Digital divide has been accentuated by the pandemic: Nilekani

BENGALURU: India’s digital divide has been accentuated by the coronavirus pandemic, Infosys cofounder and chairman Nandan Nilekani said in a curated dialogue series with Anant Maheshwari, president, Microsoft India, held virtually on Tuesday.

“We have to make sure that everybody can participate in the digital ecosystem…We have to design the applications in such a way that people who don’t have access to the devices can still participate,” Nilekani said.

He cited the example of Aadhaar which offers everybody a unique digital identity. Not only that, the digital payments ecosystem has been built in such a way that people with feature phones also can benefit by using Aadhaar as an authentication mechanism.

Technology is the only way to reach the 1.3 billion people of the country and provide access to quality healthcare, education, and financial services, Nilekani said.

“While technologies like cloud can help create a scalable infrastructure, data and artificial intelligence can help deliver better learning outcomes, bank loans, and health diagnostics,” he added.

Digital skilling is a step towards bridging the existing digital divide in the country, said Maheshwari.

As part of this, Microsoft Corp. has helped over 30 million people in 249 countries and territories gain access to digital skills, of which close to 3 million are from India, Maheshwari said. This tops its initial goal of 25 million last June. Microsoft is also extending its commitment to help 250,000 companies globally make a skills-based hire in 2021.

The announcement, made in March this year, builds on Microsoft’s efforts to help people by extending free LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Learn courses and low-cost certifications that align to 10 of the most in-demand jobs throughout 2021.

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