The Wall Street Journal recounts the 1989 meeting of Sam Pitroda and Jack Welch, chairman of GE. This meeting has been widely regarded as the turning point in the global outsourcing revolution. General Electric Co.’s initial deals with India’s budding tech industry and the exponential trend of outsourcing is examined.
The yellow phone boxes still seen across parts of India are a tangible reminder of Sam Pitroda’s massive influence.
He believes in “disruptive technology,” and is constantly trying to find ways to shake things up. Sam finds innovation and creativity invigorating, while routine and structure cause him to lose interest.
In this article, Sam speaks about what qualities make a good leader, the importance of instilling a strong work ethic in youth, and answers the question, “How does Sam Pitroda want to be remembered?”
Sam Pitroda implores that the water crisis not be thought of as an isolated issue, but in the context of scarcity of recourses and services many countries are now facing.
There will be no global solution to solve the water problem. Instead, communities will have to start finding local solutions that meet their specific needs. Key challenges facing populations are improving accessibility of water, water quality, and bettering infrastructure.
As many of the solutions to these problems will be local, Sam Pitroda believes in empowering communities to become self-reliant and encouraging change from within.
It is important to develop and increasing knowledge about conservation-minded irrigation systems, advanced farming techniques, and sanitation solutions.
People within proactive communities can make the difference, inspiring a people’s movement for affordable, scalable, and sustainable water solutions.
In an interview, Sam Pitroda discusses his role as the as Chairman of the National Knowledge Commission, and his hopes for the future of information technology in India.
According to Sam, the Commission’s to spark the national debate about knowledge. The Commission was able to jumpstart the National Knowledge Network. Sam’s mission with the Network was to facilitate easy discourse and collaboration, modernize education, standardize digital health records, and to alleviate the massive backup in the court system by making high bandwidth accessible.
While he says that India needs more innovation, Sam suggests it does not have to be the ‘Western kind’. He says, “The best minds in the world have been engaged in solving the problems of the rich, not the poor.” He discusses the types of innovation he would like to see and what he hopes 2050 will look like for India.
In the 1980s, Sam Pitroda used telecom to bring together India, its people and the world. Today, he has returned, and is using the internet to continue his mission of connectivity.
Sam admits that he regrets not foreseeing the internet’s full potential in the beginning. Now however, he is adamant that information technology can be instrumental to modernization and social development.
His state-of-the-art public information infrastructure and a culture of innovation. The goal of The National Knowledge Network is to connect all knowledge and research institutions. The National Knowledge Network will have a profound impact on education, health care systems, judiciary and local governments. All of this helps India prepare to succeed as a new information economy develops.
Sam Pitroda has a reputation for “disruptive innovation”, and many believe that he has both the vision and the ability to achieve it. Others are less certain that he can deliver. Supporters and skeptics alike will have to wait to see what comes next from Sam Pitroda.
BRIDGING THE FIRST WORLD AND THE THIRD
“The Father of Indian Telecom,” Sam Pitroda, is a powerful force in India’s continuing tech revolution.
Inspired in youth by Gandhi and John F. Kennedy, his worldview and strong personality was shaped by both the East and West. He left the impoverished village of his birth to receive an education and achieved his wildest dreams by the age of 38. However, the telecom multi-millionaire felt unsatisfied. Sam went on to “pursue another American dream.” He returned to India, on a mission to “bridge the first world and the third.”
Sam Pitroda urges that technology cannot be treated as a luxury. He argues, on the contrary, that technological development is as crucial to the third-world as education or clean water.
With a focus on accessibility rather than density, Sam had incredible success making telephones available to the people of rural India. He is currently working with the government to build a national infrastructure connecting libraries, universities and research facilities with high speed internet fiber.
Mahatma Gandhi dreamed of development and decentralization for the villages of rural India, but it was never realized. Sam Pitroda, a lifelong admirer of Gandhi, noted that only the “information element” remained missing. With the growth of information and communication technology, Gandhi’s dream may still become reality.
The Wall Street Journal recounts the 1989 breakfast meeting of Sam Pitroda and Jack Welch, chairman of GE. This meeting has been widely regarded as the turning point in the global outsourcing revolution. General Electric Co.’s initial deals with India’s budding tech industry and the exponential trend of outsourcing is examined.
“For Sam Pitroda, work is truly worship as the Adviser to the PM on Public Information, Infrastructure and Innovation, exists in a constant doing mode.”
Interview by Nadine Kreisberger.
NK : How or why?
SP : How is more interesting than why.
NK : If there were such a thing as rebirth, what would you pick for the next round?
SP : The same. To be myself. But maybe to have five of me, so I could have more time for my wife and family, and have more done!