Sam Pitroda, Chairman, National Innovation Council, Advisor to Prime Minister of India on Public Information, Infrastructure & Innovations wished India America Today, “Good luck! You should do it. Good luck to you!”
Speaking to Tejinder Singh in a candid interview, Pitroda agreed that there is not enough coverage on trade and commerce. Calling the launch of India America Today a “good idea,” Pitroda said, “We need more of it and am glad that you are taking the initiative.”
Born in a remote Odisha village in 1942, Satyanarayan Gangaram (Sam) Pitroda, the man who heralded India’s communication revolution, shared the secret of his success as, “Keep doing what you are supposed to do, keep doing it with great deal of love and affection and people have been very generous.”
On his input into revolutionizing Indian Railways systems, Pitroda said, “On railways, all we did it was to put together a report on modernization of railways at the request of the minister.”
“The report is still to be implemented so our piece was a small piece,” added Pitroda.
Pitroda said that there are “very big” differences in social innovation in the US and in India, reasoning, “because our social innovation in India has to be affordable and sustainable. If it’s not affordable, large number of people at the bottom of pyramid can’t visit.”
“Majority of people in India for example can’t have quadruple bypass for 50,000 dollars — we need it for 1000 dollars – 2000 dollars so everything we do, first have to look at the cost structure. Affordability is the key to scale in India, If its not affordable, its not scaleable.”
With Indian political parties railing against the web content and demanding censorship, Pitroda said, “There is concern, it is not a political gimmick. Lots of people have concerns that responsible material does not come on the internet so the logic today is how do we get people incentivized to respond and start censoring.”
Citing a group of people asking for controls while another group of people saying let individuals learn to censor properly, Pitroda said, “I think that conversation has just started but I don’t think you can control it personally.”
On his personal recommendation on how to handle the issue, Pitroda told India America Today, “I don’t have a recommendation. All I am saying is give it some time. Don’t jump into it.”
Remembering his birth place, a “small little tribal village,” in Odisha, Pitroda outlined the vision for India saying, “We are a nation of connected billion and it happened in last 20 years with telecom infrastructure all set and now we need to go to the next stage.” Raising the question, “How do we use telecom connectivity to improve productivity, efficiency, education, health?” Pitroda said, “Earlier it was just about telephone calls — now it’s about broadband.”
Listing the challenges as, “How do we create business models and how do we use IT,” Pitroda said, “I think we need lot of innovation — new ways of doing things — new mind set — that’s the biggest challenge for us.”
On the issue of optimum marriage of cooperation between India and the United States, Pitroda said, “US has the technology, US has talent, US has investments but India has the market, India has the need.”
“US is at a point of development where the majority has set in — so I don’t expect in US 10% growth — its only going to come from young in India,” said Pitroda.
Putting it as a win-win situation for both democracies, Pitroda said, “Indian market, US technology, talent and all there is a better way to combine this so India benefits and the US also benefits.”
Pitroda concluded on a very happy encouraging note for India America Today saying, “We need more of it and am glad that you are taking the initiative. Good luck to you and in any way I can be of help, definitely.”