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Thursday, 07 December 2017 00:00
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SJ remarks


Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for being here this evening … I’m quite aware of how far the venue is, and Bangalore traffic, so I truly appreciate this. This is our 5th year, and it just keeps getting better … we have 540 entries this year.


Apart from my colleague Darlington who made all this happen, I’d like to thank our excellent jury for, once again, combing through the entries and selecting the winners. We have Rajan Anandan from Google, Prof Sadagopan from IIIT, serial entrepreneur Ravi Gururaj who heads the Nasscom Product Council, former Facebook India head Umang Bedi and iSpirt co-founder Sharad Sharma.


Thanks are also due to our knowledge partners Price Waterhouse who did all the hard work so that the entries could be short-listed and presented to our jury.


Over the years, we’ve broadened the awards to bring in new categories of startups and fintechs – last year, for instance, our jury gave out a special award to Bhim for the work it has done to catalyse digital payments – if Tez had launched a little earlier, Google could have got an award this year! This year, we've brought in a category called 'digital' which has more scope for disruptive technologies... One of our winners today XXX helps workers get more efficient on the factory floor ... If they are at a Maruti factory, their Google Glass will tell them something about the part coming their way on the assembly line ...


The awards are obviously important in terms of recognizing winners in each category, but also for what the winners can do to change India. We’ve seen how IT has changed the way the world sees India, and that’s why Lakshmi Narayanan is our Lifetime Achievement Award winner, for helping create a true world-beater Cognizant. Byju Raveendran of edutech firm Byju’s will bring about another kind of change, in India’s education system that so desperately needs fixing and expanding at the same time.


We’re aware of what fintechs, or what UPI or Bhim can do to change India’s payments landscape. But just think of what the India Stack can do for India’s productivity. Till some time back, India had done a total of 18 million digital signatures using the conventional dongles. Over the last two years, we’ve done 21 million – this year, we’ll do at least 300 million thanks to GST; while a DocuSign’s costs start from $50 a month, an eSign costs Rs 2 per signature. In the digital transactions space, while debit cards cost 0.5-1% per transaction, UPI is a small fraction of that.


If Aadhaar represented a major breakthrough and offered numerous possibilities, think of what DigiLocker can do? Just to mention one, if all documents from government etc are e-signed, this can eliminate a large degree of fraud documents. Think of the impact on transaction costs and speeds, especially when land records are also available on DigiLocker.


The reason why I’m going into such detail is to explain the quantum jump these innovations imply for India’s productivity. In 1990, to give you perspective, the share of the communications sector was around 5% in India’s GDP and it contributed a similar amount to that year’s GDP growth. By 2006, when the revolution was in full swing, the share as a proportion of GDP had more than doubled, and the contribution to GDP growth was a mind-numbing 20%!


In short, while we celebrate technology, it’s important to know the potential it has to catapult India’s growth. And much of this change, it is obvious to all of you, is centered in Bangalore … each one of you is aiming to create something new, something that can change the way we do things … one start-up based out of Bangalore, Team Indus, is literally aiming for the moon!


Our chief guest, Amitabh Kant, I’m pleased to tell you, is the prime minister’s point man on initiatives such as Digital India, Make-in-India, Start-up India … all initiatives aimed at raising India’s productivity in the manner I just described. Amitabh is one of India’s most dynamic bureaucrats, a person with a can-do attitude, who ensures things get done. He works with a private sector mindset – he is known for the Incredible India campaign, but it was under him that the DMICDC – India’s most ambitious city-development project – took off, and he had a staff of under a dozen … the work was all contracted out … the project slowed dramatically after he left, sadly. If he has his way, to mention one more thing from his CV, India will embark on a massive course of privatization, not just of PSUs but of existing ports, airports, even athletic stadiums.


The government is quite focused on increasing productivity in a big way, and I’m sure Amitabh will have something to say about that. I’m equally sure he will take something away from what he sees here today … I know that I do each time I come to Bangalore.


Thank you



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