By Shri Devendra Fadnavis,
Honourable Chief Minister of Maharashtra
Technology, if used well for public good, can deliver lasting prosperity to mankind and a sustainable future for our planet – Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister
In 2018, India overtook China as the fastest growing major economy in the world. This historic economic growth has been propelled by government reforms, business innovation, and a dynamic young workforce. At a time when the global working-age population is declining, India is set to make massive gains from its demographic dividend. India has an undeterred advantage over other Asian economies to ride the third great wave of Asia’s growth, after Japan and China. Demography has been the fundamental driver of all economies. In the last two decades, China has been able to emerge as a global superpower by harnessing the potential of its large young skilled workforce. In recent years, the attention has shifted to India as it is expected to account for over half of Asia’s total potential workforce in the coming decade (1).
What does the road ahead look like for India? It is an exciting time as the next leg of our growth will be driven by unshakable trends like faster urbanization and consumer-driven economy, strong demographic dividend and faster adoption to the changes in technology. Today, India has about 38% of its population living in urban areas (2). When a country’s urbanization rate cross 35%, the productivity is higher and the economy is a clear beneficiary as the newly formed urban centres get better access to education, healthcare and job opportunities. The Government of India is cognizant of the challenges of mass urbanization and the unveiling of Smart Cities project is a potential answer to that. A smart city, as envisioned in the project, uses technology and Infrastructure to provide its users with clean and energy efficient place with quick and easy access to services. Such visionary changes in the functioning of the Indian Government and embedding Digital technologies in public administration and policy implementation efforts will ensure India’s growth engine keeps chugging along.
In our Digital India the internet user base has swelled to more than 560 million – including the wired broadband users (3). This number of Internet users has grown by an astonishing 33% in just 18 months from March 2017 to September 2018. This growth has created immense opportunities for financial services, retail, media, travel and hospitality, healthcare, and others. The first Information Technology services revolution back in the 1990s helped put India on the global map and with most of the global IT backend operations being outsourced to India, the Industry has grown to $160 billion in 2017. Post the liberalization in the 1990s, the IT sector helped India manage its Balance of Payments by boosting India’s services exports and bringing in foreign exchange.
The opportunity generated by India’s digitization move is many times bigger than the first IT revolution. Our resolve of using emerging technologies to enable India’s growth in education, agriculture, and power will transform India’s social and economic landscape. For Instance, considering India’s huge demand for healthcare needs, emerging technologies like remote healthcare solutions and cloud-based electronic health records will emerge as live savers for the millions still living in the rural parts of the country.
That’s why the Government of India’s initiatives like Digital India, Start-up India, and the Skill India campaigns around some of these technologies are laudable. In line with the Government of India’s initiatives, Maharashtra has also initiated the campaigns like Digital Maharashtra, Maharashtra Start Up Ecosystem and Kaushalya Vikas Abhiyan with a view to strengthen the efforts of Central Government of developing a strong digital ecosystem. By equipping ourselves with digital expertise, the right resources, and industry knowledge, we can ride the wave and come out at the forefront of the Digital Revolution.