Home > Business > Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
Pitroda asks govt to use tech to ease woes
Josy Joseph in New Delhi |
January 10, 2003 19:22 IST
Sam Pitroda, who kickstarted India's telecom revolution in the 80s, urged the government to leverage technology to become a modern developed country.
"High technology is the key to human development," Pitroda told the Pravasi Divas gathering on Friday. He said technology today in India is seen as "urban, fascinating, exotic and sexy." But, in reality "technology is a great social leveller," which cuts across barriers of caste and religion.
Urging the government to introduce special programmes to take technology to the masses, Pitroda said IT is not just about "software exports, backroom operations and call centres."
Instead, it was about a new work environment and a new culture, which smoothens government fubctioning, said Pitroda, adding IT must be used to "modernise government systems."
Pitroda, chairman of the US-based Worldtel, said India's problems such as population, poverty and illiteracy were "pretty well known." What was needed was a "political will to use technology to address these problems."
He said India cannot claim to be a developing or an economic powerhouse, when over 400 million of its people were below poverty line. Over "80 per cent are in bullock cart economy," he lamented.
All the great leaders of the Indian independence movement were non-resident Indians, he argued, pointing out to Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Similarly, the present day NRIs can "fuel the movement to modernise India," Pitroda said.
Karan Bilimoria, chief executive of Cobra Beer Ltd of UK, said India could imbibe lessons from Britain, which transformed itself from being the Sick Man of Europe to one of the world's most powerful economies.
He said India's existing administrative set up was "extortionate" and its "got to change soon."
Bilimoria rounded up his speech by referring to China, whose economic growth was a common point of reference throughout the morning session of the second day of the Pravasi meet. Through reforms China has done wonders, Bilimoria said, "but I would rather like a proper democracy."
Rahul Bajaj, chief of Bajaj Auto, said the Indian Diaspora could work wonders like the Chinese Diaspora if the government carried out proper internal reforms. He said India should become the "factory and workshop of the world … manufacturing is our strength."
"We can survive in an open economy only if you are more competent in international markets," Bajaj warned, saying that though India was moving in the right direction with the reforms they need to be in "better speed."
Bajaj said, "We have to ensure that the strength of the Diaspora and strength of India are leveraged for our advantage."
He suggested that NRIs and Persons of Indian Origin should look at joint ventures involving high skilled labour. Gems and jewelry was an area where NRIs have achieved great success using India's highly skilled labour, Bajaj pointed out.
Bajaj said, ultimately, all economic growth can mean nothing if millions of Indians continue to be below the poverty line. "We are proud Indians, but when we know 400 million of Indians live with less than one dollar a day we cannot be proud."
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas