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August 10, 2012

Building tomorrow's nation

Posted by C. N. Raghupathi (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:38 AM

India's growth, over the last 2 decades, has been phenomenal. For the majority of us urbanites who stand at the cusp of India's transformational journey it's a rewarding experience. And, we barely see beyond the cocoon we are ensconced in. Yet, there lies a world beyond - Rural India.  72% of India resides in villages. And a significant section of these 6,50,000 odd villages does not have a single bank branch, leaving a speculated 40% of India's population unbanked. When it comes to insurance, the situation leaves even more to desire. Only 15% of the Indian population has life insurance in any form. The Indian Government, needless to say, has initiated powerful schemes to remedy this situation but still needs a vehicle to effectively carry this forth.

That's why India Post - the Indian Department of Posts - is truly significant. We are talking of an institution  with networks that reach the heart of the nation across 154,866 branches, of which 139,040 are in the rural core of India. Think about it. Every post office serves an area of 21.23 sq km and a population of  7114 people - a distribution unmatched by any bank in the world! Its history is as interesting.  Conceived by the East India Company as "Company Mail" in 1688, banking by India Post was initiated as early as 1860 and in 1882 this "postal banking" went national - with a network covering the length and breadth of India.  

Truly, it's a moment of pride and joy, for us at Infosys, to be singled out by this hallowed institution to partner their efforts to drive radical progress in India.What truly motivates me is the joint vision we nurture - millions of hitherto under-banked Indians gaining access to financial services and insurance through an institution that's earned and retained their trust for generations.  This will also play a key role in bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots across the urban-semi urban-rural divide. And, the fact that technology  is the de facto agent ringing in this wholesome change just makes it so much more exhilarating. 

For those of us, at Infosys, working to build tomorrow's nation, the journey that began quite some while ago has been a long and multifaceted one.  We are striving, in partnership with the Indian Government, to better the Indian taxation system. We power the Indian Income Tax Department's central systems that process two thirds of India's income tax. Our energy systems are at the heart of Karnataka's (a South Indian state) power supply grid. Software from Infosys improves the productivity of milch cattle for Indian dairies. We have also recently been contracted to help author India's transport policy.  And our analytics engine plays a critical role in identifying the poorest of the poor in a concerted attempt to power rural development with the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty. 

Yes, it's a privilege to be entrusted with the task of nation building.  And, yet it is such a humbling experience to give back to the society that's nourished us with so much.


With so much having been done, a lot is yet to be...
Of course we all know that India truly exists far below its true potential, Indians - once a nation of inventors and innovators - are now content copying and supporting. It's interesting that you pick the example of "Company Mail", as a lot of our infrastructure today is due to the British and Independent as we have been for so many years, we are still a long way to go from being genuinely "free". But the new Indian is the thinking Indian and he is waiting to break free, as exemplified by history of Infosys and all that it stands for. We now want to make our own place, decide our destiny and create our own value. Freedom - here I come.... Happy upcoming Independence day to every Indian

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