Out of the 5,97,619 inhabited villages in India, 5,58,537 villages have access to mobile broadband through 3G or 4G, claimed Devusinh Chauhan, Minister of State for Communications, in response to a question in the Lok Sabha on December 8. Inquiring about the progress of the National Broadband Mission, several MPs asked the Ministry of Communications about "the time by which the broadband access is likely to be provided to all the villages across the country." As the pandemic increased our reliance on the internet for fundamental services like education and employment, the issue of India's stark digital inequality has taken on new significance. While the minister may claim that 93% of Indian villages have internet access, other metrics indicate otherwise. Only 22% of Indian schools had access to internet in 2020: Govt data Out of more than 15 lakh schools in India, only 22.3 percent had access to the internet in the academic year 2019-2020, a report by the Ministry of Education revealed in May this year. Here are key data points from the report: Percentage of schools that had access to the internet in 2019-20 – 22.3 percent 2018-19 – 8.7 percent 2012-12 – 6.2 percent Percentage of schools that had access to the internet, categorized by management Government – 11.6 percent Government-aided – 42.2 percent Private – 50.2 percent Others – 21.42 percent States with the highest percentage of schools with internet access Kerala – 87.4 percent Gujarat – 70.76 percent Punjab – 48.96 percent Only two states had internet access in…
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