‘Brand India’ and ‘Digital India’ have captured the imagination of the people. Akodara, a tiny village in North Gujarat, is already on its way to making the government’s vision a reality.

With a population of just 1,145, the village has introduced a digitised curriculum in school. Teachers use audio-video content and digital boards in the anganwadis. The villagers encourage girls to undertake skill development programmes that help in understanding and learning office administration. Akodara has also created a cashless ecosystem in which shops, merchants and ordinary villagers engage in card transactions. Elsewhere, in the tiny hamlet of Chanduali in Rajasthan, the children are all excited about the internet and connecting on Facebook with their laptops!

Clearly, what started as a visionary notion once, is now the new normal! The government has taken a step in the right direction to end the huge divide between rural and urban India, and the digital haves and have-nots.

Industry studies such as Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2014 suggest that over the last one year alone, India has witnessed a 27 per cent growth in internet users compared to the global 10 per cent. While the report pegs the current user base at 154 million, it points to the fact that only 13 per cent of India is connected. If we take a look at the bigger picture, India is still an emerging market.

Big leap forward

Technology is clearly at the forefront of a revolution that promises to bridge the digital divide in the country through data and telecom networks, enabling wireless connectivity and creating 1.7 crore direct and 8.5 crore indirect jobs.

As technology leads the way towards economic progress, stable governance, inclusive and accessible healthcare, education and citizen services, creating an enabling environment is a must. For this to happen, companies need to focus on technology for governance, and technology for empowerment.

Focus on innovation, not pricing :Much of the digital gap can be bridged if technology is made affordable. We will need to move up the value chain, focusing on innovation and creating new products and solutions rather than focusing on pricing strategies.

Increase investments in technology and enhanced PPP : Dedicated investments are sure to hit the sweet spot with consumers, thereby boosting greater technology adoption. In fact, organisations such as MAIT are already working hand-in-hand with the government to forge efficient network systems, build digital super highways and integrate technology into traditional systems. More such partnerships are critical to enrich and accelerate the implementation of ‘Digital India’.

Weave in multi-lingual capabilities : India is a diverse and multicultural country. With electronic manufacturers and operating systems incorporating voice capabilities and linguistic search capabilities, education can receive a comprehensive boost.Imparting education with technology built-in with multilingual capabilities would help address the skills challenge and create an industry-ready talent pool.

Leverage technology for better governance : Integrating traditional systems into modern systems will simplify various aspects of governance — be it building an efficient public distribution system, automating work, transforming the urban- rural living environment or delivering better healthcare. This in turn will boost the existing programmes of the government such as Aadhaar, the Central Monitoring System, Netra, and Natgrid which are helping inclusive development and growth. Technology will act as a critical leveller to bolster these programmes, thus building the bridge between the government and the citizen.

It is clear that while technology giants and businesses continue to take big strides across the globe, in India, they can play a strong and significant role in transforming India into a global knowledge hub.

The writer is the Managing Director of Lenovo India and President of MAIT