Big push to make Kerala digital-ready

Who’s who of knowledge industry to attend IT summit

Updated - March 21, 2018 07:31 am IST

Published - March 20, 2018 07:42 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/KOCHI

 Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The State government is making an ambitious bid to to ride the digital wave with ‘#Future’, which would see harbingers of the knowledge society of tomorrow converge in Kochi and interact over two days beginning Thursday.

The summit comes at a time when the State finds itself on the cusp of transformation, thanks to its excellent digital connectivity and impressive track record in education. The State’s participation in the old economy was marginal. The State economy remains hoisted primarily on two stilts, both subject to periodic vulnerabilities: export of human resources and cash crops. The first has seen somewhat of a movement up the global value chain, thanks to the big strides that the State has made in education, but the latter is struggling for survival under a federal policy framework that has been largely unfavourable to its growth in the recent past. The digital surge is thus being seen as the next big opportunity for the State to forge ahead.

Among the speakers at the summit are the who’s who of the knowledge industry and new economy entrepreneurship, many with strong links with India and Kerala. They include Raghuram Rajan, former RBI Governor; Nandan Nilekani, co-founder, Infosys; Joseph Sirosh, Head, Artificial Intelligence, Microsoft; Dino John Parel, Global CIO, Dover Corporation; Harish Krishnan, MD, Public Affairs and Strategic Engagements, Cisco Corporation; Arun Kumar, Chairman and CEO, KPMG India; R. Chandrasekhar, President, NASSCOM; Christopher Mueller, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Emirates Group; Kamal Bali, MD, Volvo India; Natesh Manikoth, Chief Data Officer, Federal Aviation Administration, USA; Alok Ohrie, President and MD, India, Dell EMC; Anuradha Acharya, Founder and CEO, Mapmygenome; and Ajith J. Thomas, Professor, Harvard Medical School. The conference, which is expected to have some 2,000 participants, would address key spheres such as travel and transportation, data, health and sustainability, education and skills, banking, finance and retail and the large question of technology disruption and inclusion,

Explaining the rationale of the summit the other day, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that it would be an event like the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) that is repeated every year to keep track of the disruptive changes happening in the sphere of technologies. The summit is being organised as recommended by the High Power IT Committee (HPIC) constituted by the LDF government with Infosys co-founder S.D. Shibulal as its chairman. “This not a conference on information technology as such, but about our goal to transform Kerala into a digital society through the adoption and integration of Information and Communication Technologies at home, work, education and recreation,” says Mr. Shibulal, who is in the driver’s seat of the summit organising committee along with V.K. Mathews, executive chairman, IBS Group, and M. Sivasankar, secretary, IT.

“The purpose of this summit is to inspire and energise Keralites towards a knowledge-driven digital future and prepare them to seize the emerging opportunities. We really want to inspire our citizens towards a digital future because the world we live in is a product of our thinking. We want to influence that thinking and motivate professionals of Kerala origin to join hands to realise the State’s digital vision, giving insights to IT companies on the emerging digital trends and how to compete in a digital world, preparing individuals to seize the emerging opportunities,” says Mr. Mathews, pointing out that the ‘# Future’ is predominantly driven by the industry with the active support of the government.

The digital summit, Ms. Sivasankar says, primarily aims at connecting the diaspora as a material construction of Kerala’s global digital footprint to fast forward innovation and development in futuristic technologies with the objective of establishing a knowledge-powered digital society through the application of digital technologies in areas of digital citizenship, digital lifestyle and digital commerce. “These attempts that we make cannot work in isolation and this needs the advice, assistance and acceptance of the larger tech community, especially those of who are or are willing to work with us. We have reached out to technology leaders across the world, specifically those who are from this part of the world,” he adds.

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