Inclusive IT Empowerment

In an attempt to emphasize the importance of inclusive IT growth in India, taking into account the growing rural development, the IMC Mumbai recently organized a one-day seminar around the theme, Fostering Inclusive Growth through IT.

In his inaugural address, Kailash Vijayvargiya, Minister of IT, Commerce and Industry, Madhya Pradesh mentioned that the high rate of economic growth of India is mainly urban centered and is very slowly reaching villages. In view of this, the Madhya Pradesh government has been setting up IT kiosks in rural areas for providing much needed information about prices of farm inputs and produces, healthcare, education and transport facilities to villagers, the minister said.

According to Bhavna Doshi, VP, IMC, Inclusive growth is a pre-requisite to sustainable growth and is a political, social and economic necessity. Digital inclusion for socio-economic development has become a strategic goal of all countries today, in order to make IT cheaper, easier to use, and more accessible to the masses.

Indias GDP is expected to grow from $1.2 tn (ie, 2% of global total) now to $30 tn (ie, 10% of global total) by 2025, according to a recent KPMG report.

Richard Rekhi, head of advisory, KPMG remarked in his keynote address that India, which was the world leader in IT services, should not miss the opportunity to use IT enabled services to uplift the standards of life of people in rural areas. Indias ambitious Unique Identity (UID) program covering 1.3 bn people, was the biggest such project in the world. The UID program will enable India to ensure efficient delivery of services to even the remote villages, he said.

The 1st sessionInclusive Growth: The Indian Growth Story, Role of Trade Policy and ICT in promoting Growth of Rural Indiadwelt on the Indian economys growth potential over the next 5-year horizon and the policy initiatives needed by the government to ensure that the new economic opportunities would reach the community at large.

The 2nd session onAffordable Technologies for Inclusive Growth and the Digital Inclusionsought to examine the use of the latest and affordable information technology tools to drive the inclusive growth. Those who participated in the discussion include Rajesh Jain, MD of Netcore Solutions; Pradeep Kotkar, head of India Solution Group in L & T Infotech; Jinesh Panchali, SVP of FTKMCL; and, Rinkin Gandhi, CEO, Digital Green.

In the 3rd session onHow Cloud Computing Can Help Drive Inclusive Growthpanelists pointed out that the cloud would fundamentally change the way technology providers engaged with business customers and individual users. Sharad Saxena, joint GM of ICICI Bank and Anjan Choudhary, senior BSE consultant among others, shared their insights.

Providing an introspection into how inclusive growth equals inclusive banking, Sharad Saxena, joint GM, ICICI Bank said, Out of 600,000 villages, 5% have commercial banks. More than 60% of the population is unbanked. Five percent have ATM cards, and there is clearly a dearth of credit at the grassroot level. The solution to this is inclusive banking. The government is providing a lot of thrust in this area, and cloud will play a major role in mobile banking for inclusive growth.

According to Anjan Choudhary, senior advisor and consultant, BSE, Cloud wont help in changing the financial condition of rural areas, but banks will be able to reach end customers more easily through the cloud, and SMBs can also use a pay-per-use model and have access through the cloud. As far as the stock exchange is concerned, the cloud could be a support system to reach to the end customer, but not the main focus as it is a service used by many people with risks involved. However cloud computing can help in support functions of trading, etc.

With 3G coming in, experts see cloud computing becoming a compulsion, especially if the 100 mn broadband customers by 2014 goal is to be achieved. A mix of various approaches by RBI for banking, in terms of changing the core banking platform to automate basic provisioning system, a bank-led model in co-ordination with telcos, plans to connect post offices to banks are all stepping stones to inclusive growth in terms of financial inclusion. However the growth of e-initiatives will also be useful in the education, health, agricultural, government, and SMB sectors and will all constitute efforts towards inclusive growth in IT. Opening branches is a very slow approachneeds a business correspondent approach. Gartner has predicted that information on the go will be a determining technology in the next 4 years. However the government and the private sector have to work hand-in-hand to achieve this.

Beryl M

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