Around 4,196 hours of internet blackouts in India cost the economy close to $1.3 billion in 2019, finds a study by UK-based tech research firm Top10Vpn.
India was the third worst-hit economy worldwide after crisis-hit Iraq and Sudan thanks to state-imposed shut downs across Jammu & Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, UP and other regions, shows the report. An average of 8.4 million internet users were impacted across the multiple incidents, it said.
The economic impact is likely to be higher, the study adds, given that the study only assessed large region-wide blackouts and India’s smaller and more localised shutdowns weren’t included.
“There were more internet shutdowns in 2019 than ever before,” Samuel Woodhams and Simon Migliano, authors of the report by Top10Vpn told TOI in an email. “As for India, the frequency of disruptions still far surpasses any other country we analysed and, unless swift action is taken to reduce the number and duration of disruptions, the economic impact is likely to continue to rise,” they added.
In India, Jammu & Kashmir had it the worst. The restive state in northern India faced the longest blackout ever witnessed in a democracy. People here have been without the internet for around five months starting Aug. 5, when Article 370, the constitutional provision granting it special status was nullified.
Not only has Kashmir’s tourism suffered severely, the local economy has also taken a big hit. Tens of thousands of artisans were rendered jobless after handicrafts couldn’t be sold online. Some entrepreneurs relocated to other states so business wouldn’t come to a standstill.
Most recently, shutdowns have been imposed in parts of India in the wake of protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act.