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Can Technology Address India's Chronic Challenges?
Thu, 20 Oct Pre-Open

India has recorded the fastest pace of annual GDP growth among large economies. The country has benefited immensely from lower commodity prices which has helped keep inflation under check. Under the leadership of the present prime minister there has been a visible push for reforms in the country. Yet, India faces huge challenges in terms of improving the quality of life of its citizens i.e. providing basic facilities such as education and healthcare. Financial inclusion is also a big challenge for the country. The country's demographic dividend which is most hailed is turning out to be a big problem as the government has been struggling to create jobs.

Accelerated use of technology can provide solutions to some of the problems faced by the country. Technology has been the primary driver of disruptive change across industries around the world. In fact, the internet has helped the global world become more local. We are already seeing increasing role of technology, take for example in the financial services sector. Currently, many farmers and small medium enterprises do not have access to organized capital from banks. Government benefits program which provides different kind of subsidies re extremely inefficient and result in huge wastage. However, using Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and mobile phones there is now a fundamental/unique method of customer identification process in place that can be used to promote digital transactions. Using this process one can eliminate the classical roadblocks of paper-based identity proofs, need for a physical bank branch and the availability of hard cash. In addition, a unique platform is being created for tax management and reporting wherein all stakeholders like taxpayers, banks and governments are bought together which has the potential to completely transform how we manage the country's taxes. The prime advantage of using technology is the potential to solve problems of financial inclusion.

Technology also holds promise in a sector like healthcare which needs a lot of infrastructure and capital. There is a chronic shortage of doctors compared to resident population. Here, Big data analytics has the ability to transform our healthcare systems. In fact, Dr Devi Shetty, founder Narayana Health has encouraged increased use of technology in healthcare to enable to reach people who have little or no access to healthcare or places where healthcare costs are prohibitive.

Critical areas like education, skill development are crucial since this will improve employability and create better jobs for the future workforce. While it may be difficult to implement these large scale changes at one go. However, this must be looked at since technology has the ability to help India lift its millions of people above poverty and provide a better quality of life.

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