Broadly, one area where I am quite active, along with my wife, is EkStep (a learner-centric, technology-enabled platform designed to improve applied literacy and numeracy). I feel it's strategically quite important and if it succeeds, can have a huge impact on literacy.
Mubble is very specific to data. The big theme is when 500 million Indians will be coming on to smartphones --they will be very conscious of their data and how it's being used. Mubble looks at that usage and helps consumers be efficient in the way they use data.
It's a very small part of my portfolio. It is only to encourage entrepreneurs who are thinking, innovating on new solutions that are unique to India. I am broadly looking at how technology can be used to make India (from) unorganised to organised. If you look at Western industrialisation, they went from small farms to big farms, from locksmiths to factories, and from small retailers to Wal-Mart and Tesco. So, you have to physically organise these into large companies to get the benefits of industrialisation.
There was obviously some amount of concerns. But, I think once they saw the value, they pushed it. That's the strength of the idea. It not only continued but was further accelerated. That shows it was an idea beyond politics. Aadhaar is a critical element of this government's strategy. Now, 920 million people have Aadhaar, which will touch a billion in a few months. What is interesting is that the big part of the )present central government's) Digital India programme is Aadhaar-based.
When you create a new technology which has lots of potential, a big part of it is to evangelise its value. People have to be evangelised.
Privacy is a bogus argument. Aadhaar has been designed for privacy; everything encrypted, everything secure. The database has been federated because the Aadhaar system does not know the banking system. Its data is not shared. The biometric data is not shared. Someone worried about privacy has to worry about a lot of other things. We have all these activists who are talking about privacy and they have a smartphone in their hand and their data is sent to Cupertino (Apple Inc headquarters) or Menlo Park (Facebook headquarters) or something. It's complete hypocrisy.
My purpose of doing the WhatsApp moment in Indian financial services is multifold. One was to tell incumbents that this is coming, it's going to happen. There are just too many things happening - technology changes, regulatory change, government push, Jan-Dhan, Aadhaar. You'd better think about the implications for your strategy. One, to galvanise the incumbent banks, both private and publi, to wake up to this reality. Second, to tell the new class of players - payments, small banks, banks set up by telcos, set up by the Paytms of the world - the opportunity is bigger than what you thought. This is the game. It's your chance.
I am not talking about the organs of the system. Obviously, those are great institutions -- Constitution, judiciary. We are talking about the underlying machinery that implements your policy into action; that's where the challenge is. I am redesigning that. A part of the book is about the stuff we did at UIDAI -- Aadhaar, e-KYC, authentication, subsidy reforms, direct payments, cash transfers, GST, electronics tolling. A part of the book is about the future; how such thinking can be brought into health care, education, the power sector and improving the speed of judicial system; how do you change the network design.
India should have intellectual infrastructure for the 21st century. We need more universities, more think-tanks. Otherwise, how are you going to have 100 smart cities?How are you going to fix agriculture, pollution, etc? This requires thinking. The US did that. If you think of the 20th century as the American century, it was not only because of their economic prowess. It was also because they laid the intellectual infrastructure with great institutions like Brookings, Carnegie, CDC, CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies), MIT, Princeton, etc. And, intellectual and research capacities in the universities and think-tanks provided the intellectual base for that development and growth.
I think they are waking up to the requirement, though it has not happened yet. For example, we want to make IIHS (Indian Institute for Human Settlements) a world-class university but it's not that easy. I think once the government realises, which I think will happen, that sector will open up. Personally, I feel that really top-class foreign universities won't come here, as they are concerned about their brands. So, what is more important is to allow Indian philanthropists who want to create world-class Indian universities over the next few years, so that it can absorb some of the people who want education.
Right from the beginning, one of the founding principles was that after the founders, the leadership would transition to a professional one. And, it would be a company run by the best leader, based on meritocracy. I think we are very fortunate that transition has happened and Vishal (Sikka) and his dynamic team are in charge. That's the right thing for the company.
I think so. He (Sikka) is bringing in very dynamic thinking. He is taking Infosys to the next phase of journey, with design thinking and all that. We are very happy with his leadership.
My wife, Rohini, along with Azim Premji, is the anchor donor to the trust. It's a philanthropic initiative. She has donated some Rs 30 crore to set up a trust which will fund independent, public spirited media. That trust will make the decision.