At a time when the country and the world are gearing up for a new normal, Padma Bhushan Shri S. Ramadorai, Former Vice Chairman, Tata Consultancy Services Mumbai talks about ‘Disruption Digitisation Demand’, addressing the disruption caused in various sectors due to the pandemic and opportunities lying within. Delivering the virtual Lockdown Lecture organized by Nehru Science Centre, Ministry of Culture, Shri S. Ramadorai has emphasized the need for innovation in every field.
COVID-19 and the containment measures adopted to fight it have caused disruption in every sector in the country, be it business, transportation, health, education and in turn has affected the economy as a whole. While discussing the 5Ds – Disaster, Disruption, Digitisation, Demand and Diversity, Padma Bhushan S. Ramadorai said, “With right perspective and drawing inspiration from our deepest traditions of diversity, we can pave the way to a world of new possibilities and opportunities”.
He recalled the earlier pandemics, natural calamities and disasters caused due to human interventions, from Plague that hit the world in 1885 to SARS. He noted that the world reminds us that ‘Pandemics’ are going to be a part of our lives. He also cited the Mumbai terror attack and how the citizens came together – exhibiting support and community initiative which was remarkable. ‘It is such attitude of the citizens that needs to be focused upon’, he said.
“This pandemic witnessed migrant workers from across the country being affected. Agricultural workers and construction workers have also been affected by the pandemic. It has caused personal loss as well as economic distress with the movement of migrant workers from various parts to their villages. The significant reason being challenges in public health added with their urge to go back to one’s home, where they feel much safer.” Shri Ramadorai said that they consider staying in ‘urban centres’ as temporary and their villages as permanent home.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNEGA) has taken care of certain issues faced by the workers. The daily wage of each member of Below Poverty Line (BPL) families has been increased to Rs. 202/day and the budget allocation for the same has gone up too.
In Micro Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME), more than 11 crore workers are employed in India. Almost 90% of industrial units are in MSME segment which constitutes about 45% industrial value. In addition to this every year there are about 5 to 10 million new workers entering this sector and a majority of them work in MSMEs.
While talking about continuous and steady efforts required to build a sustainable structure free of disruptions, he cited the example of Kerala in fighting the Pandemic. “The journey of sustained excellence is not possible overnight. Why Kerala could handle this better than other parts of the country? The state started its Public health initiatives much earlier – as early as 1964. Kerala’s capacity building and rollout, connectivity of community health centres, empowerment at Panchayat and district levels together played a great role in address the Pandemic issue more efficiently”.
Shri Ramadorai said that the power of digitisation and digital technology is very crucial in overcoming such disruptions. “The Government of India has been encouraging digitisation in a very accelerated manner. The Digital India programme provides access to citizens from any part of the country through smartphones or affordable devices which is crucial.
Direct Benefit Transfer that helps government to deliver essential social services to citizens needs innovation that goes beyond typical area of banking, insurance and financial services. Digitisation is helping our artisans in these tough times of Pandemic. Most weavers are using internet to fabricate the finest forms of fabrics for their customers from any part of the world. Thus, innovation and incorporation of digital weaving are helping more than 3 million weavers in the sector which adds value to their creativity. This makes digitisation crucial for any sector.”
Sh. Ramadorai cited an example of a disruptive innovation that helped humanity by large. “One such disruptive innovation is the Jaipur Foot, that enabled a large number of amputees to stand on their own legs”, he added.
The speaker noted that this Pandemic has made the country learn about various issues. “India is already into manufacturing indigenous PPE, ventilators, masks and other medical equipment essential to fight against COVID 19. In fact, the adversity of the pandemic has called for action in a positive way to address the challenges.”
Underlining the importance of digitisation in Health sector, he said: “When it comes to public health initiatives by the government, a new paradigm for infrastructure, geographical distribution of providers, and care giving are beginning to take shape. Besides operational excellence, we need to focus on emergence of new opportunities, diversification, medical devices, automation in primary health centres, ability to gather data in real time basis and getting into predictive analytics so that we are well prepared with the human capital as well as infrastructure capabilities to face the next pandemic”.
Digitisation can be a big boost to Fine arts and Culture too. There are many premier institutions in the country that are teaching performing arts. Digitisation will give a great opportunity for the institutions to to share our rich archives for the benefit of global usage. It can also benefit artists, dancers etc. in transmission of art, culture and heritage to the global audience. Digital medium can be a good platform for transmission of crucial messages to create social awareness be it hygiene, education or gender parity.
There are certain areas which need physical as well as digital solution models in order to overcome the crisis. Access to water, health, hygiene and education needs to be addressed in an accelerated manner with the help of technology. Digitisation cannot act as a replacement here and hence a requirement for a physical + digital model is essential, said Shri Ramadorai.
Shri Ramadorai observed that the Pandemic has erased the boundaries within humanity. “The rich v/s poor divide has almost disappeared from the pandemic point of view. COVID19 can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime. We have to accept the fact that community becomes the centre of everything; the planet and the nature is crucial. Hence diversity has to be accepted as a way of life and as a medium”, he added. We need to work towards a borderless world. Our ecosystem has to be rethought and reengineered connecting human and nature.
He underlined the need for an inter-disciplinary culture, technology incorporation in all our thinking and collaboration in the most intense manner irrespective of our strata in the society to protect the planet, environment and ourselves.