Is India moving towards Digital Slavery?

While world has different thoughts, perceptions and ideologies behind terming India as a developing/third-world country, personally, I have my reasons for the same. I acknowledge my limitations to build up enough curiosity before sharing a piece of information and hence would put across my reason right way. The reason is, ‘Failure to create a Tech Unicorn‘ in this world which is being swept by ever increasing tides of digital revolution every single day.

Leading countries based on number of Facebook users as of January 2020(in millions)

Do you know as of January 2020, India boasts to have around 260 million Facebook users? While an optimist & opportunist would look at the numbers and term it as an ‘valuable & important market-place’, a borderline pessimist like me would rather look at it as being the largest ‘guinea-pig testing farm’ for all the major & not-so-major technical advancements taking place around the globe. Now before you accuse me of being too harsh, allow me to put forth my rationale behind the thought process. With Facebook owning up WhatsApp & Instagram, it nearly ‘owns’ every interactions & behavior you display as an individual round the clock. Think it like this,

Facebook – Your thought process, your liking, your interactions, etc.
WhatsApp – Your digital (congruent to real-life) conversations
Instagram – Your facial expressions, your mood (swings), your afflictions towards visual elements, etc.

Now what is left to know more about you unless you happen to be a soul-searcher, self-realization seeking soul who prefers taking the journey inwards? And who possesses this gold-mine of information? Allow me to add a dash of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to the mix and ask you who would eventually benefit from the derived intelligence from all this information which 260 million people are sharing about themselves? And I am too tempted to add to the list the countless search results you hit on Google everyday or exchange numerous emails, or enjoy your favorite shows and videos on a streaming platform.

Where is this barrage of data & information going? And who benefits from this?

So when I hear the glossy stories about India as an ‘IT hub’, all that I can envision is countless support centers and development farms extending support to a Tech unicorn based out of Bay-area. I cannot stop myself from differentiating between ‘world-leading product company’ and ‘world-leading IT-services organisation’. What does a country with population of 1.3 billion lack to create the next-big-thing in Tech space? The intention is not at the least to belittle the great work done so far but to raise pertinent questions which would decide the course of this great nation in the next decade and beyond. A quick look at the chart below depicts the 10 countries who filed the most international patent applications in 2018. Unless the report is grossly erroneous, India is nowhere to be seen in Top 10. The findings boils down to only one thing, ‘Are we turning a blind-eye towards the future of Intellectual Capital & Investment?

Ranking of the 10 countries who filed the most international patent applications in 2018

Bringing up the subject of filing patents might be slightly off-the-topic here but it does add it’s share of significance to the dire need of innovation. With the Covid-19 pandemic engulfing the world and every possible industry moving towards work-from-home culture, it is no less than surprising that not even a single video and collaboration tool is coming from India. Have we grown so immune to meritocracy and so cozy with mediocrity that this doesn’t affect us at all and is accepted as comfortable status-quo? Touching the oh-so-cliched subject of Brain Drain would definitely kill the curiosity of readers but to do justice with this foundational paradigm, one needs to ask the question that while Indians happen to be best of the leaders when it comes to leading global organisations, why have we failed to create one in India?

Looking above, so much has been said about so many things that by this time you must be wondering why are we not talking anything about Social Media? To be honest, even I think so! But being honest to a greater degree, the subject in itself has so many similar-looking branches that one takes a detour effortlessly. Every aspect is intertwined in a complex web of cause-&-effect and it seems nearly impossible to talk about one thing while ignoring the other.

So circling back to the subject of Social Media, it is disappointing to see India lagging behind in the race of technical advancements and gladly agreeing to play the role of a ‘free & convenient testing lab’ whereas it could have easily leveraged it’s huge market base to capture a commanding position in the global arena of technological developments. The pace with which Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are making strides, the day is not far when a clueless population of billion would end-up being a powerless, toothless consumer market. Unfortunately, there would be no scope for any ‘Revolution for Independence‘ once that stage is reached.

Kumar Dipanshu is a techie by profession with keen interest in Human Psychology, Spiritual advancement and World Politics. He has co-founded couple of start-ups and loves mentoring budding entrepreneurs. In his spare time he can be found either cooking or enhancing his knowledge about Vedic Scriptures.

3 thoughts on “Is India moving towards Digital Slavery?

  1. Finally got a chance to read this. The “largest ‘guinea-pig testing farm’ ” bit is insightful. As a completely non-technical person, I can see that for far too long, Indian technical and scientific mind has been content with jugaad type thing and merely copying or reverse engineering. This must change.


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