Internet shutdowns hammer India’s global growth

FPJ BureauUpdated: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 11:46 AM IST
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Internet shutdowns cost India $968 million (Rs 6,485 crore) in 2015-16, the largest loss among 19 countries surveyed and the result of 22 shutdowns, the same as war-torn Iraq, according to a report by Brookings Institution indicating the negative effect of these shutdowns on the economy, reports IANS.

Internet services in India are shut down to prevent unrest; in Kashmir, mobile internet services have been shut as the state has been witnessing unrest for more than three months. This has rendered its information technology sector “dysfunctional” resulting in job-cuts and shifting of operations by several firms to outside the state.

The Brookings study analysed 81 short-term shutdowns across 19 countries between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, and estimated that these shutdowns cost the global economy at least $2.4 billion (Rs 16,080 crore).

The maximum loss was incurred by India ($968 million), followed by Saudi Arabia ($465 million) and Morocco ($320 million). India equals Iraq in number of disruptions

There were a total of 81 disruptions across 19 countries during the surveyed period. The maximum number of disruptions was in India at 22, equivalent to Iraq, followed by eight in Syria and six in Pakistan.

The report noted that in 2016, India joined the ranks of countries such as Uganda, Algeria and Iraq that have disrupted internet services in response to concerns over students cheating in exams.

The Gujarat government had banned mobile internet for four hours to prevent misuse of cell phones during revenue talatis (accountants) recruitment exam in March 2016, The Times of India reported.

“Considering the sensitive nature of the exam for recruitment of talatis, internet service providers have been asked to shut down all internet-based social media services from 9 am to 1 pm to prevent the misuse of mobiles during the exam,” the report said, quoting the government notification.

National internet services witnessed maximum shutdowns.

As many as 11 Indian states shut down the internet 37 times since 2015, with 22 of those instances in the first nine months of 2016, according to data compiled by Centre for Communication Governance, National Law University, and Delhi, which indicates that the Brookings report may not have covered all shutdowns.

Internet shutdowns have less impact in developing countries.

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