Satya Nadella is all praises for digitisation in India including Aadhaar, India Stack and the entrepreneurial spirit

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Satya Nadella, in his book Hit Refresh, which was launched at the Microsoft Ignite conference has praised digital interventions in India for societal transformation. Nadella noted that the rapid growth of Aadhaar rivals that of Windows, Facebook or Android. In the book, he writes, “Aadhaar now has scaled to over one billion people, rivaling the growth of other platform innovations such as Windows, Android, or Facebook.”

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Getty Images

Nadella also praised the India Stack, a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that support the deployment of cashless and paperless technologies by the government and private companies. Think of an API as a plugin that can be easily integrated into an application to support some features. The stack consists of Aadhaar, e-KYC, Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS), the Unified Payment Interface (UPI), eSign and Digilocker. The stack is divided into four layers, a presence less layer, a paperless layer, a cashless layer and a consent layer.

Nadella noted, “China strategically used the global supply chain and their own domestic market to amplify their comparative advantage and bootstrap their economic growth. The combination of industrial policy, public sector investment, and entrepreneurial energy is what many other countries will also look to replicate from China’s success. I see the beginnings of this in India with the creation of the new digital ecosystem known as IndiaStack. India is leapfrogging from once being an infrastructure-poor country to now leading in digital technology. IndiaStack ushers in a presence-less, cashless, paperless economy for all its citizens.”

The comments in the book are along the lines of Nadella’s remarks during his visits to India in 2016 and early 2017. In 2016, Nadella met Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the then IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. With Modi, Nadella discussed increasing Microsoft’s partnership in programs such as Digital India, and one of the topics of discussion with Prasad was the integration of Aadhaar identification in the Skype Lite app, which was specifically made for India, an emerging economy with spotty internet connections. The integration went live in July this year.

During that visit, Nadella praised India for the technology that it creates, saying, “Every time I come here, I go back energised. Its infectious to see the creativity here. It’s important to dream big and create big.” He went on to quote a couplet from Ghalib, “Hazaaron khwahishen aisi ke har khwahish pe dam nikle, Bahut niklay mere armaan, lekin phir bhi kam nikle.

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In February this year, Nadella visited India for the Future Decoded conference. In a meeting with Nandan Nilekani, a co-founder of Infosys and the architect of the India Stack, Nadella praised the rapid scaling of the system. “It is pretty tremendous, how it got started. But now with the speed at which you are able to scale it, it is comparable to any other internet-scale ramp up,” he said. In an interview with the Economic Times, Nadella noted that the India Stack would bring down the “transactional costs in the economy”

When Nilekani asked Nadella about the entrepreneurial spirit in India, Nadella’s response was, “Center of entrepreneurial energy at least for us right now in India is all around our cloud. It is fantastic, the quality of the entrepreneurs, the ideas… the Indian market itself is huge, but also going beyond that, it is amazing to see (the growth).” The Microsoft Accelerator programme had supported 2,000 startup in the previous 12 months leading up to the conference, a figure that Nadella termed as “fantastic.”

During the visit, Nadella launched the Sangam platform for Indian users, and announced the made for India Skype Lite. The Sangam platform was a version of LinkedIn for low-skill and middle-skill job profiles, with a focus on providing vocational training and job opportunities. The platform allowed users to enroll through Aadhaar cards, and later move on to LinkedIn, if they so desired.

“We can celebrate technology, but if it doesn’t truly empower every Indian and every Indian organisation to achieve more…we would have achieved nothing,” Nadella had said.

At the Microsoft Ignite conference, Nadella noted that technology should be used to provide a new level of inclusiveness to humans, instead of degrading humanity. “How are we going to use tech to empower people? Every piece of tech should help embellish the capability of human beings,” Nadella said.

Published Date: Sep 27, 2017 11:20 am | Updated Date: Sep 27, 2017 11:20 am