In the early 1980s, Indian IT service companies helped start the first technology revolution in India by providing IT services to companies in the United States and other parts of the world. Over the years many IT companies established offices in India including Cisco which is in its 20th year in the country, beginning a significant collaboration between the technology industry in India and the US. Today the Indian IT services industry is a $118 billion industry and India is home to 5,000-plus companies and 750-plus MNCs, according to Nasscom. It’s a momentous occasion to have Prime Minister Modi host President Obama as the chief guest at our 66th Republic Day parade, underlining a defining partnership between two great democracies and two of the largest economies in the world.
India and the United States can strongly benefit from a growing partnership in trade and investments. Be it IT-enabled services from Indian companies that support some of the biggest companies in the US to products from India that are used in US industries such as healthcare, there is an increasing flow of Indian goods and services to the US. Some of India’s biggest industries use US goods and services from India’s railways to its financial institutions.
Over the last 30 years, India’s first technology revolution has been a tremendous success. Three million direct jobs and 9.5 million indirect jobs have been created in India through this technology revolution and a wave of entrepreneurialism has been unleashed. India is now home to the world’s third largest startup ecosystem. In 2014 India received the third highest venture capital funding among countries and Bengaluru was fifth in cities globally that received the most funding.
The US technology industry, in particular, Silicon Valley continues to have a deep relationship with India. Just like with companies in the US, technology is providing millions of entrepreneurs and thousands of companies in India with opportunities to address unmet needs and overcome problems. Think about the millions of man-hours saved with close to half of all reserved train tickets booked online. Look at how companies like Flipkart are bringing modern retail to smaller cities in the country by creating reliable supply chains and innovative payment models.
In 1995 less than 1% of the world’s population was connected on the Internet. Today 40% of the world is connected and India is adding an average of 5 million Internet users a month. We believe that we have the opportunity for a second technology revolution in India. Through the government’s Digital India programme, infrastructure will be offered as a utility to every citizen, governance and services will be on demand and citizens will be digitally empowered.
India is home to the world’s largest talent pool: 4.7 million graduates and postgraduates according to Nasscom. Imagine what happens when entrepreneurs and companies start to better address unmet needs and challenges in the country. There is a huge opportunity for India and the US to partner as companies embrace the Internet of Everything, cloud computing and mobile services to digitise industries and help enable a Digital India.
India has a huge opportunity to create innovative solutions for a Digital India that could be adopted globally. Think about India’s famous jugaad culture of working that has increasingly become a part of management thinking and innovation through which problems are solved. Last week the Oxford Dictionary announced that it had added the word, ‘Jugaad’ to the English language capturing the essence of creativity and innovation that Indians can bring to solve problems.
Over the next 30 years we’ll see everything become connected—people, process, data and things. We will see companies digitise and the country digitise: street lights, parking spaces, kiosks, sensor-based water defences and smart energy grid services. The Digital India vision holds the potential for a second technology revolution in India where everything—and everyone—can be connected.
As Prime Minister Modi and President Obama said in an open editorial piece last year, the promise of a better tomorrow is the central premise of the defining partnership, between India and the US, for the 21st century.
By Dinesh Malkani
The author is president, Cisco India & SAARC