Public In­ter­ests Pvt Unltd

Both in In­dia and the US, the real work and in­no­va­tion will take place in the pri­vate sec­tor

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page - Richard R Verma

One of the great hon­ours of hav­ing served as US Am­bas­sador to In­dia was vis­it­ing all 29 states and en­gag­ing with dy­namic stu­dents, busi­ness and civil so­ci­ety lead­ers, and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. Across the in­cred­i­ble di­ver­sity of land­scapes and cul­tures, the en­thu­si­asm for the promiseof In­dia’sfu­ture­was­pal­pa­ble.

Young peo­ple, in par­tic­u­lar, brimmed with ex­cite­ment about the op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able to them in a ris­ing In­dia. Ex­perts say we are liv­ing in an ‘Asian cen­tury’. But my own view is that the 21st cen­tury will be de­fined by the rise and prom­ise of In­dia.

Big Op­por­tu­nity Knock

In­deed, given the scale of op­por­tu­nity, there is no coun­try more ex­cit­ing than In­dia, as it will soon have the world’s largest mid­dle class and num­ber of col­lege grad­u­ates, with the third-largest econ­omy and mil­i­tary.

Two-thirds of the In­dia of 2030 is yet to be built. In­vest­ments that sup­port In­dia’s dra­matic ur­ban­i­sa­tion will ad­vance at an un­prece­dented pace and scale, as tens of mil­lions of peo­ple mi­grate to In­dia’s cities from its ru­ral ar­eas.

One of the cor­ner­stones of In­dia’s con­tin­ued rise is its com­mit­ment to de­ploy­ing ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies and cre­at­ing a ro­bust and sus­tain­able in­no­va­tion ecosys­tem. Ac­cord­ing to Cisco chair­man John Cham­bers, the up­com­ing dig­i­tal era is on pace to dwarf the cur­rent in­for­ma­tion age, gen­er­at­ing some $19 tril­lion in eco­nomic value over the next decade, with some 500 bil­lion de­vices con­nect­ing to the in­ter­net by 2030 alone. This is set to ac­cel­er­ate In­dia’s own de­vel­op­ment.

In­dia, like the US dur­ing the 20th cen­tury, has been on van­guard of this tech­nol­ogy rev­o­lu­tion. A McKin­sey study pre­dicted that tech­nol­ogy de­ploy­ment in In­dia will gen­er­ate $1 tril­lion in eco­nomic and so­cial value, led by ad­vances in en­ergy, fi­nance and ed­u­ca­tion. More­over, the ini­tia­tives to build 100 smart cities, de­liver broad­band to one bil­lion peo­ple, and con­nect the most re­mote vil­lages to the in­ter­net will have a huge de­vel­op­men­tal im­pact if suc­cess­ful.

I’m proud that the US has been a close part­ner with In­dia in th­ese and so many other ef­forts de­signed to har­ness the lat­est ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy for the good of hu­man­ity. In fact, US-In­dia tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion co­op­er­a­tion has be­come a pil­lar of our re­la­tion­ship. Dozens of di­a­logues and ini­tia­tives be­tween our two coun­tries have em­pha­sised sci­ence, ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies, cy­ber se­cu­rity and en­trepreneur­ship. Their ef­forts are pay­ing off.

I’ve wit­nessed first-hand how US and In­dian sci­en­tists, stu­dents, en­gi­neers and in­no­va­tors are col­lab­o­rat­ing to­gether: con­struct­ing ar­ti­fi­cial limbs, cre­at­ing drought-re­sis­tant seeds, de­ploy­ing off-grid so­lar, help­ing ar­ti­sans con­nect with global mar­kets with just a mouse-click, reach­ing mil­lions of In­dia’s most vul­ner­a­ble through new mo­bile health apps, and so much more.

And later this year in Novem­ber, In­dia will host in Hy­der­abad the Global En­trepreneur­ship Sum­mit, a joint US-In­dia ini­tia­tive de­signed to recog­nise and sup­port en­trepreneurs from across the re­gion and the world.

Th­ese ex­am­ples only scratch the sur­face of what is hap­pen­ing in our part­ner­ship. We’ve made great progress to­gether. But we can — and should — do more. Here are three pos­si­ble ar­eas where we should fo­cus our ef­forts in the years ahead:

Don’t Fail to See

One, the US should con­tinue to be a strong and close part­ner as In­dia builds its in­no­va­tion ecosys­tem. This means help­ing to recog­nise, train and skill young and tal­ented in­no­va­tors. They will need close men­tor­ing, ac­cess to fi­nanc­ing and, of course, the abil­ity to fail, get back up and try again. If Steve Jobs had given up af­ter be­ing fired from Ap­ple, who knows where we would all be to­day.

Two, both our gov­ern­ments need to en­sure that public poli­cies, reg­u­la­tions and laws should re­flect the speed and in­no­va­tions of this cen­tury, not the last one. That means a much more stream­lined reg­u­la­tory sys­tem, in­clud­ing the elim­i­na­tion of un­nec­es­sary or bur­den­some poli­cies that stand in the way of new dis­cov­er­ies. This also re­quires en­sur­ing a ro­bust in­tel­lec­tu­al­prop­er­tyregime,whereIn­dian and Amer­i­can in­no­va­tors have the con­fi­dence that their ideas and in­ven­tions will be prop­erly pro­tected.

Three, we should recog­nise that while gov­ern­ments play a key role, the real work and in­no­va­tion will take place in the pri­vate sec­tor and by in­di­vid­u­als across the eco­nomic strata of our so­ci­ety. Gov­ern­ments need to en­cour­age and sup­port th­ese ef­forts, and when nec­es­sary, re­mind busi­ness lead­ers in both coun­tries of the public in­ter­ests that can be served through pri­vate sec­tor in­no­va­tion.

More­over, stronger peo­ple-to-peo­ple ties are crit­i­cal to fa­cil­i­tat­ing USIn­dia co­op­er­a­tion on tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion. The mil­lions of In­di­anAmer­i­can di­as­pora will con­tinue to serve as a crit­i­cal bridge in this re­gard.

Ob­vi­ously, our two coun­tries will some­times dis­agree — and we do need to find com­mon ground on the im­mi­gra­tion of skilled work­ers, while ad­dress­ing US con­cerns over job loss and the dis­rup­tions caused by glob­al­i­sa­tion and new tech­nolo­gies. But we need to stay fo­cused and re­alise our two coun­tries are stronger when we work to­gether.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi noted that the great prom­ise of the US-In­dia re­la­tion­ship lies in “youth, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion — and the nat­u­ral part­ner­ship of In­di­ans and Amer­i­cansi­nad­vanc­inghu­man­progress”. If we con­tinue to make this one of our key fo­cus ar­eas, then the best days will be ahead of us as our two coun­tries con­tinue to rise to­gether.

The writer is for­mer US am­bas­sador to In­dia

Line them up and fire

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