The Hindu, July 10, 2011

After the telecom revolution which secured India a place among the world’s advanced nations, it is now the knowledge concept which is slated to be the next big idea to transform the nation, said Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the Prime Minister, here on Saturday.

With 800 million phones and 1.2 billion in population, India is ready for the next turnaround. If telecom took 20 years as a concept to materialise, innovation might take a quarter of a century, said Mr. Pitroda.

“It would happen even if I am not here to witness it,” he added. “All we must do now is plant the seeds. There is a lot of talent in India. Fortunately our Government is very supportive,” Mr. Pitroda said delivering the 2{+n}{+d}Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) Thought Lecture on “Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations”.

I was convinced that telecom would change the face of the country. I had great faith in Rajiv Gandhi whom I had bumped into accidentally at former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s residence,” he said. “In the beginning, instead of telephone density we focused on accessibility. We got great backing from Rajiv Gandhi.”

The knowledge concept was a big innovative idea which made the planners invest more in education in the 11{+t}{+h}Five Year Plan. “The 11{+t}{+h}Plan was all about education. Our investment in education then was 4.5 times more than in the 10{+t}{+h}Plan,” Mr. Pitroda noted. “We need talent to grow at the rate of eight per cent,” he said.

Mr. Pitroda cited the disparities – between the rich and poor, the urban and rural and the educated and the uneducated – as the three major challenges faced by the country at present.

“I am worried that we are continuing the way we were in the past. Everything we do now is in a way obsolete,” Mr. Pitroda warned. “What I would say to students is: don’t listen to your teachers or parents. Their tools used to be different.”

“I believe education will change and if you give the children tools, they would not need teachers,” he asserted.

Mr. Pitroda also predicted that very soon the existing universities with elaborate physical structures would turn redundant and obsolete. The learning modes would be different in future, he said.

“As far as information was concerned two major challenges are the creation of information infrastructure and democratization of infrastructure. Right to Information was a great Bill and now an excellent law but there is no information coming forth as the structure is missing,” he said.

This news can also be viewed at: