This is going to be India’s decade, says AWS’ Puneet Chandok at TechSparks 2021

The India of today is at an inflection point and inclusive technology is driving change in a post-pandemic world, Puneet Chandok, President at AWS, India and South Asia (AISPL), said in his keynote address at TechSparks 2021
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Who could imagine there would come a time when the remotest regions in India would be served medical supplies by drones, robots would dispense hand sanitisers, and homepreneurs would rise to sell anything from masks to home-cooked food to artwork and content? Well, this and a lot more happened in the last year-and-a-half. India today is nothing like we knew it to be ever since the pandemic disrupted traditional models of learning and distribution, among others.

Speaking at the 12th edition of YourStory’s flagship startup-tech conference TechSparks 2021, Puneet Chandok, President, AWS, India and South Asia (AISPL), said that the discontinuities of the past year have driven three big shifts and paved the path for a New World, which is more dynamic, real, and unpredictable than ever.

“The first shift is about India. And I call this the shift from an India of potential to an India of performance. The second shift is around technology — the shift from state-of-the-art technology to simple technology. And then the third one is more personal. It's about leadership,” revealed Puneet.

Here’s how the AWS president decoded the three big shifts in his keynote address.

The India story

“We've always had potential in India, tremendous possibilities, but somehow we managed to stay just on the edge and hit just a little bit below our weight. But that's starting to change… and there are three tailwinds that are working in our favor, that are working for India,” said Puneet, pointing to demographics, mobile and data revolution, and the burgeoning startup ecosystem.

From being a natural home today for both B2C and B2B startups, to being the ‘SaaS factory of the world’ with more than 1000 funded SaaS companies to 75 million SMBs that are the backbone of Bharat, India today is the world's largest open market for technology companies to serve, added Puneet. “At AWS, we are committed to enabling Indian builders and businesses to build a better India, we are truly trying to build a force in India that moves the country forward and constantly working towards this mission,” he added.

Shift around technology

Talking about the evolving technology landscape, Puneet termed it, “the shift from state-of-the-art-technology to simple technology.”

“This pace of change is also leading to what some people are now calling a great decoupling, which simply means that technology is racing ahead. But many of our skills, many of our organisations, and our people are lagging behind. And this is not sustainable. Democratisation of technology is essential in any digital economy.”

Talking about how AWS is on a mission to put artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) “in the hands of every developer, every data scientist, every researcher in India,” he said it has started showing results and these technologies are no longer on the fringes but are now being deployed at scale across India.

Leading with authenticity

On a personal note, Puneet touched upon the shift in leadership models in times of crises, and called it “the shift from leading with authority to leading with authenticity.”

“The leader of today and tomorrow does not need authority and command. She needs what I call ACE, which is an acronym for three things: authenticity, courage, which comes with clarity, and energy,” emphasised Puneet.

Leaders of New India need to invest in trust-building exercises as trust deficit in today’s world doubles the cost of doing business. The trust-building exercise is also an intuitive one, and it requires being authentic, which means owning vulnerability when it comes to that.

Leadership today is also about taking the leap of courage to jump in when others are afraid to do so. “For example, at Amazon, we want to be the world's best place to come and fail. And believe me, this permission to fail is energising and allows all of us to innovate at scale without the fear of failure. Courage by itself is not enough, you need an equal dose of clarity. As a leader, you need to be able to get others to see situations in a more revealing way,” pointed out Puneet.

As Puneet lifted the curtain on the shifts piloting the story of a new Digital India, an India at an inflection point, his parting shot for entrepreneurs was, “As you start building for India, build in a way that gives hundreds of millions of Indians a shot to prosperity, and lead with your heart as much as you do with your mind. Let's build for a better India.”


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For a line-up of all the action-packed sessions at YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, check out TechSparks 2021 website.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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