What Stops India from Becoming the Next Tech-Hub of the World?
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India is already on its way to becoming a “start-up nation.” But can the same be said when it comes to technology?
Apart from infrastructure and development, there are various other aspects in which India lacks. Lack is an understatement because the road to technological advancement is long and it requires a lot more for a country than just a few fundamental aspects in place to become a tech hub. It is time for policymakers to analyze where India is lacking and what gaps are preventing India from becoming the next tech-hub.
Policy Paralysis or Regulation
If India moves two steps ahead, it comes back four steps behind because of the concerns policy paralysis has caused. Many times, entrepreneurs from India have to set up operations in other countries because of the lack of support from policies. This gives an upper-hand and an edge to the international players and the local players suffer inevitably.
Flipkart and Amazon and are befitting examples of such scenarios wherein domestic players suffer. Amazon has a wide market in India while Flipkart has now been taken over by an international company. This is not the only example of international players benefitting over the Indian ones.
Pankit Desai, Co-founder and CEO of Sequretek cites the example of Aadhaar which changed the face of fintech space and reduced the cost of customer acquisition dramatically but lost out because of a very important aspect, “We could not fix the privacy concerns and therefore, now, it is now two steps backwards with companies having to revert to old methods.”
While education plays an important role in uplifting the literacy of the nation, India, however, is not becoming any better-informed. The skill gap in India remains as wide as the distance between the north and the south pole. Rajeev Agrawal, CEO of Innoviti Payment Solutions Pvt. Ltd., says that education levels and understanding are at a different stage and at the same time there is a high set of hopes and aspirations people have in this country.
India’s approach to education is often seen as utilitarian and standardized. It has been successful in increasing the number of people receiving an education but it has not achieved any success with respect to this number transferring into serious returns. The skill gap remains ever-widening. The seventh annual report on employability by Aspiring Minds gave some important numbers. It showed that only 3.84% of engineers in our country have the technical, cognitive, and language skills necessary for software related start-ups. It also highlighted that a mere 3% of engineers have new-age skills in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, data science, and mobile development.
Ashwin Damera, Co-Founder and Director at Eruditus Executive Education, also highlighted the gap as he is endeavouring “to address the demand-supply gap in talent for artificial intelligence” through his venture.
A skill gap, however, doesn’t mean undervaluing the lot. India has some of the smartest people in the field and that remains an unquestionable fact. What is correct to say is that it is India’s biggest strength if the nation aims to become the next tech hub.
Serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist and Founder and CEO of OurCrowd, Jon Medved said in an interview with Entrepreneur India said that their next step is to venture into the Indian business territory, work with Indian partners and evaluate Indian deals. He also added that he finds Indian entrepreneurs extremely capable.
Brain-drain is another aspect that filters the good talent out India.
Prithvi Singh, Founder and CTO at Gameskraft, highlights this very aspect when he says, “Even though our country has good talent and skillset in the start-up ecosystem in India, people still opt for the experiences abroad.” If India's talent which is the pillar of technological progress in India decides to step out of the domestic territory, then the progress supposed to only dissolve.
Lack of International Visibility
Strengthening the start-up ecosystem in India can play a big role in bringing innovation and seamlessly integrating technology into the day-to-day operations of the business world. However, the lack of funds and resources somehow restricts the Indian tech world to freely flap its wings.
CEO and founder of Guidoo, Vineet Budki, in an interview with Entrepreneur India, said that in the initial stage, investors were unsure about investing in a company that was India-based. Investors felt more assured while investing in a Singaporean company rather than investing in an Indian company because of regulatory issues. He, therefore, had to set up his company in Singapore just for the sake of the ease of doing business aspect.
Building up infrastructure is something that can ease out a lot of creases in the tech world and also increases global visibility that may appear a great advantage to the Indian tech ecosystem.
Singh says “We need to shift the focus from service led tech companies to product-led companies. Undoubtedly we have great products built in India but we have not secured global visibility.”
It is thus time that one start thinking of building products considering the global market and not just restricting it to Indian perspectives.