Outlook Business Article on Digital India: Part 1

I wrote an article for Outlook Business as part of their Independence Day special issue (August 23 issue, page 96). The title given is “Waking Up to a Digital Dawn.” The first part is a small story set in the future.

Pooja lives in with her parents in a modest two-bedroom apartment in a middle-class neighborhood in Mumbai. She is studying in class V. It is early in the evening. Entering the living room, she switches on a light and then pushes a button on a little blue box the size of a shoe-box sitting next to a monitor. The monitor lights up immediately displays what looks like a PC desktop. A little dialog box blinks, “Who is it?” She types her login name “pooja101”. “What is our secret word, Pooja?” She responds.In a flash the desktop changes to resume where she had left off earlier that day when she had accessed “MyComputer” at the school computing center. An ad appears in a little window. It lasts for about 10 seconds informing her of a sale on school supplies going on in her neighborhood supermarket. She clicks on the “ToDo List” and makes a note in there to buy some stationery and dismisses the ad window.

Pooja is in a hurry to get to her assignment from the biology class done. On the desktop, that file sits exactly as she had left it. She “googles” for some more information on ‘platypus‘, collates a few images and videos together, and adds a voice-over commentary. Satisfied, she mails it off to the teacher, well before the 9 pm deadline.Now comes the part she really enjoys. She is learning French. She clicks an icon and a streaming video resumes from where she had left off a few days ago. It is a multimedia course and it is world-class and on top of it all, it is free. She takes a little test in the end and is happy with the results. Later her father, Ashok, logs in and balances his checkbook, pays a few bills, and makes a call to his brother in the US. After Pooja and Ashok have gone to sleep, their mother, Lata, logs in via the NetPC. For the past year, she has been working as a Tutor for a local education company. She likes it because she can work the hours she wants – without ever having to leave home. More than the extra income, she is glad that her teaching skills now are helping students the world over.

Next morning, Ashok , who is an executive with a media company handling their international operations, has a weekly international business review meeting at the office. He logs in to the video conference and talks with each of the seven region heads. He still remembers the time a few years ago when he had to travel country by country and be away from his family for long periods of time. This is now a thing of the past with live interactions via video with anyone he desires as often as he wants.Ashok’s thoughts were interrupted with a message from his assistant who informed him that he could check the latest episodes. Ashok now views the episodes online directly from the producer’s studio before they are transferred to Hong Kong for uplinking to all international channels. With the big data pipes, Ashok has been also able to save on huge tape costs. Ashok is a happy man as he winds up his work and goes to sleep. He has not only been able to save time, but was also recently promoted because his was the most profitable department. He was able to this because he grew the business and managed his costs well across travel, tapes and other operations.

(Part 2 is here.)

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.