India is a nation that has all the right ingredients – a digital stack, talent, infrastructure, and scale – to become the world's technology hub. We, as a nation have demonstrated the use of technology in manners that have transformed governance and democracy. Now, to take full advantage of the "Techade" (Technology Decade for India), we must invest in R&D and innovation, increase spending on skill-based education, and thus aid tech transformations. This will also ensure a successful run towards becoming the global technology hub.

Navigating the 'Techade' with technology at the core, the pandemic has highlighted India's growing prowess in science, research, and innovation, which along with the collective spirit of the nation helped India tide over difficult times. Over the years, the nation has served as the global innovation hub, whether through its vibrant start-up ecosystem and digital adoption or by its increasing SaaS and engineering R&D ecosystem.

Technology is growing at lightning speed across sectors in India. Technological innovations have become the new normal, as consumers are gradually getting habituated to tech-enabled services. Catering to these dynamic needs requires continued innovation in technology areas like blockchain, quantum computing, artificial intelligence (AI), drone deployment, and big data, which I believe, will aid in delivering advanced services to consumers. India is developing technology that is inclusive, thereby, ensuring that services reach even those usually perceived to be outside the ambit of technology. For instance, the National Single Window System (NSWS), a digital platform for the guidance of investors, supports information across 32 central departments and 17 states. Another initiative - Indian Industrial Land Bank (IILB), which is a GIS-based portal, serves as a one-stop repository of all industrial infrastructure-related information such as connectivity, availability of natural resources, and information on vacant plots, among others.

Undoubtedly, with our aspiration to become a $5 trillion economy by 2025, technology is destined to play a pivotal role in India’s planned footprint in the global economy.

However, can we leverage the full potential of technology without talent? 

India has been turning adversities into opportunities and this has a direct correlation with the skills and rising technical prowess of its people, which is ably supported by a "never say die" attitude. People have developed an agile and resilient mindset as a result of their deep desire to become self-reliant. Further, the impetus on large-scale development initiatives such as "Digital India" and "Make in India" has mobilized the country's hardworking population toward digital technology adoption, entrepreneurship, and upskilling. Such targeted interventions have not only improved digital literacy but have also led to economic independence and aided in bridging the digital divide, resulting in numerous significant improvements in infrastructure supported by next-gen technologies. They have also contributed to the creation of job opportunities with equitable growth.

I strongly believe that tapping into the untapped potential of our talented and large youth population is the simplest way for us to turn a distant future into the present continuous. To accomplish this, we must foster innovative thinking and research by acknowledging the contributors to the 'Innovation Quotient.' Additionally, it is not enough to only identify and reward talent, it must also be nurtured at the appropriate age when STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education comes into play. Further, to prepare for an accelerated upcoming tech-cum-industrial revolution, we should strengthen the focus on skilling and reskilling.

Going above & beyond – India is set to lead by example

Technology and talent coupled together have enabled India to transform and transgress. We have surpassed the United Kingdom to become the world's fifth-largest economy. Adding to this, India's digital economy is expected to reach $800 billion by 2030 as internet penetration and income levels rise. Further, India is still on track for 7% growth this year, owing to private sector economic liberalization, a rapidly growing workforce, and global supply chain restructuring.

With the growth fire still raging, FY22 has proved to be one of the best years for the Indian IT industry, which grew by 15.5% and added more than half a million jobs. According to NASSCOM, in FY22, the Indian IT sector generated total revenue of $227 billion, including $178 billion in exports. Interestingly, IT exports accounted for 51% share of all services exports from the country, which is more than Saudi Arabia's earnings from oil exports.

As visible green shoots emerge after a challenging period, it is important for us to leverage the upward economic growth trajectory of our country and take it several notches above. For this, we must continue to invest in technology, embrace and enhance our digital capabilities, build a resilient digital economy, and invest in comprehensive skilling.

Taking the giant leap 

As per the Global Innovation Index (GIII) - In the list of 132 countries, India stood at a commendable 46th position in 2021. If the current pace of innovation is maintained and accelerated, India can rank among the top 25 countries in the Global Innovation Index.

With the spirit of techno-nationalism running high, Techade is bound to flourish. India must leverage technology and its tech talent pool to lead the transformation from the front and produce success stories like never before. Undoubtedly, leveraging technology to achieve sustainable economic growth is the path ahead for India. The return to normalcy for India is more than just welcoming 'better days' - the country is about to experience its 'best days'. 

(CP Gurnani is the Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer at Tech Mahindra.)

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