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Abstract

With his proclamation in 1998 that "IT is India's tomorrow", Prime Minister Vajpayee captured a vision of a 21st century India substantially different from that of the previous century, with its high levels of poverty, bloated bureaucracies, and protectionist policies. He envisioned the new India as a major IT power, fully integrated with the global economy, bringing about substantial domestic and international benefit. The Internet is a key to this vision, both as an enabler of technology-based change, and as an indicator of the vision's fulfillment. Using an analytic framework developed by the authors and others, this study documents the growth of the Internet in India, from the pre-Internet networks through the boom of the Internet from 1998 to 2003. The Indian experience provides an example of how fundamental, focused changes in policy and legislation can unleash forces that accelerate Internet diffusion. Private sector initiatives greatly expanded the Internet infrastructure and Internet services market. At the same time, Government initiatives promoted the expansion of the Internet into parts of the country not well served by private ISPs. Poverty and limited telecommunications infrastructure currently limit the rate and extent of Internet expansion. However, time is an ally; the basic elements for continued growth of the Internet are largely in place.

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