The prime minister could gain valuable insights by interacting with those who have actually managed technology and information for the government
PM Modi being greeted on his arrival in New York
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s California visit this weekend is mostly laden with a tech agenda. He is meeting the who’s who of top tech industry executives such as Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zukerberg and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen. Modi will also visit the campuses of Google and Facebook apart from meeting a host of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and VCs in a TiE organized meeting. His community reception by Indian diaspora on the last day of his visit is expected to be attended by a lot of Indian techies, considering that it is happening at San Jose, the nerve centre of Silicon Valley.
PM Modi, who has done a great marketing job of his Digital India program, is expected to enthuse the tech community about the program and how they can meaningfully collaborate with India on this.
I feel there are a few NRIs Modi could have met to gain a lot of useful tips for Digital India and other tech-based initiatives. Here are three such individuals Modi’s program managers could have kept in his itinerary.
- Vivek Kundra, the first Federal CIO of the US The first federal CIO of the US and the current EVP of Salesforce, in charge of public sector, 40-year old, Delhi-born Kundra is widely considered to be the man behind translating president Obama’s open government vision into strategy and practice successfully. Kundra was the first to effectively spur open source and crowdsourced applications using publicly available web service, when he was the CTO of District of Columbia. While he worked to create technology-based initiatives in many areas, his pioneering work in open data, involving the community; IT dashboard to track federal spending (something that India badly needs in some form), and government’s use of cloud is well-recognized throughout the world. India has a lot to gain from his experience.
- Aneesh Chopra, the first Federal CTO of the US. The first federal CTO, 43-year old Chopra, a second generation Indian American, worked with Kundra to translate many of these visions to technology roadmaps. Equally interesting is his current start-up Hunch Analytics, which works with public data to solve challenges in the areas of healthcare and unemployment. Author of a book, Innovative State: How New Technologies can Transform Government focused on how the country can tap entrepreneurial problem solvers to address challenges in health, energy and education markets among other public and regulated sectors, Chopra could be just the right person for low-level planning issues that the Digital India program is faced with.
- Hardik Bhatt, CIO of State of Illinois. Fellow Gujarati NRI Hardik Bhatt, currently the CIO of the State of Illinois could actually help in another major thrust area of the government: smart cities. Bhatt was the CIO of Chicago, the third largest city of the US, where he initiated the smart communities program. He has enough experience on both sides, working for Oracle and Cisco as well as in the positions of CIO for a city and the state. Before taking up the Illinois CIO assignment last March, Bhatt was in Cisco leading its Smart Cities and Communities initiative.
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