Of late, the startup culture in India is displaying an aggressive growth. In fact, Nasscom forecasts that if the pace at which the industry is augmenting continues, the country will serve as a home to more than 11,500 tech/digital startups by the end of 2020. And now, with the launch of the ‘Digital India’ project, a new outlet, set to unleash a surge of opportunities for the ecosystem is expected to be unlocked very soon. Nevertheless, given the country’s infrastructural constraints and huge demographic divide between the urban and the rural, a sense of cynicism partially eclipses the hope.
Abhinav Choudhary, Co-Founder, Smartprix.com, is of the opinion that the Digital India Campaign is truly an ambitious plan of the government. He believes, in terms of policy we’re going in the right direction – getting the most out of our demographic dividend. Improving the knowledge economy, connecting rural to urban, increasing transparency can transform the overall system. He explains, “as the internet connectivity improves it will boost newcomers to start their ventures from any part of India. The impact of Digital India can be huge on creating new jobs, new startups even from rural areas. However only the future will tell us to what extent internet connectivity will grow as we don’t have even physical connectivity like roads in many parts of the India.”
Similarly, Saurabh Kochhar, Co-Founder and CEO, Foodpanda India and CBO comments, “Digital India is a much needed initiative for the booming eCommerce space in India. India’s talent combined with required infrastructure will accelerate our growth like never before. Further, private sector shall be able to help the government with required business models and strategies and make inroads for itself to explore new opportunities and demographics.” However, Kochhar too points out the infrastructural handicaps of the country which might pose as major deterrent on the way forward. He states, “Digital India dream will have its own set of challenges to deal with. It will be difficult to access the Internet since fibre network is not available in many remote villages. This project needs a lot of coordination and optimum utilization of infrastructure to execute the big challenge”.
Furthermore, with the country going digital, there emerges a crucial challenge which demands paramount attention i.e., privacy. And given the infrastructural deficit, it is little known how India would meet the the standard safety gauge.
“Digital India subsumes a mix of services and plans that are just right for reinvigorating the state of governance in the country”, opines Deepak Ravindran Founder & CEO, Lookup. According to him, “the programme will make it easier for the citizens to avail of the government services online, in an easy way.”
Apart from the aforestated opinions, a common point put forth by entrepreneurs on ‘Digital India’ is the concern of private and public sector synergy. Ravindran maintains that “the engagement of the private sector in national development programs has the potential to serve development ends across any and all sectors. It will support the government by providing suitable infrastructure and technology-led facilities to consumers. Besides this, there will be a good inflow of innovative ideas and modern technologies from the private sector that will give a boost to the Digital India Programme”. Likewise, Kochhar too stands for the fact that with this initiative, private sector would be able to help the government with required business models and strategies and make inroads for itself to explore new opportunities and demographics.
Overall, the responses coming from the ecosystem incline towards the positive. The common view upholds that the ‘Digital India’ initiative carries the potential of revolutionizing India into a Tech Hercules, which would thereby give a fillip to the country’s roaring startup base.