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Technology is often associated with the elite: Chandrasekharan

Connecting people: N. Chandrasekaran in conversation with Uday Kotak at NCPA on Sunday.

Connecting people: N. Chandrasekaran in conversation with Uday Kotak at NCPA on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

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Tata Sons chairman’s book aims to bridge the digital gap

Working in isolation is not possible, said Natarajan Chandrasekharan, chairman, Tata Sons, adding that his book Bridgital Nation: Solving Technology’s People Problem aims to connect lives of normal people with digital platforms for this very reason.

The book, co-authored by Mr. Chandrasekharan and Roopa Purushothaman, chief economist, Tata Sons, was launched on the last day of the 10th Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai Litfest at the National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) on Sunday evening.

The event began with a book reading session by Ms. Purushothaman, followed by a discussion between Mr. Chandrasekharan and Uday Kotak, executive vice-chairman and managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank.

Mr. Chandrasekharan spoke about technology being associated with the elite in India. “Bridgital Nation is not a nation that only caters to one sector of society, but more so to the small and budding enterprises in the rural areas as well. There is more demand in the market as compared to supply of skilled professionals. This can be noted from the fact that only 23% of qualified women in India are actually working,” he said.

The Tata Sons chairman said people in India believe knowing English is a prerequisite for digital awareness. “But that is a myth because you can see economies like China have not held back because of a language barrier. And if you go by the figures, Mandarin is spoken by a larger population all over the world,” he said.

According to Mr. Chandrasekharan, the global fear that technology is eating into jobs was irrelevant as technology has actually helped in employing many in a country like India.

Mr. Kotak, who has known Ms. Purushothaman from her days at Goldman Sachs, said if people like her and Mr. Chandrasekharan to wrote a book together, it has to be remarkable. Ms. Purushothaman is one of the pioneers due to whom the BRIC (Britain, Russia, India, China) report exists.

Mr. Kotak also cited examples of characters from the book such as Jasleen, a police officer from Punjab, who solved matrimonial issues while staying low-key, and Bhoomi, who struggles with school because her father is a vegetable vendor. “One thing that is common here…is the fact that there needs to be something that bridges the gap between all economic classes and that is only possible through technology,” he said.

Speaking of start-ups, Mr. Kotak said small and new firms do not see success because they start out with a mission but end up in a mercenary scenario, and try investing in meaningless property acquisition the minute they see some success. “India needs to build venture capital and entrepreneurs have to realise that whether it is real estate or a finance company there are two sides to an economy — cyclical and structural,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 8:59:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/technology-is-often-associated-with-the-elite-chandrasekharan/article30001808.ece

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