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India’s Innovation Stimulus

India’s Innovation Stimulus

In a recent New York Times article titled ‘India’s Innovation Stimulus’, Thomas L Friedman the celebrated author of the ‘World is Flat’ describes how India is leveraging connectivity, education and a young workforce to improve the lot of millions. Modern technology is helping uplift the most deprived. When large areas of the world are worse off, why can’t the Indian model be adopted and implemented in other countries?

India’s Innovation Stimulus

Thomas L Friedman traveled to India recently and while traveling around the countryside, he was overwhelmed by the large numbers of people on roads. His initial reaction was that no matter what was done, these teeming masses would never be lifted out of poverty. This was till he began to notice cellphone towers dotting the countryside and a huge number of technical schools and colleges wherever he went.

Friedman is convinced that a mix of connectivity, education and a large young population will make India graduate from running the back offices of Western companies and will instead help it open its own companies that offer innovative, low cost solutions to Indian problems. Friedman goes on to describe a number of innovative companies around Delhi that offer a low cost Gandhian model of innovative solutions to Indian problems. He describes four companies that are leveraging connectivity and a technically qualified work force to deliver unique solutions. These are briefly discussed below –

 Ekgaon is a farmer oriented solution provider that makes software that runs on the cheapest cell phones. For just $5 a year, it offers focused advice to individual farmers telling them precisely what to do on their farms. This service fulfills a need that the Agriculture Department is unable to meet.

 Forus Health has focused on preventable blindness. Since opthalmic care is not available in the hinterland, the company invented a simple device that can be operated by a technician. This device can scan for the most major eye diseases and say whether the patient needs to be seen by a doctor or not. If the patient needs medical care, he is connected to a doctor through a telemedicine terminal. Latin American countries have shown interest in this technology.

 The website iXiGO.com is a travel search service that runs on the cheapest cellphones and allows Indians to book the cheapest tickets for their travel. Using cloud computing, Google Apps, Skype and Facebook has allowed the company to grow rapidly at minimal expense.

 Finally there is the initiative to give each Indian a unique ID. This allows the government to transfer subsidies directly to the poor and reduces leakages and corruption.

Sophisticated technology is being put to good use in India to help the most deprived sectors. This is giving planners a chance to change India at a scale not seen before.

Note: The preceding is a summary of an article found though our research, and is provided here with editorial comment for members only. Please see the full article at the following link for full original content.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/opinion/sunday/friedman-indias-innovation-stimulus.html?_r=1

The New Asia Innovation Team

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