In July 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Digital India initiative, aimed at connecting rural areas with high-speed internet networks. The goal of the initiative is to ensure that government services are made available to citizens electronically by improving online infrastructure and by increasing internet connectivity.
This year’s India International Trade Fair theme has been dedicated to the Digital India initiative.
Speaking on the subject at ‘Startups — The Next Digital Revolution’, a Digital India event, Rajiv Bansal, Joint Secretary, Department of Electronics and Information Technology, said that the startup ecosystem has witnessed sharp growth recently.
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and startups are progressing alongside the economy. There are around 10,000 startups in the country. Last year alone, around 1,400 startups joined the ecosystem.
“Most of the startups are in the technology sector; and within this sector, a majority of the startups are in the IT space,” he observed.
In his talk, the Joint Secretary also cited the increasing contribution of women in the startup ecosystem. He said that in startups,
Highlighting the government’s interest in new technology, he added that this is the first time that he has seen the government entering into venture capital funding and assisting startups.
“We have also set up a consumer electronics incubator at IIIT Cochin and an incubation centre in IIT Patna. We will be funding these projects entirely from our sources. It’s our endeavour to help such initiatives from academic institutions and industries,” he said.
Arvind Thakur, CEO and Joint Managing Director, NIIT, was also present at the event, and further discussed startups and the role of Digital India in driving the country towards inclusive growth.
With the development of the digital infrastructure in the country, startups have started addressing decades-old problems faced by the Indian citizen. Whether it’s solving the energy problem, making India cashless, or addressing gaps in education, transportation, healthcare, shopping and many other areas, startups have made a mark in every possible sector.
Arvind also noted the interesting point of the age group of people who are joining the sector and addressing pressing issues through technology.
In his view, these developments are going to change the country phenomenally, and he urged that the country continue with the effort in terms of putting together different clusters. Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru and Mumbai are the main startups clusters today. Besides these, emerging clusters such as Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai, among many others, need to be supported.
Arvind also drew the audience’s attention towards branding.
“We often focus only on technology and engineering and miss another important part - branding. Startups should also concentrate on that part, which is equally important,” said Arvind.
Orbyn Hill, a representative of the Jamaican government, lauded the government’s Aadhar card programme, calling it an amazing government startup.
He indicated the intention to adopt the Indian ID system in Jamaica. “We want to digitise our country, and we want Indians to help us achieve it. We aim to build a much stronger relation with India.”
He spoke on the potential of the country in terms of workforce and growth, and highlighted the achievements of Indians across the world. He also invited India and Indians to come to Jamaica and help in building the country.
These three were among several other speakers at the event, including some startup insiders, who highlighted the current scenario in the startup ecosystem.