Tuesday, 20 January 2015


We import 99.99 per cent of ICT and Telecom technologies today, incurring a cost of USD 120 billion. This bill is estimated to increase to USD 400 billion by 2020.

Will we have the money to foot that huge bill? If USD 120 billion, which is Rs 800,000 crore, circulates within the country, it will generate thousands of millions of crores.

We have to strive for self-sufficiency and build technologies. Transfer of technology, licensed production or joint ventures rarely give a country any true strength and often become an addictive habit. No donor country will transfer their best technology and therefore, whole scale imports are not sustainable in the long term. All the systems are supplied by foreigners, which makes India very vulnerable.

What should be done to achieve self-sufficiency in these technologies?

We need to change the system. The world is racing ahead. We are completely at the bottom in every single metric in science and technology while China is far ahead. If we have the money to import technologies worth USD 120 billion then I am sure we can spend a couple of billion dollars trying to build technologies in India.

But, we must collaborate with the rest of the world. China did it by sheer government willpower over the last 20 years. For instance, China has sent 200,000 junior professors, PhD students and post doctoral students to the US to work in top universities. They go back and create great value at home. Thanks to the bureaucratic mindset, one of our best institutes of higher education, IIT-Delhi, is ranked 250th in the world.

The Indian government has no way of funding them other than some interaction through some Commonwealth fund. The technology base in India compared to the world is less than 1 per cent today. Why can’t we invest a few billions dollars in education, R&D and in building technologies?

Won’t Indian talent come up with innovative, indigenous technologies?

Great talent is available in Africa and Malaysia too. Give me an example of one idea or anything hi-tech that we have made in this country in Telecom or ICT.

We need more PhDs, but there are no takers for it in India as there are limited jobs for researchers today. There is enormous talent in India.

While we are very well connected in arts and literature, we live in a completely isolated system when it comes to science and technology. The government comes into the picture and bureaucrats run the show. While there is no shortage of talent, we are in a bureaucratic prison, which we must come out of. 


Post a Comment