Sunday, January 08, 2017

In conversation with Shivnath Thukral, MD, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, India


Sudhir Raikar, Content Architect, IIFL | Mumbai | December 14, 2016 10:44 IST



"The Global Tech Summit 2016 (GTS’16) was our first major event under the Tech Forum Initiative. The tech forum is an effort to bring together serious players from the industry, stakeholders across the policy spectrum and government decision makers to discuss critical issues. As a think tank, our aim is to study and research policy issues that need to evolve or re-written based on objective and scholarly analysis."

Carnegie India, the sixth international center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, recently hosted a Global Tech Summit in Bengaluru which saw eminent entrepreneurs, technologists, and academicians sharing their thoughts on a common podium. What seemed like a logical ‘next step’ resonating founding director C Raja Mohan’s incisive views (Trump, Artificial Intelligence, and India) the summit is an attempt to bring together the seemingly disparate worlds of governance and technology by hosting a purposeful dialogue between the policy heads in Delhi and the wizards of Bengaluru and other tech hubs. The thought churn, the organizers believe, will help develop the competencies and curricula that the discerningly disruptive digital transformation deems mandatory, and will also enable global businesses to reimagine legacy processes and redesign contemporary systems in the race to remain relevant, rather in a bid to carve their niche in a fertile space of immense possibilities. On the other hand, the summit also seeks to stimulate policymaking in India towards designing effective governance and regulatory solutions to facilitate the big change rather than watch the action from the side-lines.

Excerpts of the interaction between Shivnath Thukral, Managing Director, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace India and IIFL’s Sudhir Raikar.

Will the summit kick-off engaging conversations between New Delhi and Bengaluru, i.e. India's Power hub and India's Tech hub? How would you measure the success of this event?

The Global Tech Summit 2016 (GTS’16) was our first major event under the Tech Forum Initiative. The tech forum is an effort to bring together serious players from the industry, stakeholders across the policy spectrum and government decision makers to discuss critical issues. As a think tank, our aim is to study and research policy issues that need to evolve or re-written based on objective and scholarly analysis. To that effect, we felt the Global Tech Summit managed to emerge as a serious platform where some critical issues concerning industry and policy were identified and discussed. From the issue of protection to domestic e-commerce players to how Indian start-ups can help India’s diplomatic cause to futuristic technologies such as Hyperloop to how policy needs to evolve within a framework, GTS’16 managed to achieve some key goals. The fact that stakeholders in both Delhi and Bangalore recognise the need for a greater dialogue and that the summit took the first step towards closing it leaves us satisfied.

Going by the website, Carnegie India aims to stimulate new thinking in India's policy space. Going forward, would you look beyond summits to foster collaboration and co-creation of various stakeholders? esp. for bridging the academia-industry divide...

We plan to have a deep dive on issues planned every quarter starting in March. The year will also see policy briefs, research papers and smaller convening sessions on issues earmarked for discussion next year. This will culminate into the second edition of the Global Tech Summit in December 2017.

The list of summit participants is impressive - just that one would have liked to see some representation by India's offbeat productized software development companies - esp. those with clear Big data and Analytics agendas - which have rich insights for developing a new economic strategy that relies on technological innovation.

This was our first attempt to identify certain specific topics and focus areas. We are sure we will be able to expand the discussion and debate horizon for more issues which merit policy intervention or attention of policy makers. The deep dive sessions during the year will attempt to experiment with more ideas and issues.

Elaborating on the same point, it would have been great to see some non-ecomm, non-retail startup representation who may be ripe with disruptive ideas for a new India.

As I mentioned earlier, GTS’16 in its inaugural chapter identified issues which we felt were important and relevant but these are clearly not exhaustive. The sectors you mention have a huge impact on citizens and need further study and we hope to include them in our upcoming discussions.

The India inception of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Carnegie, as late as in 2016, one feels, has a lot to do with the value prop of a New India under the stewardship of PM Modi. Was the Fund wary of seeding an India office all these years?

The work to set up Carnegie India started as early as 2013. It was launched once all the relevant permissions and compliance requirements were met to set up an office.

Few resounding sound bytes from the summit:

China has very rapidly assimilated nuclear reactors and high speed trains through policies that are designed to encourage sharing technology. To do that, we must develop the infrastructure and experience to absorb such technologies - S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary

India needs to do what China did 15 years ago, tell the world we need your capital, but we don’t need your companies - Sachin Bansal, Flipkart

The real fight is on capital, not innovation - Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola Cabs

A tectonic shift in technology will not only impact blue-collar jobs but also has the potential to at least partially wipe out human interference in sectors such as healthcare and brokerage, among others” - Ravi Venkatesan, Bank of Baroda

I’m not worried about the next 10 years because these 10 years will be about how to make the existing jobs more productive through technology - Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Biocon

India needs to make five transitions—from farm to non-farm, rural to urban, subsistence wage employment to decent wage employment, informal enterprises to formal enterprises and school to work (human capital) - Manish Sabharwal, TeamLease

There is inertia and lack of clarity on the purpose of regulation. Most regulations have been from experience, and they are often knee-jerk reactions. We need to re-look at things to leverage benefits that technology must offer - Rahul Matthan, Trilegal

India needs to have regulations such that innovators and regulators can work together smoothly, to balance public interest and incentives for innovation - Ananth Padmanabhan, Carnegie India

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