AI, cloud, and data will be crucial post Covid-19: Nilekani

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on April 20, 2021

'Technology is the only way that we can reach 1.3 billion people'

Technology will be crucial to India’s economic recovery post the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder and Non-Executive Chairman of the Board, Infosys.

Nilekani, speaking at the first edition of Microsoft ExpertSpeak, in conversation with Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India said, “Technology is going to be absolutely vital and critical to India's economic recovery.”

“We saw the digital acceleration of the last year. First, I think, we have one of scale, we have 1.3 plus billion people, and we all need to reach them and technology is the only way that we can reach them. Second, we have a very youthful population that is demanding a better life and better jobs,” he added.

Technologies such as cloud, data and AI will be crucial moving forward.

The digital divide

A significant aspect of technology is access. The digital divide in India has become starker during the pandemic, said Nilekani.

“There's definitely a digital divide (in India). And that has been further accentuated by the pandemic,” he said.

“When we design population-scale systems, we have to make sure that everybody can participate,” said the former Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

“We have to design the applications in a way that people who don't have devices and don't have access can still participate,” he added.

Digital acceleration

According to the experts, India must continue the momentum in digital acceleration while bridging the divide as technology becomes crucial moving forward.

According to Maheshwari and Nilekani, skilling is another crucial aspect of digital acceleration.

Apart from this, as India looks to build self-reliance and build its own digital capabilities, it will require to accelerate its “tech intensity,” as well, as per Maheshwari.

“Tech intensity essentially is a combination of two seemingly different things, but very connected. One is leveraging public tech platform at scale and bringing as much of that capability in and on top of that, building your own IP capability,” explained the Microsoft India President.

“Tech intensity will be central to creating that self-reliance,” he said.

Talking about the current situation in India and the role that technology can play, Nilekani opined the “digital backbone” will be important as India should aim to scale up to 5-10 million vaccinations a day.

Nilekani said, “With all the things opening up, you should aim for five to 10 million vaccinations a day. Therefore the transaction time is very important.”

Published on April 20, 2021

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