In the year 1998, as the world had begun taking note of the damages the Y2K bug, which caused a computer’s inability to differentiate between the years 1900 and 2000, could bring about, India responded with optimism and vigour. The Y2K, or the Year 2000 problem arose because programs represented four-digit years with only the final two digits, causing confusion in distinguishing years; it was feared that when the year 2000 would begin, computers would malfunction across the board, not recognizing the year correctly.
A 1998 report from a leading publication notes Rusi Brij, Vice President of Satyam Computers calling it a “godsend” as the firm was instrumental in pioneering methods of debugging computers at risk. India, throughout this global crisis, provided skilled engineers and programmers to avert gigantic losses and consequently the Indian Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector shot up significantly. Since then, India has been at the forefront of animating a digital zeitgeist which has realized several unprecedented strides for the world. To top it all, this is merely one narrative in India’s trove of phenomenal achievements which shines brighter in the face of the pandemic, with the country becoming the largest manufacturer of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Y2K moment was a milestone anticipating several other gargantuan advances and India leads in several races today. As the Indian Brand Equity Foundation notes, India has become the digital capabilities hub of the world with around 75% of the global digital talent present in the country. Indian IT companies have established centers all over the globe and as the biggest IT exporter in the world, the sustenance of the digital domain is unimaginable without India’s contributions. India’s digital product ecosystem braved the co-COVID reality and came out resilient and bursting with possibility. As Outlook reports, almost 98 per cent of the IT workforce was working from home at the peak of lockdown in India and companies like Infosys and Wipro closed multi-million and even billion-dollar deals. Healthcare and education incorporated digital innovation and IT companies increased their digital offerings for delivering services to citizens. Technology has become the chief propeller of endeavour during the pandemic and Indian innovation in this regard has been nothing short of exemplary.
As the COVID-19 crisis made the threats of disease and death preponderant, India’s digitally skilled pool crafted new avenues of prevention, care and recoveries. The medical technology sector in India saw an unprecedented increase in techniques of remote monitoring, digitization of healthcare data and telemedicine via video-conferencing. In an abundance of apps making healthcare more accessible, AskApollo, the online platform for Apollo Hospitals, as noted publications report, facilitates about 7,000 appointments daily and guarantees wait times for a doctor of no more than 20 minutes, except in cases of emergencies. With thousands of active health technology startups and with government support, India has been able to expedite delivery of medical services and manufacture effective medical devices on a large scale. Information about vaccines and records of vaccination and monitoring of patients were all ensured by a digital regime. Under the Make In India and subsequently, the Atmanirbhar Bharat declarations by the Prime Minister, India’s Med Tech sector has demonstrated the most remarkable achievements.
Education has been the other sector for digital works to unleash a revolution. Pre-pandemic, India was steadily climbing the Ed Tech ladder with increased availability of and accessibility to smart classrooms, digital learning, webinars and software to enhance everyday educational engagements. However, during the adversity of the pandemic, the sector witnessed an unparalleled boom. Teaching, assessment, feedback and examinations shifted online and millions of students avoided a halt in their trajectory and graduated online. As noted by publications, there are now more than 4,450 edtech start-ups in the country that are assisting more than 300 million school students and 40 million students pursuing higher education whose studies were disrupted during the pandemic. It has been realized that online learning is here to stay and the Ed Tech sector in India is consistently fashioning new modes of doing justice to millions of students and teachers.
India’s technology industry is not simply a tale of astounding resilience but also the key to its economic revival, despite the ravages of the pandemic. A Nasscom report revealed that the Indian IT services revenue is set to touch $194 billion by end of 20-21, a 2.3% increase from the previous year. This signals an incredible resurgence for India and is simultaneously emblematic of how the Indian economy has capacity for prodigious success in the face of challenges. These developments transcend sectors and symbolize a socio-economic fabric that has always bounced back and will continue to do so.
From Y2K to COVID, India’s trajectory has been a story of unbridled durability and advancement. While the glorious journey of leading by example began with the IT industry, India’s CO-Covid response has illuminated new idioms of resistance and momentous victories.
India’s homegrown talent and innovation has ushered in an acceleration for the world it cannot do without. The CO-COVID moment is an unprecedented and bigger opportunity than the Y2K moment and with the world’s largest vaccination programme in place, alongside a surge in innovation, India could not merely invigorate unforeseen development but craft a new dimension of everyday existence altogether. This is an occasion we must not squander and a potential dividend we must reap and with India’s record of buoyancy and transformation, a triumphant future is certainly realizable.
– Viiveck Verma, Founder – Upsurge Global, T-Hub Mentor
NOTE: This article was published in Business World on April 22, 2021 with the title From Y2K To Tackling COVID: India’s Glorious Upsurges