India-Sweden collaboration for an inclusive future


Our cherished world is at the crossroads today. The conflict in Europe has brought to notice how fragile is the peace in this otherwise lovely world. Conflicts, as we have learned over the course of centuries, always leave behind thick clouds of material destruction, unnerving loss of human lives and scarring of human minds that millions of families, on both sides (Victor and the vanquished) will suffer from in years to come. Just as the world was recovering from Covid, we have been thrust into another crisis, where the enemy is not a virus, but another human being. History has proven that unequal worlds always lead to conflicts. So, the only way to avoid conflicts fundamentally is to look at creating an inclusive and equal access world, where we are all working collaboratively together in the spirit of “Vishwa Bandhutva”(Planet-wide brotherhood). While the idea is old in India, it certainly couldn’t be more relevant to world right now.

As India looks at the next 25 years of Amrit Kaal (golden period), well poised to look at completing 100 years of messy, but with functioning democracy, it is looking at riding two massive waves. First one is about the massive demographic dividend, where a majority of its population is going to be young and productive. It is going to have the largest working population in the world for the next 15 years with more than 900 mn people in the productive age. If India can increase opportunities to this massive workforce, India can multiply its GDP by more than 10x in the next 25 years. The second big wave is the coming together of the computing and communication revolution with massive amounts of data and intelligence. Ray Kurzweil predicted that by 2029, the sum of AI is going to be more than human intelligence. We are going to end this decade with 7.5bn connected human beings and 30 Bn connected and intelligent machines (Cisco research), in what we call the beginning of the AI driven experience economy. Transitioning from the knowledge economy, in the upcoming experience economy, we will be deriving more than 90% of the value in what we call digital intelligent intangible experiences built on top of an increasingly digital physical world. This wave is going to create a new economic value of more than $15.7tn (PWC research), almost 5 times the current GDP of India. This massive intelligence shift is going to change our businesses, lives and even society based on the choices that we make in building AI today.

With more than 11% of top tier AI talent being Indian, coupled with the massive amount of problem data and desperation to create leapfrog solutions to solve its societal scale challenges, India can potentially become the top 2 technology center’s in the world. With more than 100+ digital unicorns, the Indian innovation talent is primed to digitize India across sectors at a furious pace. This in turn drive the flywheel of massive change, with digital businesses generating more data, data turning into intelligence and intelligence leading to new kinds of usages and solutions. Take for example, today with home grown UPI payment ecosystem India is doing 2.5 times the digital payments done in China each day. While digital payment, a small but critical vector to overall digitisation, is going to accelerate other areas and also a good indication of the kind of scale India is going to generate in near future.

By connecting its vast population with digital mobility with 5G, it can become the remote work hub for the world with innovations in tele operations. Transforming physical mobility with EV shift, micro mobility and advance air mobility, it can create smart clusters around its organically grown cities making it easy for its billion plus population to move digitally and physically at speed. Its digital intelligent healthcare system, with examples like COWIN, which allowed it to vaccinate 10mn+ each day point to a future, where it would deliver 80% of the healthcare outside of the traditional hospital ecosystem. By rapidly implementing the NEP 2020 (National Educational Policy) with bias on open curriculum and interdisciplinary talent creation, built to suit the upcoming AI driven experience economy, it can get 300 mn young kids ready for the future. These initiatives built collaboratively with the world, in the true “Atma Nirbhar” (Self reliance) could be game changing and also trend setting for the rest of the world in use of AI & digital innovations to leapfrog. Further these solutions might be applicable in rest of Asia, Africa and even in US & EU. A case in point is a young company called Touchkin, building a mental health chatbot called Wysa, grown in the messy by-lanes of Bangalore, is helping the 10 mn+ patients across the global including EU and US deal with anxiety and depression.

As we celebrate India – Sweden Innovation Day on 27th Oct 2022, the core question from the perspective of humanity to ask is, if we can use this massive technology shift and huge talent mashup of innovators to potentially wage a new kind of war. A war for humanity, not against, to build technology that can bring equitable and sustainable growth for the world. Growth that will create enduring peace by creating a world that would be a safe and fair place for our children and where one won’t have to depend upon the birth lottery of being born to a rich parent or a rich country.

The choices of two democracies working together on north-south collaboration by leveraging these massive levers of change has the potential to provide a better and more inclusive template for the world. While we are sold on the aspiration of going to Mars, a dying planet, we might want to work harder on making sure that our living planet has a sustainable future. If we make the right choices, we could create a world, where everyone has an equal access to good health, education and better mobility (digital, physical and financial). Where everyone is not working to make ends meet, but rather is looking to express the human potential and intelligence within. With India being the Sherpa for G20 and Sweden going to lead the EU next year, the timing is just right to start a serious collaboration between the two innovation ecosystems with this intent and sharing it with the world. Can India and Sweden take a pledge to lead the world in this new way? Are we together ready to wage a war on mental health, on machine illiteracy and inclusive access to better quality of life and opportunity, not just to a few, but to billions in the developing world? Can we create a world where we would treat each other with empathy and respect, a future, where autonomous human beings can collaborate with autonomous machines to build an inclusive and sustainable future for the pale blue dot.

Source : The Times of India