Democratization of information is the key to development – Sam Pitroda
Today’s India is different. The old ways of doing things do not work any more and new methods of collaboration, cooperation and team work are needed to create more jobs in the country. But we are not changing fast enough, thus holding the future of 550 million youth at stake”. These were the views expressed by Sam Pitroda, Adviser to PM on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation, in Mumbai on Monday, while delivering the 10th Kilachand Memorial Lecture organized by the Indian Merchants’ Chamber.
The Chairman of the National Innovation Council, Dr. Pitroda asserted that “innovation is the key for growth and development” and stressed on the need to strengthen public information infrastructure. “Creating public information infrastructure would lead to democratizing information” he added. Pitroda said there is an urgent need to open up government data to the public. But he admitted there are problems. “Everybody agrees, but nobody lets go. There is a huge resistance to opening up the system”.
Rs 100,000 crore being spent on creating Public Information Infrastructure
Pitroda said the Government is spending close to Rs 100,000 crores on building the public information infrastructure in the country. He said the government is building a National Knowledge Network, at a cost of Rs 15,000 crores, connecting all universities and research laboratories. He said the dream has already come true, as on January 23, he was able to address and interact with 5 lakh students from across the country simultaneously using the National Knowledge Network. Dr. Pitroda said, the network, in the days to come will promote collaborative research in a big way.
Dr. Pitroda also spoke about the silent revolution being brought about in the country side, by connecting 250,000 gram panchayats through Optic Fibre Network. However, he observed that “connecting networks is not an end in itself. We need to create platforms for delivery of services. Nandan Nilekani’s Unique Identity Card project is one such example.”
Innovation is the key
Speaking about innovation, Sam Pitroda said, we need basic solutions which address the bottom of pyramid and create our own models, which are affordable, sustainable and scalable. He said, all the states have been asked to set up State Level Knowledge Commissions. “However, barring a few states, the progress has not been satisfactory. Knowledge and Innovation Commissions need to be manned by people, who are domain experts. But our idea of innovation seems to be entrusting the job to a Committee of 4-5 career bureaucrats”.
Dr. Pitroda lamented that India is still not an engaged democracy. He said the world is changing very fast, but we are not equipped for change as yet. He ended by saying “the most important issue today is not brain drain, but the change in our mind set”.