Why HDFC’s Aditya Puri thinks PM Modi, Nandan Nilekani, and Reliance Jio will radically change India

Aditya Puri, the man at the helm of HDFC Bank, India’s most valuable private lender, believes that India’s digital thrust led by three factors has transformed the country.

Aditya Puri, the man at the helm of HDFC Bank, India’s most valuable private lender, believes that India’s digital thrust led by three factors has transformed the country and will radically alter the future of India.

And the three names leading this digital push include Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Infosys Co-founder Nandan Nilekani, and Reliance Jio, the digital arm of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries. 

Aditya Puri, Managing Director, HDFC Bank

According to Puri, Modi’s Digital India push, Nandan Nilekani’s work in building the infrastructure for India’s digital future through Aadhaar, and Jio’s role in building the telecommunications backbone of the country are all poised to fundamentally alter this country. 

He says,

“These will radically alter this country. And if you're not going to fit into that landscape, you have a problem.”

While the Digital India initiative dates back to the mid-90s with the development of information systems in sectors like the Railways and land record commercialisation, the Modi government has taken Digital India to new heights. 

Since 2015, the Modi government has made a strong push towards getting India online. The idea isn't just to connect the unconnected and bridge the digital divide, but also enable the country to leapfrog - or as Nandan Nilekani put it, pole-vault - onto the technology-led superhighway.

Under Digital India, the government aims to bring its services easily to its citizens on the backbone of increased internet connectivity and improved online infrastructure. The Digital India initiatives include plans to connect rural areas with high-speed internet networks. There are three components as a part of the initiative -- delivering government services digitally, universal digital literacy, and the development of a secure and stable digital infrastructure. 

An important part of Modi's digital thrust is Aadhaar, a biometric identity system for every citizen, developed under Nandan Nilekani when he was the Chairman of UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India). At present, Aadhaar covers almost 98 percent of the country’s population.

Similarly, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio and Digital India policies go hand-in-hand. Reliance Jio, which was launched across India in 2016, helped millions of Indians access the internet for free in the initial months of its launch, thereby bridging a huge digital divide.

Reports suggest Jio’s subscriber base is likely to touch over 400 million in the next two years. In addition to internet services, Jio also launched its own smartphone, which had sold 25 million units as of June 2018. Data also suggests that online streaming services have exploded since the launch of Jio.

To be clear, thanks to Jio, the availability of affordable data packs also means India is transforming from cash to digital transactions.

The changes that have come about in the wake of these trends have made things easier for incumbents like HDFC Bank, says Puri.

“It's just making my life easier,” he says, adding that even doing market research, which was previously a problem, is today easier to do; all it takes is sending out an email.

“First, it was the road? Now you travel on the Internet. Earlier, you reached the store? Now, you reach Amazon, and Amazon is actually more personalised. It tells you what you bought the last time and asks whether you would like it again? So, it's not that complicated,” Puri adds.

(Edited by Tenzin Pema and Dipti Nair)


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