I am indeed delighted to be here in International Institute of Information Technology, Pune for formally dedicating this instituteof higher learning and advanced research to the nation.
Today IT and telecom are an integrated system this is the accelerator of service levels that could be extended to every citizen and multiplier of user segments sharing the knowledge products for development. I would like to congratulate the management of this institution for having established such a platform for the youth to carry out higher learning and advanced research and development in information and software technologies in the areas of societal, scientific, industrial and financial applications. The Time has come for us to use innovation in the field of ICT and aim to be competitive globally.
We have seen that growth of IT and telecommunication in India has established that the data transformed into information has a business proposition which has given a competitive advantage.I am sure by the end of this decade, entire India will have IT enabled services in the fields of human customer interaction, finance and accounting, data search and integration, e-education, tele-medicine and e-governance.

Think Different

I would like to narrate an event that took place in Rashtrapati Bhavan a few months back when I met Bill Gates, the CEO of Microsoft. While walking in the Mughal garden, we were discussing the future challenges in Information Technology including the issues related to software security. I made a point that we look for open source codes so that we can easily introduce the users built security algorithms Our discussions became difficult since our views were different.The most unfortunate thing is that India still seems to believe in proprietary solutions. Further spread of IT which is influencing the daily life of individuals would have a devastating effect on the lives of society due to any small shift in the business practice involving these proprietory solutions. It is precisely for these reasons open source software need to be built which would be cost effective for the entire society. In India, open source code software will have to come and stay in a big way for the benefit of our billion people. I2IT has to play a major role in this national mission.

Convergence of Technologies

It is very import when teaching enrich research, research is enriched by teaching. Hence, I expect this Institute and its professors and teachers to visualize a situation, that is convergence of technologies. The information technology and communication technology have already converged leading to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Now, nano-technology is knocking at our doors. It is the field of the future that will replace micro electronics and many fields with tremendous application potential in the field of medicine, electronics and material science. When nano technology and ICT meet, an integrated silicon electronics, photonics is born and it can be said that material convergence will happen. When communication technology integrated silicon electronics, photonics and sensors converges, we find radio chip and intelligent roaming. When biological science added with radiology, super humans will emerge. That means knowledge powered human beings. There will be nothing like an exclusive subject like bio technology, information technology or robotics science, in future. They all try to converge. Better this Institute is aware of the trends of the future so that we prepare the students and the research areas in the most useful and profitable way.

Knowledge powered PURA (Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas)

Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) is another example for creating rural wealth and prosperity. The model envisages a habitat designed to improve the quality of life in rural places and makes special suggestions to remove urban congestion also. Naturally our most demanding urban problem is that of congestion removal and efficient supply of water and effective waste disposal in every locality are the paramount civic needs. There is a minimum size below which a habitat is not viable and not competitive with the existing congested city. At the same time, the existing congested city is not economical compared to a new town once a minimum size of expansion is crossed. As against a conventional city say, rectangular in shape and measuring approximately 10 km by 6 km, the model considers an annular ring-shaped town integrating minimum 8 to 10 villages of the same 60 km2 area. This model provides easy access to villages, saves transportation time and cuts costs substantially and is more convenient for general public. Knowledge powered rural development is an essential need for transforming India into a knowledge power and high bandwidth rural connectivity is the minimum requirement to take education, health care and economic activities to the rural areas. Knowledge society leading to knowledge super power can prosper and survive only in the environment of economic security and internal security. Physical connectivity by providing roads, electronic connectivity by providing reliable communication network and knowledge connectivity by establishing professional institutions and vocational training centers will have to be done in an integrated way so that economic connectivity will emanate. Such Model of establishing a circular connectivity among the rural village complexes will accelerate rural development process by empowerment.

Technology for disabled

I was recently in Kolkata interacting with 9000 children at the Netaji Indoor Stadium. One boy suffering from visual impairment asked me, ‘Sir, what kind of education facilities are provided in the Knowledge Society, for visually handicapped children like me?’ There are many like him. Let me share one thought with you. I had met many physically and mentally challenged children at Rashtrapati Bhavan and also during my visits to various States. My belief all along was reconfirmed that these children like all others have an equal urge to pursue their studies and work. We have to provide solutions to their problems with the aid of Information Technology, by developing audio books, talking websites, voice assistive interfaces and other devices.

The Indian Software Industry

Today the software industry in India is nearly 10 billion dollars strong, with a flat domestic market of 2 billion dollars contributing 16% of nation’s exports. While in the two decades we should aim at the Nation’s GDP to be doubled, the software industry’s contribution is expected to increase at least 10 folds. Software and Hardware industries will becomes a formidable component of the nation’s wealth.

After the September 11th incident, the Industry went through difficulties. Though it must be said in defence of our great visionaries in the Indian IT field that India did not feel the effect as much as other developed nations, many Indian companies did shut down and many young went jobless – albeit temporarily. The basic lesson that we have learnt in the post September 11 era, is that ‘our software industry has to be made more robust and less fragile, if we are going to make it the most significant contributor to our economy’. Tremendous market potential that is available in our country in the area of tele-education, tele-medicine, infotainment, e- governance etc., need to be given business. If IT touches every one of the billion Indian people, the IT market will become phenomenally large. This will ensure absolute robustness. But, today the growing domestic market has been left mainly to the government. Indian IT Industries have to evolve a long term strategy for thoughtful investments and grow the domestic market without solely depending on the Government. This, in the long run will show that one can do IT business with social benefits and still make an economic sense. In addition, our market base can be expanded actively to include Europe, China, Korea, Japan and many other developing countries.

Competitiveness of Indian IT industries

I believe the Governments, Industry and the academia can take this issue of increasing the domestic IT segment through strong and sustainable use of IT for Education and Health care by bringing out a roadmap. Let us our IT industry and economic growth employing 500,000 people earning $10 billion which is less than one percent of the world market, from another perspective. At the same time a typical international software company with 50,000 employees earns $ 20 billion through its world wide operations.
Based on the current trend, if we have to reach $ 80 Billion we will have to multiply our workforce 8 times which may not make our operations competitive. Hence our software industry has to move up the value chain and come up with innovative products that will sweep the world. I am confident that the Indian Industry would soon come up with such mega initiatives. A country which has seen what is networking of talents to make more than 20,000 man year projects in satellites, fighter aircraft, launch vehicles, atomic energy and missiles, can certainly think of networking of talents in our industry, research laboratories and the academia. This will ensure emergence of many Indian Multinationals that would bring per capita revenues almost ten times higher than what we do today. Today, our IT Industry is proud that 260 out of the Fortune 500 companies are its clients- When we march towards a Developed India, I would like the IT Industry to lead the march by proclaiming that ‘260 of the Fortune 500 companies are Indian MNCs’. This is my dream.

Indian Hardware Industry

While we see the growth of the software Industry, one cannot forget that this has also come with investments on hardware of foreign origin like about 1.88 million PCs, over 2 Lakh hubs etc. The rapid penetration of Cell phones and the possible standardization of ‘Citizen Smart Card’ shows that, by proper planning, the country would find emerging opportunities in the hardware industry.
A mission has to be initiated for bringing out a national citizen card for multiple use such as voter ID card, bank operations card, ration card. The Mission of national citizen card / smart card has to be an integrated approach of multiple departments and industries. I understand that technological requirements for such a card is within our capabilities and capacity. I would urge Indian electronics majors to form consortium with local chip manufacturers to rise up to this emerging market.

My belief is that relying only on SW, may not be the best strategy for the future. India should emerge as not only a ‘Software Industry’ but an ‘ICT Industry’ with equal strength in SW, HW, embedded systems design, integration, and total end to end solutions. The Institute has great responsibility in research and development. With these remarks, Friends I have great pleasure in dedicating this International Institute of Information Technology to the nation.

Conclusion

Information Technology and knowledge workers have got a tremendous responsibility to contribute in the areas of tele-medicine, tele-education and e-governance for rural areas apart from their business role. PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Area) has to be a business proposition economically viable and managed by entrepreneurs and small scale industrialists with government participation, as it involves education, health, power generation, transport and management. IT would become a potent tool in integrating the nation. The remote localities that are now feeling a sense of neglect will no longer feel so. Time and distance will be condensed to bring about a nation that is efficient, competitive and dynamic.
One of the ingredient for the country to become a developed country is that its languages must also be developed in a digital era. That means we must have search engines, word processing tools, optical character recognizers. Speech recognizers, automatic summarizers, and machine translators. I am aware about the complexities of the problem. I suggest that I2IT Pune need to contribute in the development of Language Technologies particularly Indian Languages.

Knowledge Management, Information extraction and retrieval pertaining to English and Indian languages have to be developed in an integrated way. Civilisation that does not have the knowledge of technology or the technological nations without experience of civilization, cannot innovate newer economy. India has a rich civilization and post independent India has focused itself as a technology leader in Space, Defence, Agriculture and certain areas of Industry. With IT and telecom emerging as core competence of the nation, transforming India into a knowledge society, I see the developed India is possible with an envisaged time frame.

My best wishes to the Information and Communication Technology Community and greetings to all the members of I2IT Pune.