Unleashing India’s Digital Revolution: The Soaring Growth of Internet in Tier 2+ Cities

There used to be a time when your address decided your fate in India. Unless you are from a Metropolitan city, or otherwise a city with at least a major railway station, where a huge majority of trains start from, you could not dream much in India.

People had to move to a Bangalore, or a Delhi to make it big in India. Else, you just don’t have chances left in life. It would be better if you could find a good ticket to the Middle East, or the West. Else, options were limited.

The Digital Revolution that is currently taking place in India is a truly different story now. There are amazing opportunities now arising in the thousands of small towns and villages in India, where young people now stay back, and make some impact. Business, education, and trade is now happening over the internet data, and future of Indian villages seems bright.

The dream of Gandhiji, where he wanted Indian villages to be self sufficient is not that far away.

India’s internet landscape has undergone a remarkable transformation, with Tier 2+ cities emerging as the driving force behind the country’s digital revolution. The proliferation of cheap data and a data usage surge have led to an unprecedented rise in “Digital India.”

The Rise of Tier 2+ Cities

India lives in the small towns. More than 80% of India’s population resides in Tier 2+ towns.

The once forgotten satellites of big cities that somehow offered nothing more than a few small buildings on the highway between major cities is now showing confidence. Young people are not afraid anymore to name their towns as their homes, instead of muttering the name of the big city a hundred kilometres away, that they are barely familiar with.


Photo by Vincent M.A. Janssen:

These towns, once overlooked, are now at the forefront of India’s internet growth, driving the digital revolution across the nation. At the time of writing this article, 4G is pretty much penetrated a large portion of the country. 5G connections are starting to spread majorly, and data is so affordable.

A young person with reasonable awareness and skills could practically earn a living that would support their small-town existence well is quite possible online today. Yes, you may need some skills, and some knowhow. But that is well within your reach today.

As a global leader in Digital Engagement, India has set new global benchmarks in data usage, displaying a penchant for consuming digital content like never before. Be it online gaming, video streaming, or social media, Indian internet users are leading the charge, outpacing the rest of the world in their digital engagement.

Maybe Indians are now spending more time in spaces like games and social media, watching videos of their film idols and influencers with 30 second entertainment. But, it is not far away when they would start to look to learn skills such as programming or AI enabled business models, that would bring in revenues of good size.

The coveted India Stack

Tech such as UPI and Aadhar that became so common in India so quickly has started experts to coin up a term “India Stack”, over which Indian internet companies are coming up.

India stack seems to have these four layers on which our applications reside and operate.

Presenceless Layer – Aadhar has taken our biometric data such as retina scans and fingerprint scans. This data makes up this fundamental layer.

Paperless Layer – enables personal records to be associated with one’s online identity. India has effectively started to move quite paperless now.

Cashless Layer – the powerful UPI; a single interface to all national banks and online wallets;

Consent Layer – the slowly developing security and control of personal data.

India is heavily investing in our digital infrastructure in a truly original and radical manner, with a lot of support from small businesses and individual business owners, who willingly sign up for UPI, GST integrations, and a lot of other factors.

There are quite a few thriving Sectors in the Digital Age in today’s India.

E-commerce, Health Tech, Ed Tech, Fin Tech, and SaaS are particularly attractive for our population. These industries have witnessed exponential growth, revolutionizing traditional services and transforming the way Indians live, learn, and conduct business.

Photo by David Selbert :

Make in India as a concept is slowly gaining traction in India, at least in Indian e-commerce. There is such a great attraction for good quality clothing and other accessories that are manufactured in India and marketed to Indians online. A lot of desi brands are getting a lot of attention, with practically no TV ads, or much marketing in the brick and mortar space.

India has truly embraced digital world, unlike a lot of the rest of the world, which still hangs on to scepticism, and fears to embrace technology.

Rural areas that actively seek locally-made products and services not only boosts the country’s economy but also empowers rural communities and fosters self-reliance.

What could be expected?

A lot of business online is still based on products and fast-moving goods. India is still to get a solid B2B ecosystem online, where businesses are making software products for making other Indian businesses easy. We are still in the hangover of outsourced business processing for western nations. The time of truly becoming a domestic consumer is still a bit further ahead.

India also needs a lot of focus on digital R&D and patents over the India stack. There are many attempts being made to make our digital ecosystem more reliable. Yet, truly original models that are uniquely tailored to Indian situations are yet to come in a large scale. More engineers and scientists need to sit together and come up with solutions on an experimental basis, that would start to make our systems better. Such actions have the potential to truly make a lot of difference.

An entrepreneurial revolution with people moving beyond simple websites and apps to truly building good businesses on digital space is needed. With AI powered models, and true value adds in the B2B and B2G sectors are necessary. Entrepreneurs should come with solutions in basic sectors such as agriculture, and small-scale manufacturing, wherein solutions for our MSME sector that enables higher profits and higher exports for small rural folks will truly be wonderful.

India is starting to move in the right direction with our digital models. The momentum and excitement now will really start to turn things around in great ways.

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