Knowledge Economy and the Other India

Posted by Admin on February 10, 2016

By Ravi Nawal
Author, India Can

At a recent panel discussion on social enterprises, we summed up the various inputs and insights with one key takeaway – ‘This is a space (social entrepreneurship) that needs to be approached more from the heart than the mind.”  Interestingly this summation seems to be an apt advice as we begin to usher India into the era of knowledge economy. However, the ‘edge’ to India’s ‘knowledge’ economy will not be anchored on technology (hardware, software, network etc.) but on inclusiveness.

Focusing on inclusiveness will ensure that India: (a) creates a vibrant domestic market for its knowledge products and services (b) has a robust bench strength of resources who not only consume but produce knowledge products and services, and most significantly (c) finds sustainable  knowledge led solutions to its many socio-economic challenges.

So how does India ensure equitable participation of all sections of the society in the knowledge economy? Three thumb rules can help steer the course: 

1. ‘Think non-viable’: Anything non-viable (especially in commercial terms) gets precluded from the consideration set of decision makers. These externalities or non-viabilities eventually create entry barriers for citizens to partake of the system resulting in social inequities. Hence, there should be a focus on the non-viable in all decision making. Take for instance the recent success of the Pradhanmantri Jan Dhana Yojana in India. What was considered unviable for the past six decades became viable in a matter of months!

2. ‘Assume significance’: Assuming significance implies that the hitherto neglected sections are treated as equals with other sections of the economy. This is important in order to ensure that the knowledge economy and its impact broadens and deepens uniformly. The back end operations of a leading life insurance major were positioned in Mumbai (an expensive urban center). As a result of which the company could not create feasible products for serving the rural hinterlands. Understanding that growth lay in the under-served areas, the company co-located its back-end operations with its front-end work in these areas. This made the rural life insurance products a sustainable line of business for the company.

3. ‘Co-create’:Look at broad-basing participation in creation. In order to ensure success of outcomes it is imperative that the ‘I know better, so take it from me’ approach be replaced with ‘let’s join hands to make it happen’ approach. Consultative, consensus building approach to any programs or regulations will work better to serve the other India.

(The writer of this blog is the author of India Can. These views are personal.)