the hard questions. Do you want others to see it? There will be a time when you see things you would not like.

  • Ask yourself. Is it accurate? Is it positive? Does it reflect the image I want to give? If the answer is yes, leave it as is, and if no, move on to the next step.
  • Would it be ok for anyone else like my wife, husband, children, or boss to see it?
  • Is there something that needs to be edited or omitted?
  • Is my personal and professional life too intermingled? If so, should I create different spaces for my personal and professional life? How public or private do I want my profiles to be?
  • Take the necessary measures.

Observe everything

Be careful of your online activities that might affect your digital profile and hamper your growth. Think of the long term effects one post will have and always think about what would benefit your online reputation and don’t do anything that might damage anyone else’s reputation. Remember you are here not to tarnish others, but to make yourself shine.

  •  Before you say anything, think about its long-term consequences. You may be happy to share that post now, but what about in a few years? What kind of image does that picture give out, and how would people see it? What will your wife or your employer think? Is it prone to misinterpretation?
  • Don’t post when you are feeling too emotional. You would end up regretting it. Don’t engage in online arguments. Don’t make any inflammatory or scandalous comments and do not post when you’re drunk.
  • Regularly monitor your digital profile, check what information has been added about you. You can also use Google’s Me on the web It will tell you about information such as your name or Email address when anything is posted online or when you are tagged in a photo.
  • Now and then re-evaluate your decisions on social media. See to things like, the social network pages you like, people and Groups you follow, and newsletters that you are subscribed to. Friendship often changes, so be mindful about who has access to your information. Remove people if necessary.

Think about your privacy.

Keep your personal information private, and please make sure that you are asking for permission before sharing personal details like photos or other information about the people around you.

  • Another critical thing to consider is to keep your password and username only to yourself.
  • See to it that the app that you are downloading, what information is it gathering about you? Will it sell it to a third party? Make sure that you never leave your bank details on an unverified website.
  • Discuss with your family and friends about what they would like to share. Make sure that you keep in mind their privacy too. Respect their wishes as well and make sure that you’re not over-sharing. Over – Sharing is not caring.
  • Make sure that you are not sharing too much about your professional life online. You might end up giving confidential information online and don’t be negative about your employer or your colleague or the workplace online. It might lead back to you, and the result could be catastrophic.

Mend things if possible

Retrace your digital steps and take action so that you can restore your online image, the sooner you can take care of it, the better it will be.

  • Delete your old accounts like Orkut, Yahoo and My space that might not be in use.
  • Hide or Delete embarrassing or controversial images. Make sure you remove everything controversial.
  • If you cannot delete the content that has been posted by another person ask them politely if they can take it down. If you can’t get the contact of a person who has posted is take the help of the administrator of the site
  • Suppose you see that it is necessary to use a professional service to clean up your image. Do it! It is just a click away. There are a lot of professionals who can help you take care of the pressing matter.

Reinforce Positivity

An excellent online image is created by putting your best foot forward. Find all the negative things about you, remove them and start to fill your content with positivity.

  • Create positive content, start your blog or website and write regularly about things that you know well, or are passionate about. Spice it up with attractive images and contemporary input. Ask for feedback from your loyal audience.
  • Keep up with the current affairs so you can think constructively. Make an educated guess about what’s going on in the world.
  • Promote all the good things that you do, like charity work or helping the local community
  • Last but not least, build a professional profile on networking sites such as LinkedIn. Ask people who know you professionally to write recommendations. Write recommendations for your contacts and keep commenting on the posts to keep your profile up to date. Add in new accomplishments.
  • You could also consider buying a domain name and use it to write a biography of yourself and articles that might be of interest, but make sure that you’re not sharing anything too personal.

Keep up the Good Work!

Now that you have had a professional online makeover. Make sure that you harness the fruits that come from all the toiling. Leverage your online reputation to climb up the ladder.