When I was working on Wall Street back in 2007, there were talks of getting a specialized hardware processor designed for high frequency trading applications so that we could outdo our competitors by microseconds. It was the perfect example of achieving a specific goal by an intelligent marriage of hardware and software. With increasing population moving online, India is witnessing an outbreak in Internet penetration. Internet Users in India will cross 300 million mark by December 2014 according to ‘Internet in India 2014’ report jointly published by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International and is expected to cross 500 million users before end of 2016. No surprise then, that the popular BJP government is taking more interest in Digital India than its predecessors. We all know that Internet services are the future and so does Narendra Modi. I smile everytime I receive an email from different Ministeries or the PMO wishing me Happy Independence Day or Happy Diwali.
But execution of e-governance is not an easy thing especially when you are talking about a population of more than 1 Billion. This is where the role of hardware and companies like Intel comes into play. Imagine a lightning fast website of IRCTC or SBI. Imagine you never having to step out to stand in long queues for Aadhar cards. On the lines of above example of Wall Street, India can benefit a lot from specialized hardware for processing higher traffic in a country like India. With so much untapped potential in healthcare data, energy related innovation, agriculture reforms, the time is ripe for a Digital India. To make a meaningful growth, the only option is to penetrate rural India with innovative solutions at low cost. I believe these sectors in villages can especially gain from such innovation:
- Agriculture – As global warming is severely affecting the climate, there is a dire need for protecting farms from adverse and untimely weather changes. Recent rains in March as seen a lot of crops being destroyed and farmers pushed to suicides. Digitized farms with temperature control and mechanized irrigation can not only solve weather problem but also save critical resources like water. In this field, a big level collaboration between corporations and Indian government is the only feasible solution. Can Intel rise up to this challenge?
- Financing – Farmers are forever running in debt to local lenders facing unfair interest rates and repayment conditions. Micro loans can ease this burden and with a push towards financial education and awareness, people in villages can be helped to start their dream businesses without worrying about unfair loans.
- Healthcare – How do you keep a nation of 1 Billion people healthy? By connecting medical services and personnel between rural and urban India, by mining the healthcare data (only possible by digitizing), new insights can be developed and used to combat diseases like swine flu which are still claiming unacceptable number of lives.
- Energy saving – While villages struggle with power supply, there is ton of solar and wind energy that is still under utilized. With its Claremont processor, Intel already showed promise in the field of solar powered computers. What country better than India for testing and using it?
- Record keeping – A system like Aadhar if implemented intelligently can solve many problems – even corruption and black money. Giving access to energy efficient low cost computers in rural areas, government can try to make the biggest database of citizens that any country has ever created.
In all these areas, an offline education and training program backed by digital access can help connect the humongous web of villages and people that India is. With optical fibre layout to every panchayat, Intel’s digital literacy plan can actually solve multitude of problems. It is a worthy cause and effort – one that can change the lives of millions. Giants like Intel can not only help in hardware innovation but spreading awareness through online and offline services. We are at the cusp of a change and Intel’s involvement can provide the right support for a rising India, a #DigitalIndia.