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Alcohol, sex, chocolate or the internet: what Indians would rather have

By Saptarishi Dutta

How much exactly do Indians love the Internet? Dearly.

An international survey by Indian communication services provider Tata Communications show that Indians end up spending more time on the Internet than most of their global counterparts. The survey had a total of 9,417 respondents from six countries: India, US, UK, Singapore, Germany and France.

Around 14% of  Indians spent more than 12 hours a day on the Internet—that is double the global rate.

Only 44% of Indian users said they could live without Internet access for 12 hours—lowest among the countries surveyed.

Fifty three percent of Indians miss the Internet while 18% of them feel anxious when they don’t have access to it. Such dependance on Internet is not seen in the other countries surveyed.

Indians are least willing to give up sex for internet access. They would give up television without blinking an eye. The survey shows that 43% of Indians are wiling to give up watching television in exchange for Internet access. But only 19% are willing to give up alcohol and 4% are willing to turn celibate—lowest among all the countries surveyed.

This abiding passion for the Internet is good news for the companies such as Google and Facebook which are trying to tap into India’s growing Internet user base. Rajan Anandan, Google India’s managing director, expects Internet users in India to go past the US by the end of 2014.

Google recently launched its Android One—a Nexus-like program for inexpensive smartphones—hoping to get millions of Indians on the Internet for the first time. There are still 1 billion people in India who don’t have access to the Internet, according to Google’s Sundar Pichai, vice president of Android, Chrome and Google Apps.

But such obsession with Internet might be getting a bit out of hand already.

A research by National Institute of Mental Health  and Neurosciences found that 73% of teenagers in Bangalore are affected by psychiatric distress with Internet addiction as one of the main reasons behind it.

As a result, several Internet de-addiction centres are sprouting in India. The concept—popular in the US—is relatively new in India but is getting traction.

Youngsters, who are taken to such centres, spend long hours browsing the web, often get agitated when they don’t have access to it and even steal money to go out to cyber cafes. India’s first such centre was opened in Bangalore which was followed by Delhi and, most recently, in Punjab.