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New World Tech Order and India’s role (5 December 2020)

New World Tech Order & India’s role (5 December 2020)

Context:

  • Prime minister Narendra Modi said that the post COVID world will be about re-learning-rethinking-reinventing and our government is fully committed to this principle that is to reform-transform-perform.

Background:

  • Speaking at the IIT 2020 Global Summit, the PM said that there is no sector left out from india's reforms.
  • Noting that a large number of IIT alumni are in global leadership positions and their strong networks are spread across industry, academia and government, PM urged the Indian tech diaspora to debate discuss and contribute to solutions in the emerging new world tech order.

 Panellists:

           

1. Kind of emerging world tech order:

1.1. Data as New Factor of Production: Earlier in economics there used to be four factors of production: Land, Labour, Capital and Entrepreneurship and now there is another factor of production that is DATA.

1.2.GLOBATIZATION: The way the world is changing, artificial intelligence is coming there is a new term GLOBATIZATION (global plus robotization) and it has huge impact whatever you listen to or read to do projections in the future that in future the machines, artificial intelligence will not only process data but they will also start interpreting it and also ask questions and answer those questions based on all this data.

1.3. So, it is a very new world we are entering into which will entirely change the life of human beings the way they learn they live and what their own function their own role is in the society in economy in creativity.

1.4. All these things are not perhaps being studied very well in a very disjointed manner some people are working on it but as policy makers people have to add, countries have to think that where exactly this technology is headed what will be its implications on human beings.

1.5. Prime minister recently in G20 said that all the development of new technology should be human-centric that individual’s interest should be protected.

1.6. So, it is a very new world we are entering into which will entirely change the life of human beings the way they learn they live and what their own function their own role is in the society in economy in creativity.

1.7. A/c to one estimate, around 60 % of our population actually cannot send their students to full-time higher education even you offer them free education. Today there is an opportunity to go online and offer a lot of these courses online so that they can work and do internship and along with it also study.

2. India’s role in Technology and comparison with World’s best:

2.1. Inferiority Complex: If you look at the last 10 years or so in the tech space, what once used to be hesitation that this product is made in India and might be inferior that was the mindset it's changing rapidly now.

2.2. Superior products: It technically means that we're shipping superior products we are creating cutting-edge technology and products

2.3. I.T. services led to product-led country: What we need is to happen it at a faster pace and more broadly a mindset change is required which is happening but there's still a lot of ground to cover.  From a mindset of project management that historically in the previous decade saw India becoming I.T. services led country to becoming a product-led country where there is a strong focus on R&D.

2.4. Skill and Training: Talent is there but we have to train them better, we have to inculcate the know-how to do certain things and that's not limited to programming or coding.

2.5. India has more than 1.5 billion connections and broadly we don't know how to make mobile phones in its full capacity. We have to start somewhere maybe with semiconductors maybe with batteries and we are doing that we have started to do that.

2.6. Country as a whole is known for its medical expertise, but we still import all the medical equipment.  What will it take to build an MRI machine in the country? So, you have to start somewhere. So, we have to walk on that path to become what we truly want to become and that mindset beyond project management i.e., to follow R&D led mindset is what is important.

2.7. Reverse Top Soil Erosion: Once R&D led mindset starts to happen the core problem of what we call top soil erosion which is people moving from villages to cities and people from larger cities moving towards different countries essentially for what it's basically high value job opportunities when they start to exist in India, we would see this reverse migration.

3. Role of Indian Diaspora in New Indian Tech world Order:

3.1. At this stage two things i think our information technology revolution when it took place in the turn of the century or in the 90s our people who had studied mostly in IITs and had settled in the Silicon Valley had played a very very important role.

3.2. Role of a bridge: Between the Indian skills and human resources and the requirement of American technology and now of course we see that the American companies actually the Silicon Valley are heavily dominated or the heavy presence of Indians.

3.3. Indian entrepreneurs did a phenomenal job of mentoring, guiding young entrepreneurs mostly came from India and think create creative thinking.

3.4. They could bring in seed money. They could help the person to exploit his or her idea or his or her own signs and that is extremely important.

3.5. Unfortunately, in India that ecosystem is still not there where a youngster can come with an idea in a garage and he can find somebody to guide him to mentor him to give him some seed money to encourage him to have some incubator in some institute where he can quickly start with half a dozen workers.

3.6. Help in creating Eco system: Alumni can help if somebody has come from BITS Pilani, IITs settled in USA etc, this diaspora can work back with their Alma Mater and try to create that ecosystem and that will be a very very big help.

3.7. Venture Capitalist: Indian Diaspora like some of our Indian Americans and in other countries have huge amounts of money. They are venture capitalists and they are always looking for mentoring people from India.

4. Role of the New National Education Policy and the issue of training and skilling:

  • 4.1. We have two types of systems:
  1. Institutions like where it's a full-time education, students come here stay here study and so on or
  2. We have something like IGNOU which just gives a you know correspondence or evening courses. They obviously do not have the same value in the market in terms of the graduates.   because they are not exposed to the same level of faculty resources and things like that it's
  • 4.2. Blended education: High time that institutions like ours actually do a blended education where we actually talk about internship plus online education so this is something you know when we are teaching an institution like this you would not believe how many of our students actually have some type of a part-time job still when they are studying. So, actually the start-up culture is now very much strong in the campuses so that's actually happening at least in the IITs.
  • 4.3. Online education: Some of the few things which cannot be done online. But in programs like Computer Science, almost everything is possible online. It reduces the cost of education so that whatever our limited resources are we are able to reach out to a much larger number of students

5. What's holding India back?

5.1. Right Mindset: Having the right mindset towards R&D and that takes time that takes energy effort money. It's not a quick win game so a lot of companies have to focus on R&D for results.

5.2. Exits and acquisitions of Companies: In an era where companies are in news every other day for exits and acquisitions and all of that sort of becomes harder for entrepreneurs to focus on a long-term game right.

5.3. Role of Government: While Government will play its role and has been playing its role in in various ways by schemes and policies and including initiatives such as National Broadband Mission. It's a herculean task to think about connecting our remote villages via broadband connection right and it's already happening on the ground.

5.4. Role of Private sector: They have to come forward in you know subscribing to the vision that we as a country will focus on R&D and make something long term.  That has to come in from the private sector while the government will continue its job by supporting and providing infrastructure and health care and other stuff. So, I don't think over reliance on the government is the right approach it has to come from the private sector uh

5.5. Trade Balance: The broader problem that we as a country face around trading balance where we are producing aggregation products and importing high-end equipments, expensive equipments. Now that trade imbalance has to be fixed and there's no other way to do it right unless we start creating high value goods. Otherwise, we would continue to export our talent be it medical be technology all of that to other countries and would lag behind in creating value within the country.

6. Challenges/Implications of New World Tech Order:

6.1. Human-centric approach is something which is totally missing in whatever technology is being developed by these tech companies whether they are based in United States or China and here we see not much is really coming from Japan or West Europe to my knowledge, the cutting edge of technology.

6.2. Employment: In the Indian context it is very important to fully understand where we are headed in this new technological age and one worry what would be the impact on employment.

6.3. Monopoly of Few Companies: Because the entire technology, new technology development is being driven by eight or nine big companies, six of them are in America.

  • Whereas in our time the earlier most of the research used to come from some government-funded agencies you know like defence in in USA, internet came from the defence expenditure etc.

6.4. Profit v. Human centric: Private sector driven new technology is totally focused only on profit on greater return for the investor and it is not human-centric like a government technology will not be for driverless cars it is a totally useless technology.

6.5. Rich vs Poor Divide: So which way the technology is headed it has huge implications and it will increase the divide between rich and poor countries, within societies it will have greater inequality between rich and poor so there are huge implications and

6.6. Access to connectivity and devices: As soon as this pandemic (Corona) stuck and as soon as students had to go to their homes and study and we had to do online so it became a mess because there is a very significant number of our students, IIT Delhi students and other IITs students who do not have

  • Access to connectivity 
  • Access to a laptop they are trying to attend lectures on a mobile and these have been a tremendous challenge

7. Way Foreward:

7.1. % of GDP INVESTMENT: We have to increase our investment on R&D.

  • India invests or spends less than 1% of GDP on R&D and that is also mostly by the Government.
  • In Korea, 3.4% of GDP is on R&D and 70%is by the private sector and it has commercial applications and commercially driven.

7.2. Commercial applications and Commercially driven:

  • So, more expenditure is required and the Government should channelize that funds but funds should mostly come from Private sector only then they will have commercial application
  • We really do not need too much of theoretical research my colleague from iit may differ but i think we should need to go the Korea way and make sure that our r d rupees go for some commercial returns to the country and to our people.

7.3. New Education Policy: So, we also have a New Education Policy and that policy also has to take technology to be a centrepiece of it you know education in technology has to be something which has to be focused.

7.4. Quick Policy formulation and implantation: During Corona, Governments could not provide connectivity and device availability to students. This is a policy challenge because though we subsidize students to a large extent but we cannot change quickly the policy to be able to give them laptops so we may actually be spending a lot more money when they are actually sitting in this.

  • So clearly this age requires a very quick policy everything so that is one thing that i would like to say because of the heterogeneity.

7.5. Increase enrolment in quality technical education: We should also proportionately increase enrolment in quality technical education, otherwise we will not be able to compete technically globally.

7.6. Regulations: Some people even say that the march of technology needs to be stopped but it cannot be stopped but even big technology developers are saying some kind of regulation is required

7.7. Indian Tech Diaspora: We have huge expertise IITs alumni NITs alumni BITs alumni. All our top technical education institutions have huge alumni base working in top institutions and which was prime minister was referring to it's a huge possibility to connect with them to be able to offer high quality education at the research level, of course, you have to compensate them.

  • In terms of research and technology across campuses so if you can go into a scheme like this that can really benefit and the diaspora can play a very big role in this.

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