The first India built on its Independence to become agriculturally self-sufficient and feed its own people. The second India produces more software engineers than any other country and is a force to reckon with in the world of outsourced technology services. And yet, the technology revolution has touched but a handful. Much of India still remains frozen in time. For India to progress, Indians have to progress. For Indians to progress, technology has to become a utility for the masses.
The installed base of computers is 7 million for a population of 1 billion. Annual computer sales are stagnating at between 1.5-2 million since 2000. New computers still cost more than Rs 25,000, with the basic additional software (MS-Windows, MS-Office and anti-virus) costing an additional Rs 25,000. There are only about 6 million Internet connections in India, even as an hour of connectivity still costs more than Rs 30.
Imagine a New India. A million computing and communications centres, each with 10 or more computers connected to the Internet, dot the landscape, making them accessible to everyone across the country. Every Indian is computer-literate, and can email, browse the Internet and compose letters. Citizens can make bill payments, obtain ration cards, check land records, and do other interactions with the government easily and efficiently. Computers in small- and medium-sized companies make them real-time enterprises, ensuring instant updation of information and making them integral parts of global supply chains.
What separates the dream of a New India from the reality of today is the digital divide. It is this rubicon that we have to cross, this divide that we have to bridge. Even as we think of India, the same challenge is present in every other emerging market. There is an opportunity one last opportunity for them to use technology to leapfrog into the New World provided we leverage existing and emerging information and communications technologies smartly.
This opportunity will come through leveraging disruptive innovations.
Tomorrow: Disruptive Innovations
TECH TALK Disruptive Bridges+T