Strong Bi-lateral Partnership with California is on the Cards


Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Union Minister for Electronics & IT, Law & Justice met with Californian business leaders, venture capitalists and tech company stalwarts in San Francisco. Efforts to leverage the spirit of collaboration marked the agenda and both sides deliberated on next-gen technology challenges and how they could be addressed jointly.

Facilitated by NASSCOM and partnered by California Business Roundtable, the meeting focused on enabling a robust ecosystem for India-based companies in California and across the US as well. The Hon’ble Minister spoke about the strident progress that India continues to make in digital transformation, led by the government’s deep focus which led to opening doors to deemed stakeholders who want to be part of the nation’s incredible growth story. At the heart of this spectacular growth, given the nation’s diversity, the need for inclusivity is a pressing one. In all likelihood, Digital technology will bridge the gap and in this, AI is expected to be the grand lever. Digitization is a powerful-enough reason for long-lasting synergies between the two countries.

Minister Prasad also expressed his views on the imperative of re-skilling which is a global concern really. The government sees this with all seriousness. The tie-up with NASSCOM to train 2 million digitally skilled professionals in the next 3 – 5 years bears testimony to the government’s vision of a 1 trillion dollar digital economy by 2025. India is one of the fastest growing large economies with a GDP of 2.5 trillion dollars which is expected to double within the same time horizon.

A digitally driven future will require substantial focus. For instance, Centres of Excellence (CoEs) will foster innovation and product development in India. Inasmuch, the government’s recently announced comprehensive National AI Strategy has placed it among the top 25 countries globally to have done so. The surging pool of AI / Analytics professionals numbering nearly 370 k along with 400 AI-based startups have all contributed to the big vision being woven around this particular breakthrough technology – AI. A BCG survey ranked Indian enterprises as one of the top 3 AI adopters. Efforts are on to put an ecosystem in place which attracts many more Fortune 500 companies to set up their development centres in India. That, 70% of the 1100-odd GCCs in India are of American parentage, straightaway lends heft to the vision.     

The Draft Personal Data Protection Bill 2018 which is a big step forward to build trust both locally and globally, also found a special mention in his address. Industry-wide concerns remain in the area of Data Localization but the government continues to engage with all key stakeholders to come up with an optimum solution.  

While preparing for this meeting, strong partnerships with California Biz Roundtable, Bay Area Council and Stanford were established. A strong foundation has been laid for the immediate foreseeable future. The Hon’ble Minister also met the senior faculty at Stanford University to gain deep insights on advance tech and how they could be leveraged to enhance social impact, particularly in health-tech and fintech. Ethical concerns, dilemmas and prevention of misuse were also addressed. 

Also gracing the occasion were, Rob Lapsley, the President of the California Business Roundtable & Co-host; and, Debjani Ghosh, the President of NASSCOM. Lapsley was very positive in his outlook and acknowledged the tech supremacy of India which he said provided a very stable platform for the two nations to create more economic opportunities, including jobs. The idea of “Shared leadership in technology” was emphatic and drew a veritable cheer from all quarters. Amongst many other positive outcomes, it set the tone and tenor for the subsequent discussions that the Hon’ble Minister was part of.

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