The “Digital India Week” saw top industry houses pledging investments worth Rs 4.5 lakh crore in various technology ventures that can potentially add 1.8 million jobs.
Eminent industry people on Digital India:
Reliance Group chairperson Anil Ambani said the Indian story, which had been driven by 3-Ds -- democracy, demographics and demand, now had a fourth 'D' (decisiveness.
"With Narendrabhai assuming charge as Prime Minister, we inaugurated a new era in our nation's history: of visionary and decisive leadership," he said. Digital India would add another unique dimension to that story, he added.
Modi is India's greatest and among the world's most popular leaders in the digital space with over 80 lakh followers on Twitter and over 3 times that number – or 2.5 crore followers -- on Facebook, he added. "In other words, Digital India carries the signature of a leader whose name is synonymous with the transformational power of connectivity and communication," he said.
Anil-led Reliance Group committed to invest about Rs 10,000 crore over the next few years to expand its presence across digital, cloud computing and telecom space.
Mukesh Ambani, whose Reliance Jio is set to launch telephony and broadband services by December, said India is fortunate to have a Prime Minister "who not only paints a comprehensive and compelling vision but has the personal leadership and drive to convert his vision to reality."
"It is my conviction, Prime Minister, under your leadership, the Digital India initiative will create a partnership among all sections of society... a partnership that will leverage the power of 1.2 billion Indians. A partnership built on the ability and industry of all our citizens," he added.
Reliance Industries will make an investment of over Rs 250,000 crore in the digital space, including rollout of wireless broadband infrastructure and manufacturing of mobile handsets.
Bharti Airtel's Sunil Bharti Mittal said Modi understands the power of technology.
"Who better to lead this initiative than our own very popular and beloved Prime Minister, who is a digital native, perhaps a handful of leaders around the globe who understand and is comfortable with the technology. Who is an avid user of Facebook and Twitter and a person who has set a trend of selfies," Mittal added.
Aditya Birla group chairperson Kumar Mangalam Birla, who has pledged to invest $7 billion over the next five years in network roll out, broadband and wi-fi deployment, commended Modi's futuristic thinking.
"Digital India is a truly exciting possibility. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has articulated the whole vision, which reflects his clairvoyance and his futuristic thinking," he added.
Billionaire mining baron Anil Agarwal said the industry will actively participate in the drive as it has the potential to drive India ahead as a knowledge and economic power.
"Whenever the government has trusted the industry, it has performed whether it is telecom, pharma, power etc. I can assure you (Prime Minister) in the coming days if you will trust us we will succeed," he said while speaking at the programme.
Tata Group chairperson Cyrus Mistry said: "I would like to congratulate the Prime Minister on digitally empowering the country."
Industry chamber FICCI termed launch of "Digital India Week" programme an important milestone to engage with renewed energy to transform India's digital infrastructure for the next generation users and the unconnected.
"As the entire world is looking at India, it makes practical sense to launch such a grand programme which has the potential to catalyse the investment process in this high technology sector and simultaneously generate employment," Ficci president Jyotsna Suri said.
NIIT CEO Rahul Patwardhan said digital infrastructure being setup under Digital India will support Skill India by enabling mass scaling of skill development, using technology as a mass delivery mechanism.
NetApp India and Saarc president Anil Valluri said, "Digital India's success would also be a function of the underlying technology infrastructure with data becoming the nucleus of this thrust."
Search Engine giant Google said that it is focussing on key areas like bringing more Indic language content online and helping 20 million small and medium enterprises set up Internet presence by 2017.
Though India is now the second-largest Internet market in the world, there is still a great deal of work to be done, Google VP and Managing Director, South East Asia and India, Rajan Anandan told PTI.
"That is why we are excited to be a partner to the Prime Minister's vision for Digital India, with its focus on empowerment, development, growth and governance," he added.
Google is also working with MyGov.in, Department of IT, Ministry of Culture and many state governments for initiatives aimed at promoting adoption of Internet amongst women, promoting digital literacy and Internet safety.
"Our big focus is on 4 key projects -- Bringing more Indic language content online, help get 20 million SMBs online by 2017, make high-quality, affordable smartphones available to as many people as possible and bringing India's rich cultural heritage online," Anandan said in a report.
Talking about the challenges the government would face for ensuring success of Digital India, Anandan was quoted in a report as saying, "We need to set aggressive timelines for the ambitious projects - becoming a true broadband nation should be a key priority."
"We also need to arrive at clearly defined processes and guidelines that are aligned with global trends and international standards for entrepreneurs to truly achieve India's full potential," Anandan added.
Startups on Digital India:
Vineet Jain, Co-Founder and CEO, LoanStreet.in, said that the revolution is on the way. “WiFying the Country is going to have big impact on startups based on “Efficient Delivery of Services.” Businesses having strong fundamentals will benefit as delivery alone will not be sufficient any more. The largest beneficiaries being financial services, healthcare and education sectors.”
Speaking on e-learning, Jain said, “e-learning, the need of the hour will create multiple jobs on content creation as well as Dissemination Side. Converting all books to e-books alone will create a ‘Blue Whale’ of jobs.”
He expects banking to shift from huge branch network dominated players to smart Internet/mobile platform driven banking networks. And this is going to economize an entirely untapped population for consumption of services and products.
When the entire nation is equipped with digital connectivity, many more people can participate in India’s growth story. Innovation and entrepreneurship will get a tremendous boost.
“Once the digital gap in smaller cities is bridged, there's a huge possibility they might become the preferred locations for startups due to lower operational costs. Additionally, local talent will not have to migrate to larger towns for employment opportunities.” said Diwakar Chittora, Co-Founder and CEO, Intellipaat.
Chittora said, “With universal digital access, prohibitive costs of learning such as shifting to a city with brick and mortar educational institution will disappear for a large chunk of the population. Many more people will be able participate in e-learning and equip themselves with job skills. This exponential growth in demand for e-learning solutions will fuel job creation in the industry. With such strong digital workforce and infrastructure, I won’t be surprised if India becomes the world’s e-learning hub.”
“Executed well, Digital India Campaign can become a launchpad for India’s rapid growth and development and propel it towards a digital revolution.” he added.
Sanjoe Jose, Co-Founder and CEO, Talview, said, “Digital India Campaign can have the biggest impact among all the initiatives of PM Modi if executed well.”
“A digitally connected India can overcome urban-rural, rich-poor and gender divides and bring the disadvantaged sections of the country to the forefront and create a level playing field. Rural youth can find better jobs irrespective of where they are based, student from financially weaker section can have better quality education, women who cannot travel can take up remote jobs and everyone will have access to better healthcare. The per capita productivity for the nation can increase multifold and propel India to a much better future.” he said.
Saurabh Kochhar, Co-Founder and CEO (foodpanda India) and CBO (Global), said, "Digital India is a much needed initiative for the booming e-commerce space in India. India’s talent combined with required infrastructure will accelerate our growth pace like never before. Further, Private sector shall be able to help the government with required business models and strategies and make inroads for itself to explore new opportunities and demographics.”
Commenting on the challenges the government will have to deal with, Kochhar said, “The Digital India dream will have its own set of challenges to deal with. It will be difficult to access the Internet since fibre network is not available in many remote villages. This project needs a lot of coordination and optimum utilization of infrastructure to execute the big challenge."
“Digital India subsumes a mix of services and plans that are just right for reinvigorating the state of governance in the country. The programme will make it easy for the citizens to avail the government services online, in an easy way. With this technology advancement, India will transform into a digitally empowered knowledge economy,” said Deepak Ravindran (tech entrepreneur), Founder & CEO, Lookup, a hyperlocal mobile messaging app to disrupt local e-commerce in India.
Talking about the synergy between the private and public sector, he said that the engagement of the private sector in national development programs has the potential to serve development ends across any and all sectors. “It will support the government by providing suitable infrastructure and technology-led facilities to consumers. Besides this, there will be a good inflow of innovative ideas and modern technologies from the private sector that will give a boost to the Digital India Programme.”
Brijesh Agrawal, Founder & CEO, Tolexo.com, a b2b online marketplace for business goods | Co-Founder, IndiaMART, said, “Digital India is an initiative that holds the potential of transforming India into a developed nation in the next two decades. Not to forget that this will give a much needed boost to the booming e-commerce eco-system in India.”
With the government focusing on broadband and smartphone penetration across the country, it’s a great opportunity for the e-commerce players to accelerate their growth by tapping a new set of target audience.
“As a player in online B2B e-commerce space, we are already doing more than two-thirds of our orders from tier 2,3 &4 cities and this initiative will further help us reach out to businesses in areas that offer huge potential but remain untapped due to poor connectivity and infrastructure issues. We look forward to metamorphosis of our nation into a digitally-empowered economy” he added.
Prakash Sangam, CEO, RedBus, said, “We at redBus would like to commend and wholeheartedly welcome PM Narendra Modi's Digital India initiative. We believe that such initiatives in the new digital era will empower India and its citizens, open up new opportunities and accelerate economic growth"
Pratik Jain, Co - Founder, MyOperator, said, “The vision of a digital India is grand. If successful, it could transform citizen access to multimedia information, content and services. It also gives the government access to a great deal of information. However, laying cables doesn't ensure they will be used.”
He said that the startup ecosystem is waiting for such initiatives. Absence of startup friendly policies has made many successful startups shift their bases outside India. This initiative can be the start of a big change.
"Digital India is a great step and it will add both efficiency and transparency in the system. We as a digital payments company will be even more benefitted as this will increase the number of people accessing Internet in India. We salute the initiative" said, Nitin Gupta, CEO and Founder, PayU India.
Rohit Raghav, Co-Founder, Phone Warrior, said, “Digitalization must be accompanied by democratization. Indians need, and deserve, a visionary approach to public services like Digital India initiative. However, one of the fundamental lacunae in British-era bureaucracy systems in our country is lack of feedback systems for government policies and execution. Service that will go completely digital will become faceless to a large extent and run the risk of big gaps in delivery quality. Ubiquitous mobile phones could be ideal partner for government and people in facilitating very fast, simple, and accurate real-time feedback. True democratization means true empowerment and it can begin now.”