Mr. MJ Akbar, MoS, Ministry of External Affairs, brainstorms with iSPIRT.
Mr. MJ Akbar is the Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs and a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha. An author of several best-selling books, and a veteran Indian journalist who launched newspapers like The Telegraph, The Asian Age and magazines like The Sunday. Mr. MJ Akbar, met up with iSPIRT, in Bangalore to understand the plethora of Technological Breakthroughs that iSPIRT is facilitating to empower more than a billion Indian citizens, by deploying technology in the service of humanity. Mr. MJ Akbar has also agreed to co-create an era of Innovation Diplomacy, by using Software as India’s Soft Power. He provided some very useful advice by participating in interactive sessions for close to 2.5 hours.
On Saturday, at ITC Gardenia, in Bangalore, Mr. MJ Akbar, along with Mr. Bala, Jt Secy, and his team, consulted and deliberated extensively, on opportunities that can be Game Changers for Innovation Diplomacy. iSPIRT with its team of Volunteers which included Sharad Sharma, Sanjay Anandaram, Sanjay Jain etc, along with several innovative startups, presented various breakthrough solutions that are helping India leapfrog the West.
Below are some of the key highlights of the Learning Session.
iSPIRT Show-case – INDIA Going from Software Services To Software Products & Platforms.
The session started with a presentation by Sharad Sharma on how India is transforming itself to Software Products and Platforms. He explained how iSPIRT with IndiaStack is helping new-age startups to build platforms which will drive formalization of the Indian economy. This will materially enable Financial Inclusion, Health Inclusion and provide access to more than 200 million households, by digitization and democratization of essential services, and in-turn will create millions of jobs.
Mr. Akbar’s feedback on this session was that we should highlight stories and narratives which resonate with the aspirational identities of people. Like how did India manage to reach MARS? This was an interesting segway, to then have about 8 startups including Team Indus present their stories. Team Indus, is planning to be the 1st private organization in the World, to land a rover on the moon in Dec 2017.
The remaining 7 teams which presented their stories included companies like Pratco, Foradian, Forus, Indian Money, Knolskape, Hashnode, Niramai. Covering Healthcare, Education, Finance, Technology and Medical Devices, these Startups showed how they are helping millions of Indians not only in Tier 1, but in Tier 2 and Tier 3 India, leverage technology, and avail critical services at a fraction of the Global Cost. It affirmed that yes, while America innovated for the 1st One Billion, India can innovate for the next 5 Billion.
The last session, was by Sanjay Anandaram, who made an intense pitch, for using Software as an Instrument of India’s Soft-Power. India needed to leverage its highly credible and respected brand in global IT to use effectively for political-economic leverage. The 3 pillars for this could be (a) “Digital Non-Alignment” ie advocating Net-Neutrality, (b) “Governance for Hire” ie offering the India Stack to countries in Asia and Africa for running of their programmes and (c) Software as an integral part of bilateral and regional trade deals. Software was an area where India can outmaneuver China in Innovation Diplomacy. India has the requisite legitimate & moral authority to make software a key instrument of its foreign policy to achieve its political-economic goals compared to any other nation.
Insights and Advice from Mr. MJ Akbar
Mr. Akbar was impressed by the Innovation Diplomacy agenda and commented that India would make an orbital shift in the Arab, West Asian and African region with its Knowledge Capital and Strategic Advocacy of Shared Prosperity. He advised that some of the Startup stories of India should be used to co-create external affairs initiatives of the Govt. of INDIA. He gave several golden nuggets of advice, like Value of Knowledge increases only when it is given away for free. Hence a partnership towards Shared Prosperity in the Knowledge economy is vital. Listed below are 5 important pieces of advice given by Mr. MJ Akbar
- Empires are not built by Armies, (giving the Genghis khan example), they are built by Technology, Skills and Communication.
- Why does a country like India, which had such sophisticated science & architecture like Step Wells (Bawadi) even in the 10th century, keep getting defeated?
- We need to showcase to the World, with good statistics, what we represent in terms of Technology and Communication.
- We need to highlight to the World that the Frontiers for the Future Lies with INDIA.
Knowledge Economy should connect emotionally with the Global audience to realize Shared Prosperity.
Mr. MJ Akbar set in motion a few immediate co-creation steps to learn how Innovation Diplomacy can become the bedrock of India’s External Affairs. Being a veteran journalist, he definitely had more powerful narratives to showcase Software as India’s Soft Power. As usual, iSPIRT on its part is fostering and facilitating many such learning sessions to co-create with our Law Makers, and nudge our Policy Makers to help the Software ecosystem. Let us all align our collective vigor to catalyze the effort of building India’s Software Strength to be its Global Soft-Power.