Navigating the Stature of India’s Tech Renaissance
By 2020, India will be the youngest country in the world with a median age of 29 and the path towards progress for this overwhelmingly young nation has dramatically shifted
With Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit late last year to Silicon Valley, the first Indian head of state to visit California in three decades, talk is still swirling about his efforts to cultivate India’s digital economy. With its population of 1.25 bn people, India is the world’s second most populous country after China, but without China’s government restrictions. The country is largely seen as the world’s next frontier for technology growth, solving not only India’s domestic problems but offering solutions with global relevance.
But, what some may not realize is that the business and economic reforms which Modi is dedicated to nurturing are decades in the making. As a teenager growing up in India during the 1970s, I would have been hard-pressed to predict the flourishing innovation ecosystem present in India today. Back then, abject poverty and destitution were rampant, resources were scarce and the middle class was nearly non-existent. Our parents pushed us to pursue engineering or medicine —insisting these were the only professions that would lead towards a better life. This desire to survive, achieve and accomplish led many of us, myself included, to pursue higher education, and ultimately careers, in the West.
From my distant vantage point, I watched India institute sweeping economic liberalization measures in the early 1990s in an attempt to grow the economy through more open-market reforms. The government privatized many state-owned businesses, deregulated industries, and reduced restrictions on foreign trade. Considered widely successful, these calculated reforms were instrumental in creating more service-based jobs, increasing foreign investment, encouraging entrepreneurial ventures and changing the priorities and attitudes of Indian citizens towards money and spending. It was in the midst of these early economic changes that India became one of the world’s largest providers of information technology outsourcing, gaining a newfound credibility in the technology world.
Today, arising from the country’s initial technology boom, India’s middle class is said to be somewhere between 50 and 250 million according to varying reports. While it’s far from perfect and there are differing benchmarks to determine middle class status, you can’t argue that life over the past few decades has improved for many. There’s a growing group of citizens benefiting from more education, higher incomes and increased upward mobility than in generations past. And spending among this group has shifted beyond the basics or necessities to spending on aspirational lifestyle items in an economy now exploding with consumer goods and luxury brands.
While India’s societal bias towards traditional educational structures has not diminished, it has been embracing a “STEM to STEAM” transition where Art and Design are now considered just as critical to innovation and www.dqindia.com 31