Grand Challenges-Karnataka, an initiative under the innovative Start-up Policy of the Government of Karnataka, has launched its ‘Grand Challenge Call 5 and Call 6‘, to unearth innovative solutions to reduce traffic congestion in Bengaluru City as well as tackle the perennial water shortage.

Image Source – Startup Karnataka

The cherry-picked ideas will get access to funding and go through prototyping, testing & scaling up in Bengaluru. The last date to apply for ‘Grand Challenge Call 5 and Call 6’ will be October 15th, 2017.

Anyone from any discipline in India – from individuals, researchers and faculty in colleges/ universities/government/start-ups/not-for-profit organisations, etc. can apply for the Grand Challenge by logging onto Call 5 Impact Karnataka. ‘GrandChallenge Call 5’ will focus primarily on technology innovations involving last-mile connectivity, real-time info on public transport, ease of transition from one mode of transport to the other and innovative parking solutions.

More than three-quarters of Bangloreans commuting to work each day are driving by themselves. That’s a lot of empty seats on the road – and all that traffic and congestion has a large financial, environmental, and emotional cost. With Bengaluru among the fastest growing cities in Asia, the population has rapidly increased from 53 lakh in 2001 to 87 lakh in 2011. In fact, vehicle population growth rate is even higher than population growth rate and about 5 lakh vehicles are being added to Bengaluru streets every year. Various studies have pegged the economic loss of Bengaluru’s traffic gridlock between one to five billion dollars.

Priyank Kharge, Karnataka’s IT, BT & Tourism Minister, said

When we think of the future of transport, we have a tendency to picture a world in which people fly around on personal jetpacks and cars levitating down streets. In reality, the way we get around, in the short and medium term at least, will be a little less sci-fi than that. But it will still involve some truly revolutionary changes.

The future of your commute is unlikely to lie in any one big invention. Instead it will grow out of many new innovations which can be used alongside existing technologies. They will work within the context of increasingly smart transport networks that are able to respond quickly and efficiently to our ever-changing needs. ‘Grand Challenge Call 5’ is an attempt to create a big picture from small solutions.

‘Grand Challenge Call 6’ is a rallying cry to unearth innovative solutions to aide water conservation in Karnataka. The state government launched the ‘Call 6’ to generate and utilize real-time data on quality and quantity of water being utilized at individual level including water use in agriculture for predicting a potential water crisis.

Call 6 seeks crowd-sourced solutions for data generation and development of sustainable, feasible, scalable & low maintenance kits/mobile app/technology for monitoring water quality, etc.

Priyank Kharge, Karnataka’s IT, BT & Tourism Minister, added

Water may very well be the new oil. A finite resource essential to consumer, agricultural and industrial users and a vital component our economic growth. That’s why water as an investment has some compelling long-term investment appeal.

This creates opportunity for startups, who can contribute to creating a sustainable water supply and participate in investments likely to experience long-term growth.

During the first phase, five innovators will be eligible for testing the proposed solution for funding of up to INR 10 lakh for a period of six months. They will have to develop and successfully demonstrate three functional prototypes [in case the system involves prototyping a new device] or demonstrate the solution for at least 10 users [in the case the system is a service/software/ app-based solution] in two locations in Karnataka. The period of live demonstration is part of the six months allocated to Phase I.

Phase two will see one innovator being selected for a further funding of up to INR 50 lakh for a period of 12 months to scale-up. The idea will be tested for ability to define and demonstrate the product/solution as well as evaluated on stability, robustness and scalability of the solution through a sustainable revenue model. User validation will also be determined through feedback.

‘Grand Challenges’ are a set of initiatives by the Karnataka government to turn crowd-sourced data-driven innovations to prime opportunities to contribute to effective, localized, and measurable change to the challenges facing Karnataka. In the process, startups with game-changing ideas, will get the golden opportunity to channelize innovations for social impact, and also grow their business in the process.

The support provided under ‘Grand Challenges’ will be catalytic in enabling startups to test and scale their innovations in target locations across Karnataka. The programme will not only provide funds but also work with the awardees for the duration of their project and beyond, to ensure project implementation. It will also offer the awardees collective experience of mentors, resources and network.

The selection criteria will be based on parameters including alignment with the mandate of the cell, the potential impact, feasibility, sustainability, accessibility & novelty of the idea proposed as well as the execution capacity.

For more information, please visit Grand Challenge 5 Official Page

Hundred of the most innovative Karnataka start-ups have got a license to dream as Karnataka government opened floor to the two-day grand finale of India’s first comprehensive entrepreneurship platform, ELEVATE 100 at the Lalit Ashok, Bengaluru on 29th August, 2017.

Image Source – Startup Karnataka

A brainchild of the Government of Karnataka, ELEVATE 100 programme is a combined initiative of the Start-up Cell, Karnataka Biotechnology and Information Technology Services [KBITS] Government of Karnataka. ELEVATE 100 roadshow traversed the length and breadth of the state in a rigorous hunt to pick the 100 most innovative start-ups and help them turn their ideas into successful businesses. This initiative will give them access to the Government’s INR 400 crore start-up fund as well as offer mentoring from industry experts, idea validation, advisory and legal support.

IT, BT & Tourism Minister Priyank Kharge said

The efforts of Karnataka government doesn’t stop at elevating the chosen 100. We see ELEVATE 100 as a continuing process where the best ideas from the state gets the support and guidance it deserves.

Karnataka is home to the world’s fastest growing startup ecosystem. The government is trying to nurture this ecosystem with strong policies like the IT Policy, Start-up Policy, BT Millennium Policy, ESDM Policy and the KAVGC Policy, giving the ecosystem a strong foundation to help entrepreneurs and established industries to flourish.

Delivering the welcome note, Mr. Gaurav Gupta, IAS, Principal Secretary Department IT, BT & ST, recounted the year-long journey of ‘ELEVATE 100’ roadshow, through the length & breadth of the state in search of the next big idea.

Mr. Gaurav Gupta, IAS, Principal Secretary Department IT, BT & ST added

This is just one of the many initiatives aimed at creating the largest pool of talented entrepreneurs in Karnataka. Sub segments such as AI & Robotics are already being nurtured through various Centres of Excellence. A harbinger of great things to come, the target is to create 20,000 successful start-ups by celebrating and supporting them through continuous engagement.

This was followed by a chat with Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO – Ola Cabs, hosted by KK Natarajan, Chairman, Mindtree. Attending entrepreneurs got a first-hand take of the nuts and bolts of starting up.

Bhavish Aggarwal said

The Karnataka ecosystem fosters entrepreneurship and celebrates failures. Startups here need to move forward, learnings from failures and balance passion with rationality. They need to engage with the community at large. Valuation and value creation are two different things. Capital isn’t the end, it is just the beginning of the journey.

Shruti Mishra of CNBCs Young Turks fame anchored ‘Stories of Success’ segment, where successful entrepreneurs Vikas Malpani, Co-Founder, CommonFloor and Pavithra Y. S, CMD, Vindhya Infotech, shared their experiences from the road not taken. Pavithra stressed on the need for inclusion in organisations.

Pavithra Y. S, CMD, Vindhya Infotech said

Beyond valuations, there is a larger social role that startups play. Startups expand the space for those with dreams to become job creators and ultimately contribute to the empowerment of society at large.

Manish Sharma, Co-Founder, Printo, spoke about customer validation of an idea in the early stages of product development, in a segment titled ‘Listening to the customers’. Don’t react to price early in the game; the proposition will evolve, he told the  entrepreneurs in attendance.

Ram Narayan, Member Advisory Board, Zinnov, detailed the art and science of making a product the market actually needs in the session ‘Achieving Product Market Fit’.

[L-R] Salma Fahim, MD, KBITS, Gaurav Gupta, PrSec, IT/BT Department, GOK, Bhavish Aggarwal, Co Founder, OLA Cabs, Krishnakumar Natarajan,, Chairman, Mindtree, Honble Minister Priyank Kharge

Another big draw was Peter Yorke, CEO – Yorke Communications who enthralled the audience on the art of molding traditional marketing techniques and channels to the digital age in ‘GTM Masterclass’.

While startups are all the rage and many have scalable business models with the potential to soar, not everyone gets the chance to live out their potential. This valuable lesson was a part of the session by Anjana Vivek, Founder-Director, VentureBean Consulting, who detailed the science of startup valuation, with nuggets on best practices, models and real-world examples of good and bad valuations. Jawahar Bekay of Captive Aide took a ‘Masterclass on Sales for Start-ups’ which was a lesson for startups on what sells and what doesn’t.

[L-R] Bhavish Aggarwal, Co Founder, OLA Cabs, Krishnakumar Natarajan, Chairman, Mindtree

TiE Board Member Sanjay Anandaram moderated a session on big corporates working with startups where industry captains like Nipun Mehrotra, Chief Digital Officer – IBM India & South Asia, Madhurima Agarwal – NetApp, Alok Kumar – Swiss Re, Amey Mashelkar – Gennext Fund and John Kuruvilla – Brigade Reap spoke about the rules of engagement for startups working with the big boys.

The Pitching Sessions were held in Mysuru, Kalaburagi, Mangaluru, Hubballi and Bengaluru, where 1,700 startups pitched to elevate their ideas to successful ventures. ELEVATE 100 is the largest pool of funds that has been offered by any State Government in India for startups. It also highlights the startup climate in Karnataka, which also has the distinction of being first in the country to launch a dedicated startup policy for budding entrepreneurs and a Startup Cell that provides extensive services like legal and accounting advice, mentoring, incubator options, subsidized tariffs, and seed funding, among others.

Day 2 of Elevate 100 will hold The Women Entrepreneur Summit, aimed at supporting women entrepreneurs with access to mentoring and funds earmarked for women entrepreneurs. More than 300 women entrepreneurs, mostly from Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hubballi and Kalaburagi areas of Karnataka, are expected to participate in the event.

HackerEarth is set to host a series of hackathons to commemorate the 70th year of India’s Independence. The hackfest will comprise of four hackathons, which will cover diverse themes like democracy, health, women empowerment & civic society. HackerEarth is inviting all developers to start a digital revolution by building smart and intelligent solutions for a better nation.

Image Source – Hackocrazy

Through these hackathons, HackerEarth aims to encourage the use of technology and the power of computers to bring about a social change. These hackathons are a part of the company’s CSR initiatives which focus on building innovative solutions that can strengthen democracy, empower women, and bring transparency in governance. The solutions can also help in improving health and civic facilities.

The initiative aims to bring together government bodies, NGO’s, corporates and citizens to work towards a common goal of building a more vibrant and responsive democracy, through the power of technology. These hackathons will also bring together people with diverse backgrounds and skills to unite around a common cause and promote fairness, openness, and equality.

The first hackathon in the series starts with HackoCracy [#HACK4HAQ] on 15th August 2017 and will be a 24 hour-long code fest. The hackathon has four themes:

Democracy [Political transparency] – India needs solutions that make it easier for its citizens to be heard by their representatives. The solutions should reach out to the remotest corners of the country so that the people are more that can keep people informed and there is an increased participation in elections and government affairs.

Media [Fake news and Free press] – We need tools for fact checking and helping people decipher fact from fiction. We need tools to ensure the ‘freedom of the press’ holds for those who are attempting to bring the truth to the public.

Corruption [Bring to light the corruption around you] – Solutions are required to ensure that the misdeeds are exposed promptly. It is also required to help control its spread and reach so as to completely purge the system of corruption.

Society [Create a social impact] – We need solutions that will ensure freedom from many social ills such as unemployment, homelessness, child labour, etc. These solutions should make India a better place to live in and trigger a socio-economic change.

The results of this hackathon will be announced on 30th September and the top three winners will be awarded a cash prize of INR 75,000, INR 50,000 and INR 25,00 respectively.

Vivek Prakash, CTO and Co-founder, HackerEarth said

Technology is a great balancer and can bridge the gap between the civic authorities and citizens. Through these hackathons we want to encourage developers to build solutions that can bring about a socio-economic change in the country, which is the need of the hour.  With each hackathon we would ideally like to create at least one workable solution that addresses issues which are plaguing our nation.

For more information, please visit Hackocrazy Page

State Bank of India-Collaborative Innovation Centre launched SBI National Hackathon – Code For Bank, an API Hackathon Platform for developers, start-ups and students to put their thinking caps on and come up with ideas and solutions that can change the way banking is done in India. From a technology standpoint, Bank views APIs as a set of micro-services that are individual or a combination of use cases, around which a mash-up of applications can be developed on-the-fly.

Image Source – SBI Hackathon

In the age of digital Banking, SBI is organizing this Hackathon with an objective to invite start-ups, developers and partners to collaborate, ideate and co-develop disruptive and innovative solutions spearheading Indian Banking Technology Landscape. The bank’s effort is to promote an Outcome based Technology Culture amongst Start-ups and Developers with the focus on Developing Cutting Edge Solution for Bank in an agile manner. This will put in focus the Business Value driven by Technologies like Predictive Analytics, Fin-Tech/Blockchain, Digital Payments, IOT, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, BOTS and Robotic Process Automation.

In the phase-1, participants can register their idea during 20th – 29th May 2017 followed by Hackathon which will start from 6th June 2017 and ends on 20th June 2017.  The initiative will allow participants comprising a team of maximum five people to develop applications or solutions using only SBI APIs, only external APIs and a combination of SBI APIs and External APIs.

SBI keeps innovation on priority and CODE FOR BANK 2017 [C4B 2017] is bank’s biggest step in launching this platform for start-ups and developers in India. The initiative will a part of APIfication Strategy and Transformation which is developed by SBI Collaborative Innovation Centre to create a Boundary less and collaborative development ecosystem which is Technology Agnostic, Agile and completely Digital.

Today all Emerging technology is becoming API based, Fintech is Disruptive, RegTech for Banks is gaining and everything is on Mobile. Banks have to respond to VUCA world [Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous] and local themes like Demonetization, Financial Inclusion, Digital Payments, etc.

C4B 2017 will help drive both External and Internal Innovation. Developers can quickly get an Application Ecosystem View, learn the Bank Technology DNA and start developing solutions using the APIs available on the platform.

For more information, please visit SBI Code For Bank

Unisys have announced the winners of the eighth Unisys Cloud 20/20, one of India’s largest annual technical project contests. The contest is designed to foster innovation among students and create a talent pipeline for Unisys and the IT industry at large.

In this year’s contest, the project titled Fin Assistant by Arpan Kumar Mishra, Datla Manish Varma, Nabil Silva and Sailesh Sriram from Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, won the first prize [Rs. 2,00,000 cash]. Nagashree T S, Nikitha Chowta and Sandhya S from Mangalore Institute of Technology & Engineering, Mangalore, took the second prize [Rs. 1,25,000 cash]for their project titled CO-DI-RA Messenger. This year, the third prize has been awarded to two teams [Rs. 1,00,000 each]; Shyam Suganth J, Hariharsudan S, Subash M and Thamarai Selvan S, of Sri Manakula Vinayagar Engineering College, Puducherry, for their project Envirinsta and Vinaydeep Kaur, Akriti Tyagi, M Kritika and Pratima Kumari from Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, for their project Crowd Sourcing Based Android Application for Structural Health Monitoring and Data Analytics of Roads Using Cloud Computing.

Winners of the Cloud 20/20 contest

Unisys project leads and subject matter experts supported the student contestants. This year’s topics included Internet of Things, data analytics, cloud-based applications and services, cloud security, computing everywhere, context-rich systems, cloud security, DevOps and potential future technologies.

The 2017 Cloud 20/20 contest drew 828 team registrations and 317 project submissions from colleges across India. In addition to the cash prize, Unisys will also offer the finalists internship and job opportunities, subject to winners’ eligibility and open positions within the company.

The finalist’s project details of the 2017 Cloud 20/20 contest are below

Ravikumar Sreedharan, MD, Unisys India and head, Global Delivery Network, Unisys said

As the IT industry moves toward automation, only those with strong skills in emerging technologies will make the cut in the job market. This increased competition is driving great changes to the talent requirements at the entry level. Given that new reality, the Cloud 20/20 contest plays an important role in encouraging student interest in new technologies and innovation.

Over the last eight years, Cloud 20/20 has attracted more than 22,000 team entries and generated cash awards, internships and full-time positions for many participants.

Tarek El-Sadany, senior vice president, Technology, and chief technology officer, Unisys said

Acquiring talent in social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies will be key to driving digital transformation for enterprises in India and around the globe. Through initiatives like Cloud 20/20, Unisys is proud to team with institutions of higher education to enrich the learning environment for future leaders in digital technology.

For further information on Cloud 20/20, please log on here or here.

The National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj [NIRDPR] launched India’s First focused ‘Rural Innovators Startup Conclave’ [RISC2017] at NIRDPR, Hyderabad. The focus of the two day event was to build capacities and promote fresh talent by giving them a platform to display their innovations, encourage greater learning, and strengthen the cadre of young rural innovators and start-ups.

Highlights [Day – 1, 23/03]

Indian start-ups are mostly IT based and cater to urban services. Innovation and Technology Diffusion for ‘rural development’ is the need of the hour. Other important stakeholders who act as support systems to rural innovators are still evolving. There is a need to develop and nurture mentors, angel investors, faculty, corporates, media so that they play a much more active role in contributing to the ecosystem.

The Chief Guest for the event, Honourable Minister of State for Science, Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri YS Chowdary noted

I am immensely happy to be associated with RISC2017, an initiative very close to my heart. Rural development is an important subject and higher dividends from the rural youth are still at large. This kind of an initiative which focuses on rural urbanisation requires synchronisation modern day development concepts. Since our country is agrarian based we have to take a quantum leap to help farmers improve their income level and reduce cost of living. I believe NIRD&PR can play a major role in capacity building-help farmers get educated in fundamental financial literacy and cost accountancy.

We have been talking about globalisation in last 2 decades-we have a lot of potential to tap rural markets. There is need to focus on particular areas in particular technologies for particular people and see that they are saturated. The Govt of India should ensure that a number of initiatives are started by properly coordinating with colleges institutions and state govts. I assure the full support of my ministry to NIRD&PR, besides lobbying with other relevant ministries to muster their support in the endeavours of NIRD&PR.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. W.R. Reddy, IAS, Director General NIRDPR, Hyderabad, said

RISC2017 is the first of its kind platform to connect all institutes and agencies promoting innovation and start-up culture to look at the rural landscape. RISC will be an annual feature that can handhold and mentor the innovators and connect the startups with funding agencies. We believe rural development can be accelerated by infusion of technology tapping the creative minds of the youth across the country.

RISC2017 featured RISC Awards 2017 under Six domain areas namely

  1. Agriculture and Allied
  2. Green Energy Technologies
  3. Drinking Water, Health and Sanitation
  4. Waste to Wealth
  5. Sustainable Housing
  6. Other Livelihoods

Rural Innovations and Technologies in ‘Idea with Prototype’ and ‘Startup Stage’ were recognized by the jury members. The award winners were announced 24th March.

Highlights [Day – 2, 24/03]

The ‘RISC 2017 Awards’ were conceptualised to encourage the rural youth and bring to the fore the creative young minds of the country to showcase their innovations for rural development.

The award ceremony was graced by Chief Guest N. Ramesh Kumar, IAS [Retd], State Election Commissioner, Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad. The RISC 2017 Awards received 200 entries from across India. Out of the 200 entries, 110 were shortlisted and 12 were awarded under the categories of ‘Best Innovators’ & ‘Best Startups’. The  six best startups were awarded a cash prize of Rs 1 Lakh each and the 6 best innovators were were awarded a cash prize of Rs 50,000 each, along with a certificate and  glittering memento.

The winners of the RISC Awards 2017 were adjudged  under the following six categories

  • Agriculture and Allied – Exabit System [Startup category], Mr D Babu Rao [Innovator category]
  • Green Energy Technologies – Divyanga Thrift and Credit Society [Startup category], Mr Amol Koli [Innovator Category]
  • Drinking Water, Health and Sanitation – Mr Soujanya Bodha [Innovator category], Cerela Nutritech [Startup category]
  • Waste to Wealth – Allika [Startup category], Mr Chandra Dass [Innovator Category]
  • Sustainable Housing – Pipal Tree [Startup Category], Mohammed Ismail Khan [Innovator category]
  • Suatainable Livelihoods – Ms Ambica Eco Green Bags [Startup Category], Mr Tirupati Rao [Innovator category]

Images Images

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. W.R. Reddy, IAS, Director General NIRDPR, Hyderabad, said

We thank all the innovators and start-ups for coming out with their inventions and making this event a great success. NIRD&PR will put in efforts to ensure that these products which are at their nascent stage, will receive the kind of support and facilitation required to package them attractively for end users. Going forward, NIRD&PR will be opening up a new front for them-we will be engaging a large number of volunteer service providers for design improvement of these products and integrate these designs in the rural ecosystem.

We are are grateful to NIRD&PR for intitating this first of its kind platform that encourages rural innovators like us to do more for our country and promote entrepreneurship amongst all strata of society.

About NIRDPR

The National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, an autonomous organisation under the Union Ministry of Rural Development, is a premier national centre of excellence in rural development and Panchayati Raj. Recognized internationally as one of the UN-ESCAP Centres of Excellence, it builds capacities of rural development functionaries, elected representatives of PRIs, bankers, NGOs and other stakeholders through inter-related activities of training, research and consultancy. For more information, please visit National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj

Paytm founder and CEO, Vijay Shekhar Sharma was vocal about being disappointed with the way banks and the financial system in India work. ‘The financial system penalizes a sincere person, but if someone speaks the language of those in the power corridor, he takes a loan of Rs 600 crore and lives in London,’ said Sharma, taking a jibe at the other Vijay, Vijay Mallya.

Speaking at the India Today Conclave 2017 held in Mumbai, during a session titled Master Talk: The e-economy | From the Front-lines of Change, the Founder and CEO of Paytm said, Financial system in India is penalising for those who are sincere, who pay their taxes on time.

Talking about his hope that the RBI will give a nod to Paytm doing banking in the country, he said, ‘If the RBI blesses us, we will be able to have our bank by this month end.’ ‘What happened in 2016 was nothing short of revolution,’ Sharma said, talking about the demonetization drive.

When asked about the key to success of Paytm, Sharma said

The key to success for Paytm is that Paytm works. Paytm works when it is expected to work. Paytm works where it needs to work.

Talking some numbers, he said

Paytm currently has about 21.5 crore subscribers. SBI has 20.7 subscribers. Paytm does about 20 crore transactions while according to RBI all other e-wallets do 19 crore transactions combined.

Paytm’s net worth is around USD 6 billion. The company has seen exponential growth post-demonetization.

About India Today Conclave

Started as part of India Today’s 25th anniversary, India Today Conclave was designed as a meeting point for the best minds from India and around the world to map the geopolitical and economic future of the country. In its inaugural year the theme was India Tomorrow 2002: Opportunities and Threats with Vice President of the USA Al Gore as the chief Guest. The speakers who have been part of this conference each year are current and former heads of state, Nobel Laureates, spiritual leaders, industry captains, social workers, economists, authors, academics, scientist, strategists, activists, cine directors, actors and sportspersons. The past conferences can be accessed here

Ratul Puri, Chairman, Hindustan Power Projects Pvt. Ltd, kick-started the session titled The Disruptors: Technology and Opportunity on a promising note, when he spoke of twelve technologies which have been identified which are likely to add between USD 0.5-1 trillion to the Indian economy. IT was a fitting introduction to a session of young disruptors, who are paving the way for new developments in the space of technology to create opportunities.

Rohan Murty took over as he analysed the promises and challenges of artificial intelligence. He opened his presentation with an image of 18 women on the screen, who were professional computers. The word computer was a job title well before it was a machine, he said. He spoke of a telescope run by AI, which makes discoveries of the night sky, of haikus and artwork created by machines and revealed that through AI, a task completed by 1,000 people, could within 12 months, be completed by just nine.

However, he also spoke of the shortcomings of AI as it stands now-it cannot identify basic images, it does not have fundamental human traits, there are trust issues and he reminded the audience of a twitter account created by Microsoft, run by AI, which tweeted racist and bigoted tweets and eventually had to be taken down.

Ananya Birla introduced the importance of human-tech synergy, when she said that consumer behaviour was the biggest challenge when moving towards a cashless economy. Her micro-finance company Svatantra Microfinance functions on a completely cashless process and creates a link between the user’s adhar payment scheme and their bank account. The primary challenge to a cashless economy is consumer behaviour. People are so used to cash that they have trust issues and there are literacy problems, she said.

From demonetisation, the conversation moved to autonomous vehicles. While saying that the idea of autonomous cars is ‘cool’, Manasi Kirloskar dismissed any prospect of such cars in India in the foreseeable future. ‘70 per cent of electricity in India is generated from coal fire, which leaves harmful emissions. Electric cars are not eco-friendly‘, she said. She also expressed concern over issues of interrupted broadband systems, virus attacks and hacking, all of which could pose a serious threat to the efficient functioning of autonomous cars. She also brought up ethical concerns-‘In case of an accidents, who does the car protect? The passengers or the pedestrians?‘ she said.

While humans are better off behind the steering wheel for now, truly riving the retail sector is e-commerce, said Shashwat Goenka. ‘Ecommerce is the inevitable future, since we are impatient as consumers. But, we are Indians and our purchase psychology is tuned into touch and feel,’ he said. ‘Brick and mortar will continue to exist,’ he added. Goenka also spoke about the need for re-skilling employees in a tech enabled environment and how it’s the need of the hour. The women ended the session on an astute note. ‘We need technology that will facilitate the efficient access to food, water, shelter, education and healthcare,’ said Kirloskar. ‘The vision is to reach a platform where technology and human beings optimize each other’, Birla concluded.

Big Ideas

Artificial Intelligence

While artificial intelligence can take over a lot of conventionally human activities such as exploring their place in the universe, making art and improving efficiency [a task completed by 1,000 people, could within 12 months, be completed by just nine], it still lacks basic human traits and the lack of trust towards AI poses a great challenge.

Self-driven cars

It is necessary to create a system and set policies for self-driven cars. Presently, they are neither eco-friendly, nor does India have the physical or ethical infrastructure in place to make them a reality.

Going cashless

Consumer behaviour needs to be addressed in order for the country to go completely cashless. Trust, literacy and the need to touch and feel a transaction are impediments. Svatantra Microfinance creates a cashless process where Aadhar payment schemes are linked with the user’s bank accounts. They use the biometric system and eventually work towards reducing KYCs etc.

About India Today Conclave

Started as part of India Today’s 25th anniversary, India Today Conclave was designed as a meeting point for the best minds from India and around the world to map the geopolitical and economic future of the country. In its inaugural year the theme was India Tomorrow 2002: Opportunities and Threats with Vice President of the USA Al Gore as the chief Guest. The speakers who have been part of this conference each year are current and former heads of state, Nobel Laureates, spiritual leaders, industry captains, social workers, economists, authors, academics, scientist, strategists, activists, cine directors, actors and sportspersons. The past conferences can be accessed here