NEW DELHI: Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji on Thursday stressed the need to ensure that Internet services are “equitable” and local language content is made available so that “digital divide” is not created.

Speaking at the India Economic Summit, Premji spoke of the fast pace at which Indians had embraced the Internet and were using the web for services like entertainment, making financial transactions and education.

“…I’m not too worried about the pace at which this adoption happens…I’m very optimistic. What I worry about is that it is equitable… We need to make sure that we do not leave people behind in this revolution of change,” he said.

Premji explained that one area of focus should be on making content available in local languages, apart from movies and audio.

“…a 100-200 million people speak English, we still have a billion people who don’t. So how do you ensure that they do not get left behind. So the equity of it, I think is tremendously important and we should not create another divide through this when we have the chance to address it up front,” he said.

The session also saw participation from Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani and Singapore Deputy PM Heng Swee Keat.

Nilekani, who is the architect of the Aadhaar initiative, said data of individuals can be used to offer services to improve their lives.

“…if a billion people have huge digital footprints out of their digital activity, if they can take advantage of that data, to get something like better loans or to get better healthcare, they are turned it around and put data in the hands of individuals and small businesses to get a big benefit,” he said.

He explained that an individual, like a small owner, has data (like digital transaction history) that can be used to offer him credit and improve his life.

The panel was also of the view that companies should use technology to amplify productivity, instead of being a replacement for humans.

“It is about the amplification of human capability. It is about using technology to amplify people, get their potential going. If we can use technology as amplification of human capacity as opposed to a replacement of human being, it is a far better way to do it,” Nilekani said.

Keat said beyond just edu-tech, it is also important to teach “social-emotional skills” or how to work with other people.


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