Rural Odisha’s great telecom divide!

Bhubaneswar: At a time when so much emphasis is being laid on mobile phones, rural Odisha’s picture reflects a yawning divide. According to the Socio Economic and Caste Census Report-2011, 65.36% of the rural households in Odisha still don’t own a phone – neither fixed line nor mobile phone.

To view it from the other angle, only 34.64% of the rural households of Odisha use telecom services, with mobile phone-using households being pegged at 33.56% of the total rural households. Only 0.38% households use landline phones, while only 0.68% of the rural Odisha use both landline and mobile phones.

In absolute numbers, 32,837 households out of the total 86, 22, 827 households have a landline connection. On the other hand, a total of 58, 941 households have mobile phones.

Now to gain a perspective, let us look at the corresponding national level percentages. Out of the total rural households of the country, 72.07 % own a telephone device, either landline or mobile. Similarly, the mobile ownership percentage stands at 68.35%.

Moreover, similar is the case in other categories of asset ownership. While at a national level 11.02% of the households own a refrigerator, in rural Odisha it is an abysmal 4.83%. Similarly, in terms of vehicle ownership, nationwide, 20.69 % of the total households own a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler. In rural Odisha only 8.97 % households own a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler.