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Data: Southern States on The Top, Kerala Outperforms All Other States in ICT Skills


The NSS 78th Round – Multi-indicator Survey looked at nine ICT skills of the young population between 15-29 years, which are also the skills identified by UNO under SDG-4. Across most of these skills, the Southern states are consistently in the top-5 in terms of the population that possess these skills with Kerala outperforming all other states by a huge margin. 

In the first part of the series on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills measured in the NSS 78th Round – Multi-Indicator Survey, the primary focus was to look at the rural-urban divide and gender-wise disparities in terms of possession of ICT Skills. The results from the analysis show that there is a significant rural-urban divide and a visible gender disparity in possessing ICT Skills. Further, this variance is analogous with the level of skill, with higher skills heavily skewing towards urban and male respondents. 

In this second part, we look at these trends state-wise. In other words, the goal is to analyse the trends for both inter-state and intra-state variations. The skill categorization used in this part is the same as the first part. Data from North-Eastern and Union territories is excluded to remove the scope for outliers, and data of only 15-29 years of age is considered for this analysis.  

The data regarding the ICT Skills from the NSS 78th Multiple-Indicator survey is taken from Factly’s Dataful website.

Only 8 states out of 18 large states have more than 50% population who possess basic ICT skills

For the purpose of this analysis, data for the most basic ICT skill – Copying or Moving a file or folder is considered. It is observed that, among the 18 large states in India, only 8 states have reported more than 50% population with the ability to perform this operation This number is almost similar even if we consider the next basic skill- use copy or paste tools to duplicate information. Interestingly, four out of these 8 states are from the South of India.  

In an era of the growing importance of digital skills and technological progress, and despite various skilling missions by successive governments, such limited exposure of the population to even some of the most basic ICT skills is concerning. 

Only Kerala with more than 40 percent that can create electronic presentation.

If we consider the data of the population that can create an electronic presentation with presentation software (including text, images, sound, video, or charts), no state among the 18 large states have more than 40 percent with that ability. Kerala tops with 40.3% followed by Tamil Nadu with 26.1%, and Karnataka with 22.5%. Rest all states have below 20 percent population with that ability.

Kerala outperforms rest of states in all ICT Skills

The data on the ICT skills across states show that Kerala dominates other states in all the ICT skills measured. The difference between Kerala and the next best state is significantly large, indicating the exceptional performance of Kerala. Further, the difference between Kerala and All-India scores also indicates that Kerala is far ahead in terms of its performance in ICT skills. 

Southern states dominate among the best performing states.

If we consider the high-performing states in each ICT skill, it is evident that almost 4 out of the top-5 performing states belong to the southern region. States like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Telangana consistently fared in the top-5 high performers, while northern states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, and Madhya Pradesh recorded very low scores in almost all ICT skills. With increasing skill levels, the gap between the highest and lowest-performing states gets narrowed. However, this has more to do with the complexity of the skill category and the proportion of the population possessing them. That is, for basic skills, a higher proportion may possess such skills whereas, for advanced skills, only a smaller proportion possesses such skills, making the difference between top and bottom-performing states narrow.

Urban-rural divide almost absent in advance ICT skills for Kerala

For analysis, the proportion of the population who reported the ability to write a computer program using a specialised programming language was chosen, since it is a highly skilled activity. It is observed that states like Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh have significantly higher proportions of population reporting this skill. However, within these states, there is a clear urban-rural divide across the same gender with urban areas dominating the rural areas. However, for Kerala, the urban-rural divide is very small or almost negligible. Such equal distribution of proportion in each gender represents a growing interest to acquire higher skills in rural areas as well. Despite this, the gender divide still remains.

Way forward:

The 21st century is often termed the century of the digital revolution. Huge changes are taking place in the technological spheres across the globe. While the world is making strides in adopting digital literacy and enhancing competency, there is still a lot of work to do in India. It is disheartening to see that more than half of the large states do not even have half of the young population possessing basic ICT skills. It is high time that adequate focus be given by governments to ensure that youth possess the requisite digital skills. 

Featured Image: NSS 78th Round – Multi-indicator Survey


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