Friday 8 April 2016

NETIZENS: heralding ‘.com’ generation

 In late 90’s, Michael Hauben, a computer science graduate from Boston coined a word called NETIZEN (NET+CITIZEN) for the first time. Since then this goofy-sounding word became so popular throughout the world that it is almost irreplaceable today.

 If we look upon the internet’s trajectory in India also, this word has started diminishing the distinction between the virtual and the real world. A report from IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) and IMRB says that India being the second largest internet community might get 462 million internet users by June 2016. Since the internet penetration in India is still a bit low, the possibility of getting higher growth rate is much more than the western.

 It not surprising that mobile phone is the key which has turned millions of citizens into netizens or cyber citizens. In spite of having lower user base than urban areas, rural India has shown a healthy growth rate by participating in this “.com” revolution. However there are desktop and laptop users also in the race.

 Many industries and consumer focused tech businesses are gradually getting depended on these cyber citizens. In sectors like commerce, healthcare, education, finance, an internet based platform compared to the off-line services, can serve quicker response to people. The more the users digitize themselves the better service they get. As Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder and CEO of Paytm, says, “In the next five years, I expect the country will have banking products or full-fledged banks exclusively using mobile platforms. India is the ideal laboratory such innovations, considering India as a young country. 50 per cent of the population is under 24 years and smart phones are getting powerful with each passing day”.

As this internet technology is getting penetrated into the society refusing any demographic bars, everybody being a netizen, is participating actively towards the society. Though in India, internet usage is generally dominated by email, social networking, chat, games and news, users are also able to tackle key issues plaguing education, health, finance, agriculture, governance etc. Online businesses those have created a market worth about $11.8 billion in 2015, are also getting a strong platform only because of the huge crowd of netizens.

 It can be anticipated that a majority of citizens will be accessing internet and become part of the ‘.com’ generation in coming years. But on the other side overall cyber security needs to be assured through the Digital India vision. India needs a properly structured internet security and wellness plan to protect all the data those are or will be shared online. As the major part of the internet users are the youngsters it is critical that cyber security is integrated tightly into Digital literacy training to grow them up as responsible netizens of India.

                                                                                                                       Sagnee Roychowdhury
  ( PG MEDIA 2015-2017)

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