News India Times March 15, 2019 4 Opinion - NEW YORK ndia is deluged by smartphones. There is fierce com- petition by airtime carriers for market share, be it in urban or rural areas. The billion plus population country has already grabbed 10% of the global smart- phone market. Nevertheless, smartphone ownership rates in India are the lowest amongst some of the topmid- dle income countries globally, according to a new research report published today, on Friday, by the Pew Research Center. Pew has researched extensively the use and effect of smartphones and social media in the US over the decade. It’s the first time, however, that they have focused on other countries. The new survey of emerging economies – including the benefits and challenges that digital connectivity brings to people’s lives and societies – was conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from September 7 to December 7, 2018. The countries included in the first round of the continu- ing series of surveys were, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, South Africa, Kenya, India, Vietnam, Philippines, Tunisia, Jordan and Lebanon. A key finding of the survey revealed that while India has over 500 million Internet users, it’s the connectivity that’s missing, to expand service into rural areas. Forty seven per- cent of Indians have a basic phone that cannot connect to the internet. Pew notes that despite the half a billion num- ber, India still ranks lowest in the list, with only 38% of the population connected to the Internet. All those small Internet cafes in India domake a differ- ence, as Pew notes that a majority of Indians ages 18 to 29 (55%) go online. Significantly, the gender gap here too is exposed as India has the lowest ownership rates among women: only 56% women in India have a phone compared to a high of 96% in Vietnam. Another anomaly is that while social media continues to see India as one of the biggest success stories, with Face- book andWhatsAppmaking huge inroads in the last few years, majority of adults in India do not use one of the seven social media platforms or messaging services - Face- book, Instagram, Twitter,WhatsApp, Snapchat andViber, plus the dating appTinder. Kenya too falls in the same cate- gory. The Pew report notes also another anomaly: while India has the smallest percentage of Facebook users (24%) of the 11 countries surveyed, it has the largest net number of ac- tive Facebook users in the world. So even as Zuckerberg may be thinking of moving Facebook to aWeChat model of business popular in China, with a mobile payment feature built in, India may struggle to adapt to yet another new platform. The Pew survey comprises mainly of median observa- tions from the 11 countries surveyed. Key findings include that mobile phone users in each of the countries surveyed are more likely to say their phone is something that frees them rather than something that ties themdown. Meanwhile, a larger share of mobile phone users in seven countries believe their phone helps them save time rather than waste time. Amedian of 70% of adults across the 11 countries say mobile phones have been a mostly good thing for society, while a smaller share (57%) say the same of social media. A similar pattern exists when assessing how these technolo- gies impact thempersonally. Amedian of 82% say that mo- bile phones have beenmostly good for them in their personal lives, compared with 63%who feel this way about social media. In contrast, a median of 19% say that social media has beenmostly bad for thempersonally, and 27% say it has beenmostly bad for society. Those in every country surveyed worry about the impact of mobile phones on children, Pew said. Across these 11 emerging economies, a median of 79% of adults say people should be very concerned about chil- dren being exposed to harmful or immoral content when using their phones. Inmost countries, half or more say mo- bile phones and the Internet have had a bad impact on children – more than the percentage who say they are con- cerned about the influence of technology on other facets of society included in the survey, such as politics, local culture andmorality. Parents are taking steps tomonitor and regulate what their child does online or on their mobile phone. Amedian of 52% of parents whose children have a mobile phone say they at times limit howmuch time their child spends on their phone, and a median of 50% say they monitor what their child is looking at or doing on their mobile phone. There is also concern about the pitfalls and hazards of fake news.While mobile phone users largely agree that their phones help them get news, many are concerned about the spread of misinformation when using their phone. Amedian of 79% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their mobile phones have helped them get information and news about important issues. Smartphone users are particularly likely to say their de- vices bring these benefits compared with those withmore basic devices. But, these perceived benefits can often coex- ist with concerns, Pew notes. Amedian of 64% of adults also say people should be very concerned about exposure to false or incorrect information when using their mobile phones. Amedian of 44% of adults each say the increasing use of mobile phones and the Internet have had a good influence on politics, while a median of about three-in-ten say each has had a bad influence. Public attitudes have become more positive about the Internet’s influence on certain facets of society, like the economy and education, inmost countries surveyed. In seven of the 10 countries where trend data are available, larger shares today believe that the increasing use of the In- ternet has had a good influence on the country’s economy than did so in 2014. A key finding is also that a notable share of adults ex- press concerns about the impact of mobile phones on in- terpersonal communication. For instance, a median of 48% of adults say people should be very concerned about peo- ple losing the ability to communicate face-to-face when using their mobile phones. What’s clear is that growth and proliferation of mobile phones will continue globally. A recent report says there are seven billion connected devices globally, mostly comprising mobile phones, but that would increase 15-fold by 2025, The Indian Express re- ported this week. While India await the launch of 5G, despite poor back- haul fiber optic network inmost parts, the Pew research makes it clear that focus should be to increase online con- nectivity in rural areas; have more people get access to smartphones, women in particular, to boost productivity and growth in small and agrarian businesses. Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: Follow him on Twitter: @SujeetRajan1 IndiaAt Center Of Digital Divide, Reveals PewSurvey I Sujeet Rajan Executive Editor Parikh Worldwide Media Gentrification Isn't AUniversal Problem. DemocratsWouldDoWell ToRemember That. By Daniel Block A mong liberal circles, gentrification and housing costs have fully gone prime-time. In the months before entering the 2020 presidential race, Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and ElizabethWarren, D-Mass., all proposed legislation that would provide finan- cial assistance to tenants and encourage more develop- ment in places where housing is in short supply. Under Harris's proposal, renters whomake as much as $125,000 annually would be eligible for a rebate, depending on where they live. Meanwhile, in NewYork, progressives cheered as Ama- zon announced its decision to cancel its new Long Island headquarters in response to backlash over its impact on housing affordability, among other concerns. As Rep. Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted: "Displacement is not community development." (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns TheWashington Post.) It is easy to see why these issues loom large for coastal Democrats. In California, the median home price is beyond the reachof 3 out of 4 residents. In the District of Columbia area, where rent prices for the poor are spiraling upward, activists also worry that Amazon's arrival will displace resi- dents. But nationally, gentrification is an issue in only a handful of booming cities. Democrats hoping to lay out a vision to recapture the presidency in 2020 would do well to craft a more inclusive housing strategy that also addresses the challenges in heartlandmetropolitan areas such as Mil- waukee, Detroit and St. Louis. Indeed, inmuch of the country, there's plenty of inex- pensive housing. Many metros have toomany vacancies, which lowers the value of existing property and raises the risk of crime. As usual, minorities, whomake up a dispro- portionate percentage of the population in these Rust Belt cities, pay the heaviest price for these trends. It's not news that suchMiddle Americanmetros are struggling. But too often, politicians and activists treat the challenges facing heartlandmetros as distinct from the ones facing coastal super-cities. That's a mistake. Skyrock- eting rent in San Francisco and empty storefronts inMil- waukee are two sides of the same coin: The clustering of economic opportunity means that thriving megacities have more educated professionals than they can handle, while the rest of the country doesn't have nearly enough. How do we fix this imbalance? History provides a pre- scription. During the 20th century, the federal government established a strong competition policy regime that pre- vented large corporations headquartered in a handful of metros from snatching capital and talent away from every- where else. Antitrust enforcers blocked powerful compa- nies from acquiring rivals and broke up businesses that had cornered toomuch of any particular market. Airline regula- tion kept the price of flying fromone city to another the same on a per-mile basis, ensuring that people and busi- nesses inmidsize cities could affordably access bigger mar- kets. This robust competition policy has been widely forgotten, but it was wildly successful. Beginning with the NewDeal and continuing through the late 1970s, the per- capita income of different U.S. regions converged. In the mid-1960s, the 25 richest metropolitan areas were spread out across the country and included the likes of Milwaukee, Des Moines and Cleveland. But in the 1970s and 1980s, politicians and judges began unraveling these regulations, convinced by conservative economists that the free market would keep the playing field even. Ever since, money has flowed out of interior metros and toward a small collection of cities with a high degree of political and economic power, just as globaliza- tion began to hollow out the country's manufacturing core. Middle America's major companies have found themselves bought out by firms headquartered in places as far away as Belgium. Today, all but five of the 25 wealthiest metros in the United States are located on the East orWest Coast. Minneapolis, which clocks in at No. 23, is the only entrant from the Midwest. -T HE W ASHINGTON P OST