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View from India: Disruption and the entrepreneurial spirit, essential for economic growth

The Indian IT industry is already at the cusp of disruption and all that is required is entrepreneurial spirit to give it that final impetus - understandably so, because entrepreneurship is the lifeline of economic growth. Given the right fillip, fledgling startups can morph into powerful multinationals.

The 5th Edition of the CII Yi (‘Yi’ stands for Young Indians) National Entrepreneurship Summit 2017, held in Bangalore over the weekend, carries the promise of encouragement as multinationals, startups and students came together to network, expound new disruptive ideas and align these ideas in the right direction.

Such initiatives help build an entrepreneurial community that can transform India into an economic powerhouse. “Young Indians with a tagline ‘We Can, We Will’ is part of CII. Yi is a non-government, not-for-profit, industry-led and industry-managed organisation playing a proactive role in India’s development process. It has been envisioned to harness the power of youth and channel their efforts towards building an Inclusive India,” said Mr. Ajith Mathew George, director of technology at Sysfore Technologies Pvt. Ltd, addressing the gathering.

The slogan ‘Disrupt.in [sic] Challenging Tradition, transforming world,’ is appropriate because disruption is to do with the manner in which business is being done. A certain degree of disruption is required for something constructive to emerge from it. A video message from Mr Rajeev Chandrashekar, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, and a serial entrepreneur gave thumbs up to the idea. “The fundamental disruptor is the Internet and its technology that has brought a huge sweeping change for innovation. Technology has created a level playing field. Both the Internet and technology are responsible for creating responsible transparent governance,” he said.

Agreeably, the Government of Karnataka (GoK) is a forerunner in many ways thanks to several tech-centric disruptions that have happened over the years. “The Government of Karnataka symbolizes governance for disruption, which is envisioned as disruptive policies required for a better Karnataka and conducive for change. This has resulted in a robust digital ecosystem due to which Bangalore has become one of the world’s fastest-growing cities,” added Mr Priyank Kharge, Minister IT, Government of Karnataka.

A case in point is the IT policy which was launched way back in 1999. Since then, many of the government services have been digitised. Some of the popular examples include e-tenders in land and subsequent e-procurement which has brought about a fair share of transparency in the system, as well as improving the participation of the private sector in public services. Sakala, launched in 2012, has turned out to be one of the most disruptive online citizen service delivery systems. Over 800 public services are now available online, including birth-death certificates. 

GoK has put new dots on the startup map of India with a basket of offerings to turn fresh innovative ideas into commercially viable models through strategic investment and policy interventions. “We have created a start-up ecosystem in Karnataka through our StartUp Policy, due to which Bangalore is home to over 7,200 startups. We also have an annual fund for supporting new projects by providing a sum of Rs3 lakh per project. Over 180 student groups have already been funded,” explained Mr Kharge. In order to stay ahead of the commodity curve, the state aims to create six lakh direct and 12 lakh indirect new employments in this sector. Karnataka is on the right track and has stepped on to the innovation threshold. Over the last five months, around 2,300 start-ups have begun to look at Karnataka as a destination for pursuing their startups.

Aside from this promising start-up scene, the Summit had other highlights. For instance, night-vision technology in Indian defence is an important yet niche segment. It requires far-sightedness to figure out this segment within the Indian defence sector and align oneself towards that requirement. Arvind Lakshmikumar has managed to do exactly that, due to his domain expertise in the US where he worked in various international military programmes before returning to India.

Lakshmikumar’s Bangalore-based company specialises in night-vision technology devices that are used by the Indian Army. “The electronics that goes into the smartphone is more powerful than what goes into a 155mm Howitzer gun. We decided to leverage this ecosystem and built solutions for the market. As a result, we didn’t have to set up large manufacturing facilities,” Lakshmikumar explained.

An assortment of other young start-ups showcased their work at the event. Foodly Nutrilive India Private Limited, headquartered in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, stood out for many reasons. Foodly has a pulse on children’s food. The company has hit upon the idea of supplying nutritional food to schools in Coimbatore. With a nutritionist on board, Foodly offers millet-based snacks to students. H Vijay Raj, a commerce graduate and a part of the Entrepreneurship cell in College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore is credited for floating this venture. Foodly which began in 2016 supplies snacks to four schools and intends to reach out to 150 schools in the next two years.   

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