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Going digital can resolve India’s problem of jobs and access to services: N Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Sons

Vishal Krishna
5th Feb 2019
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Speaking at TiEcon Mumbai, N Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Sons, said we must ‘solve together for jobs and access, and not think of each as independent problems’.

Last year, the Tatas began to think about India in a digital future. They wondered what if India solved for jobs and access together instead of approaching the two independently. Soon after, a study was commissioned at two primary health centres and a hospital. The objective? To introduce digital models and collect data efficiently in a clinical environment.

This study was commissioned by N Chandrasekaran, the Chairman of Tata Sons, and the results were startling. Digital models increased the productivity of hospital workers and enabled doctors to do lesser administrative work. Clinical workers were empowered to screen patients before doctors saw them (adding more jobs), and doctors spent more time with their patients and improved productivity. The study flipped the idea that healthcare was inefficient in India because there was only one doctor per thousand patients. For a digital approach can create access and jobs.

This is what N Chandrasekaran told the audience at TiECon 2019, the annual flagship event of TiE Mumbai. In its 10th edition this year, the two-day global technology and entrepreneurship conference is being held at the NCPA in Mumbai on February 5 and 6.

N Chandrasekharan, the Chairman of Tata Sons, takes the stage at TiECon 2019 in Mumbai.
N Chandrasekaran, the Chairman of Tata Sons, takes the stage at TiECon 2019 in Mumbai.

ALSO READ: The boom in digital healthcare is India's opportunity to build global telemedicine companies


Chandrasekaran told the young startup audience at TiEcon about digital solving for last-mile connectivity. “Digital is making a huge impact in the world and the pace is picking up. Digital is all about data, and innovations are helping connect more devices and humans. One must get this data in real time and apply machine learning or AI,” he said.

TiEcon shines spotlight on the power of digital

Chandrasekaran said India has 85 percent of its labour force in the informal sector and that digital should be used to bring more people into the formal sector. The Tata Sons chairman added that almost 500 million Indians do not have formal jobs and earn less than Rs 10,000, or $150, a month.

A doctor in India spends only two minutes per patient because of the sheer quantity of patients showing up and does not have the ability to screen patients effectively.

"India only talks about building capacity, but it's not only about building capacity; it is about this digital opportunity where we get maximum output from existing capacity. This is where digital innovation makes sense," he said.

He added that their experience with the study had shown that technology creates jobs that could allow responsibilities to be delegated and free up doctors to do more.

“This can provide 30 million jobs and access to healthcare for many more people," Chandrasekaran said, adding that startups can impact India's growth positively.

According to Nasscom, entrepreneurs are disrupting large companies. IT Services is a $180 billion industry in India, of which $125 billion is exported. “In 1989, IT exports were only 100 million. India has 26 unicorns and by 2023 India will have 100 unicorns," said Atul Nishar, President, TiE Mumbai.

India needs to create eight million jobs a year, and it is believed by ecosystem experts that half the jobs will be created by the startup industry. The startup ecosystem gathered $40 billion in total over the last five years. Last year alone, the figure was at $10 billion came into India. “I believe we will go to $100 billion in the next five years,” Nishar said.

TiE and KPMG showcased some fascinating numbers on why India must embrace the digital opportunity:

  • New York: $34 billion; 3,287 deals
  • Bay Area: $83 billion; 4,900 deals
  • Beijing: $2.8 billion; 713 deals
  • Mumbai: $2.8 billion; 516 deals
  • Bengaluru: $16.2 billion; 1,244 deals (25 percent of tech startups in India)

Debjani Ghosh, Chairperson of Nasscom, said: “The opportunity to change India begins with focusing on real India, and voice as a technology will enable Indians to access services in a simple manner.” Unfortunately, there are only 65 voice companies in India. The challenges are multifold, but like Chandrasekaran said: “We have to solve together for jobs and access, and not think of each as independent problems.”


ALSO READ: The next frontier: why using voice to control machines is the only way ahead


 

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