I was traveling through India during the very week that the Indian Space Research Organization (and my former IIT classmate) launched 104 satellites in a single launch!
This is clearly unprecedented and a world record. However, the significance of this event is not the technical achievement – for an organization that successfully launched a low-cost Mars probe in the first shot, for the first time ever. The real story is that India is open for business, and is not planning to make incremental steps towards its future but rather slingshot its way to the cutting edge. The single launch of 104 satellites is probably the lowest launch cost per satellite ever, and about a 100 of those satellites were for foreign clients.
I spoke about electronics manufacturing and the LED Lighting ecosystem at the One Globe Conference (http://www.oneglobeforum.com). Later, with my design partners we conducted a Design Thinking Workshop for some of the attendees. “Thinking by doing” to create solutions for urban cyclists, was a sample challenge. The refrain at the conference and the workshop was consistent; how should India leapfrog its way forward, improve the quality of life and create a billion manufacturing jobs in 5 years? The prevailing consensus was the use of technology to solve problems, digitize services and governance, and launch manufacturing jobs on a massive scale. Recent events have demonstrated that where there is a will it can be done – even on India’s scale.
A key direction, that I have been an advocate of and getting increasingly involved in is the manufacture of LED lighting technologies, IoT and smart city infrastructure. My emphasis is on high value solutions, value added services and system integration rather than core components (that may be of strategic value of course) but are largely commoditized. This position has received a receptive ear both in public sector discussions as well as at a major private conglomerate which is seeking technology partners.
For a country in a hurry, the question is how to scale rapidly and bring in new technologies and capabilities at the blistering pace sought by the leadership? The answer inevitably is through collaborations and joint ventures, and co-investment. My first-hand impression is that the political and administrative leadership is able, willing, and determined to encourage overseas companies and investors to establish a presence in India. With the right guidance, there is a vast untapped opportunity to create winx scenarios for technology companies and investors. India is open for business.
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