Since winning the election for prime minister in 2014, Narendra Modi has been a very busy man. In less than three years his administration has shown an aggressive eagerness to tackle many of India’s long-standing issues.
The list of industries positively impacted by this vigorous action includes farming, education, infrastructure, trade, sanitation, space exploration, demonetization, finance, irrigation, national security, health and wellness, and the delivery of government services.
The results thus far have been good. So good, in fact, that India seems to be in the mood for Modi. His popularity is at an all-time high, with two-thirds of voters saying he is their top-pick in the next election.
While Modi brings a host of talents and abilities to the office of prime minster, it’s his love and appreciation for technology that is helping him achieve the goal of an “India driven by innovation, hard work and creativity.”
Since 2014, the administration has made significant strides leveraging the internet and utilizing technology to better serve the needs of 1.3 billion Indians. One of their most significant initiatives is Digital India, a government-wide initiative that utilizes technology to streamline services to all citizens in an efficient and cost effective manner.
The administration’s latest initiative promises to do even more to propel India into the forefront of global business and trade. At a recent event in New Delhi, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) announced a collaboration with Google India aimed at empowering citizens with increased business opportunities and safer access to enhanced digital services.
Speaking at last week’s event, Aruna Sundarajan, Secretary MEITY, said, “The Ministry of Electronics and IT intends to give impetus to the Honorable Prime Minister’s recent call for a ‘New India’. Collaboration with Google will be hugely beneficial in harnessing the capabilities of technology for the ‘India growth’ story.”
Discussing his company’s collaborative effort with the government, Google executive Rajan Anandan said, “We are delighted to support Honorable PM Modi’s vision of creating a ‘New India’ where technology unleashes a wave of new opportunities.
“We are committed to and look forward to working with MEITY across these broad range of initiatives and help every India to leverage the power of the internet.”
The main areas outlined in the initiative include enabling secure digital payments, imparting digital skills to artisans (the handicraft industry) and Android skills training for students and developers.
Secure digital infrastructure
MEITY and Google India are working closely with the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) to launch the Digital Payments Security Alliance that will bring together banks, the financial sector, and government agencies in a united effort to develop a framework for a strong digital financial infrastructure to better serve the Indian economy.
Security features prominently in the development of the financial digital infrastructure with an emphasis on creating community awareness of best practices, and increasing capacity through various training programs within financial institutions. The initiative promises to expand opportunities for businesses and reduced prices for customers as more citizens come to trust and rely on secure digital transactions.
Digital access for artisans
In January of this year Google India announced Digital Unlocked, a program that offers free training in business practices and digital skills. Originally intended for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the company, in partnership with MEITY, will extend training to more than 100,000 artisans per year.
India has more than seven million people working as artisans, making this industry the country’s second largest source of employment. The aim of the program is to leverage internet access as a way to increase artisans’ availability to markets with improved visibility and discoverability of their products.
Hands-on training for artisans will be delivered by India’s National Institute of Electronics & Information Technology (NIELIT) in 10,000 training centers spread across the country. Google will provide NIELIT with training modules and course content, and support the outreach by providing mobile training labs for artisan clusters.
Android skills training
The IT industry is very aware that the majority of India’s internet users gain access via their phones and other mobile devices, and that the numbers who do so will only continue to increase. This provides a tremendous opportunity for India to become the world leader in the development of mobile apps.
Google has set an ambitious goal to provide Android skills training to two million developers. This includes a specially-designed instructor-led training program curriculum. They will also be extending the same course curriculum to the NIELIT, who will be training an additional 100,000 developers in their regional centers.
Students who want to receive training will be able to do so for free. NIELIT expects to pick up the cost of all training and materials for less than Rs 5,000 per head. “We are looking at making Indian youth more employable, fees are not a primary concern,” said NIELIT Director General, Ashwini Kumar Sharma.
In many ways Prime Minister Modi and America’s President Trump are much alike — they both won election with promises to address long-standing issues, aren’t afraid to upset the status quo, seem impervious to attacks from their respective oppositions, and have staunch supporters.
Like Trump, Modi also enjoys tweeting, but with a difference. Whereas Trump is noted for stridency and personal attacks, Modi’s approach is gentle and somewhat self-effacing. His tweet last week, in response to a supporter commenting on his high-level of support in the polls, is indicative of his leadership style:
“Humility always helps, be it in victory or defeat.”
In collaboration with companies like Google, the Modi administration is successfully addressing the challenges of modernizing the country to better serve the people. To borrow a line from President Trump, India is winning and it doesn’t appear as if she is going to get tired of it anytime soon.