Hindustan Times (East UP)

Pandemic has accentuate­d the digital divide: Nilekani

- Ayushman Baruah ayushman.b@livemint.com

BENGALURU: India’s digital divide has been further accentuate­d by the Covid-19 pandemic, Infosys co-founder and chairman Nandan Nilekani said in a curated dialogue series with Anant Maheshwari, president, Microsoft India held virtually on Tuesday.

“We have to make sure that everybody can participat­e in the digital ecosystem…We have to design the applicatio­ns in such a way that people who don’t have access to the devices can still participat­e,” Nilekani said.

He cited the example of Aadhaar where everybody was included to be a part of the unique identity. Similarly, the digital payments system has been built in such a way that even people with feature phones can benefit from it by using Aadhaar as the authentica­tion mechanism.

Technology is the only way to reach the 1.3 billion people of the country and provide access to quality healthcare, education and financial services, he said.

“While technologi­es like cloud can help create a scalable infrastruc­ture, data and artificial intelligen­ce can help deliver better learning outcomes, bank loans, and health diagnostic­s,” he added.

Skilling the people digitally is a step toward bridging the existing digital divide in the country, said Maheshwari.

As part of this, Microsoft Corp. has helped over 30 million people in 249 countries and territorie­s gain access to digital skills, of which close to 3 million are from India, Maheshwari said. This tops its initial goal of 25 million last June. Microsoft is also extending its commitment to help 250,000 companies globally make a skills-based hire in 2021.

We have to design apps in such a way that people who don’t have access to devices can still participat­e.

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