[TechSparks 2020] Sequoia's Rajan Anandan and MeitY’s Ajai Garg discuss how India can truly become Aatmanirbhar

By Shreya Ganguly|30th Oct 2020
At the TechSparks 2020, Ajai Garg of MeitY and Rajan Anandan of Sequoia Capital joined YourStory’s Shradha Sharma to discuss the way forward for India’s ‘Aatmanirbhar’ mission.
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Under the Aatmanirbhar mission, India is looking to build solutions in order to become a self-generating and self-sustaining economy.


In a panel discussion at TechSparks 2020, India’s most influential startup-tech conference, Ajai Garg, Director of MeitY, and Rajan Anandan, Managing Director - India and SEA, Sequoia Capital, joined Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory, to discuss the next step for India to become truly ‘aatmanirbhar’.


Ajai Garg explained that being aatmanirbhar does not mean isolating India from the world, but reimagining the country’s ecosystem to create global impact.

He said, “The missing link in our startup ecosystem is the lack of Rupee capital. It does not allow Indian companies to scale up and remain in India. There is a need to create a system in which the Rupee capital starts flowing into the system and there are a few of the venture capitalists who over the last few months have been doing this to ensure that Indian companies stay in India.”

He also mentioned that the current Aatmarnibhar Bharat mission is very different from before in the non-liberalised world. Innovators now need to reimagine themselves and their global partners and “create innovation value add on global products, technologies and solutions and also create solutions which will impact the global population.”

Aatmanibhar panel

Aatmanirbhar Bharat does not mean isolating India from the world, but reimagining the country’s ecosystem to create global impact.

Building best companies from India for world

Rajan Anandan highlighted that there is a need to focus on building world-class companies that can solve global problems from India.


“Two Indian tech giants - TCS and Jio — are examples of what startups can do in the next 20 years. We need to build absolutely the best companies from India across the world,” he said.

Rajan Anandan added that one big wave including companies from India providing solutions for the world will come from the SaaS sector. He said that 2020-2030 will belong to this sector, where at least 20 SaaS unicorns will take birth in the next five years.


According to him, the second wave will include D2C brands. He said, “A few years back, there were no exports from Amazon India, but now Amazon is at $2 billion exports from India where 7,500 crores brands are new local brands selling in the US and other countries. This is one platform and there are many across the country. There is an opportunity for building many such brands which will serve the global population.”


He also believes that India has the potential to become a global hub for edtech and highlights that companies such as WhiteHat Jr and BYJU’S are building solutions from India for the world. According to him, we need to create the “next million teachers” who will teach the world.


He explains that there is a need to build and scale up companies across the globe because India is at $2.5 trillion GDP while the world is at $80 trillion. “So if you want to win something then win the 80 trillion dollar section.”

Digitally-led startups have advantage amid crisis

Rajan explained that almost 15 percent of Indian startups had to discontinue operations because of the pandemic.


However, digitally-led startups are recording high recovery while non-digital startups are still facing problems. He added that sectors such as teleconsultation, online fitness, edtech, online grocery, and ecommerce have grown by 2X than what it was before COVID-19.


Ajai Garg explained that India knows what the problems are and is in a position to build low-cost solutions. However, the ecosystem needs support from industry, government, large corporate, and flow of capital for the next wave of growth.

He also suggested that there is a need to encourage crowdfunding, where individuals and small investors can participate. This will help in creating the pressure point needed for the companies to grow.

Ajai added that the need for creating global partnerships is not only dependent on the trust between geographies but also between humans.


The COVID-19 pandemic has created a disturbance in this human-to-human trust. It is now only the digital ecosystem, which can help bridge this gap.


For more information on TechSparks 2020, check out our TechSparks 2020 website. Sign up here to join the event.


TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.

Techsparks 2020

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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