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Tech sanctions from west- Lessons for India

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Just days after Russian troops entered Ukraine, on March 1st, 2022, Apple and Google stopped their payment services across Moscow and Russia. Most EU/US and Western world that takes pride in the liberal values and suggests Indians / Asians be treated separately from their state actions did exactly opposite to what they preach all along. Un-announced technical sanctions and calls by Hilary Clinton to wage a cyberwar against Russians are a few examples where the west can not and should not be the only partner for tech reliance.

Furthermore, the Intended SWIFT blockade will push Russia in the corner is more surprising, it’s the ordinary people in Moscow and Russia will bear the brunt of delayed settlement and payment issues by banks, while their opinion on the state matter may or may not change, their day to day activities, business, transactions, etc. will forever change. Russia’s interest in linking payments to China or possibly Indian settlement systems (e.g. UPI) could be a way out of this situation. In India – the scenario is different, Govt. led initiatives like NPCI and UPI have been the backbone of India’s Fintech revolution and domestic payment systems.

If India has a strong payment infrastructure, what should be the learnings here? we have a strong tech resilience workforce, No IT Project in the world could be started without Indian IT hands and brains, we have world-class training facilities and democratic selection procedures, and competitive colleges like IIT that offer best in class talents, Let’s try to understand a few aspects.

Skills and Employability:

Most IT Engineers from India need stringent training and communication skills when working for an IT organization or when setting up their own journey of entrepreneurship. In both cases – significant additional training is required to be at par with the global level. Thanks to cheap internet and mobile accessibility – young talent from small-town has access to information and awareness as any bloke in the UK or in the US, however – values like good communication, strategic vision, need of planning come after employment period and learning curve and resistance to mindset change hinders overall growth of individuals, many IT Organization struggles with up-skilling and hence most manager ‘out-source’ the training needs to learning and development department, which sometimes take clear guidelines from western tech organizations, usually offering certifications of AWS, Azure, Google or Alibaba or PMP, Agile, Scrum, etc. There has been minimal effort to create comprehensive syllabus and certification catalog by any Indian institutes that relies solely on and for the demands of the Indian IT landscape. While Govt. can step in, it’s the industry and flagship giants that need to up the sleeves for upskilling IT for India Stack and Indian Management styles. To be a shadow of the west is good for a decade or two, but now clouds are there on the horizon.

AI and Machine Learning

Let’s face it, Indian IT has lost a battle against China and the west in areas of AI and ML, although there are Indian few values pick that does good work in AI/ML areas, but comparing the scope in China / US /EU – India is nowhere in comparison, Single biggest thing is lack of NLP artifacts for Indian languages, today – close to 90% of AI/ML tools cater to the English language and perhaps more than a billion Indians will be deprived of their contribution in AI/ML since chosen language is prescribed by West, e.g. any remarks or comment in Hindi / Tamil / Telugu or any regional language has significantly less value in expression metrics to gauge the contributor’s views. Even if there are tools that translate regional Indian languages to English, the essence and value often get lost in translation. there is an urgent need to spearhead a mission to invest and execute AI/ML workload for Indian content that rivals the size of China or the US.

Who owns the data

Perhaps the most significant aspect is data ownership and identity management, today from AWS, Google to LinkedIn almost all US/West owns information of all Indians, this needs to be addressed at the government and highest level of administration, while Modi Govt. is focussing on introducing data privacy laws, there is a sure need to up-shot the revolution from the ground. We need an entrepreneurship movement for data-center startup-tech. data at home is way secure with data outside and with locks on.

What’s next

With the rise in tech literacy – there are opportunities to continue the ‘atma-nirbharta’ on tech-sphere, Let’s hope the organization and entrepreneurs take this up after looking at how west may act.

India has capabilities and content to keep options open, be it at war or in peace.

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