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Modi Govt: India On The Path To Glory

We need to look at skilling & reskilling to take advantage of the opportunities in a cognitive world

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The announcement and execution of focused flagship programmes such as ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Smart Cities’, ‘Startup India’, ‘Financial Inclusion’ and ‘Skill India’ by the government have set a clear agenda for India. To make the vision a reality, a concerted effort across stakeholders, including the government, regulatory bodies, academia, industry and industry bodies, will play a very crucial role. We have already started witnessing a trend of coming together of the traditional and the new emerging ecosystem to address both challenges and opportunities in innovative ways.

Significant steps have been taken by the government to digitally empower every citizen. The scaling up of Aadhar and the bold move to transition from a cash to a digital economy are among the most transformational. These steps have triggered a spur of innovative solutions in the financial services industry. We are seeing digital transformation across established financial institutions, newly born digital fintech and a slew of small payment banks. It is playing a key role in improving financial access and reach at an unprecedented level at India unit economics. Programmes like these will pave the way for a far less cash dependent, secure and robust digital economy.

The good news is that each of the flagship programmes have examples of success in different pockets. The real impact comes when these examples become systematic and can be scaled. We need to be able to move from a few visionaries and bold decision makers to having processes and policies that can be leveraged in a business-as-usual manner.  This requires some additional work since most of our government and public sector unit procurement processes and operations don’t lend themselves readily to an agile, digital world. For example, the standardisation of the RFP (request for proposal) model for procurement should be instituted by the government so it can provide more clarity around implementing first-of-its-kind technologies and solutions. This will ensure that large and small companies, global and local players, can provide innovative and affordable solutions that are uniquely tailored for the Indian environment and at the same time leverage best global practices.

The other critical areas are education and healthcare. There has been a lot of focus on physical infrastructure, which is obviously very important to drive investments and growth. But equally important for India’s leadership as a real knowledge economy is going to be the social infrastructure. We need to look at skilling and re-skilling differently to take advantage of the opportunities presented in a cognitive world. The realisation of India’s aspiration of a trillion-dollar digital economy is dependent on the world-class educational institutions with new curriculum and a culture of up-skilling across public and private institutions that reward future skills.

In the healthcare sector, the government should re-visit its strategy with emphasis on bringing technology for better health. Improve efficiency of its programmes such as the adoption of primary data collection devices, and provide better technology-driven treatment at government hospitals and in rural areas. These are the key areas where we have large gaps between demand and supply that should be viewed as opportunities to scale versus being viewed as a threat.

Public-private partnership is the key towards building a digital nation. By working with the government, we can help propel the nation into a position of global eminence. Our aim should be to move the nation from an emerging market economy to one of global economic leadership that delivers a strong return on investments for the citizen, the economy and the institutions that are betting on India.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Vanitha Narayanan

The author is chairman of IBM India

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