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Lav-less Indians can't get enough of their mobiles

Indoor toilets are a luxury for many, not so their phones

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India’s rapid technological ascent in the 21st century appears to have left the nation wanting in a few basic areas after the country’s newly released 2011 Census revealed that more households own a mobile phone than an indoor toilet.

The stats show that 46.9 per cent of Indian households have latrine facilities inside and less than 12 per cent of these are of the “piped sewer system” familiar to western toilet-goers.

On the other hand, some 53.2 per cent said they had a mobile, with the figure rising to a whopping 64 per cent in urban areas.

However, those with a computer or laptop dropped to a lowly 9.4 per cent and the figure fell yet further to 3.1 per cent for internet-connected machines.

The stats highlight the perplexing contradictions that exist in the world’s ninth largest economy, where around a third of households are still lit by kerosene lamps and nearly half have mud floors.

In many ways, the mobile stats should be no surprise given that India is known to have the second largest market in the world after China, with around 900m users, while it’s thought to have pipped Japan to third place globally in the table of top internet-connected countries with 121m users online.

Although the 2011 Census stats didn’t break down the percentage of mobile households owning internet-connected devices, the disparity between the 121m said to be internet connected and the low number owning web-enabled laptops or PCs is pretty telling.

It’s obvious that in India, like China and parts of Africa, many users are growing up in a world where the mobile internet is the online way they access the web. ®

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